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Archive for Monday, January 17, 2011

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Slice of Life: Kansas weather keeps roofer thinking on his feet

Andrew Conklin, owner of Andy’s Roofing, makes it his business to keep up with the change in materials and techniques for repairing roofs.

Andrew Conklin, owner of Andy’s Roofing, makes it his business to keep up with the change in materials and techniques for repairing roofs.

January 17, 2011

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Keeping a good roof over your head these days is harder than it used to be. Kansas weather and the rising cost of updated materials can wreck havoc on one’s abode. Ask veteran roofer Andrew Conklin, owner of Andy’s Roofing.

“There’ve been changes in the materials we use and many costs have soared,” he explains. “Today’s roofs and their materials come in all shapes and sizes. Many of the older style wood shingles are disappearing and have been replaced by metal fiber-glass asphalt ones or concrete-look synthetic ones. Then there’s slate roofs, but these can be really expensive because of the rising costs of slate.”

Born in Port Jefferson, N.Y., in 1963, he moved to Topeka in 1967. He attended Highland Park High School where he enjoyed running, horseback riding, playing football, baseball, swimming and water-skiing.

“These activities stood me in good stead and prepared me for the hard physical work entailed in roofing,” he says.

He attended Kansas University for a year in 1983, decided college wasn’t for him and left to work alongside his father in commercial roofing.

He later moved to Florida to work at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa, Fla., before taking a break from roofing to work in the grocery business where he held various management positions.

He returned to roofing and Lawrence in 1998 and worked with his brother until he set up his own business in 2001.

“I wanted to work for myself,” he says. “Starting my own business was the right thing for me. Back then all the roofing companies were local. In recent years, more out-of-town roofing companies have moved into the Lawrence market.”

Conklin loves and takes great pride in his work whether he’s doing repairs, restoration on older properties or replacing badly damaged or older roofs.

“You have to make sure the work is done correctly and in keeping with the house’s overall structure, historical period and the owner’s expectations,” he says. “One challenge of working on some of the local historical businesses and older homes is that the old 2-by-4s are now 1 1/2-by-3.”

He’s recently worked to restore an early 1920s roof with built-in gutters and cracked rafters to its original condition.

He says Kansas’ unpredictable weather is a challenge and opportunity for roofers.

“If you put some shingles on below 42 degrees the manufacturers recommend you seal and caulk them. If it’s too warm you could scar the shingles by walking on them so you have to lay foam and be very careful where you walk,” he says. “When it’s too hot you have to take lots of breaks during the middle of the day.”

Microbursts and hailstorms increase business.

“People need immediate help so it’s important to respond quickly,” he says.

Conklin doesn’t consider his job dangerous and hopes to continue roofing for many more years.

“If I keep fit and well, use common sense, be careful one step at a time especially on steep roofs, and treat customers well, I hope to continue roofing in Lawrence for many more years,” he says.

— Eileen Roddy can be reached at eileen.roddy@sunflower.com.

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