In­no­va­tion has kept Barr’s Roof­ing in the fam­ily for three gen­er­a­tions

Toronto Star - - BUSINESS -

Some peo­ple would balk at the idea of be­ing in busi­ness with fam­ily, but for the Barr fam­ily of New­cas­tle, On­tario, it works.

In 1987, founder David Barr was work­ing with a Toronto com­pany when it was awarded a con­tract with Skydome. Be­cause of the long com­mute from Black­stock, On­tario, where David lived, Barr and his wife, Nancy, teamed up with their son, Corey, and his long­time friend, Greg Sta­ple­ton — both boys had worked in con­struc­tion — and Barr’s Roof­ing, Sid­ing and Sheet Me­tal was born. In fact, for the past 28 years, two gen­er­a­tions (and soon to be three) of Barrs have owned and op­er­ated Barr’s Roof­ing, Sid­ing and Sheet Me­tal Ltd. (barrsroof­ing.com).

To­day, the busi­ness — which is man­aged by Corey and his wife, Krista — has up to 15 em­ploy­ees — in­clud­ing Corey and Krista’s son, Brolan, 23, a re­cent grad­u­ate of the sheet me­tal ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram at Ge­orge Brown Col­lege. “My hus­band’s chair is within three feet of mine,” says Krista, whose own fam­ily ran a jew­ellery busi­ness. “This is what we do 24/7. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Barr’s works with sin­gle-ply flat and sloped roofs — shin­gles, me­tal, cedar, slate, cop­per, zinc — and ex­te­rior cladding sys­tems in me­tal, vinyl and alu­minum, as well as made-tomea­sure seam­less eave­strough gut­ter sys­tems. Its spe­cial­ity prod­ucts in­clude sky­lights and re­place­ment doors and win­dows, though its forte is cus­tom sheet-me­tal fab­ri­ca­tion. Barr’s is one of only a hand­ful of com­pa­nies with its own Z-Panel Stand­ing Seam Roll Form Ma­chine, which lets work­ers pro­duce me­tal roof­ing on­site, sav­ing on man­u­fac­tur­ing costs and cut­ting down on ma­te­rial waste and the time it takes to fin­ish a job.

“Some days you can tear your hair out,” says Krista Barr. “You have your ups and downs and changes in terms of how the busi­ness runs, ed­u­ca­tion around new prod­ucts, safety leg­is­la­tion, new equip­ment & ma­chin­ery, and al­ways a moun­tain of pa­per­work. But I love it.”

Barr and her fam­ily have had plenty of sup­port from their CIBC busi­ness ad­vi­sor, in New­cas­tle. On CIBC’s ad­vice, Barr’s re­cently adopted Pay­firma — one of CIBC’s part­ners for pay­ment pro­cess­ing for busi­nesses (see box) — jump­ing in “with both feet with the new tech­nol­ogy,” says Krista Barr. “Monthly NSF cheques had be­come part of our busi­ness re­al­ity. And try­ing to chase down funds and go­ing through col­lec­tions is not ef­fi­cient. It costs us all.” At the end of this sum­mer, 90 per cent of Barr’s in­voices were be­ing paid by credit card, re­duc­ing op­er­a­tional costs and in­creas­ing the com­pany’s cash flow.

Krista Barr, left, and hus­band Corey have helped make Barr’s Roof­ing a thriv­ing fam­ily busi­ness. PEY­MAN SOHEILI

Barr’s spe­cialty is cus­tom sheet-me­tal fab­ri­ca­tion. PEY­MAN SOHEILI

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