Strong roots, employee focus, onsite training provide solid base for company's success
On rainy days, Korellis Roofing crew members can still be sharpening their skills at the company’s training center.
“Our onsite facility is all about workforce development. Finding quality workers is our biggest challenge. It’s not finding work; it’s finding workers,” said Korellis Roofing President/CEO Pete Korellis.
He said the facility offers supplemental and ongoing training that adds to the union’s apprenticeship program. It takes five years to attain journeymen status and the training center can fast-track apprentices new to the industry.
Beyond the addition of the training center, the $2 million expansion also includes a new office building, exterior improvements and material storage.
“On inclement weather days, we can teach them specific aspects of the job. We were fortunate to hire a talented workforce development manager,” he said. “In the future, we’re going to have to rely on more inexperienced workers. We think we can have higher skilled apprentices - and quicker - with our facility.”
In 1960, the business’s base was built by Pete’s father, George Korellis, whose focus was on residential roofing.
“I have to give credit to my dad for starting the company out and building a good foundation and good reputation,” Pete said. “As I came in and other key people - such as Jeff Tharp who has been with us for 31 years – we have been able to build out from that foundation. I couldn’t have done it without my dad starting the business and surrounding ourselves with dedicated highly qualified people.”
Pete’s high school and college summer breaks were spent working with his father and learning hands-on about the roofing industry.
“I say I got into the business at birth. It’s the only job I have ever had,” he said. “When I started, I just tore off shingles and cleaned the ground. I was not qualified to install shingles.”
He joined the business full-time in 1983 after earning his bachelor’s degree in business management from Indiana University.
“It was after college that I started doing more of the commercial type roofs with our other crew members and slowly moved into estimating and sales and took on more responsibility,” he said.
Today, the Hammond-based company has branched out into the commercial and industrial sectors and grown to nearly 150 employees.
“It all comes down to the fine group of employees that we have here. We have dedicated employees who really understand safety and customer service and what it takes to run a business efficiently,” Pete said. “You have got to focus on your employees first and they will take care of the customers. If you do this, you should be able to maintain a good business.”
He finds fulfillment in providing a platform for his employees to prosper.
“I get great gratification in seeing our employees have a good life away from work. They make good money and have good benefits,” he said. “To look out in the parking lot and see nice vehicles and know their kids have the opportunity to go to college if they choose … it makes the hard days worthwhile.
“When the day is done and we have sent everyone home safe and completed the work and taken care of employees and customers, it’s a good feeling heading home.”
Pete is in the beginning stages of developing a succession plan, which typically takes 10 years to put into place. With his son, Tyler, a 2015 West Point graduate and an Apache helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army, he is looking to keep the company going through an employee stock ownership plan.
“My son took the harder route and I really respect his decision,” he said. “This creates a good succession plan opportunity for the company employees.
“When in fact I do leave permanently, if no one realizes I have left, then I have done it correctly.”
Korellis Roofing, Inc.
1333 – 169th St., Hammond