In this episode, Patrick tells the story of how he got started in the roofing business, as well as the life lessons of hard-work, service, and gumption that have become some of Roof Life’s core values.
Podcast Transcription: RoofLifeB033-219
Shayla: You are listening to the Roof Life of Oregon podcast and I’m talking with Patrick Morin. Patrick, tell us a little bit about Roof Life’s work ethic. What kind of work ethic does your team have and where did that come from?
Patrick: Roof Life was started because I needed to make enough money to go back to college. I had just gotten home from being gone for two years down in the southern states and it was March and I didn’t have school till August. And so I had to do something and I was looking for an opportunity to serve people and make money serving people. So I was working at a mill but it was a union mill. And I could get the work done that they gave me in about half the time that they said I should do it in. And they said, “Well you need to make that last the whole day.” And I said “Wow.” There’s just not enough to do all day. So I found myself after I got my fourth floor clean, because I was called a sweeper, it was a grain mill, that I would just sit down on the fourth floor, because there was nothing to do and one day I said, well, I can’t do this. I have to go down and help somebody. So I rode the elevator down to the sacking floor, which is the bottom floor. And I just started throwing grain sacks and they looked at me like, what are you doing?
And pretty soon I got in trouble from the supervisor, the white hat guy, we were all green hats, and I got back up to the fourth floor. And he said, “You can’t ever do that.” I go, “What?” He goes, “You can’t leave your post because you’re done. You have to stay up here.” And just teach me a lesson they dumped tons of grain on my floor and I spent hours shoveling it back down to a little hole and I said OK this job I got to replace this job. So I ended up, my friend called me, like within a couple days, and said, “You’re never going to believe it. But I have figured out a clean beautiful roof on a home makes it look way better and we can do things to make the roof healthier.” And I was working swing at this grain mill so I said well I want to come by and look at it before I go to work. And I went by I looked at thought, wow. It goes from black gunky greenish guck, to this beautiful golden brown. And I thought, man, that looks amazing and he would he would clean a section, because he was just a gutter cleaner, and then he cleaned a section of the roof and got a homeowner to come up on the ladder to look down on his roof. And the homeowner said, “If you can make my whole roof look like that, I would be in heaven.” And they negotiated a price. And what I thought I was making really good money as a union worker, at about 86 dollars a day back in 1982, he was making 400 a day cleaning roofs. So I said well I’m going to I’m going to give my notice and I’m going to come learn from you how to do this because that’s a 4 to 1 ratio for me. It wasn’t too hard to figure out. And I said so. Tim was his name, the guy that figured out the roof cleaning thing, and I trained with him for a couple of days and then I got my first roof and it was for the Platt’s and I remember cleaning that roof and it took me 12 hours nonstop of work from dawn to dusk, and when I got done I was so beat up my arms, my shoulders, every muscle in my body was tired and I went home and collapsed on the floor and I called Tim and I said, “I will never do that again. That was an hardest thing I’ve ever done.” And he just laughed. He couldn’t stop laughing. He said, “I know I did the same thing, but I didn’t have anybody to call as I quit.” He goes, “Trust me, it’ll get better.”
And he showed me and told me a couple of things that I could do better and do that same type and size of roof in half the time. And, of course, my body got used to it and I thought, “Oh man, OK, this is going to work.” So I was telling my mom this story, and my mom reminded me of when I was 10 years old. I was the middle of five kids, and my dad had left our family, and didn’t send us any income. So we went from an electrical engineers lifestyle, which was really nice I thought, I never even considered work or money or anything like that. You know I was only 10, as much as a 10 year old would, but I sure got introduced to the economic life really quickly. And my mom took us out to the migrant field and they were the harvesters and they’d start in California and move right up the west coast and end up in the fall in Washington picking apples.
And so in June they were all in Oregon picking strawberries, huge fields. People cannot imagine the hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of acres of strawberries that used to be grown in Oregon. Mom just hauled the three of us kids. My sister was 11, I was 10, and Perry was 13, and took us out to this field by our grade school. My mom said, “My kids would like to pick berries and I remember Mrs. Tankersley, in her big broad hat, and her kind of really fancy clothes for being a strawberry checker. And then she drove out there in her Cadillac, the big ole Eldorado Cadillac. And I just remember thinking, “Alright, Mom wants us to pick berries.” And we get a dollar a flat, and the lady said, “No, your kids can’t work here, because the migrants pick, and they move through the fields and we’re not going to be hanging back for you kids just try and learn how to pick.” My mom said, “My kids, we’ll put all three of my kids on one row.” And we had never picked a strawberry in our life. And so mom goes over there to the strawberry plants and said, “Look kids, this what you do. You straddle the row. You bend over. You pick up the bush, lift it over, pick the berries off that side, lay back down, lift the other side up, pick off that side, and then go down the middle, throw every berry in your cart, and push it forward. And then repeat every : two feet, down these 400 yard rows.”
And then when the flat gets full, you leave it in the aisle, and then you just grab another one, and grab another, and then after you’re done with the row, you go back, pick up all your flats, take them in, and they punch your card and every punch is worth a dollar. So I tried to style, all of us kids figured out a style, of we would pick with one knee up, and one knee down, and you would lay your chest on your up knee. And so you would support your back. And you’d still do the flip flip down the middle, flip flip down, and you’d push your cart. And we never got as fast as the migrant : workers, but we got to the point where we could each have our own row and keep up with them. But they were still, they were like machines, they were insane, they’re just repetitive really good. And you had to do a good job picking your strawberries because that Mrs. Tankersley, she’d come check your row, and if you were gleaning your row, meaning only picking the very biggest berries, time consuming were the little ones, but the little ones are really sweet, mixed in with the big ones that fill up your cart.
I think what I did on that first roof that I did for the Platt’s is, the only thing that got me through that, is I was channeling when I was 10 years old, and I had to work because I had to buy my own clothes. And there wasn’t a choice- it was strawberries and cucumbers. The work ethic of staying with it, and learning from the masters and then it working out and making it even better. And we still do that today at Roof Life. We do the best job in roof care and in roofing of anybody in Portland, because we are unrelenting in finding ways to deliver a better product for the least cost possible. And I think that’s where it all came from is my back couldn’t take how the migrant workers taught us so we figured out the knee slide, and then I took that as I was a 21 year old into roofing and roof maintenance and : that’s how I think we’ve got that instilled in our company and now there’s 42 of us and I train them. I’ve trained them all. So that’s how it works.
Shayla: Alright, to work with the team at Roof Life of Oregon, reach out to them today. Thanks, Patrick.