Reaching for the Skies from the Rooftops of Washington State
Wayne’s Roofing, located in Sumner, Washington, is a full-service professional roofing contractor working with both public and private sector clients on commercial, industrial, retail, institutional, and warehouse buildings. The firm has worked in several western states and is currently working throughout Washington State, with a majority of its work primarily in Western Washington along the I-5 corridor from Centralia to Everett and into the Eastern portion of the Kitsap Peninsula.
Wayne Wetherbee, the company founder, “sold his wife’s El Camino in exchange to buy roofing equipment and opened the doors for Wayne’s Roofing, Inc. in 1969. Wayne operated his new business from a small shop behind a single-wide trailer where he and his wife, Kitty, lived,” recounts the company history.
Over time, Wayne established a reputation for superior work and solid personal skills with customers and vendors. With this strong foundation, by the time Wayne passed away in 2000, the company he founded was taking in $8 million in annual revenue.
Before Wayne’s passing, Don Guthrie, a former neighborhood kid who started working for the firm at age fourteen loading trucks and then worked his way up through the roles, was announced president and co-owner. Alongside him was Rod Wetherbee, son of Wayne, who also worked for the company as an adolescent, unloading trucks. Rod currently acts as executive vice-president and co-owner.
These two balance and complement each other’s management styles. “Rod is the color; I’m the black and white. Rod is the idea guy; I’m the numbers guy. When he gets too wild, I pull him back. When I get too stodgy, he pulls me in,” says Don Guthrie with a laugh.
In 2014, two other long-term employees joined the ownership team of the firm: Brian Butler and Dan Johnson. Both men started working for Wayne’s Roofing in 1987 while in high school. Butler is now vice-president of sales while Johnson is vice-president of operations.
Wayne’s Roofing has evolved from a small startup to one of the strongest commercial roofing and waterproofing specialists in the Northwest. Wayne’s Roofing installs new and replacement roof systems, fall protection systems, energy saving roof insulation systems and installs “green roofs” (which are very popular in trendy Seattle among other locations). In addition, Wayne’s Roofing has a full-service maintenance division that provides emergency leak repair service, tenant roof improvements, professional roof inspections and long-term maintenance programs (PRIME – visit waynesroofing.com/prime-program for more information).
A number of factors play into Wayne’s Roofing’s continued success such as their reputation, relationships, marketing tactics, customer satisfaction, their highly qualified team, and high profile projects. It also helps that Wayne’s Roofing is based in prosperous Washington State, where it rains a lot. They provide their clients the peace of mind of having a leak free roof and preventing leaks as much as possible.
“We are an established legacy company in this market,” states Guthrie. “We’re one of a small number of go-to, well-regarded, well respected industry leaders in our region. So people respect that. They appreciate the fact that we offer value. We offer a safe installation and try to be as transparent as possible. We offer the highest quality applications by the highest quality tradespeople available in the market and we have the same caliber of people in our office. We are a full-service provider. We’re selling a relationship.” The company also maintains excellent relations with its suppliers, bankers, insurance and bonding companies. “Bills are paid on time, and the firm presents itself in an organized, orderly fashion to companies supplying them with equipment and roofing materials,” adds Guthrie.
Rod Wetherbee has a simple explanation for the firm’s success. “We’ve been around since 1969. You might say we take pride in what we do, you might say we’re well-educated and have a lot of experience within the industry and are actively involved in industry associations… this is all true. But, what it really boils down to, is that we have GREAT people!” he states.
As of midsummer, Wayne’s Roofing has a total of 145 employees; 20 are office staff and the remainder are craftsmen, proudly belonging to locals 153 and 54 roofing and waterproofing unions. Given that roofing is a seasonal business outside the Sun Belt, typically most roofing companies have to lay off workers during the slower winter months. That said, President Don Guthrie is quick to point out that Wayne’s Roofing offers year-round roofing services and works hard to keep their key employees working year-round. “While the demand for reroofing projects and new construction projects may subside in the winter months, the demand for our service department is at its peak due to the rainy season resulting in a large volume of roof repair work. This allows Wayne’s Roofing to maintain a busy workforce year-round and minimize typical industry layoffs.” This most recent winter, the firm kept layoffs to a minimum keeping a full complement of employees, which is a good way to ensure loyalty to the company, according to management officials. “There is nothing more reliable than a consistent, experienced work force,” says Wetherbee.
Guthrie credits a solid staff and highly professional workforce for making such success possible. “It comes back down to great people. We have people that aren’t afraid of a workload and are willing to put in the time to get the job accomplished… We have capable, competent and professional workers that we’ve been able to keep busy and provide a good career path throughout the seasons. That makes us stronger coming into the summer workload… we have good relationships with our customers. So we get a lot of repeat business,” he states.
In keeping Wayne’s Roofing a success, they use a variety of marketing tools. However, the main way Wayne’s Roofing has always promoted itself is by “word of mouth and relationships… we’ve been around a long time… we get a ton of referrals… we sponsor community events—golf, trade shows, charity events. We’re actively involved in the community and we care about our customers,” says Wetherbee.
“We also have over forty nice looking, late model, and reliable trucks going down the road every day. It’s part of our branding as far as advertising goes. It helps us get noticed and assures that our team arrives safely and on time,” adds Guthrie.
The company transports their workers and equipment from the company facility to job sites in these vehicles too, which aides to complement the professional and presentable image of Wayne’s Roofing. “It is a clever alternative, rather than inconveniencing our customers and their patrons, by keeping parking spaces available which is essential in busy downtown locations.”
In addition to word of mouth, reliable equipment and a great team, Wayne’s Roofing also stays on top of the game by embracing new technology in order to satisfy their customers’ needs. One example is the recent revamp of their website (www.waynesroofing.com) which includes a client portal that allows customers to manage and track roofing repair projects. The portal, which can be accessed from any computer with an Internet connection and most smartphones, lets clients view work documents, check the status of current jobs, request new services, track, view and print invoices or report leaks.
When asked what projects Wayne’s Roofing is most proud of, Don Guthrie reports that, “the firm does 150 major projects a year and we’re proud of all of them.” However, he does note that Wayne’s Roofing has been involved in some “pretty cool” large-scale assignments. For example, Wayne’s Roofing recently completed a project with Sellen Construction on the Museum of Flight, which is the world’s largest independent non-profit air and space museum based in Seattle, which Guthrie describes as, “one example of a neat project.”
To vouch for the company’s success is Wayne’s Roofing’s series of awards, some of which they’ve received multiple times. One of their more recent awards was the Safety and Claims Management Award earned in June, 2016 from the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Washington. Wayne’s Roofing has received this award several times and is very proud of it since Safety is a top priority of the company. The AGC award honors Wayne’s Roofing for its efforts in providing a safe workplace and assisting injured workers. As the AGC noted, Wayne’s Roofing has the lowest experience modification rate (EMR) and top three lowest EMR of .5558 (and a fourteen-year average rate of .69) within the AGC of WA.
Wayne’s Roofing is able to achieve safety awards by providing their team with OSHA Occupational Safety and Training Courses on avoiding falls and injuries while working on roofs, maintaining a drug-free workplace and providing physical assessments of all new hires to ensure they are strong enough and fit for the job. In the event of an accident, Wayne’s Roofing tries to keep injured workers on the payroll, doing light duties. Staying safe and providing quality work leads to many other awards. In August, 2015 Wayne’s Roofing made the annual Top 100 Roofing Contractors list published by Roofing Contractor Magazine, an accomplishment that they have achieved for the past several years.
Furthermore, the company is proud to be an active member of several trade organizations including the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA), the Roofing Contractors Association of Washington (RCAW), the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the Building Owners and Managers Association International (BOMA) and many others.
There is no doubt that all of these factors and many others are working very well for Wayne’s Roofing. When asked about the future of Wayne’s Roofing, this is what the co-owners had to say:
“Our goal is to continue what we’re doing. We’re successful, we have an amazing team, we’re proud of what we do, work is enjoyable and we’re respected by our peers as well as by our industry.” -Don Guthrie, President
“One of the most important aspects of maintaining a Legacy is succession planning. Over the past several years Don and I have worked hard coming up with a game plan to continue the Legacy my father started back in 1969. A Legacy that both of us, along with many of our team members, have dedicated their lives too. With the addition of both Dan and Brian to ownership, it is just the beginning of our succession planning. We continue to seek out talented and committed team members, both within and outside of the company, to ensure growth and success well into the future. Look for Great things to come!” -Rod Wetherbee, Executive Vice President
“The future is bright,” I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time, more than 25 years ago. Working under the tutelage of Don Guthrie for every one of those years has provided me with a great understanding of this industry. The most important thing I have learned is to expect the unexpected and be able to react to it.
We have seen several economic ups and downs over the years, but have continued to prosper and grow through them. There is nothing more powerful than a reputation of honesty and quality, which is what we are known for and in large part is the catalyst of our success.
With Brian Butler and myself now stock holders along with Rod Wetherbee and Don Guthrie, we will continue to be innovative and remain open minded to change while continuing the long standing legacy and continued growth.
There are many external factors that can affect the future that are unfortunately out of our control. As history has shown our organization, we seem to prosper, no matter what road blocks are placed before us. Looking ahead, we will continue to be innovative, provide a quality product, and do it with the highest of integrity.” -Dan Johnson, Vice President of Operations
“I am extremely excited for what the future holds for us. We have an outstanding workforce and great leadership that works together as a team to strive to be the very best in the roofing industry. We will continue to take tremendous pride in our work and reputation as well as continue to work with owners, architects, consultants, and professional organizations to be a leading edge company. Those have been some of the keys to our success in the past and will continue in the future.” -Brian Butler, Vice President of Sales
The leadership team at Wayne’s Roofing plans to continue Wayne’s legacy in the years to come by focusing on their customer’s needs and installing the best roofing systems this amazing industry has to offer.