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When Keith Barber wanted a career change in 2020, he had two important factors to consider: He wanted a recession-proof business in a location he and his family would enjoy. Barber says he found a perfect fit with the roofing industry in the Ozarks, an area where he had previously lived for a few years.
“I looked at several different industries and settled on roofing,” says Barber, who moved his family from Charleston, South Carolina, to a former cattle farm in Reeds Spring. “If you had to pick an area of the country to do roofing, there are only a couple of places that would be better than Missouri. Because of its severe weather, including tornadoes and storms, it makes the business evergreen.”
After keeping an eye on Hunter Roofing in Springfield, Barber thought he had missed his opportunity when the business was taken off the market. But, through a mutual friend, Barber connected with the company owner, Joseph Hunter Walker, by phone.
“We almost had the deal done within 20 minutes,” Barber says. “He couldn’t believe I was calling.”
After the sale for an undisclosed price nearly three years ago, Walker stayed on, stepping into the role of the company’s general manager and as a minority owner.
“The partnership has worked well,” Barber says, adding that exchanging knowledge and expertise has helped the business remain stable.
First of five
Hunter Roofing, established in 2015, offers residential roofing repairs and replacements. It was the first of five companies Barber’s acquired since 2020, all of which now operate under Storm Restorations of America LLC at its Highlandville headquarters.
“It’s almost a gut feeling,” Barber says, on how he knew it was time to expand operations. “I felt like things were operating smoothly, and we had moved a few metrics that I was watching to make sure we were improving and getting stronger.”
Once his team had settled into some newly assigned roles, in 2021, Barber added The Micham Roofing Co. LLC and Rain Away Gutters, both Branson-based businesses for over 25 years.
Barber employs 12 people at the Highlandville office, which includes administration, sales, marketing, and repair and gutter installation crews. The team also hires subcontractors for larger jobs, such as full roof replacements.
With a combined annual revenue estimated at $20 million this year, Barber says Hunter Roofing performs 300-400 residential roof replacements annually, with operations in Kansas City doubling that.
“There are many days we’ll have eight to 10 a week, doing a full tear-off and replacement in one day,” he says.
Additionally, Hunter Roofing, which has an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau, offers gutter repair and replacement, as well as routine roof repairs.
“We’ll come out, take a look at the roof, look for troubled spots or leaks. In the Ozarks, if you live here long enough, you’re gonna have a leak,” Barber says.
He adds that when the damage happens, Barber wants his company to be there for his clients.
“You have to really put yourself in an empathetic position with the homeowner,” Barber says, understanding that many of his clients call when they are stressed about an urgent roofing situation. “I prefer the term client to customer, because it implies fiduciary rather than transactional.”
Rhett Smillie, a real estate agent in Springfield for 26 years, is a client of Hunter Roofing and frequently refers his own clients for inspection work and repairs. “I’ve seen a ton of roofing companies out there come and go,” Smillie says via email. What sets Hunter Roofing apart, he adds, is that Barber and his crew “took the time to build a relationship with me which translated to a relationship for my customers.”
Having satisfied and repeat clients has allowed Barber to expand even further, purchasing JG Contracting in Kansas City in 2022 and, earlier this year, Ivy Roofing in Lebanon.
Ivy Roofing, which has been around since 1972, is “a different animal,” according to Barber. “They do more commercial and industrial and metal work.” Currently, Ivy Roofing is performing a job on the Fort Leonard Wood military base, and has clients like Wonders of Wildlife National Museum & Aquarium in its portfolio.
With offices now in different parts of the state, Barber says there are benefits to buying multiple companies.
“You can learn what each office was doing successfully and take what works and share those amongst the team,” he says.
Barber says he has experienced multiple trials and errors, testing various marketing campaigns and best practices including working with in-house repairers versus using subcontractors.
“It’s a constant practice, tweaking things and figuring out what works and what doesn’t, pivoting, making adjustments,” he says.
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