Feazel is experiencing exponential growth despite a tight labor market.
A hail storm brought Leo Ruberto to Columbus. It was 2003 when he and his business partners entered the central Ohio market, initially helping reliable roofing contractors with good track records update their marketing and promotional materials. An Easter storm had caused damage to homes all over the region, and Ruberto was working with local roofing companies to help them capitalize.
Ruberto came away impressed with two particular roofing businesses: Able and Feazel. “I left for another market but returned in 2006 working as an Able subcontractor for a while.” During this second stint in Columbus, Ruberto observed some changes in the local industry. “I also noticed what I thought was a [marketing] decline with Feazel,” he recalls.
That turned out to be a serendipitous observation when Ruberto met Mike Feazel, one of two Feazel brothers who owned the roofing company. “We started talking and then talking some more and then we eventually reached a contract,” Ruberto says.
In early 2013, Ruberto bought Feazel and set out to energize the business.
One of the first moves Ruberto made was to drop “Roofing” from the company name and emphasize that Feazel provided residential and commercial exterior services that include roofing, gutters, siding, windows, masonry and insulation.
Ruberto also broadened the scope of Feazel's reach by expanding into Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, Raleigh, North Carolina and Indianapolis (March opening), and is eying four more cities as potential locations.
Feazel has always provided service in Indianapolis but is opening a standalone office there. Further in 2015, CEO Ross Appledorn was brought on to run daily operations.
And all the while revenue has soared. Feazel in 2012 recorded nearly $5 million in revenue. By the end of 2017, revenue increased to $35 million, a seven-fold jump from 2012.
Feazel's growth has prompted it to look at its infrastructure, especially with the goal of expanding into other markets. The company unloaded its materials distribution subsidiary Capstone Supply, started in 2014, to Wisconsin-based ABC Supply Co. Inc., a competitor with offices in Columbus and Cincinnati.
“There are a lot of infrastructure challenges; many times, companies struggle with maintaining growth and keeping the business efficient,” Ruberto says. “We have been working hard the past 24 months in putting the infrastructure in place to accommodate sustained growth. The new corporate office is going to help with that.”
While Ruberto acknowledges a robust economy has helped fuel business, a labor shortage also has presented obstacles. “In an economy where you have a very low unemployment rate in a somewhat primitive industry, you have some certain challenges,” he says. “The biggest challenge is bringing new talent into the industry. Tradesmen are a dying breed, and we are hoping we can put a positive spin on being in this industry.”
One of the innovations Ruberto says might appeal to prospects looking to hook up with a forward-thinking company is the use of drones that will get introduced this year. He hopes the technology, which he calls the “next evolution” for the industry, will appeal to consumers and employees alike.
Feazel's growth isn't the reason why the property management company, Towne Properties, sticks with it. Feazel handles roof and exterior repairs for Towne's 15,000 units in the Columbus area. “Leo is an honest businessman who works well to assure customer satisfaction and a quality job,” says Kim Brown, regional vice president who oversees Towne's Columbus market.
Ruberto considers the drones as one part in creating a culture that embraces its workforce in meaningful ways. For instance, Feazel subsidizes employees' health insurance plans—they pay $1 per week. “We care for our people, we do, and we show that through this,” he says, “and being able to sustain that over the course of our growth is a big testament to who we are.”
Craig Lovelace is a freelance writer.