Conversation with Steve Little, Head Coach at KPost and Managing Partner at NRP
Did you know that the Roofing Industry now boasts between $135 – $180 billion annually and is made up of $725,000 – $975,000 individuals?
Yet some company names, led by industry visionaries, tend to stand out more than others. We sat down with Steve Little, well-known Founding Partner, “Head Coach,” and CEO at KPost, as well as Managing Partner and Founder of NRP (National Roofing Partners).
Steve is no wallflower in the world of Roofing. If you Google his name, you will find many articles, interviews, quotes, and organizations where Steve is actively involved and/or has helped champion at one point in his career. And oh yes… you will also find some semi-famous “actor” with the same name. So how did a young man from Florida end up building and running two highly successful TX based companies in the roofing industry with a “give back to others mentality” every step along the way.
Steve grew up in Gainesville, Florida, and quickly learned that the key to sales success was to find a way to make your product ubiquitous in the market. Working with Hawaiian Tropic, National ChemSearch, and several sports licensed product companies (licensed through the NCAA, NFL, MLB, NHL, PGA, NASCAR, Olympics Games, etc.), he gained years of experience in sales, hard-work, and a “think out of the box “mentality that eventually landed him in DFW with Supreme Systems. This career move came from a chance meeting with another parent at his daughter’s nationwide cheer competition, propelling his career into the roofing market through the manufacturing industry.
Steve started his segue into the roofing industry in 1994 when he went to work at Supreme Systems under the direction of Keith Post, CEO and original Founding Member. After a partnership dissolution at Supreme, Keith, Steve, and Jayne Williams (Financial Controller for 13 years) left Supreme and decided to combine their skills and industry knowledge to form their own company, KPost Roofing & Waterproofing. As Keith Post reflected, they were committed to “building a roofing company that did things differently.” Having already built his own thriving business previously, Keith knew they had the right formula for success. Since KPost Company opened its doors in January 2004, partnering from the beginning with eleven seasoned career roofing professionals, KPost has many reasons to look back with pride: including, over 1,240 completed projects, 60,000 work orders, and a renowned reputation of providing safety and distinguished workmanship. Today the team consists of over 400 employees with more than 60 specialized crews, totaling over 5,000 years of collective roofing experience.
KPost Company is an industry-leading commercial and residential contractor who provides its customers with a variety of services covering the entire building envelope – Commercial, Residential, Waterproofing, Sheet Metal & Lightweight/ Insulating/Concrete, Specialty Projects, and Service Maintenance.
The company continues to exceed growth expectations year over year with KPost’s Service Department, comprised of 20 specialized crews who provide roof repair, preventative maintenance, installation of new roof penetrations, and 24-hour emergency leak repair service. Exceeding revenue goals and continuous growth consistently land them on the Top 100 Roofing Contractor’s list throughout the US & Canada, this year boasting #21 Nationwide. In addition, KPost has received numerous awards showcasing such accomplishments as the company’s innovative production techniques, exceptional safety performance, individual employee craftsmanship, and overall commercial roofing industry distinction
So, how have Steve and his team become so successful in an industry that sees their fair share of business struggles, especially in 2020? If you have ever had the pleasure to talk to Steve, it is quickly evident that he keep his core values forefront to guide and develop the blueprint of KPost Company’s operations and culture. And, that culture is made up of faith, accountability, and good sportsmanship.
Mentorship, learning, growing and continually educating ones’ self is imperative to Steve as he rounds out his 20th year in this industry and over 40 years developing his sales hustle and business grit. When asked who had the biggest impact on Steve growing up he quickly mentions his step-father and grandfather. His step-father, a small-business owner, was always present with sound advice and a can-do attitude, and his grandfather had great success as a hard-working animator at (Max) Fleischer Studios, fascinating Steve from an early age with his creativity and entrepreneurial work ethic. Steve also notes that historic leaders intrigue and fascinate him, including Thomas Jefferson, Julius Caesar, John D. Rockefeller, Elon Musk, and last, but not least Jesus Christ. He enjoys learning about the industrialism, capitalism, empire building, and the leadership and innovation that made game-changers of these visionaries.
Getting involved and giving back are two ethics that Steve believes wholeheartedly: if you are going to become a member of something, you better get involved and engaged quickly. Lend your knowledge, your voice, and your time to your community and your colleagues. Industries need champions, especially industries comprised of small business owners. It is important to engage actively in your industry, through an association, for example. Steve lends all of the above to many past and present organizations. Steve, along with Keith, Jayne, and Dusty Smith (who joined the team as COO in 2018), align themselves with organizations that hold the same values as KPost and NRP sharing best practices and industry knowledge.
Steve’s involvement in the industry includes serving: on the board of directors for NRCA’S Roofing Alliance, at TEXO’s Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), on National and Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), as ABC’s National Membership Chair, on the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA)/Roofing Alliance CTE Outreach Task Force, and as a founding member of the National Women in Roofing (NWIR). He is also a member of ROOFPAC, National Roofing Legal Resource Center (NRLRC), The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress, Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), and International Risk Managers Institute (IRMI). Steve formerly served as President of Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA), board member of the Construction Education Foundation (CEF), and member of various NRCA committees and the Construction Industry Outreach Advisory Council (CIOAC). Recently Steve was voted onto the Roofing Alliance Board, stating this is most likely his final post in active committee involvement.
“Social responsibilities are key in leadership. Being boastful doesn’t help.”Steve Little, Founder/CEO of KPost
Not only does the executive team of KPost lead by example, but they also provide a foundation of investing in people, recognizing accountability, and encouraging work discipline. They understand that all employees are vital to company success. At KPost the officers take on four different roles and responsibilities.
As the President and Head Coach, Steve has always embraced his role with positive focus, mutual respect and patience. He offers enthusiastic supportive while observing operations, what he calls “the plays,” and never taking his eye off the prize. Clear, knowledgeable communication is a huge factor in building the trust of teammates, and hard work is rewarded for those who stand out. Steve has oversight for day-to-day operations, strategic planning, managing the overall brand, and seeking out emerging industry trends, including the latest technologies. As a Head Coach who uses football terms to lead his teams, Steve breaks down the organization in the following manner: “We are made of three separate units: the offense, which includes our sales & estimating teams; the defense, which includes our project management & field leadership and crew; and the special teams, which is our administration.” The structure (and vision) of KPost is based on the concept of coaching a football team to cultivate individual and team skills, manage the plays, and train where needed.
Keith Post, the CEO and “eternal optimist” of KPost Roofing & Waterproofing, is well known for his industry mindset and credibility. His exceptional reputation comes from his personal and professional integrity since his inception into the roofing industry dating back to 1987. This strong virtue and business acumen positioned KPost early on for business opportunities. Keith focuses on the estimating and project management side of the organization.
Jayne Williams is the Chief Financial and Safety Officer for KPost Roofing & Waterproofing. Jayne’s career in the roofing industry began in 1985, and she hasn’t looked back. She and Keith have now worked together for 30 years, solidifying themselves as a great team in this market Jayne oversees company finances, human resources, and safety. KPost Safety Controls and Quality of Practice is continuously setting the bar for other companies to follow with a .51 EMR Mod rate.
In 2018, the KPost trifecta added another officer, Dusty Smith, to their growing organization. As the COO, Dusty brings a vast amount of General Contractor customer service mindset to the business, along with robust construction operations knowledge to assist the Business Development and Operations teams. He lends his skills to oversee and assist in the areas of Project Management, Servant Leadership, Budget Tracking, Bid Packaging, Contract Negotiations, QAQC, ASHE, and Post Bid Interview processes.
Keith, Steve, Jayne, and Dusty are a formidable team that trust and respect each other to govern their side of business without cross-over of blended responsibilities and their own “formula of success” for running the company in a unique manner. The idea of project management and execution is similar to that of a general contractor and has been key to operational success. Outside sales handles lead generation and sales work, and the pre-construction team focuses on the bidding. Upon contract award, the project management team takes over, working in tandem with operations to schedule and oversee the installation or service project. Given this unique operational structure, others are beginning to notice the way they have set up their company, following KPost’s lead. The Sales team lends another important role in the company’s formula for success, as they build long-term relationships and mutually beneficial partnerships, establishing trust with multi-facility owners and developers in and around the Dallas and Fort Worth market.
“We have tremendous people, and we try to give back at every opportunity. Our success demonstrates that when you give, it comes back to you ten-fold.”KPost Team
The KPost Team understands that different specific skills and experiences are required for commercial and residential building envelope system installations. Training and safety are huge areas of specialization for the company as a whole.
The most notable and high-profile business partnership for KPost has been their work with the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys and team owner Jerry Jones. The partnership started in 2006, when KPost earned the winning bid to coat the roof of former Texas Stadium in Irving. The relationship and trust grew over time when, in 2009, the franchise awarded KPost the enormous responsibility to install the membrane of the new $1.3 billion AT&T Stadium in Arlington. KPost has gained much notoriety with their co-branding as the official roofer and waterproofer of a beloved and world renown NFL team, opening many doors and interest from National Corporations.
As KPost was just getting settled in the market as a new player in town, Steve, Keith & Jayne decided it was time to start another company. In 2006, they founded National Roofing Partners (NRP), a nation-wide partnership of professional roofing contractors providing facilities performance services. Steve now serves as NRP’s CEO and had formerly assisted with the creation of RoofConnect (NRP’s direct competitor) many years prior. Thus, knew the market had a need for another player in the industry. In the present day, NRP’s 175+ member companies and their 20,000 employees perform more than $1 billion in annual collective revenue by aligning and building trustworthy client-centric relationships among member roofing organizations and national clients all in a one-stop shop.
The company started out with 30 owners (all still involved), who helped get National Roofing Partners on the map providing a service through a national network of tier one commercial roofing contractors. The company was founded on offering superior roofing and envelope service, technology, and maintenance for customers. NRP currently specializes in five classes of business set up for various purposes: Reroofing, Service Work, Co-op, TeleCom business, and Solar business. The NRP value proposition is based on sharing best practices among members to determine best methodologies for consistencies among all brands and companies under the NRP umbrella. This helps to raise the bar at each organization. Building a single source supplier for national and regional companies opens up avenues for ancillary business, introducing field service crews to national accounts and increasing profits. Another perk is to leverage purchasing power. Economies of scale are important for all businesses, and providing a national footprint for a single-source buyer is a win-win for both parties. NRP has the industry advantage and leadership negotiation power to grow business customers, accelerate building revenue, and drive sales.
“With our focus on NRP as a technology company, the market continues to embrace the concept of a national network of contractors who continue to grow the company by double digits.”Steve Little, Founder/CEO of KPost
Technology has become a huge part of both KPost and NRP. The role of technology in the business landscape today cannot be overstated. It is paramount that decisions throughout the organization are based on emerging tech trends to boost productivity and, ultimately, the company’s bottom line. Steve continues to seek out advanced technology to enhance communication, giving NRP and KPost that competitive edge to execute on best services and best results.
This tech savvy mindset became part of the reason why, in 2004, the executive team at KPost (later followed by NRP) decided to seek out a cloud-based CRM roofing solution to manage their operations. This solution, Dataforma, became part of the deck of business solutions to save time and money, propelling better communication and organization, as well.
Daryl Maronic, Co-Founder of Dataforma, offered a new solution on how to run your business. Based on his robust knowledge as a former Commercial Roofer, he understood the hiccups of running a roofing business, the lingo, and most importantly the frustrations of team communication, production, and organization of the data. As KPost had lofty goals on the horizon, the focus became just selling the roof, which ultimately lead to a continued focus on service, a twin focus that holds true today. Having one solution for company-wide customer information, job bids, and historical records of buildings streamlined operations, saving time and money overtime. As Steve mentioned, “Efficiencies were gained by the Executive team during those early days of the Pandemic. We are using Dataforma more now than ever to work from home and be more productive.” A relatively simple solution, canned program allows employees and management the ability to be systematic.
KPost continues to use Dataforma as their digital file cabinet and cloud-based work order processor (averaging about 4,000 per year), which they use to track warrantees, upload pictures, the CRM, and share communications and images among workmen and foreman. KPost is also taking advantage of the Customer Portal which allows clients to interface with proposals, invoices, history, and assessments, giving them access to what is happening in the present day at any of their locations(s) or what has happened previously on former projects.
Other areas of technology that are utilized by the KPost and NRP teams include Pontivo, an Artificial Intelligence drone technology solution. Pontivo is operated by FAA third party Drone pilots to save roofing companies time by performing roof assessments through aerial views. This technology has achieved an 80% reduction of time spent on due diligence prior to a roof project. Steve and team are huge champions of embracing robust research on artificial intelligence, secure data, and managing data to lead a more streamlined life, both professionally and personally. Another area that thrives from technology includes safety, which is constantly top-of-mind in this industry.
“We sell work; we don’t bid work.”52% of KPost’s business came from service clients.
KPost’s Leadership approach of “Can Do” rather than “Can’t Do” compelled Steve to delve into “oversight” as a new business management style, which governs his executive team and middle management to assist with running the business. Both companies follow the practices and supplemental trainings of the book Traction by Gino Wickman.
Traction is a blueprint and organizational system founded by business owner and consultant Gino Wickman to guide companies through a system based on practical experience. He demonstrates and coaches on how to structure your business, using his EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) methodology to remove typical roadblocks, and generating a structure and core focus that strengthens and reenergizes organizations. Wickman’s concept is built around six key business components to allow your business to function smoothly without constant oversight: Vision, People, Data, Issues, Processes, and Traction. The objective is to empowering others so that you don’t need to micro-manage.
Although he has a lifetime of career success and multiple companies under his belt, none of that compares to Steve’s love for his family, which he calls his favorite accomplishment. Family is at the helm of Steve’s heart. He is proud to say that he and his wife Pam just celebrated 45 years of marriage, a story that started when he and Pam met as teenagers, working at Publix Supermarket. Steve stocked the dairy section and Pam worked as Head Cashier. He almost blew it when he stood her up on their first date, but Pam gave him a second chance, and they have enjoyed their love ever since.
Together, Steve and Pam are the proud parents of two children who grew up to be successful in their own right. Steve’s son, Senior Chief Christopher Little, proudly serves in the U.S. Navy and is currently stationed on the USS Columbia in in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Chris is married with three daughters, whom Steve and Pam have lovingly nicknamed #1, #2 & #3, indicating their birth order. Steve’s daughter, Dr. Stephanie Rountree, is assistant professor of English at the University of North Georgia. She is also married and has a son, sequentially nicknamed #4. Looking around at the family pictures adorning Steve’s office, it is evident that his grandbabies are the apple of his eye.
So, what does Steve Little do to unwind when he is not at the helm of three very profitable and successful companies? He and his bride enjoy sailing, something re-introduced to him 15 years ago. Both Pam and Steve have their Sailing Certifications (3 each) to charter sailboats and are excited to take their first voyage on their new 59 ft, 6-cabin catamaran that arrived in the British Virgin islands in October 2020. This catamaran is a replacement for their prior vessel which was destroyed by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
In addition to sailing, exercise has become a daily routine for Steve. He embraced a new exercise regime three years ago, losing 40 lbs. He is adamant about taking care of his health, reminding us all that you only get one body. The same self-discipline that propels his business drive is now finding its way into his self-care regimen.
So, what’s next? Eventually, one’s work / life balance shifts over time, and conversations begin circling the idea of retirement. Steve plans to follow that path in the next few years with the hope (together with his partners) of selling the KPost legacy to the employees and letting another industry innovator take over his role at NRP. Whatever happens, anyone who knows Steve Little knows he won’t be sitting still anytime soon (or ever).