Fred Finn likes to compare his company to an octopus. “Ever see an octopus moving in the water?” he asks. “When all hell breaks loose there are three arms doing what they’re supposed to do but five are going all over the place. You’ve got to get some of those arms under control.” Euro-Tech, he says, has never had a year when all eight arms were functioning perfectly. But there have been, he says, some years when six arms were fully under control.

Euro-Tech’s longevity and steady sales growth in the competitive suburban Chicago market owe much to the managerial division of labor among the company’s three co-owners, all once siding salesmen. Loyalty and a realistic attitude about who can and should do what ensure cohesion.

What the three have in common is an entrepreneurial mindset. For instance, seven years ago they set up a retail marketing program with Kmart that focused on lead generation. The program is now available to home improvement companies around the country.

And where some home improvement businesses use anywhere from 20 to 60 different lead sources to keep the sales team flush with appointments, Euro-Tech consistently directs its efforts into fewer than 10, including canvassing, in-store demonstrators, purchased leads (from Internet suppliers), self-generated leads, and referrals.
 

Takeaways

  • In 2011, the company installed a roof at a customer’s request. That year, Euro-Tech ended up doing 9 or 10 roofs, and the management team decided to leverage what it had learned and enter the roofing market. For window and siding companies, roofing is a difficult business to enter. Challenges include pricing, margins, liability, insurances, and finding reliable installers. In 2012 Euro-Tech installed 149 roofs; and in 2013 it did 200. Margin was a problem at first but ultimately got resolved, Finn says.
  • The company is now looking to make roofing a saleable item, and make it available to other siding and window companies looking to add roofing to their product mix. “Most roofers fail because they don’t know how to sell,” Fred Finn says. “Most home improvement companies may be able to sell, but they’re not good at getting top crews.” Euro-Tech is looking to partner with its major roofing supplier to show the supplier how it’s done.