YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The Mahoning Valley presents a competitive market for roofing contractors. But even when factoring in competing against other companies, Holko Enercon co-owner Vince Holko is bullish on prospects for this year.
Holko and others in the roofing industry are upbeat about business as the construction season approaches and despite the effect of higher interest rates.
“Around here it’s fairly competitive. About three or four of us usually go head-to-head” competing for projects, the co-owner of the Fowler roofing contractor says.
Business was “phenomenal” for Holko Enercon in 2017 – up 25% from 2016 – and “looks like we’re going to be able to maintain that same level of sales we had” last year, Holko says.
His company, which primarily operates within a 50-mile radius of Youngstown, is working on several chain restaurants, industrial buildings and some residential projects already, and there are “some real nice projects that are committed” that will start this spring, he reports.
“There’s finally some economic optimism out there,” he says. He credits that condition to President Donald Trump, who has set things in motion that have gotten people excited and “loosening up their purse strings a little bit.”
Ken Huffman Roofing, Austintown, has nine jobs waiting for the weather to break, owner Ken Huffman reports. This winter’s estimating season has been among the busiest he can recall, with 20 jobs booked in the past two months.
Huffman, who operates throughout the tri-county area, reports his company’s business last year increased as much as 30% from 2016, and he expects growth to be twice as strong this year. A lot of his calls are for commercial projects, which had dropped off in recent years.
Like Holko, Huffman credits the White House with spurring activity. A pair of clients who booked work in 2016 called the jobs off because they had been laid off from Vallourec. They reauthorized the projects after being called back to work following Trump’s executive order authorizing two pipelines, he recalls.
“Almost directly from Trump’s pen to my job schedule,” he says.
Huffman anticipates commercial work will represent “a bigger portion” of his business this year, perhaps 30%, he estimates, with residential home improvements accounting for the rest.
“If we get a big storm, that usually will dominate calls,” he says. “Right now, we’re doing a lot of remodeling. People are investing in their homes either to sell or they just want to improve them. With the economy improving, they seem confident to invest in their homes.”
At Apex Roofing Supply LLC, Salem, owner Adam Keller also reports activity is starting to pick up.
The roofing supplier, which celebrates its third anniversary in July, offers residential and commercial roofing supplies, including shingles and metal roofing as well as siding, gutter and pole barn packages.
“As the weather changes, construction starts. That’s how everything works in this industry,” Keller says.
Residential clients represent about 60% of his business, while the rest is commercial, he says.
Though he couldn’t offer good comparisons because of the relatively short time he’s been in business, Keller notes that with the income tax cuts now reflected in workers’ paychecks, “people have a little bit more money and are able to do that project they’ve been wanting to do for a while,” he says. “I think that would lead to more business.”