Alex Hernandez

Professional Roofing: What is the most difficult roofing project you've performed?
Hernandez: Harold Washington Social Security Center, Chicago. The 150-foot- (46-m-) tall, 70,000-square-foot (6503-m²) building's existing coal-tar pitch built-up roof (BUR) system was installed over water-logged, tapered fiberglass insulation on a concrete roof deck. At its highest point, the insulation was 10 inches (254 mm) thick. Our 12-member crew used a 50-ton (45-Mg) crane to hoist two 260-gallon (984-L) kettles onto the roof and hang a debris chute. The crew then installed a two-ply vapor retarder, tapered foam glass insulation with a 10-inch- (254-mm-) high point, four-ply coal-tar pitch BUR system with a double flood coat and gravel surfacing. We began work in October 1998 and completed work in December 1998—10 days before Chicago experienced a record snowfall.

Why did you become a roofing contractor?
I like to say Mike Promen, president of Clark Roofing, drafted me into the business, but the truth is Promen gave me the opportunity to join the company in 1994—six months after I married his daughter Michele. He called it a three-month trial period to see how things would work out. This November, my three-month trial period will have lasted nine years.

What was your first roofing experience?
The first job I sold, while working as a salesman, was a 30-square (270-m²) roof on a two-flat building in Chicago. I told the building owner roofing work would be completed in about three days. He and I equally were surprised when a seven-man Clark Roofing crew appeared on his small side street with a crane and tanker truck and replaced the roof system in half a day.

What is your favorite item on your desk?
I have a small Internet camera that points toward two chairs in front of my desk where visitors often sit. The president of a local supply company visited me shortly after the camera was positioned. After seeing the camera directly pointed at him, he asked whether it was a new negotiating technique we were developing for dealing with suppliers. I haven't moved the camera since!