Rick Ragan, owner of Southern Roofing Company of Tennessee, located in Nashville, considers himself fortunate to be replacing old roofs with new standing seam, particularly in the current economy.
“Our economy is very good in the Nashville area and it continues to grow,” he notes. While tract builders may be suffering, the high-end custom market in the upscale areas continue to thrive, he observes. And even some of the downtown areas are being rejuvenated with mixed use residential and commercial construction being embraced by new homeowners tired of paying soaring fuel costs that are part and parcel of the cost of suburban commuting.
Ragan has been in business serving Nashville and parts of Middle Tennessee since 1981. When he totals up his work, he reports it is 85 percent re-roofing and 15 percent new — both in residential and commercial roofing.
Ragan admits he is an example of being in the right place at the right time. But he’s capitalized on that good fortune by creating a roofing company that is the exception more than the rule — an exception that has served him well. He concentrates on the high-end market restoring fine homes, providing his customers with service and expertise they might not find elsewhere. All work is done by full-time employees who have learned from craftsmen who have been with the company more than 25 years. He does not use subcontractors. Quality detail and craftsmanship are paramount. In fact, while he doesn’t quite say it, he appears to regard construction concepts like “value engineering” as the current economy’s euphemism for low cost that sacrifices quality.
Most of his work is negotiated because he has found that many of the people making choices in a competitive bidding environment are focused more on low price and less on quality or craftsmanship.
Many of his re-roofing projects are historical renovations — homes built between 1840 and 1930 — where the current owners are trying to use materials that were commonly used in that time frame. Often, Ragan is replacing cedar shakes with standing seam, both of which were prevalent even in the early 1800s.
Witness one of his recent restoration projects — a log home built in the early 1870s on the site of what is now the Nashville International Airport. It was moved around 1930 to its current location on the south side of Nashville on the border of Brentwood, Tenn. When it was reconstructed in the 1930s, concrete tile was used as the roofing material. It is believed that wood shakes were used in the original construction in 1870. The concrete tile had deteriorated due to age and when the current owner bought and renovated the home in 2006, he wished to use a material that would have been historically correct. This could have been either a standing seam metal roof or the wood shakes. The work also includes a new wood shop that was built during the renovations in 2006. The logs, chinking and roof system was all used to mimic the original construction of the home. Ultimately, Ragan counseled the owner to choose an Englert Series 2000 standing seam Galvalume panel. While the wood shakes would have been a good choice, the owner chose the metal due to the longevity of the metal roof system compared to the life expectancy of the wood shake. There was also a cost savings on labor using the metal roof system.
“Our clients trust us, they know we’re reasonable and, most important, they are looking to us for ideas,” he notes. “Generally, they are looking for a replacement roof that will last longer, meet the historical provenance of the structure and be aesthetically pleasing. Cost is usually a bonus.”