Atlas-Apex Roofing Inc.: Setting Industry Standards from the Inside

Atlas-Apex Roofing Inc. (AAR) is currently one of Canada's premiere roofing companies. It's origins, however, are quite humble. The Ontario-based company was founded in 1928 as Atlas Roofing, handling mainly residential new construction jobs with a specialty in shingled roofs.

“We even still have some of the old invoice slips where the total cost of labor and materials is just $5.75,” explains John Petrachek, the company's president and general manager. In 1968, Atlas merged with Apex Roofing and has since grown into the largest non-union roofing contractors in the Toronto area, working specifically in the industrial-commercial-institutional (ICI) sector. The company's capabilities and invoices are substantially larger, but AAR still strives to provide only the best customer service and value possible.

With the exclusion of new construction, AAR has a hand in almost every roofing type and has expanded its offering with changes in market demands. “We do mostly re-roofing and maintenance work, including emergency repairs and roof replacement, and we have invested in some green roofing companies to keep up with demand,” asserts Petrachek.

Petrachek maintains a thorough understanding of current market trends and concerns as a member of the Roof Consultants Institute (RCI), Canadian Roofing Contractors Association (CRCA), National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), and the Ontario Industrial Roofing Contractors Association (OIRCA), and he uses this insight to lead AAR into informed acquisitions for the long-term good of the company. “Our corporate structure is different than some of our competitors because we don’t believe in expanding our company through additional divisions,” he explains. “Instead, we like to invest in successful companies, like our solar company, the way a parent company would, and allowing them to handle that specific specialty.”

Targeting specific sectors rather than geographical locations, AAR works for clients in the healthcare, education, food processing/production, retail, property management and government sectors, applying the most technologically advanced techniques and products to maintain the highest industry standards for quality and service.

The Pinnacle of Personnel Training

AAR understands that roofing is quite often one of the largest expenses for building owners, and that proper maintenance/servicing of the roof system is the most effective way to get the most value from the original expenditure. AAR uses over 75 years of experience to select the best method/materials to avoid unnecessary leaking, cracking or other types of roofing damage, saving time and money in the long run. To reinforce its leading position in the roofing industry, AAR employs some of the most experienced and highly trained individuals, and a key part of the company’s business model is a continual training program. Petrachek explains:

“There was a time 15 years ago when the industry was not as strictly regulated as it is now, where just about anyone could walk in off the street and take a job as a roofer, but the industry has since tightened its regulations of health and safety measures so we have to work very hard to stay updated in order to keep our employees safe. It’s not just trade skills that have to be taught now and it’s becoming an increasingly complicated trade so it has become harder to find qualified people. The older generation of workers is really valuable because they have an incomparable work ethic, whereas the younger generation is very mindful about safety regulations, but our biggest challenge as a company is training and retraining all of our personnel.”

As a signal of the company’s investment in its employees, the company has made several moves in recent years to increase its in-house training programs. “We have one of the only female health and safety directors, who runs all of our in-house safety training programs, and we also moved into a new facility last year with classrooms and meeting spaces specifically to accommodate the training sessions,” reveals Petracheck. “We even have space for the manufacturers to run in-house, hands-on training sessions to instruct our employees on the proper use and application of new products. We are as a company are very committed to staying up-to-date with the industry’s demands and regulations.”

In Tip-top Shape for Steady Growth

While some industries suffered a massive impact from the economic decline in 2008, AAR has invested in its own infrastructure, enabling it to undergo atypical growth. With affiliates across the nation, AAR is able to provide excellent, timely service, and continues to grow its presence as a trusted member of the Canadian roofing industry. “A company can either grow organically or through acquisitions, and we have had a lot of both,” reflects Petrachek. “We have had massive growth since 2000, when we went from a $5 million operation to a large conglomerate of companies specifically because of our people, both in the field and in the office.

“Our emphasis as a company has always been service, service, service, and our success is a derivative of the amazing people who work here, who take pride and ownership in the work and of course our commitment to service,” continues Petrachek. “In this industry, if the service department grows, the company can grow its other departments, and we take pride in having a great service department. Even though I own the company, it’s not mine. It’s the employees who own the company, and that is why we offer our employees the full health and benefits package.”

In the coming years, Petrachek expects a steady economic trend will help the company maintain its position in the industry, hopefully with room to grow.

“I really don’t see the economy doing anything very extreme in the near future,” says Petrachek. “And the good news about our market, especially because we don’t do any new construction, is that demand for our services is almost recession-proof. We work predominantly with ‘blue-chip’ companies, and even if they don’t have the capital to invest in a re-roof, they will channel the capital they do have towards maintenance and repairs.”

Well-tuned in regards to infrastructural development, trade training and an emphasis on service, Atlas-Apex Roofing Inc. continues to make the investments that will assure its success into a second century.