Out-of-state “storm chaser” roofing companies that popped up in Oklahoma City after the massive May 2010 storms did what they usually do.
But some roofing company startups popped up in response to the demand, which lasted for months and months — and they've stuck it out.
“The hailstorm of 2010 was considered the storm of the year by professional hailstorm chasers. There was a trainload of storm chasers from all across America that converged on Oklahoma City and caused all kinds of mass confusion with homeowners,” said J.R. Emrich, president of Reroof America Contractors LLC and Metro Roofing Co. Inc., based in Edmond.
The fly-by-nights “left town without saying goodbye, and left behind lots of homeowners with shoddy and leaky roofs,” Emrich said. “However, a lot of those startup companies from 2010 did stay in Oklahoma City and set up shop after the storm, and we currently have more than twice as many roofing contractors in Oklahoma City as we did before the 2010 hailstorm.”
No need for hard sell
With more roofers already here, there's even less reason to be wary of the hard sell, said Brad Neff, owner of Heartland Roofing & Exteriors in Bethany.
“Please be patient and don't panic,” he said. “We local roofers can handle the damage. Use local. Keep the dollars in the state, and more importantly, don't risk using someone who won't be here when the next storm hits Minneapolis or St. Louis. I have spent more time fixing messes created by out-of-town roofers who are no longer here, and it is disheartening.”
At least one supplier does his part to shore up local roofers when they have to contend with the “storm chasers.' Mike Curtis, owner of Crossroads Roofing Supply, said his company gives priority to locally owned roofing companies, especially
“It's important to us that both our contractors and the end client are taken care of, and locally owned contractors are more likely to respond quickly to home and business owners should there be issues with a roof after the fact,” Curtis said.
In a related move, Oklahoma's Emergency Price Stabilization Act went into effect in 35 counties after Gov. Mary Fallin declared a state of emergency due to storms, winds and flooding. The counties are Alfalfa, Blaine, Bryan, Caddo, Canadian, Cleveland, Comanche, Cotton, Creek, Custer, Dewey, Ellis, Garfield, Garvin, Grady, Grant, Harper, Kingfisher, Kiowa, Latimer, Lincoln, Logan, Love, Major, McClain, Oklahoma, Okmulgee, Pittsburg, Pottawatomie, Stephens, Tillman, Tulsa, Washita, Woods and Woodward.
One big difference now compared with 2010 is state roofer registration, which went on the books that June and took months to set up at the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board. The law gives consumers an online directory of qualified roofing contractors: www.ok.
“The whole idea is to make it easier to find out who is legitimate and who isn't, said state Sen. Dan Newberry, R-Tulsa, who wrote the legislation leading to roofer registration.
Before contracting with a roofer, a consumer should confirm the registration number, which will verify that company has liability and workers comp insurance and other qualifications, Newberry said.
Emrich wants to see more done to protect consumers and the industry's reputation.
“The next step forward in the Oklahoma roofing industry will be for the Construction Industries Board to go from registration to licensing for all roofing contractors by requiring contractors to pass proficiency tests for both roofing knowledge and business law, as well as requiring continuing contractor education every year,” he said.
No law can protect everyone from determined fraud, Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.
“We know from past experience that this type of damage attracts criminals looking for ways to take advantage of Oklahomans,” Pruitt said. “We're getting the message out now so people can be aware of such quick-fix schemes and spread the word to neighbors and family members before they become victims.”
Home repair schemes and charity fraud are the most likely scams in the wake of the storms.
“Within the next few days, home and business owners will want to repair storm damage quickly, but we caution them to be patient and make sure they are using a reputable home repair contractor,” Pruitt said. “Investigators with our Public Protection Unit have prosecuted unscrupulous repair workers, commonly called travelers, who follow storms across the country to profit from the misfortune of others.”
We know from past experience that this type of damage attracts criminals looking for ways to take advantage of Oklahomans.”
Attorney General Scott Pruitt