"When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us."— Alexander Graham Bell
Five years ago, a door closed on Brook Reese when he was laid off from his job at a Pennsylvania oil field.
Keshia, his significant other (now his wife pictured left), recalled, "When Brook came home from work that day, he was pretty upset. He didn't know what he was going to do. We had bills to pay." But she refused to focus on the closed door. Instead, with a simple question, she showed him the open one: "Brook, what's your dream job?"
His answer surprised both of them. "I want to start my own roofing company."
And so he did.
Building the dream
Armed with a $99 compressor, a discount nail gun, six years of roofing experience, and a computer they borrowed from Keshia's mom, the ambitious couple started pounding the pavement looking for roofs to install.
They landed their first jobs almost purely by word of mouth. "I told people I installed roofs," said Brook. "I ran ads in the papers, and had signs made. But Rome, Pennsylvania is a small town, so mostly I just told people."
They started with almost nothing. Brook installed the roofs. When she wasn't working her own full-time healthcare job, Keshia did the contracts and kept the books.
Those were anxious days, but the couple faced them together, and gave each other strength. Keshia recalled, "He'd finish a job and say, 'I don't know if I'm going to get any more work!' But I'd tell him, "They'll call.' And they did."
That was five years ago. Today, Reese Roofing is a respected and highly recommended GAF Master Elite Contractor serving northern Pennsylvania. The company has had its ups and downs, said Brook, but running his own roofing company has become the dream job he'd hoped for.
"I love being up on that roof," he said. "There's something about being above everything else… the pride in seeing that finished product at the end of the day. And knowing that the family you built it for has a dry home to go into. I love putting those shingles on a roof, knowing someone is going to say 'Thanks. I really appreciate what you do.' This means everything to me. For the first time in my life I've found a job I truly love."
Someone to count on
Like a lot of companies, Reese Roofing has struggled with the labor shortage. Keshia said that if anything could have made Reese put down his nail gun and walk away from roofing, it would have been the inability to find reliable people. "I just wanted somebody I could count on, who would show up and know what they were doing," said Brook.
"These guys are going to be the best in the industry." — Brook Reese
But it seems the word of mouth that got his company rolling still packs a punch five years later. When Reese Roofing put the word out that they were looking for good people, they wound up pulling together a brand new crew in the course of a single week. Better yet, Brook calls this crew the best he's ever worked with. Among them he's got three 19-year-olds, and he predicts that one day they will be the best in the industry. "These guys take pride in their work. They're not just throwing shingles down. They know they're installing a whole GAF roofing system." He added, "We really value the people we have, so we're always looking for ways to make sure they're happy. We treat them fairly, and I make sure I'm out there working as long as they are."
Growing with GAF
Enthusiasm, skill, fairness, and a great crew will take a roofing company a long way. But Brook knows that the roofs themselves have to be great, too. He only installs GAF roofs, and says so proudly right on his website. "GAF looks out for little guys like me," he said. "Nobody handed me this company. I built it from the very ground. But when GAF gave me the opportunity to be the best roofing contractor in the area, I took it and ran with it."
In five short years, Brook and Keshia Reese have transformed a $139 investment into a GAF Master Elite local roofing industry leader. They sponsor local softball and baseball teams. And last year they sponsored an entire family for Christmas, making sure kids in need had the kind of holiday every child deserves.
Building a successful business can change a person. It's changed Brook. Once, he told Keshia his dream was to build roofs. Asked the same thing today, he replied, "I want to do the small things that help people."