"We've Always Been a People Company"
Before I started T&K, I was working for someone else. And, I knew I had figured some things out. I was making the company a lot of money. I deserved a raise, and I asked for it. But, the owner told me I wouldn’t get it.
So, I started the company just before April fools’ day. I got a call quickly from the owner of the local lumber yard. He asked me to stop by, and told me; “I’m behind you! I need to tell you though, there’s a group in town who is betting you won’t last six months. But, you have a line of credit here and I’m going to find you more work!”
Here we are 60 years later. Still in business. I didn’t do this though. Our people did this.
I knew what it felt like to not get that raise I deserved. So, we’ve always been a people company.
"Well, I loved him!"
I always knew I was strong. I watched my dad work two jobs. And my mom supported him. I guess I knew how she did things.
I was pregnant with our first son when Tom told me he’d quit his job to start a roofing company. I knew he was capable. And, well, I loved him. So, I thought we could do it.
But, we didn’t do it alone. There are so many people along the way who support you. We had a classmate who joined us and was with us from day one. So many others who were such a blessing to us.
And now, I am just so proud! Look around! Our son is here. Our grandson! It’s just an awesome feeling.
"We treat every person as if they are our family."
They call me the “den mom” and I take that title seriously. A couple years ago, I got a call from one of our guys. He was trying to leave a jobsite and his vehicle was surrounded by protestors. I could hear the fear in his voice.
That fear is why safety is a foundation of all we do at T&K. Because we don’t know what the next safety incident will be. We train daily, monthly, and annually so we are prepared when the unknown happens.
Our goal is always to have our employees go home in the same condition they came to us. We take that very seriously. We treat every person as our family. Because they are our family.
"We're capable of doing anything."
It was historic King Chapel at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. It was in disrepair.
We were able to repair the structure, give it a new façade, and restore the clock face. This band of brothers works so hard. I’m so impressed with the work we do. We were able to bring this historical building back to life.
When you see something like that, you understand we’re capable of doing anything.
"He had my back."
I was extremely nervous - nervous to fill his shoes. I took over for a guy who was doing the job for 30 some years. It was a daunting task to live up to the expectations he set. I honestly wasn’t sure how it was going to go. And, I knew there were people in the field mocking the idea of me doing this position. The way the company embraced me and offered the support I needed to be successful was incredible. They enabled me to live up to my own potential.
I remember the day I knew I could make everything happen. Someone in the community asked a field guy how I was doing. He answered by saying; “pretty f*cking good, actually!”
He had my back. That’s how I got the motivation and confidence to do this role. I got it from the people all around me.
"We always find a way to solve a problem."
The derecho hit sometime ahead of 1:00. We watched it from that corner office. We were on the phone buying supplies before it was over.
Kurt went south for power and internet, and Denise went north. Our founder wired up our generator. My job was to show up. I’m the finance guy and I was buying chicken everyday so our people had lunch.
That’s the thing, we all do what we can.
We always find a way to solve a problem.
"What the hell is this?"
When I decided to join the company, it was emotional. Denise hugged me on my first day!
I can remember bringing my first project to my desk. All I could think was “what the hell is this?”.
It took me an entire day to bid it. I had no idea what I was doing. But, I had all the support I needed to bring the project to life. The whole company helped me!
We didn’t win the job. But, I learned about our culture. I had been around the company my whole life, and this was the first time I really understood. This is what it’s about. Yeah, it’s a challenging job, but the people, the people make it worth it!
“It’s impressive. How we all came together.”
I was on a roof when I got the call from my wife. She said 90 mph winds were headed our way. As we got into town, the van started getting pushed sideways. By the time I got to my house, it was chaos. Everything was getting blown around and no one had power.
I took one day off to ensure everything was okay at my own house then I got back to work. It was go-time. We’d grab our sheet from Kurt in the morning and be out for the next twelve hours. We went from getting people temped-in to re-roofing over the course of the next year.
It was impressive. How we all came together. You didn’t even think about it. We just needed to help everyone out there.
"I'm here because of the lives we build."
I never expected to be here. I had a whole different plan.
And, honestly, when you buy a business, you think it will be about making money. About growing the business.
But, a young man proposed to his girlfriend here. He sent me the picture! There was a guy who started with us who – we later found out – was living in his car. Because he was working here, he was able to get a place to live. To build a career – a life. People buy houses, cars and raise families because they are working with us!
Sure, you could say we install roofs and sheet metal on buildings. And, we do. But, I’m here because of the lives we build.