The bright side of business: DWS Roofing & Waterproofing celebrates its 20th anniversary
Who is the unsung hero of the construction world? If you ask the executives at DWS Roofing & Waterproofing, they’ll tell you it’s roofing – but they’re on a mission to change its low-profile profile.
Having celebrated its 20th anniversary last year, DWS is a family owned business providing commercial roofing services, as well as flat roofing and waterproofing services for industrial, institutional and multi-residential buildings. His work can be seen on the buildings housing Canopy Growth, Ciena in Kanata as well as the Ottawa Paramedic Service Headquarters, among others.
President and Founder Doug Stalker started DWS in 2000. For the first time in construction in the 1970s, Stalker always knew he wanted to be a contractor. After selling his share of his first roofing business – his partners didn’t have the same vision as he did, Stalker says – he was ready to move on to the next company.
A difficult start
Stalker started DWS using his personal savings, a loan from his parents, and a lot of elbow grease.
“It was quite difficult at the beginning, to follow the payroll, to pay the suppliers on time,” he says. Some weeks pay was a day late, “but we’ve been through those tough knocks.”
Although its head office is in a spare bedroom – and later, in a converted garage – the business has grown rapidly, with sales increasing 10-15% per year. In 2012, Stalker was able to create an addition to their home, with enough space for five employees.
“It was very nice,” he jokes.
In 2016, DWS was large enough to occupy a 5,000 square foot office and three acres of land in Gloucester. Two years later, a 2,800 square foot addition was built.
At the start of DWS, Stalker hired his wife and sister in the business, who supported him in administration. In 2009, Stalker’s son Cody joined the team. Today, he is vice president of field operations.
“Seeing the pops work so hard, we’d be around that all the time,” says Cody Stalker. In 2014, his brother Carson also joined the group, later becoming vice president of estimation and project management.
In 2016, DWS had 35 employees. Today, that number has grown to 100 employees, completing about 150 projects per year, or about three million square feet of roofing per year.
One of its main customers was Amazon, which hired DWS to complete 23 acres of roofing in 50 days for its Navan site.
“The schedule in which we had to do it was extremely difficult,” says Carson Stalker, adding that the team had to deal with an early snowfall, which makes this a project they are particularly proud of.
Doug Stalker says if someone had asked him to take on these kinds of major projects before his sons worked with him, he would have said no.
“Now these guys are up to the challenge and taking this business to the next level,” he says.
Even though construction was seen as an essential service throughout the pandemic, largely allowing work to continue, DWS still took a hit as many customers pressed a break on their major projects. To stay afloat, the company turned to roofing repairs for critical businesses, such as supply chain warehouses, grocery stores, and condominiums.
“All we knew that was going to continue through this pandemic is where we really needed to focus,” Carson Stalker said.
Since 2018, Doug Stalker has been slowly preparing for his retirement, entrusting more and more responsibilities to his two sons. Their vision for DWS?
“To consolidate our position as one of the best and most reliable roofers in the region,” says Cody Stalker.
The Bright Side of Business is an editorial column focused on sharing positive stories of business success.
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