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Business integrity leads to success, recognition

Stan Volkman

In September, Conklin Director and Emeritus Master Contractor Stan Volkman, Robbinsdale, Mn., learned some great news. His company, Skyline Consultants & Building Services, was a finalist for the prestigious 2009 Integrity Award – presented by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Minnesota and North Dakota. The BBB bestows the award annually to a company displaying exceptional ethics and integrity toward their employees, vendors, customers and community. Although Stan’s company didn’t win, he was pleased to be one of 14 finalists from a field of 200 nominees. Here’s why Stan and his company were seriously considered.

Dedicated to quality Conklin products

Stan began his Conklin career in 1979 when he applied his first roof coating system on his own trailer home. (He sold his ’69 Camero to purchase his training and materials.) It wasn’t long before he was applying Conklin roofs all across the country. Thirty years later, he continues to install high-quality Conklin systems exclusively. “With Conklin systems, my clients never have to worry about their roofs,” says Stan. “Conklin’s array of quality roofing products and my experience installing each of their systems means I always have the right solution for every roofing situation,” says Stan.

Devoted to perfecting application

When it comes to application, no one sweats the small stuff like Stan. “My former job as a machinist taught me to pay attention to the details. And I’ve always enjoyed working with my hands,” explains Stan. “I rely on these qualities when applying my roofs.”

“There may be some contractors who consider cutting corners for more profit,” Stan continues. “I just can’t.” At times, he has butted heads with clients who demand the cheapest solution. “One of my customers has always focused on price while I’m all about quality,” says Stan. “But after seeing how well his roof has held up over the years, he’s coming around to my point of view.”

Integrity in action: Three steps to more jobs, loyalty

Stan has built a successful roofing business by focusing on three important steps: “I ask lots of questions up front, focus on solving their problems and personally service my accounts. As a result, several of my clients have been with me for nearly 20 years!”

He elaborates: “When I’m on a roof for the first time, I ask them about their business operations as well as their roof,” says Stan. “Usually, the more questions I ask the more likely I am to land the job…often before I even finish touring the roof.”

Stan finds it easy to sum up his job. “I’m in the business of solving problems,” he explains. “It’s through solving problems that I apply roofs.” He continues: “Once you solve someone’s problem, you develop their trust – which helps ensure you won’t be underbid down the road. And if you can solve a problem that 20 other roofers couldn’t, you will earn a lifetime of loyalty.”

Finally, Stan services all of his accounts himself, even if he uses a subcontractor. “No matter how small the repair, I’m the one that shows up,” says Stan. “That’s how I maintain the relationship I’ve established.”

Time for family, career, new goals

Stan is grateful for the flexibility his Conklin career has provided. He’s been able to focus on raising his family while growing his roofing business. “With the freedom I’ve had to set my own schedule, I was able to coach youth hockey for about eight years,” explains Stan. “My kids enjoyed playing, plus it was a great way to give back to the community.”

With the kids now grown, Stan is focused on building a new team of Conklin contractors as well as selling and applying roofs. “I’m working toward securing my retirement,” he says. “This past year, I sponsored five contractors, and I plan to start traveling like I did in the early days of my Conklin career – both to service customers and introduce others to Conklin’s Roofing Systems.”

Stan’s trade show “gold”

Stan believes in the value of attending trade shows – especially association trade shows that are industry specific. “We exhibit at several food industry trade shows. The people who attend either work for or service companies that process, manufacture, ship and store food and commodities,” explains Stan. “Many of these businesses have large facilities that need quality roofs – giving us plenty of good leads.”

Stan continues: “We started attending these types of events when a client invited us to exhibit at one of their industry’s shows.” If you’re interested in pursuing this angle, Stan recommends you check out your current customer base and learn which trade associations or groups they belong to. “Then, try to gain access to those associations and their shows through your clients,” advises Stan. “It has proven to be a very lucrative inroad for me.”