Recently we talked with Pat Quarve, owner and founder of Quarve Contracting, Inc.  Pat started out on his own in the remodeling business in 1983 after having worked in remodeling with his uncle and his father.  We asked him to share about the background of the company and why they focus on roofing and siding, particularly metal.  Interviewer:  The first question is really about your own story. There is a big interest nationwide in entrepreneurialism.  When did you decide you wanted to become an entrepreneur?

Pat Quarve Pat Quarve

Pat: I think I’d always thought about working for myself and helping other people out. After high school I went to trade school for pattern making.  That was kind of dying when the CNC (computer numerical control) machines were coming in so I had to look for other things that I could do.  I was doing siding and roofing with my uncle in the summer and doing cabinet making with my father in the winter.  And then when I was working as a pattern maker I started doing my own siding and roofing in the evening and on the weekends.  Eventually I built up some customers and had some equipment paid for so I was able to go out on my own.  That was back in 1981-83, over 33 years ago.    Interviewer:  For many of us who don’t know what pattern making is, what is that? Pat:  Pattern making is precise wood and metal working and welding where before when someone invented something you had to make it with your hands out of wood, and it was very precise work, down to like 3/64ths.  Like if someone invented a jet engine or a generator and you had to make a manifold, first they would make it out of wood.  Then they would bring it to the foundry and cast it in metal and machine it up.  What happened <when CNC came in> is you could just get a block of metal and put it on the machine and the machine would use a computer – just change the bits and it makes the part for you.  So pattern making was a dying trade in the 1980s when computers and CNC machines came out.   It was precise in metal working. Interviewer: As the 1990s went on, did your crews expand, and did you expand your services at that point? Pat:  We actually started out as Quarve Exteriors, just doing exterior siding and roofing.  And then we did expand and changed to Quarve Contracting because we were doing more additions and garages.  But then I did a lot of work for the Minneapolis Community Development Agency and Minnesota Public Housing where it was full remodeling.  I actually did the first lead abatement job for the city of Minneapolis under their funding back then.  We were kind of full service, doing everything and trying to be good at everything.  That wasn’t working very well, so we decided to look at what we were doing the best, and that was the exterior – siding, roofing, soffit, fascia, windows and gutters, and we focused on that.  This was by the end of the 1990s.  Through the 1990s we were trying to do everything, and that’s tough to do.  Interviewer:  I’m sure you were very good at doing all those things, except from a business standpoint I’m sure it makes more sense to find a niche that you feel comfortable in and you can really excel from there. Pat:  Right, you want to stick with your core competency and the guys that are trained in what they do.  When the guys start doing things they haven’t done before and they aren’t trained to manufacturer’s specs, they get frustrated.  You need to make sure your employees are happy and that they’re trained on manufacturer’s specs and procedures.  You know, happy employees make happy customers.  But if they get outside of their core competency it starts to affect everything, be it income, their happiness, or the customer’s happiness.  Interviewer:  It seems like in the last five years or more that metal roofing exploded onto the scene and really became obvious to a lot of us.  Now I know your focus on metal roofing goes way back.  Can you tell us what an educated consumer should know before making a buying decision? Pat:  Material, obviously.  We as a company we install long-life products that save energy and the environment.   We’re not into slapping on cheap material that you’ve got to replace.  Metal roofing is a long-life material and maintenance free, so when you put it on you don’t have to deal with it.  Initially it costs a little bit more up front, but over the life of it, it’s a lot cheaper.  I’ve always been a fan of steel siding and steel roofing.  I put my first steel siding on in 1983, which was 33 years ago, and it still looks as good the day it was installed.  There has always been steel roofing, but 10-15 years ago they started designing steel roofing so it looked like slate and shake, and in many different colors. Now the metal roofing finishes have galvanized coatings and Kynar coatings so many brands are EnergyStar compliant. They also reflect the sun and that makes attics cooler.  Hopefully some day my kids will be proud that our company cares about the planet by installing long-life products that are energy efficient and last for generations.  It’s always been our company focus.  Interviewer:  Boy, that’s a long time.  I don’t think I had heard of steel siding in the 1980s at all.  So you’ve seen a lot of changes in 33 years in the industry. What’s the next big thing?  Do you see anything coming up – a big change that’s moving forward?  What is the latest trend when it comes to roofing or exteriors? Pat:  The latest trend I think will be more in energy retrofits.  Installing a metal roof is just a portion of that.  That’s a great time for us to get in the attic and seal your bypasses,  fix your ventilation and your insulation so that your home is working as a system.  I see a lot more people focusing on the energy but also the health side of it.  There are a lot of ‘sick’ homes, and there are going to be more programs coming and tests for healthy homes – making sure that you’re sealing it right and doing it right, in ventilating the attic and the home.  I see that in the future.  But I also see labor as an issue in the future as well. Getting crews certified and trained in the future is going to be difficult.  ALD Flourish Quarve Contracting, Inc. is a licensed Minnesota exterior home remodeling contractor, serving the entire Minneapolis and St. Paul metro area with energy-efficient roofing, siding, replacement windows and doors, and more.  We specialize in metal roofing and siding.