Roofing company takes on high-profile projects

PHD Roof Doctor’s in Fredonia is booked for several million-dollar jobs throughout the Midwest

PHD ROOF DOCTOR’S owner Paul Deheck stood next to a press brake that shapes panels for roofing projects. He said a number of contractors don’t manufacture materials in-house because of the overhead cost of the equipment. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
JOE POIRIER
Ozaukee Press Staff

Owner Paul Deheck of PHD Roof Doctor’s said this winter has been the busiest season in his 18 years of business.

The roof contracting company at 340 S. Milwaukee St. in Fredonia is working on three million-dollar projects, and Deheck credits the economy for the boom in work.

“We’re swamped right now and hurting for more employees. We’ve had million-dollar projects before, but not three at one time. It’s been a little tough manpower-wise because the bigger jobs take longer. Everybody seems to be building bigger stuff right now,” he said, noting the company typically does about $10 million worth of projects per year.

Deheck said he has built strong relationships with general contractors over the years, and because of that a number of projects are taking his crews out of the state. 

One of the major jobs his team of 42 employees is working on is a new addition at St. Wenceslaus Catholic Church in Omaha, Neb.

“It’s the largest Catholic church in Omaha, or it will be when we’re done adding on to it,” Deheck said.

The other two million-dollar projects involve biotechnology company Promega Corp. in Fitchburg and a new school in Waterloo. 

“There’s money to be spent, even with the state for schools,” Deheck said. “When the economy is good, everybody seems to be voting yes on the referendums.”

He said the majority of jobs his company takes on in Wisconsin are in Green Bay and Madison. Last month, Deheck said, his workers completed renovations at the Southeast Recreational Facility for the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Madison seems to be growing and it’s becoming one of our big areas with the university,” he said. “We just picked up another job at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.”

When the economy is down, business can be tough because no one is building, Deheck said.

“We made it through the recession 12 years ago when times were tight. We slimmed down and had less employees then,” he said. “The jobs were a lot smaller, but we did a bunch of them like repairs and small additions.”

In the past, one of the company’s principal clients was Walmart, but Deheck said work for retail company has dropped off. 

“We’ve done a lot of work for Walmart, but they haven’t built in a while,” Deheck said. “When I first started out, we were probably doing 10 to 15 brand new Walmart stores per year.” 

Some of the notable work his company has done in the area include installing new roofs on the Ozaukee County Justice Center last year and the Administration Center five years ago. 

Deheck said he also does a number of residential projects in the county.

After graduating from Port Washington High School in 1990, Deheck said he initially set out to study veterinarian medicine as a student at Iowa State University and the UW-Stevens Point. 

During his summer vacations from school, he worked for a roofing contractor and eventually decided to make that his career.

“I realized that I like working outside and not being in the same place for long,” he said, adding his sister is a veterinarian. “The biggest thing I had to overcome when I started my own business was being in the office.”

Deheck said he manages about 25 projects at a time, most of which involve flat roofs.

“All the business relationships I’ve made were in flat roofing, so I’ve mostly stuck with that because that’s my forte,” Deheck said. “When we do residential properties, we don’t usually see many flat roofs, but we’re capable of doing shingles and other things for that type of job.”

All the materials the company uses are designed in-house, which is unusual for most roofing businesses because of the overhead cost of manufacturing equipment, he said.

“We bend all our own metal into different profiles and panels. Most roofing companies contract that work out because of the cost,” Deheck said. 

Over the years, Deheck said, the industry standards have changed dramatically with the times.

“I used to do $300,000 or $400,000 handshake deals and wrote it out on a napkin when I first started the business,” he said. “Now, you wouldn’t get away with that for five minutes. Contracts were two pages and now they’re 50 pages. 

“It’s crazy how the industry has changed because of people not paying their bills and going belly-up.”

Deheck, whose initials comprise the name of the company, said he wants to keep his business in the family name. He doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon, but wants to stay onboard until his two youngest children are old enough to determine if they want to follow in his footsteps.

“I’m sticking around because I have a 10 and a 12-year-old and I want to see if they have any interest in going into the business,” he said. “I want to be their mentor and help them settle in running the business if that’s what they choose to do.” 

 

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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