FEI Group Launches Exterior Contractor Alliance

FEI Group (FEI), based in metro Atlanta, has just announced the formation of Exterior Contractor Alliance (ECA), marking their first move into the exterior residential trade contracting arena. Since 1998, FEI has assembled and managed national networks of the largest contractors in America in a variety of categories, including single-family flooring in the home builder space, multi-family flooring in the apartment space, cabinets and decorative plumbing and hardware.

With 28 members in 33 states, top-line revenues for ECA are currently approaching $750 million, and the active prospective membership pipeline will soon take the organization past the $1 billion mark. According to ECA, the group is already successfully engaging with national accounts, and endeavors such as Project: Apex, a sophisticated benchmarking and best practices program, will soon be underway as the network fully extends its footprint nationally. ECA intends to improve the perception of the industry overall and give premier roofing contractors a voice on a national basis. 

Managing and motivating labor is a key core competency of ECA members and the key component to the success of the roofing industry. Leveraging that aspect to generate competitive advantages to the network members — to separate them from the crowded field of independent contractors — is a top priority from the outset.

Dave Gheesling, FEI Group CEO, noted, “For 22 years, we have worked with the largest, leading and finest residential trade contractors in the country, finding ways to add value to every link of the industry chain in each contractor channel in which we operate. The platform of ECA founding members is extraordinary – both professionally and personally – and typical of the caliber of members in our other divisions.”

Graham Howerton, FEI Group executive vice president, added, “What has made FEI successful over the years has been attracting trade contractors who are fully engaged in the process, who view our role as that of being custodians of the industry, and who push perceived limitations to the apex of what is possible.”

Earl Ward, director of ECA for FEI and the primary contact for prospective ECA members, noted, “The quality and engagement level of our founding members has already exceeded my wildest expectations. We are so fortunate to have a platform of such reputable, market-dominant and enthusiastic members at this early stage in the development of ECA.”

Member Companies From ECA’s Newly Formed Advisory Board Share Insight:

Jim Ziminski, president of Crane Renovation Group (Able Roofing, Mr. Roof and Contractors Incorporated), based in Columbus, Ohio, discussed the new partnership with ECA and FEI: “The low barrier to entry in the roofing contractor arena has manifest itself with around 40,000 contractors in the country. This dynamic generates substantial margin pressures for the most committed contractors in our space, given the lower quality of workmanship and lack of long-term service with smaller, fly-by-night contractors where attrition levels are high.

“We see opportunities to deploy the economies of scale and efficiencies that even we, as the largest residentially focused roofing contractor in America, can’t achieve independently. That FEI has been successfully working with the largest contractors in the country for over 20 years made this an easy fit for us. In my 35 years of experience, it’s become axiomatic that getting the best minds together is beneficial to everyone involved. This will no doubt include manufacturers and distributors who support ECA.”

Brad Beldon, CEO of San Antonio-based Beldon Roofing, shares Ziminski’s views and added more from his perspective. “We have a unique opportunity to aggregate benchmarking and best practices from the top roofing contractors across the nation. FEI has been doing this successfully in other channels for the past couple of decades, and I’m excited about the development and rollout of our own ‘Project: Apex’ on the near horizon. Furthermore, ECA’s member-driven approach, facilitated through our Advisory Board, makes for a great combination of top-flight roofing contractor expertise and insight, along with professional management to guide the development and execution of our initiatives. This combination is a first in the roofing contractor arena.”

Marcus Kuhlmann, COO of Lincoln-based Apple Roofing, highlighted a couple of opportunities he sees with ECA. “While there is too often a combative relationship between roofing contractors and insurance companies today, our experience has been that a cooperative, mutually beneficial approach has been more effective. Using this approach with a best-of-the-best national network of like-minded contractors can separate us from the rest of the pack. I’ve also already been networking with other large contractors in other FEI organizations – an immediate benefit I hadn’t anticipated at the outset.”

Joe Hoffman, president of Hoffman Weber Construction, headquartered in Minneapolis, attended the first exploratory meeting, along with Kuhlmann, in Atlanta last year. “It was clear to me from the start that ECA’s vision for the highest-caliber residential roofing contractors made sense, along with the value system in place to achieve it. That ECA’s management team asked a lot of good questions and listened closely to our answers was a great start, but it wasn’t until a few of us were able to attend FEI’s National Conference last fall that it became clear to me just how positive of an influence that ECA will soon become in our industry. Seeing first-hand what FEI has accomplished in other industries – and hearing about it directly from those member companies – gave me great confidence with respect to the types of things we can do through ECA to elevate the residential roofing industry as a whole.”

A Longstanding FEI Member Shares Historical Perspective:

Houston-based Redi Carpet, the largest multi-family flooring contractor in America ($350 million in 2019 revenues), with branches in over 30 markets, has long been an actively engaged member of FEI. Jerry Hosko, Redi Carpet president, reflected, “We have been a member of FEI since 2000. In those 20 years, the management team at FEI has far surpassed the expectations we had as one of the first members in their MFS (MultiFamily Solutionsä) division. The value they have brought to Redi Carpet and other members in the group is immeasurable.”

For more information, visit www.feigroup.net

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