Rooftops Silicone Distributors Inc.
Proudly serving the Virgin Islands since 1970
Business View Caribbean interviews Rodger Bressi, Managing Director of Rooftops Silicone Distributors Inc., for our focus on the Construction Sector
For Rodger Bressi, Managing Director of Rooftops Silicone Distributors Inc, running a family-started business while keeping the needs and concerns of its valued employees at the heart of the business model is what motivates the work he undertakes every day.
Cognizant of the vital role that quality roofing plays in the framework of any construction development, whether it is on the residential or commercial side, Bressi and his team has made it their mission to deliver outstanding quality, reliable service, and a commitment to his clients that has cemented Rooftops’ place among the top roofing companies in the region.
Rooftops Silicone Distributors Inc. traces its origins back to 1970. The respected roofing company was started by three partners which included Bressi’s father who was involved with the business as a silent partner. Specializing in residential roofing, over the years, Rooftops developed a reputable name for itself and became a mainstay in the community of St Croix in the Virgin Islands.
Bressi clarifies, “When I say roofing, I mean we do it like it is supposed to be done. It is done to very high standards. It is not the ‘Chuck in the truck’ guy where there is a toolbox and roller pads and a guy who claims that he can take care of your roofing problem.”
Bressi goes on to explain, “We will get a call three years later to fix a problem and just shake our heads, which is, unfortunately, the case because roofing is one of those businesses that you don’t need a lot of startup money to start. But to do the real jobs and really have some juice to back yourself up, you’ve got to have the insurance and you’ve got to have the benefits for the employees, and you’ve got to have all the right things.”
Acutely aware that in order to secure the big jobs and keep clients satisfied while living up to the reputation that Rooftops has earned over the years, the company must focus on ensuring that those key elements are on display and that the employees, as well as the clients, come first.
With a background in the construction trades and a love of the industry, Bressi took over the reins of Rooftops Silicone Distributors Inc in 2013 after receiving word from his stepmom that the tight-knit family business might be in financial trouble. “In 2010 the economy was very soft here,” Bressi recalls. “We always follow the U.S. about two years behind in everything that happens there. So, if there’s an issue there in 2008, we are going to see it in 2009 or 2010.”
Raised in St Croix, US Virgin Islands, Bressi developed a keen recognition of the unique construction issues indigenous to the region by watching the family business and working in odd construction jobs at the tender age of 15 and 16. From then on, he was involved in general construction and building houses and small office buildings.
Once fully up to speed on the dire financial circumstances that were impacting Rooftops in 2013, Bressi took time to decide whether he should step in to run the family business and take the necessary steps to bring it back to solid financial footing. Initially reluctant to make the leap, after studying the structure of the business and realizing the unique role it played in the community, Bressi committed himself to take the helm of Rooftops. “It is like no other construction business. It has a retail store where we sell to customers (materials, roof supplies for the do-it-yourself people) and we also have a construction division. So, I had two different businesses within one to deal with,” Bressi reflects.
Deciding to retain all the employees who had the knowledge of how the company structure worked, and the experience to back up their performance, one of Bressi’s first tasks was to fully automate the business to help incorporate and utilize the latest technology to both streamline the work and help make the roofing work more efficient. He notes, “We took all the books and drawings and we catalogued the information in the computer. So we don’t have to look through the books and we can go into the computer and find the page that the actual drawing is on.”
By simply searching on the computer database for an address of a house that Rooftops had worked on decades ago, the need to manually look through the books is eliminated, saving time for the employees and negating the need to go out and draw the site, as well as compile measurements. “It has helped us just to be automated and find new products that had been under-utilized. It also allows us to capitalize on products that nobody did the research to find out whether they may have become certified to use.”
One innovation that Bressi mentions is the use of drones to help in the roofing process. Just as in other construction sectors, developers and contractors are realizing the potential that technology plays in providing efficiencies that were not obtainable in previous years. As Bressi points out, technology also came into play with the lessons learned during the pandemic. Online applications became more of a lifeline to continue with business-as-usual during a highly unpredictable and unusual few years.
Although not a problem during the height of the pandemic, other factors came into play as COVID-19 waned. Those factors still impact Rooftops today, including the skyrocketing cost of materials. Supply chain shortages have also affected Rooftops business model. Bressi acknowledges, “All throughout COVID we were busy. We never had trouble getting any materials, it was just business as usual. We didn’t have any supply chain issues. It was after COVID kind of disappeared that along came the supply chain issues and the availability to get materials which hit us very hard.”
Bressi recalls that “there were jobs that we couldn’t do for eight months because we were waiting on materials. It has opened up a bit and definitely has become easier, which is livable if you get the orders in, submit, and get all the products in and approved well in advance. The price of lumber has also played havoc. It was crazy – three months ago we paid about $74 dollars for a sheet of 3/4”plywood.”
With a recent tweaking of their company logo to help brand the business that coincides with a complete updating of the company’s website, Bressi is confident that Rooftops is well prepared to meet the anticipated construction demand over the next three years. He reports, “FEMA has put a lot of money into the U.S. Virgin Islands. More money, I think, than ever before, which is close to $8 billion. It is for the purpose of rebuilding schools, government buildings, and different economic development projects. Being able to do all this work and take customers that we’ve had forever will be a challenge”
By building up local infrastructure the doors are wide open for skilled labor to take on roofing projects and Bressi is not about to sit on the sidelines. Determined to take on the bulk of the upcoming roofing needs is first and foremost for Rooftops, solidifying its top position in the roofing industry. “There is serious work coming up, so from now and for the next three years, business will be good for us, providing we have a committed, strong workforce as a team.” Bressi concludes.
AT A GLANCE
Rooftops Silicone Distributors, Inc.
What: A roofing industry leader in the U.S. Virgin Islands for over 50 years
Where: Based in St. Croix, Virgin Islands