. For more information, contact: Stella Amador,
Stephanie Chizik: Stella, thank you so much for joining us today.
Stella Amador: Hi, Stephanie. Thank you so much for asking me to be here. I’m excited.
SC: I am as well. We’ve known each other for quite a few years now, but I think it’d be great to introduce you to our listeners. Can you give a little bit of your background?
SA: Sure. Yes, we have known each other a few years. I am the co-owner and vice president of Florida Quality Roofing. I joined my business partner; it’s going to be 10 years this September. I deal with the marketing and the PR and everything that is getting the word out about our company and maintaining great relationships with all our clients, vendors, suppliers, and people like you. That’s basically my role. I specifically carved that niche for myself, and it’s worked really well.
SC: And congratulations on your 10 years. That’s awesome.
SA: Yes, it’s going to be — time flies when you're having fun, but it’s also — I do feel that it’s been a long time.
SC: I’m wondering, do you have a background in the marketing area? How did you get into the roofing industry specifically?
SA: I used to — I actually studied psychology in college, and when I was graduating, I was working a few jobs. When I graduated, the law firm that I was working for primarily on the weekends asked me to start running their office. One thing led to another, and I was thrown into the fire of PR and being on camera, being on radio, being the spokesperson, and running their operation. When I left them to pursue other interests, we had about nine offices, eight in the state of Florida, and one in the state of Georgia. I, in seven years, learned how to grow a business, how to market a business, how to be the face of a company.
It was a great school that prepared me for entering roofing with my partner, German, whom I’ve known since before I was born because our moms are best friends. When I was looking to reinvent myself, he and I had dinner, and he expressed interest in wanting to grow his business in a different direction. He was primarily residential, and he had been in business for 10 years already, had a good reputation but didn’t really have a marketing plan, didn’t really have any presence in the market. It was kind of a really good fit for us. I said, “What do I know about roofing? I know nothing.” He said, “What did you know about law?” And I said, “That’s a good point.” I said I’ll research the industry, I’ll give it three months, and after three months I’ll let you know how I feel.
I think it was two months in, and I just absolutely fell in love with the industry. It was exactly what I was looking for. It was the underdog idea of an industry that doesn’t get a lot of respect and doesn’t get the attention that it deserves. It was quite an easy fit for me because it felt like I was really taking a diamond in the rough and polishing it, because I knew how good my partner was, I know how ethical he is. It made it really easy for me to shout it from the rooftops and do whatever I could to promote us.
SC: I love that. I had no idea that you guys were brother and sister from the womb, so to speak. That’s such an amazing back story. The one thing that really sticks with me from what you just said, too, is that roofing in general, as an industry, is the “black sheep,” so to speak. Do you have any insight into — you've been around now for 10 years in the industry — about why it is that way?
SA: I think, unfortunately, it’s kind of a bad habit. You have people who have been doing things a long time a certain way. It becomes comfortable, so rather than —. Even when things shifted to online. I’ll give you one simple example. For me, purchasing a roof — and I approached it from a perspective of somebody who didn’t know anything about roofing — purchasing a roof is a very large purchase. It’s usually one of the largest home improvement or building improvements that you're going to make. It’s also one of the most intrusive. You have an industry that’s so — it’s used to bidding or throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. You’ll have somebody looking for an estimate and say, “Email me a proposal.” I realized within the three months of me researching the industry, I said, “What do you mean?” It’s 30, 40, 50, 100, 200, hundreds of thousands of dollars. Why wouldn't you meet the person, and why wouldn't you present the options? Why wouldn't you do it in a professional manner? It just struck me as one of the oddest things, coming from a layman, not knowing anything.
What I’ve learned is that the industry just got comfortable. You need people with an outside perspective to say, “No, let’s try it a different way. Let’s do it differently. Let’s meet in person.” My company doesn’t email proposals. We do everything in person. Everything is a personalized approach, and we’re more boutique style, obviously, because of that. We keep it on a smaller scale. We could be bigger. We choose not to. We choose to keep it relationship based. We’re not throwing a thousand things at the wall, and that may work for somebody. For us, and what we wanted to do, it just didn’t fit our model.
SC: While you were saying that — I’m so glad you just said the relationship base — because that’s what I kept thinking. Gosh, your model must really lean toward the ability to have a relationship with your clients, and every single client because you're tailoring it to what their needs are, holding their hand along the way. The communication is probably key. That makes so much sense to me when you put it like that.
SA: Yes. A lot of our clients become our biggest advocates. I do my newsletter once a year. I don’t like to spam people. I do it mostly to say this is what happened in the last year and this is what’s been going on with us. We hope just to kind of reach out, and I’ve had so many clients respond and say, “Congratulations.” It’s really a very family-oriented company. Our company is run by my partner, who’s a second-generation roofing contractor. His father is still very much a part of our company as mentor, and mostly he’s our cheerleader. His cousin works as our production manager. His sister used to work with us. We have that very much family feel, and that’s how we approach our clients. We very much welcome them into the FQR family.
When we finish their roof, it isn’t the end of the relationship. It’s usually the beginning of a lifelong friendship. We’ve been around now — it’s 19 years yesterday. Most of our clients do become our biggest advocates, and we do walk them through the entire process, and we end up doing [roofs for] their nephews, their nieces, their children. It’s a great pleasure. We love doing that. We love it when we get to work with people and have those long-term relationships. And not just with clients. We do that with people like you. We’ve met once, and we stay in contact. If we could ever do anything for each other in any way, we’re willing and able. It’s a pleasure to business that way.
SC: I completely agree. You guys are always willing to work with us or give us feedback, and we’ve been able to feature you guys in a couple articles as well. It’s definitely a relationship, and you guys are great at building those relationships. It seems like, too, I know that not only have you won awards through us, but you've been award winners in other associations and organizations as well. It seems like what you're doing is successful, not only for the client but for you guys too. Congrats to all your great work. It seems like it —
SA: Thank you. Yes, thank you. Absolutely. We’ve been very fortunate to position ourselves. The idea has always been we want to elevate the standards. We want to elevate the standards of the roofing profession. Again, with that mentality of it is one of the most — hardest work that you have to do. When you see somebody on a roof, they’re experiencing the elements in a way that most people never will and never do. For me, I don’t take it for granted that I couldn’t myself, physically — I’ve never done it. I know my partner has and his father has. I’m very humbled to be able to shine a light on that.
SC: And you guys are in Florida, so that’s even more so when you talk about the elements. Do you think that that’s one of the biggest challenges for you guys, or are there other challenges that you guys experience as part of the roofing industry?
SA: I think that’s the biggest. Because we are in south Florida and we do work throughout the state, but primarily our headquarters is in south Florida. We do experience extreme heat. We experience days where you’ll have morning heat and then you’ll have a thunderstorm at noon, and it’ll be a 30-minute shower, and then it’s regular for the rest of the day. We’ve become experts at working around the weather and figuring out what we can and cannot do. That is a big challenge from being in this particular geographical area.
SC: Do you think — I know you spoke a little bit about you specific to where you think your growth is going to be. Do you think that you guys will stay within the Florida area? Is that where you want to focus your attention, or do you look into expanding in other areas?
SA: We are — primarily, our focus is the central to southern Florida. I think my partner and I — German deals with the production side and specifically our work itself, the actual work logistics. We’ve talked about going up to northern Florida and Jacksonville area, and that’s something that we’re exploring. But primarily we are central to southern Florida. But that is an option. It really depends on can we maintain the quality and the expectations that we’ve set for ourselves anywhere else. That’s the question that we ask ourselves. Can we deliver what we promised in that environment, in that area? If the answer’s yes, then yes, we’re willing to go.
SC: And growth obviously looks different, it means different things to different people. Growth doesn’t necessarily mean geographical growth, either.
SA: Yes. It really does mean, for us, specifically, it means being able to reach a broader audience but also maintain the quality of our standards.
SC: Part of what you guys are putting out right now, and this is kind of why we were thinking of talking specifically today, was your Roofing With a Purpose program. Can you give us an overview of what that is and why you started doing that?
SA: Yes. Thank you. That’s something I’ve very excited about. Last year, during COVID, it was our 18th year anniversary, and I had plans. I usually get together to build those relationships. I invite clients. I invite our distributors or manufacturers to a little shindig and just rekindle those relationships. Well, we couldn’t do that last year. I had to get creative, and I said what better way? I actually read an article. German and I are both big basketball fans, and specifically Miami Heat. I read an article by Udonis Haslem, who’s a former player. He talked about the impact that food and security is bringing to our community. Us, growing up in this environment and seeing firsthand the needs of our peers, it was a great opportunity to marry those two things that we wanted to do. We wanted to commemorate our anniversary and we want to build on the community. And we said, What better way? Last year we partnered with Feeding South Florida. Because of that article that I read.
This year, we’ve decided to partner with the Boys and Girls Clubs. It went from the transition of putting security to — okay, now that kids are going to be starting to go back to school, some of them already are, what does that look like? How can we help? Children really are our future. How can we get involved and do whatever we can to support those causes?
SC: Each year, do you pick a new organization to partner with?
SA: It started last year, and last year we partnered with Feeding South Florida. Like I said, this year, I happened to also do a lot of networking as part of our networking, and I’ve been really introduced to the Boys and Girls Club through one of my networking groups. I had a conversation with their director in the area, and it was a really great fit for what we were looking to do. Yes, that’s what we did. We switched to the Boys and Girls Club, and so far it’s been great. The response is amazing from our clients, who have reached out already donated. We’re donating portions of each of our projects to that cause so that we can exponentially help them in any way that we can.
SC: I think that, for people who are listening, it would be helpful also if you could share — obviously, you guys have altruistic motivations behind partnering with these organizations, which is amazing. I think it’s great. I’m thinking for people who don’t necessarily have that “giving bone.” Are you seeing some benefits as far as it’s helping to market your name out to potential new clients, or anything like that as far as benefits for your business goes?
SA: Absolutely. Last year during COVID, everyone was struggling to figure out how to market appropriately and how to build your business during a time where everyone is scared, number, one, and also the level of uncertainty as to what’s going to happen. What the campaign did for us was to be able to market in an appropriate way that seemed, that is reaching your target audience. Reaching an audience that is really looking at what’s happening and is conscious and it’s aware.
When we started donating — and I believe in karma — it’s not only a great thing to do, but it’s also — we saw an increase. When we started donating for every roof that we did, we started seeing a return on our investment almost immediately with the amount of people talking about us, with the amount of people reaching to our social media looking to spread the word. If you're going to buy a roof — and talking to those people who don’t have that altruism within them — if you're going to buy a roof, if you’re a homeowner or you're a building owner, and you see someone doing, a company that’s donating a portion and doing something for the community versus someone who isn’t, a lot of my clients said, “I was more inclined because you were doing something.”
SC: It helps to set you apart, potentially, from your competitors and gives a reason to work with you guys. I love that. I think it’s great.
SA: Absolutely. And it definitely — like I said, for us, tracking our return on investment, it was almost like — even my partner said, “Whatever we’re doing is really working,” because we didn’t expect to come out of being in lockdown to all of a sudden to get the amount of work that we got just because of what we were doing. It made us think twice. This year, there was no question as to what we were going to do. The question was, Are we going to keep doing what we did before or can we switch to something different and tie it into what we want to see in our community?
SC: I love it. I think it’s so great. I’ve seen a couple organizations — manufacturers, vendors, as well — and it feels like the right thing to do, particularly right now, to your point. For anyone who’s new coming into the industry, do you have any tips or tricks or words of wisdom to share with them?
SA: Yes. Grow some thick skin. This is not for the faint of heart, this industry. It took me, I think, the first three years to not have a pit in my stomach when I saw guys on a roof, when I talked about safety, when we talked about — one of the things that can keep a business owner up at night is safety and the safety of your team and are you doing enough to protect them with the inclement weather, with safety procedures, etc.
Also, things are always going to happen. We’re in an industry where we control very little. We don’t control when materials become available. We don’t control when permitting happens. We don’t control a lot. So having open and honest conversations with your clients — especially now, when materials have become even more scarce when it comes to certain materials — like tile’s behind, foam is behind because of a variety of reasons. Having open and honest conversations with your clients. Things are going to happen. You just have to respond to them. Don’t hide from the issues. Be open and honest and tell your clients what’s going on, and it’ll go a lot smoother.
SC: That probably goes back to your earlier theme of the building of relationships. Sounds like it infiltrates a lot of what you guys do.
SA: Yes, it does. We eat it, breathe it, and sleep it. Roofing and just having, just talking. We have a group chat with our team and are constantly communicating. Whenever something goes wrong, we’re the first ones to call a client, even if the client doesn’t know it.
SC: Wow. That’s awesome. Is there anything that you want to talk about before I hit you with these rapid-fire questions, that I didn’t ask?
SA: Yes. I want to give a big shout out to everybody in the industry. What we do is incredibly difficult. If you’re doing this, you have thick skin already. If you're getting ready to do it, do it with passion and throw yourself in there and you’ll be successful. If you're interested in contributing or learning more, I have a few links that I can share at the end, and I’m happy to have a conversation.
SC: Great. Let me give you the rapid fire, and then we’ll circle back so people can reach out to you. Who is your hero or mentor, Stella?
SA: My hero or mentor. My grandmother was my — I was her shadow. My grandmother was an artist, and she was a painter and a sculptor. I come from an artistic family. I always envisioned myself to be an artist, although I’m just an admirer. She was an amazing woman. She founded the first school of art in my hometown, and she was brilliant. I always wonder, “What would my grandmother do?”
SC: That’s so great. What is your biggest pet peeve?
SA: Not showing up. If you're say you're going to do something, do it. If you're not going to do it, just tell me so that I’m not expecting you to do it. That’s my biggest pet peeve.
SC: I second that. What place would you most like to get stuck in for a week right now?
SA: Oh, it’s easy. I would love to be in Portugal, in the wine region, sipping on some amazing Vinho Verdes or some crisp white wine. I would love to be there.
SC: That sounds like heaven. Thank you so much for joining us today, Stella. I really appreciate it. I think we gave our listeners a lot of good tips and tricks and ideas as far as where they might think to grow or where they might want to reassess. You guys are obviously doing a lot of great things over at Florida Quality Roofing. If people do want to follow up with you for more information afterwards, how should they do that?
SA: They can email me at email@example.com. We’re also on Facebook. I posted the campaign on our Facebook page, which is just Florida Quality Roofing Inc., which you can check it out and help spread the word. If you’re interested in contributing, it’s the Boys and Girls Club, so it’s www.bgcbc.org/fqr19. That’s for our actual direct campaign donations will be going directly to them to help after-school kids who rely heavily on the program to be able to maintain their after-school care.
SC: That’s awesome. I will be sure to add the links in our show description, too, so if people want to go ahead and use those, they can follow up, donate.