“My role is to enable, empower, support, and bring people together with their objectives.”
Nick Wallace, Founder/Co-Owner of Advocate Construction (Left), with Doug Cooper, Co-Owner/President and CEO (Right)
Right out of college, Douglass Cooper met Nick Wallace at Enterprise Rent-A-Car. It was a first job for both of them, and they would go on to form a lasting friendship. Ten years ago, Doug and Nick decided to take everything they learned at Enterprise, like empowering and enabling sales leaders, and apply it to the roofing industry by founding Advocate Construction. Some of their Enterprise colleagues soon followed.
Advocate Construction started as a Chicagoland storm restoration contractor in 2012. Today, they’re the 28th largest roofing company by revenue in the U.S., with locations in seven markets across the Midwest and Texas. With their impressive growth, they have become ever more committed to their core values—being part of the community through charitable work and establishing a great culture. They’ve evolved into a company with customer-focused teams able to help with new construction, multifamily, projects with a sloped roof or shingles, aiding customers with budgeting concerns, timelines, and scope of work. They’re consistently building their team, with constant training and development so they can hire and promote from within.
As the founder and CEO, Doug guides his team towards excellence—and beyond. He builds the framework for Advocate Construction’s new offices, and then lets his talented team fill them in while providing support. “My role is to enable, empower, support, and bring people together with their objectives,” Doug says. “I’m truly privileged to work with the amazing people I do.” In addition, he serves on the advisory board and is a founding member of the Exterior Contractors Alliance, which is made up of 70 of the best-performing roofing and exterior companies in the country and a subset of the FEI Group, bringing together all kinds of contractors to help builders with all construction needs.
We caught up with Doug to learn more about Advocate Construction, their growth trajectory, and what the team is looking forward to.
Advocate Construction has experienced tremendous growth since its founding. To what do you attribute this?
Our growth story is envisioned and acted on by our people. The owners and top managers don’t make all the decisions. We focus entirely on training and empowering our employees to understand the business model fully so when they get to the point of mastery, they can continue to grow where they are, or move anywhere they want to within the company, including relocation opportunities. Like partners, we grow our offices with our employees.
What have you learned during this growth process?
One of the things we learned is that there are elements of the workflow that are very specialized and not strictly construction. So, we created an invoice department, which is now a wholly owned subsidiary, that will help roofing companies interact with insurance companies and invoicing. The team is very experienced, so now the homeowners’ scope of work is more complete, contractors don’t feel the need to sacrifice time or quality, and everything is done ethically and is well-documented. It’s also allowed for even more growth.
How we train and develop, and how we interface with customers and insurance companies, is really an outcome of what we’ve learned, which is empowering employees to treat their teams like their own business. We’ve learned to foster the entrepreneurial spirit. We develop our people to be leaders in service, and our mission is to be an exceptional company where every person and decision is aligned with this goal. This is our North Star and guides us in how we treat customers and other companies and meet their needs.
Speaking of your team, you go to great lengths for them. Tell us a bit about that.
We have a great recruiting incentive, and top-performer sales incentives. If someone is referred to an open or created position, or if the production team meets all customer needs on every project, we do something really memorable. We’ve gone to Austin for a private dinner at Willie Nelson’s ranch, seen comedians in Los Angeles, and this year we went to the Cayman Islands. These events become amazing team-building experiences.
What are some of Advocate Construction’s roofing specialties?
Steep-sloped shingle roofing. We’re the best-performing company in the U.S. in this regard, and because we have expertise in navigating insurance losses and invoicing, we can provide solutions for anyone with the need to redo this kind of roof. We’re on a journey, striving to be even better. We’re restless and hungry to be a household name in this market.
Founder & CEO — Advocate Construction