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Winning ways – success as a competent roofer

September 18, 2019

In this month’s member growth story, we caught up with Mike Fildes of Fildes Roofing to find out how he’s used specialisation to take on more profitable projects. As a competent roofer, you certainly can learn from Mike’s experience. Consider further specialist training and open up further opportunities to win highly profitable work.

With over thirty years’ experience working on a variety of projects, Fildes Roofing has established itself as one of the primary roofing companies in Sussex. The company offers services in tiling, slating, shingling, stone slating, lead work and general roof repairs for domestic properties. In recent years, the company has shifted focus and started to take on more specialist projects. It’s been a positive move, and in the last five years, the company has won several major awards.

Speaking on the start of Fildes Roofing, Mike commented:

“When I first moved to Sussex, I noticed there were some real opportunities for a roofing firm. Setting up as a sole trader helped me to take advantage of these jobs quickly, and before long, I was turning a profit. Like most firms, we started out working on smaller jobs, which mainly won on price. By 1988, the company was doing well, and we filed to become a limited organisation. On a personal level, this meant moving off the tools and overseeing things from a more strategic point of view.”

As Fildes Roofing became more established, Mike looked to take on more specialist jobs. First, to attract attention, the company expanded its services, and for the first time offered specialist roofing repairs and installations for heritage and ecclesiastical buildings. Moving away from the price-driven world of smaller jobs and focussing instead on higher-end jobs, it helped the company to improve its profit margins.

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Mike said of the rise:

“After a few years of focussing on smaller projects, we made a conscious decision to start taking on more specialist work. Roofing is a competitive market, so it’s important to have a niche that sets you apart from the crowd. As we took on more specialist work, most notably on heritage projects and protected buildings, we began to develop a good reputation for our work. Before we knew it, we were getting calls from around the local area on large, profitable projects.”

As margins are higher, moving into specialist work can help roofers take their operations to the next level. However, it’s essential to have the proper training before trying to make a go of it. Specialist roofing jobs, such as heritage projects require very high levels of skill, especially if the building is listed. Therefore, it’s vital to find an established training course that will teach you the necessary skills and techniques needed to complete the task successfully. Mike agrees that this is the best course of action for any roofing professionals wanting to move into more skilled work.

He commented:

“We’ve had a lot of our success in recent years from our move towards working on more specialist jobs. The decision set us apart from our competitors and has helped us to earn more money. Throughout this process, I have used training to develop the skill levels of my staff members. These courses have taught my staff all the relevant skills they required. They have also explained what they needed to know about the laws and regulations around working on listed roofs.”

Roofers on the lookout for training should consider getting it through Mike himself. Since 2005, he has operated South Coast Roof Training, a leading training provider for those in the roofing sector. The company provides professional roofing training courses and is perfect for anyone wanting to increase roofing skills and knowledge. The company’s expert tutors have over 70 years’ industry experience, both on-site and in training. From heritage roofing courses to five-day welding and bossing training programs, the company offers something for all levels of roofing professionals.

Speaking on the importance of training, Mike continued:

“Even at the best of times, the roofing market can be pretty volatile. Nobody knows what’s around the corner, especially with the current economic and political uncertainty. In my opinion, training protects you against potential downturns. With most people in the sector happy to work on small projects, training allows you to take on more high-margin, high-quality jobs. If you’re interested in seeing what’s on offer, then visit South Coast Roof Training’s website. We work in partnership with CITB; London & Southern Roof Training Group; South Central Independent Roof Training Group.”

For more information about Fildes Roofing, please visit:

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