Charlie Anderson is the owner of Dreamworx Roofing, a roofing company based out of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
A native of nearby Harrisburg, Anderson spent parts of his childhood in Greenville, South Carolina and Boston, before ultimately moving back to Pennsylvania’s capital city.
But no matter where he was, Anderson always had a penchant for wreaking havoc.
“As a kid, I was interested in getting into as much trouble as I could,” he says with a modest laugh.
Anderson’s youthful exploits included riding his bike 25 miles per day, dropping down into halfpipes on his skateboard, and virtually any other extreme sport he could participate in.
During these endeavors, Anderson exerted much of the testosterone his body was continually producing, but while navigating this chaotic part of his life, he neglected to spend time planning for his future.
“After high school, I quit more jobs than I’d like to admit, but I also tried everything from painting houses, to digging ditches, working in warehouses, and even sales,” Anderson shares.
“I tried everything I could because coming out of high school I didn’t have a clear path in life. I was just doing whatever I wanted to do.”
Later, the Harrisburg native explored a career in graphic design, a decision that eventually led to him being employed by a local roofing company.
“I got into that company and realized that roofing is pretty awesome,” Anderson says.
In fact, Anderson liked roofing so much that he stopped going to college, and while he didn’t regret forgoing his formal education, over time the work environment at the roofing company began to lose its attraction.
Fast forward a few months from that initial downturn, and Anderson had begun searching for alternative employment.
“There was a plethora of reasons why I left that roofing company, but the main thing is that I wasn’t being treated right. I had worked my way up to acting general manager at this company. I was putting in a ton of hours and learning a lot, but ultimately, I wasn’t being treated fairly,” he explains.
Upon moving on from the local roofing company, Anderson contemplated going back to school to finish his graphic design program, but then his former coworker at the roofing company, Steve Snyder, approached him with an opportunity.
Following several conversations with Snyder, the two decided to open their own roofing company, naming their business Dreamworx Roofing.
Philosophically, the duo aimed to be antithetical to the ways of their former employer.
They were going to prioritize customer service, treat their employees with dignity and respect, and deliver first-class quality and workmanship to their client base.
On paper, Anderson and Snyder had designed a path toward success, but they quickly learned that building a roofing company from nothing is an incredibly arduous process.
Complicating matters, the pair founded Dreamworx Roofing in January 2015, a time of year when potential customers are more concerned with avoiding frostbite than scheduling a roof replacement.
“I never fully understood the inner workings of a roofing company, but I was blessed to work with Steve, who actually knew what he was doing,” Anderson says.
“That being said, I didn’t have money, and Steve didn’t have money. We had a trailer and some determination, but those first few months were a grind. We were doing every job that we could possibly get; anything that would pay us a couple bucks.”
For Anderson, he also became a father during that time, but instead of being able to fully embrace being a dad, and due to his own short-sightedness, ancillary forces were threatening the safety and security of his family.
“Right when we started the roofing company, my wife and I had a baby. I was still relatively young and emotionally immature, and I wasn’t taking my business or my finances seriously,” Anderson reveals.
Consequently, Anderson fell behind on bills, and during that same winter his electricity was shut off, forcing him and his wife to huddle together on the couch to keep themselves and their baby warm.
“We had no heat. It was freezing, and I remember looking at my wife and finally coming to the realization that I had to be better. No more of this type of shit,” Anderson says.
“It was time to get serious about life, and about business.”
It wasn’t easy, but over time Anderson, Snyder, and Dreamworx Roofing began to generate sustainable revenue.
Anderson says he wishes he could take credit for the company’s major turnaround, but doing so wouldn’t be fair to the numerous other people who played a vital role in the company‘s ascension.
“I was, and I still am surrounded by people who are better than me, and that came as a result of making a couple key hires,” Anderson says.
“When Steve and I made the move to expand our roofing business, we hired people who believed in us and the vision we had for this company.”
One critical component to that equation was Moses Weyer, who today is Dreamworx Roofing’s sales manager, but before that he was in the trenches with Anderson and Snyder, installing roofs and siding.
To the naked eye, it appeared that Anderson and Snyder were doing what was necessary to keep their company afloat, but ultimately they figured out that their value as business owners had nothing to do with pounding nails into a shingle or tearing old siding off a property.
Put more simply, the owners of Dreamworx Roofing had to work on the business, not in it.
“We dropped our toolbelts and sat down behind our computers. We were going to start using our brains, as opposed to our bodies,” Anderson says, in citing a revolutionary moment in Dreamworx Roofing’s history.
“That decision was the turning point. It made me realize that I’m a lot smarter than I give myself credit for. I had a lot more to offer than just the work I was doing with my hands.”
Once Anderson took his professional development seriously, more opportunities began to crop up, to the point that today Dreamworx Roofing has four sales reps who will all gross over $1 million in sales.
Essentially, Dreamworx Roofing has evolved from a glorified subcontracting company into arguably the preeminent roofing company in central Pennsylvania.
Besides getting out of his own way and learning how to delegate and effectively run a business, Anderson insists that there was no miracle pill prescribed to him by a famous entrepreneur, or a magic formula he followed to achieve success in the roofing industry.
Instead, he just kept things simple.
“We don’t have a secret sauce for what makes us successful,” Anderson mentions.
“We believe in doing the essentials and doing them impeccably well.”
As mentioned, customer service and employee satisfaction are crucial to the Dreamworx Roofing paradigm.
Without either of those elements working in concert with one another, it’s possible Dreamworx Roofing would have by now joined the overwhelming majority of roofers who go out of business within a few years of inception.
“Before Steve and I worry about how good of roofers we are, we focus on taking care of our customers’ needs and exceeding their expectations,” Anderson says.
“And we are serious about our team, in the sense that we want people to legitimately enjoy working for our company. Steve and I left our old company because it was toxic. We didn’t see a future and we didn’t feel involved, so here at Dreamworx we try to bring everyone together and treat them like family.”
They also treat customers like family by becoming a trusted source of information for all things roofing, whether that means being transparent about how they set their prices, or taking the time to conduct a final walkthrough after a roof has been installed.
“We don’t ever want to hide anything from customers. We try to educate first and sell second,” Anderson emphasizes.
“We are customer centric. We don’t talk about ourselves during sales presentations. We prefer to be stewards of information and lead customers towards what they ultimately want, and what is best for them.”
As for the future of Dreamworx Roofing, Anderson has no immediate plans to turn his business into a national entity, or to head down to Florida to wade through the wreckage of Hurricane Ian.
Which is to say he’s content with the annual revenue his team has been generating for the last few years.
“We like being at this volume. It is easier to manage. Things aren’t out of control,” Anderson says.
With his present and his future somewhat predictable, Anderson is now able to look back with gratitude for the journey he has been on.
Of course, there are things he would do differently if he had the chance, and he hopes that some of his past oversights will give clarity to other roofing contractors (not located in central Pennsylvania) who may currently be struggling to get their business out of a state of neutrality.
“If I had to give someone advice, it would be to take your toolbelt off, get out of your truck, sit behind your desk, and realize you have something very powerful between your ears,” Anderson says.
“The moment that you start working with your brain and not your body, really amazing things can happen.”
He also advises other roofing contractors to invest in their brand, and to not get caught up in the hype often purported by roofers on social media.
“People have to realize that branding is a slower burn than what you see on Facebook, where companies go from zero to $10 million within the course of a couple years,” Anderson says.
“I believe in building something that lasts, investing in my people, and giving them an opportunity to build a career. All those things take time, but the best way to cultivate that type of brand and work environment is through creative and meaningful marketing and leadership efforts.” QS
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