In 1974, Sam Boak was able to borrow enough money through his father’s steel workers’ credit union to start an insulation business with two employees. From those humble beginnings, Boak & Sons has grown into one of the region’s most successful and well-known commercial and residential roofing contractors.
Throughout the 1970’s the company was exclusively an insulation contractor. By the end of the decade, Boak was able to hire more employees that brought expanded knowledge and experience in roofing, which quickly became a significant part of the business. The close relation of insulation and roofing materials and processes made the expansion a natural fit.
Commercial and industrial roofing was the focus early on, with the company finding particular success in providing services for local school districts.
Throughout the 1990s, Boak & Sons continued to add services, such as architectural metals, siding and gutter installation. The company has subsequently grown to over 165 employees, including sales staff and a dedicated roofing service division. Now, Sam proudly refers to Boak & Sons as an “exterior contractor.” He says the growth has been intentionally gradual, so as to maintain the culture of a family business prioritizing quality and value for each customer.
One Word: Dedication
Dedication is a word that’s used a lot at Boak & Sons, but not taken lightly. It’s the dominant theme that starts with a commitment to providing superior products and service. That dedication to exceptional results is a focus on every job. Sam explains:
“We have two rules at our company. The first rule is safety first, and it always should be. The second is to never ever ever cut a corner. If you think that a particular application needs an extra screw, some extra glue, whatever it is, you shouldn’t have thought about it; you should have already done it.”
Then there’s the dedication that the company has to its employees. The roofing business is generally known to have a high turnover rate. But, at Boak & Sons, turnover is well below the industry average. Sam Boak is adamant that those who work at his company are part of a family. Profits have been re-invested into the business to provide the employees with a profit-sharing plan and 401K.
“We just had an employee retire who had 30 years with us. We’ve got another one who is 39 years in – that longevity doesn’t happen in our industry so much,” says Boak.
Finally, there’s the ongoing dedication to their customers. Boak & Sons is ready any time, day or night, to help its customers in the event of an emergency. Sam recounts dispatching his crew up to JACK Cleveland Casino after a fire:
“Firemen don’t care what they leave the building looking like after, they’re just there to put the fire out. There was a lot of damage to the roof of the building. We got the call in the middle of the night, and by seven o’clock the next morning, we had a crane, material, and a staff of guys on-site, because rain showers were coming in. The insurance company had referred us for the job. They told the casino management that we were the only company they knew of that could get in there and take care of the job so quickly.”
Boak & Sons remains dedicated to its customers with their passionate focus on quality, organization, their extensive inventory, and company-owned equipment that allows them to mobilize at a moment’s notice. It’s clear that Sam Boak takes pride in the company’s preparation and capability to meet any challenge that may arise.
No Slowing Down
There’s been no slow season for Boak & Sons, as they service an area stretching from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. At any given time, they have between seven and ten commercial projects underway, not counting the roof service and maintenance division. They’ve recently completed work on the Debartolo Commons development project at the Southern Park Mall, helping to transform the old Sears location into a new community-centered event area.
Other notable projects include Sheely’s Furniture in North Lima, the Tippecanoe Country Club, and an expansion project at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. As Boak & Sons continues to move forward, they credit their longtime partnership with The Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania for allowing them to network and build relationships with other local union contractors.
The future is looking strong for Boak & Sons, but Sam Boak likes to remain down-to-earth with his assessment of the company’s horizons: “We just want to keep doing what we do best. I’m real happy with that.”