"It is a pleasure to work with people of David's caliber and professionalism."
"I wish there were more people like David Baytosh out there to make projects go so smoothly."
"In my 24 years in the roofing industry, I rarely deal with individuals like Mr. Baytosh. His professionalism and dedication to excellence are unmatched in the industry."
"I wish he were my employee!"
These words describe David Baytosh, construction manager for Advanced Roofing Inc., Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The praise comes from letters written by Advanced Roofing customers and people who have worked with Baytosh. The letters, which were included with Baytosh's nomination for The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress' Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards, demonstrate people are willing to show support for Baytosh because he goes beyond his required job duties for them.
Baytosh recently won Professional Roofing's annual Best of the Best Award, an extension of the MVP Awards. OMG Roofing Products Inc., Agawam, Mass., co-sponsors the award.
"I have served on this committee for six years," says Tim Rainey, president of Supreme Systems Inc., Dallas, and chairman of the MVP Task Force. "Every year, the applicants get more interesting. It amazes me what our operations people go through daily to keep our companies going and customers satisfied. The committee believed David was hands down the best of the best."
A solid foundation
Baytosh grew up in Youngstown, Ohio, a blue-collar town famous for steel mills and populated by what
Baytosh calls "good, hardworking people."
"When the steel mills closed in the '70s, the economy never really recovered, and it went from a thriving community to almost desolate," Baytosh says. "Only a big General Motors plant was able to keep everything afloat."
Baytosh attended Catholic schools for 12 years, including Ursuline High School in Youngstown. During high school, he gained construction experience working for a home-improvement company.
After high school, Baytosh went to Youngstown State University. During the summer, he got a part-time job with Roth Bros., a Youngstown roofing company, and worked as a helper.
"I became fascinated with the construction industry," he says. "Roth Bros. was a large company—comparable to Advanced Roofing. After a couple of weeks, a big government job came up, and they asked whether I would be interested in working on it and joining the union. I worked all summer with them and fell in love with the roofing business."
Baytosh worked at Roth Bros. for 18 years. He participated in an apprenticeship program during his time in college. He became a journeyman and continued to move through the ranks.
However, when Roth Bros. went from being family-owned to being corporate, Baytosh decided to move on.
"It's tough to go from a family-owned environment to a corporate environment," Baytosh says. "With family-owned companies, there's a lot more pride, togetherness, unity and teamwork. Pride is the big draw for me."
One of Baytosh's former Roth Bros. co-workers, Jim Loftus, worked at Advanced Roofing. In 2004, Baytosh was going to Naples, Fla., on vacation and wanted to make a career move.
"I figured I would see Jim and give him my resumé, and he could pass it on to Rob Kornahrens, president of Advanced Roofing," Baytosh says. "Rob came into the office on a Sunday to meet with me, and we talked during the next two weeks. Two weeks later, I was in Florida."
Baytosh was hired as a construction manager for Advanced Roofing. He finds the company's challenging projects to be rewarding.
"That was a big draw coming to Advanced Roofing because they take on the more challenging jobs other contractors aren't able to do," Baytosh says. "I worked on a lot of Broward County schools, and we had to work during off-hours, nights and weekends and consider logistic requirements and the kids' safety. It's great to discuss challenges and resolutions with our team."
Baytosh spends a lot of his time traveling to different job sites and lending a hand where he can.
"He's involved in so many facets of projects—tracking production, communicating with customers, resolving issues with building departments, consultants and manufacturers," says Matt Ladd, Advanced Roofing's vice president of construction and Baytosh's supervisor. "He has quite a bit of responsibility."
He also doesn't hesitate to help in the field.
"If he's on a job site, he won't stand there and watch," says Jessica Kornahrens, a project manager for Advanced Roofing. "He'll take the worst job the crew has and show them he's willing to get his hands dirty. He encourages the foremen to jump in and get their hands dirty, too."
Additionally, Baytosh has stepped up to become involved with Advanced Roofing's renewable-energy division.
"The person who previously had my job ran the photovoltaic (PV) work, and that's when I first got into it," Baytosh says. "The first PV project I was involved with was installing a system on one of the Broward County schools. I ran all the county school work, so after that I seemed to inherit the rest."
Baytosh was given a chance to grow into the PV role.
"We had to start a renewable-energy division," says Clint Sockman, Advanced Roofing's director of renewable energy. "We knew solar was going to be a large part of our business five years down the road, and we wanted our best people from the beginning. David fit that role and, thankfully, he was up for it and willing to do it."
Baytosh has stepped up in other ways, as well. He is part of Advanced Roofing's Steering Committee, which brings people from the company's various departments together to discuss issues and promote interaction between departments.
"He's become more of a leader because he is the voice of the people in the field," says Jessica Kornahrens, who nominated Baytosh for the committee. "He likes being able to speak for them and bring up their concerns."
Baytosh also rose to the challenge when Florida was hit with disastrous hurricanes in 2005 and 2006, shortly after he began working at Advanced Roofing.
"After the hurricanes, our focus was to secure buildings," he says. "We just needed to get the buildings water-tight. The challenge is when you have to design a roof from a sketch of a building with minimal information and the system has to hold for 1 1/2 years before it can be replaced."
Baytosh says for a couple of weeks after the hurricanes, Advanced Roofing sent out 13-14 crews that could be at a job for just a day. The company was loading trucks and cranes every night and was without electricity and telephone service for the first couple of days. Despite the challenges, the company had no reported injuries during that time, and business boomed once reroofing work started.
"Roofing workers never were so widely accepted," Baytosh says. "People were grateful to see you. The true value of a roof came out. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—four hurricanes hit within that period of time. It gave me a chance to get more involved in the company, take on more responsibility and let them see what I was able to do."
"You have to make some tough decisions when you have so many buildings with no roofs," Rob Kornahrens says. "Things that typically happen during a roofing job—such as a preplanning meeting—just don't happen. You do the best you can. We worked 24/7 during that time, and David really stepped up to the plate."
It seems to be no secret that Baytosh especially shines when it comes to customer relationships.
"I haven't had a customer who didn't like David,"
Rob Kornahrens says. "We do difficult jobs on occupied buildings, and he maintains the customer relationship so well."
Jessica Kornahrens says Baytosh's customers also take a genuine interest in him.
"We had a lot of customers give supporting documentation for him for the MVP nomination, which says a lot," she says. "And when I told some of the customers he won, they were so excited. People want to go out of their way to support him."
In fact, one of those clients requested the opportunity to talk about Baytosh—Maria Luisa Rouco, plan examiner/inspector for the School Board of Broward County. She has worked with Baytosh on Broward County school projects, and he has lived up to her expectations.
"He is respectful, and that is important in any type of relationship," Rouco says. "I have high expectations, and there may be times when he feels I'm being unfair, but we'll talk in a respectful way and always can walk away with a handshake. That means everything. He'll walk that extra mile for customers."
Ladd says Baytosh's relationships with customers reflect well on the company.
"He makes sure everyone is on the same page, including the customer," Ladd says. "He's going to track everything, communicate with the customer and give daily or weekly updates. It impresses the customer and generates business down the road for us."
Baytosh just wants to be sure he gets to know the customers and their expectations.
"Once you have that initial meeting, continuing communication is key," he says. "They appreciate updates, and I enjoy when customers take an interest in their projects. You get to know them on a personal level and develop a friendship outside the business. It's a good feeling when they know they can call and count on you."
Jessica Kornahrens tells a story about a customer who was getting a new roof system installed on her house. Because Advanced Roofing doesn't perform residential work, Kornahrens referred the customer to a friend who owned a residential company.
"He went to her house to meet her and go over the bid, and she wanted David's opinion," Kornahrens says. "So she called David, and he sat there for 30 minutes at 9 p.m. and explained the proposal to her. That's who he is. He'll help anybody in any way—no questions asked."
Leading by example
The respect Baytosh shows for his customers also is reflected in his interactions with his crews.
"If you're honest and they know where you stand and what you expect, there are no surprises," Baytosh says. "You always should be fair, demand the best and try to bring the best out of people. When we set goals, they're smart goals within our grasp."
"David expects quality—the same thing he gives—and that's a good thing in a leader," Sockman says. "You give a certain level of effort and you get that back. He leads by example."
Jessica Kornahrens says Baytosh offers balance when working with crews.
"He's good at appreciating a job well done, but he also offers constructive criticism," she says. "He pushes the guys to improve—he doesn't want them to be OK with the status quo. But he does it in a way so they're comfortable with him yet respect him as the boss."
According to Baytosh's co-workers, he works long hours, arriving early and leaving late, as well as working weekends, nights and holidays. And his time commitment and expertise are not limited to workers in the field. In fact, he believes one of his strengths is being able to communicate between the office and field.
"There is a big gap between the field mentality and the office mentality," he says. "There is a certain way you need to present things to workers in the field and workers in the office environment."
His ability to bring those two worlds together helped Jessica Kornahrens when she wanted to explore the roofing side of the business.
"He has been a huge mentor for me," she says. "When I was promoted to project manager, I had been on the administration side. I didn't know much about roofing, and he would take me to job sites and teach me everything for hours. He would go over every detail. It's still the same way. If I say 'I need you,' he says, 'What time, when and where?'"
Baytosh has been in the roofing industry for more than 25 years and has seen it evolve, including the increased emphasis on safety.
"Safety is at the forefront of all construction, regardless of who you're working for or where you're working,"
Baytosh says. "Safety always is our No. 1 priority. I started to see changes in the mid- to late '80s, and it progressively has improved. Guys in the field are more educated, and companies provide safety-related training and equipment."
The change in roof systems also is evident.
"Manufacturers are continuing to improve roof systems," Baytosh says. "The technology, science and research involved are phenomenal. The customer has options, and there are more options for contractors to provide. Every building has its own personality, and you need to fit the right roof system with the right building."
And the growth of energy-efficent roof options is something Baytosh has witnessed at Advanced Roofing.
"It always was interesting to see how fast the solar industry grew," Baytosh says. "We started off installing a thin film self-adhering panel, and during the past couple of years, so many different PV systems became available."
Baytosh believes the solar industry will continue to evolve.
"I think solar products only are going to become more efficient, and the industry will continue to improve," he says. "Solar products will become more affordable and more common. Solar is here to stay."
As the industry moves forward, Baytosh hopes to move forward, as well. And he knows he wants to stick with Advanced Roofing.
"Rob Kornahrens is a legend," he says. "You'll never hear anything bad about Rob. He's given me all the opportunity in the world. And Matt is his equal—a true mentor and a great inspiration."
In fact, Baytosh finds it difficult to imagine retiring from the company.
"I never think much about retiring," he says. "What I do is a lot of fun. Roofing is a great industry. It has become more respectable and well-recognized. When I retire, maybe I will get a part-time job in the yard—cleaning up the yard or loading trucks if I can't climb a ladder anymore."
Despite Baytosh's commitment to his work, he makes time to help his community.
Every year, Baytosh returns to Ohio to volunteer at the Danny Price Charity fundraising event.
"Danny Price was a neighbor who passed away from cancer," Baytosh says. "People come out for a golf outing, and they do great things with money they raise in his honor."
In Florida, he—along with Advanced Roofing—has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity® and Rebuilding Together.®
"Everyone goes out on a Saturday," Baytosh says. "It's relaxed, and you have a lot of fun and feel good about what you're doing. It's a great way to work with co-workers in a less stressful environment. The company does a lot of charity work. Rob and Deborah Kornahrens are phenomenal people. I see how much work they do."
Baytosh also is involved with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's Construction Career Day.
"I like to work with kids," he says. "We do a roofing mock-up and have a lot of fun with them. It's pretty easy to get a kid's attention when you have a torch in your hand and asphalt flowing. They love swinging a hammer and pounding shingles."
Baytosh believes kids should be educated about the opportunities available in the trades.
"The trades are important," he says. "Not all kids will go to college, and there always is going to be demand for the trades. It shows kids there are other options out there. They can make a good living and do hard, clean, honest work. Roofing workers, plumbers, electricians—these jobs are the heart and soul of America."
Defining the best
Baytosh was grateful to win the Best of the Best Award at NRCA's convention.
"NRCA stands for so much," he says. "It put professionalism into the trade. It looks at the industry from all angles—business, safety, technical. The roofing industry truly is a multimillion dollar industry, and NRCA keeps it respectable and clean."
Baytosh isn't quite as comfortable talking about the accomplishments that won him the award.
"It's humbling," he says. "You want to say it's a company award. I'm a small part of what goes on around here. It's a team effort, and I'm just another link in the chain. You're a product of your environment, so it's no tribute to me. It's easy to excel when you have the tools and all the pieces are in place."
But there are people who are more than willing to sing Baytosh's praises.
"David loves the industry," Rouco says. "He respects it and is faithful to it. I've been in this industry since 1974, and I've seen a lot of people. He encompasses a lot of good qualities. I would hire him. He's someone I would want on my side."
Ladd believes Baytosh's dedicated involvement in the industry and community makes him the best of the best.
"A lot of people in the industry have gotten to know him in a relatively short time," Ladd says. "He's had exposure to the community through his volunteer work, which always is highly valued by our customers. He goes above and beyond. He's not just a workaholic—he goes out there and does something with the community and for the industry."
Sockman believes Baytosh's commitment to excellence makes him stand out.
"He truly is 100 percent committed to everything he does," Sockman says. "There never is a time when he's not giving it his best. And when you can give everything you have to every project, during every step, I think that is a big part of being the best of the best."
Krista Reisdorf is Professional Roofing's director of online communications.
The Best of the Best Award
The Best of the Best Award was presented during NRCA's 125th Annual Convention in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 20-24. The award recognizes an MVP Award winner who makes extraordinary contributions to the roofing industry and community. The Alliance MVP Task Force evaluates each MVP Award winner and tallies points based on MVP Award criteria, including on-the-job safety, on-the-job performance, recruiting new workers, community service and other noteworthy contributions.