In January, a new commercial roofing company unlike any other began operations. Meta Team LLC, Doraville, Ga., is a national, certified women-owned commercial roofing company.
The partnership includes Candace Klein, president of NRCA member Klein Contracting Corp., Doraville, Ga.; Alicia Michael, a former business owner from the automotive industry; Sherri Miles, president of Miles Roofing Inc., Chesapeake, Va., and vice president of NRCA member J.D. Miles & Sons Inc., Chesapeake; and Kelly Van Winkle, president and CEO of NRCA member King of Texas Roofing Company LP, Grand Prairie.
Recognizing a void in national commercial roofing services available to those working in the supplier diversity space, Klein, Michael, Miles and Van Winkle decided to pool their collective strengths and more than 230 years of combined roofing industry experience to form Meta Team.
Meta Team delivers large-scale and complex commercial roofing solutions via new construction, reroofing, solar, design-build, roof repair and maintenance services currently offered in 21 states.
Professional Roofing spoke with Meta Team’s founders to learn more about their partnership and business operations.
How did each of you enter the roofing industry?
Candace Klein, Meta Team co-founder and CEO: My education led me to a career in IT where the average workweek was 100 hours and a hard glass ceiling was in place for women. I was offered a position at Klein Contracting after my father bought out his partner. I said no for two years until I realized I had more dogs than friends because of my work schedule. At the time I joined, Klein Contracting was an asbestos abatement company growing market share in a diminishing market. The company then diversified into roofing. That was more than two decades ago. I have grown with the company into the roofing market.
Sherri Miles, Meta Team co-founder and director of diversity and inclusion: As a fourth-generation family owner/operator, I was born into the roofing industry. After graduating college, I worked for a law firm in the Washington, D.C., area, fully intending to go to law school. After working for a few years, I was preparing law school applications and divinity school applications, and I could not decide my next steps. At the same time, my grandfather became ill and my grandmother needed my help, so my dad suggested I come home to work at the office, help the family and figure things out. After a brief internship at L.E. Schwartz & Son Inc. in Macon, Ga., I went home to Virginia and have stayed!
Kelly Van Winkle, Meta Team co-founder and director of protocols: After completing graduate school, I founded an industrial tool supply business in 2004. Because many of my customers were commercial roofing contractors, I came to enjoy and respect the industry. In 2011, it was an easy choice to close my business and join my family’s commercial construction business as the third generation to do so.
Alicia Michael, Meta Team co-founder and president: I am the newest to the roofing industry. My background includes 20 years as a business owner in the automotive industry and leadership roles with nonprofit organizations focused on global and domestic public health. I was introduced to the concept of Meta Team by Candace. After she shared her vision with me and I had the chance to connect with Kelly and Sherri, I knew I had a place in helping to lead these efforts. I believe Meta Team will effect positive change throughout the industry and across our communities.
What is Meta Team? How was the name chosen?
Michael: We are a collaboration of regional, certified women-owned roofing companies that have partnered to offer national services. Although our individual roofing companies continue to operate independently in our respective markets, Meta Team offers each partner the ability to broaden services well beyond the regional reach. Meta means “to transform.” Our vision is to transform the construction experience for socially conscious clients.
Why did you decide to create Meta Team? How was the partnership formed?
Klein: Several years ago, I was exploring new opportunities for Klein Contracting through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council network when Roz Lewis, president and CEO of the Greater Women’s Business Council, suggested I consider pulling together several WBENC-certified commercial roofing companies. After doing a preposterous amount of homework, I quickly found a huge gap in the market between companies that want to do business with WBENC construction companies and the availability of these companies. Meta Team started with Alicia and the leaders of three roofing companies providing services in 21 states, and we are about to expand our service area with a handful of other companies. We wanted to start with creating a culture around similar values of diversity, safety, community, integrity and service and keep a high level of expectations for other roofing company associates.
How is Meta Team structured?
Klein: Meta Team is a limited liability company headquartered in Georgia with regional offices in Texas and Virginia.
What was it like to start a business during a global pandemic?
Klein: The trend to engage minority contractors has increased dramatically during the past decade and despite the pandemic, that will not stop. In fact, supplier diversity professionals will, most likely, lean in further to rebuild communities hardest hit by this pandemic by increasing engagement with certified minority contractors.
What do Meta Team’s day-to-day operations look like?
Michael: Our daily operations include the implementation of our sales and marketing plans; constant communication with partners and clients; and participation in industry, client and diversity events. Meta Team also has a deep culture of strengthening community. We offer our time, expertise and resources to multiple nonprofit organizations that support our broader vision, including the Atlanta Humane Society, Children’s Hospital of The Kings Daughters, Junior League of Dallas and Rotary International, among many others.
What are Meta Team’s values?
Michael: Meta Team’s cultural values are diversity, integrity, community, safety and service. We believe a diverse and inclusive workforce advances the transformation of the construction experience. Meta Team adheres to the highest standards of moral and ethical values in our personal and professional behavior. We go beyond roofing with our commitment to strengthening our communities through service. Meta Team is uncompromising in its commitment to the safety of its employees, clients and community. And we believe in exceeding the expectations of all clients by holding ourselves and all members accountable for Meta Team’s service commitment.
How can roofing companies interested in diverifying their workforces accomplish such a goal?
Miles: Diversity does not happen naturally. Companies that want to succeed need to look beyond the usual means for attracting and retaining diverse talent. Even with a global pandemic and high unemployment, roofing still needs to look in new places for new people. It starts with senior leadership developing a recruiting and retaining strategy. Words matter. Carefully look over any job ads and descriptions. Partner with diverse organizations and networks on Google and LinkedIn or use websites like SeekOut and referral programs because diversity attracts diversity. Once an individual is hired, inclusion is key and begins with orientation. Make new recruits feel included and let them know they were hired to add to the team.
What advice would you offer to women interested in pursuing successful roofing industry careers?
Van Winkle: Opportunities for leadership in the roofing industry are plentiful. It is crucial to continue the learning process every day. Keep up with current business and legal trends, continually educate yourself regarding roofing technology, and hone your leadership and communication skills. The roofing industry is a welcoming group of professionals.
What is supplier diversity?
Supplier diversity is a business strategy involving the creation of a diverse supply chain that incorporates businesses owned by diverse individuals or groups, according to CVM, a Westchester, Ill.-based company that helps businesses develop and implement supplier diversity initiatives. A diverse supply chain may include certified small business enterprises and/or certified businesses owned by women, veterans, individuals with disabilities or individuals who are part of other minority groups.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship reports there are more than 4 million minority-owned companies in the U.S. with annual sales approaching $700 billion. Businesses that engage in supplier diversity add economic value by supporting the growth of diverse businesses and may see increases in market share, according to CVM. Notable companies that have set supplier diversity goals include Google, Johnson & Johnson and Walmart.