Having dinner with Dan Pastore and his family, I quickly sense the ease and closeness among Pastore; his older brother, Dave; and their wives, Sandy and Marg. They laugh as they tell stories, reminiscing about their childhoods, annual family parties and their children.
The close-knit family atmosphere also translates to Upstate Roofing and Painting Inc., Rochester, N.Y., where Pastore is low-slope field superintendent and Dave is chief executive officer (CEO).
"Our leaders are like our extended family," says Rick Gourley, steep-slope field superintendent for Upstate Roofing and Painting. "I had a great relationship with Dan's parents and meet his family socially outside of work."
The Upstate Roofing and Painting family was proud of Pastore when he recently won Professional Roofing's annual Best of the Best Award, an extension of The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress' Most Valuable Player (MVP) Awards. OMG Roofing Products Inc., Agawam, Mass., co-sponsors the award.
"The Alliance MVP Task Force consists of five contractors, two suppliers and two manufacturers," says Tim Rainey, president of Supreme Systems Inc., Dallas, and MVP Task Force chairman. "They individually spend hours reviewing and rating applications in the five categories before meeting in NRCA's offices as a group to discuss them. It amazes me that though we judged the applicants separately, we all ranked Dan the highest in all five categories, making him the ‘best of the best.'"
Developing work ethic
Pastore grew up in Ballston Spa, N.Y., a small town near Saratoga Springs. He loved the outdoors, playing sports and, at his parents' encouragement, began working at an early age.
"My parents always said if you want something out of life, you better go get it," he says. "So when I was a kid, I raked leaves, shoveled driveways and painted trim for a few extra dollars."
Despite typical brotherly competition, the brothers got along well.
"Dan was bubbly, out and about, and comfortable around people," Dave says. "He has a unique way about him, and I think he was that way even when he was small. He is a bit more easygoing than I am. As a younger brother, he wanted to hang out with his older brother, but it was never an inconvenience. We were a close-knit family and did a lot of things together."
Pastore attended Ballston Spa High School, graduating in 1975. He then attended SUNY Delhi in the Catskills of New York.
"I had many different jobs during high school and college," Pastore says. "I scooped ice cream, pumped gas, worked for a printing press—whatever I could do to make a few bucks. I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I figured if I started in business, college would at least give me some groundwork."
Pastore graduated from SUNY Delhi with an associate's degree in business management in 1977. Although he had an opportunity to be an assistant manager for an A&P supermarket, he decided to take a position with a swimming pool company because of his desire to work outside. However, when that job wasn't quite what Pastore expected, his family stepped in to help.
"Unfortunately, my boss had some personal problems, and my dad reached out to Dave and asked whether Dave could help," Pastore says. "Dave called me and asked whether I was interested in roofing, and I told him ‘yes.'"
When Pastore arrived in Rochester, he stayed with Dave for a month. At Upstate Roofing and Painting,
Pastore worked on Dave's crew.
"He took me under his wing and showed me what roofing was all about," Pastore says. "I became his assistant foreman and then became a foreman running my own crew. Dave worked his way out of the field and into the office as I took over what used to be his crew."
Although the brothers were hesitant to mix family and business, they are pleased it turned out well.
"It is a bit intimidating because you often hear families have difficulties making it in business together," Pastore says. "But we have a marvelous working relationship and a great deal of respect for each other."
His brother agrees, saying he didn't want to jeopardize their relationship.
"I was fearful because I had worked for a family member before working at Upstate Roofing and Painting, and it didn't go well," Dave says. "But there is nothing better than coming into the office in the morning and having coffee with Dan, listening to him tell his stories and participating in his humor—even if you're the victim. He's so doggone quick-witted, it's amazing.
"He makes my day better, makes me laugh and helps me through the tough spots," Dave continues. "Working together has enhanced our relationship."
In 1981, Pastore married his wife, Sandy. They have two children—Kristina, 29, and Nick, 27. Thirty-five years after starting with the company, Pastore has worked his way up through the ranks to superintendent. He also now works with his son, Nick.
"We've only been on two or three jobs together, but those jobs were a whole new learning experience for me," Nick says. "They were some of the best times I've had working here so far."
Being a mentor
Pastore has established himself as a well-respected leader at Upstate Roofing and Painting. Brock Alexander, a manufacturer's representative for Carlisle SynTec Inc., Carlisle, Pa., has had a relationship with Upstate Roofing and Painting for more than 20 years and was trained by Pastore, who became his mentor.
"One of the greatest compliments I can give him is he is an educator and not a scolder," Alexander says. "He would rather take you aside and explain things than scream at you, and I was thankful for that. He always has a positive demeanor. It's a hard job, so it's easy to have a negative attitude. His demeanor is the most impressive thing about him."
Pastore also played the role of mentor for Aaron Gross, one of the company's reroofing foremen.
"He helps you see a vision that becomes clear with his guidance, and he encourages you to achieve things you might question on your own," Gross says. "He always takes genuine interest in everyone he works with. He respects what they do."
Gross finds Pastore to be inspiring.
"I see his accomplishments over the years, and that inspires me to become more like him and achieve those same things," he says. "He's a sincere man. He's the kind of person I aspire to be."
Dave says his brother's humility is a key part of his success as a leader.
"He doesn't put himself first," Dave says. "There is no ego, but he enhances your confidence. You know you have this expert on your side. He's not afraid or concerned with exceeding his limitations—he knows when he gets there and reaches out for help."
Bob Morgan, Upstate Roofing and Painting's chief operating officer, says Pastore's people skills help him shine as a leader.
"He knows how to relate to different personalities, and he's good at understanding everyone's situations," Morgan says. "You walk in as someone who doesn't know anything and look at someone who's been doing it his whole life, and it can be intimidating. But then you understand what a great resource you have—Dan is a resource."
As part of his leadership role, Pastore participates in Upstate Roofing and Painting's safety committee and leadership management team. He designs safety plans; develops and often leads internal safety training programs; and performs unannounced safety checks at job sites.
"The leadership management team is a resource for Dave and Bob to bounce ideas off us," Pastore explains. "We all offer feedback about what's working and not working. The feedback is instrumental in how we go forward."
One situation that emphasized Pastore's leadership role was Upstate Roofing and Painting's project at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant, Ontario, N.Y., which required extensive background checks for all roofing workers and a rigorous 40-hour self-training and testing program.
"You had to have a clean slate to be considered for an unescorted pass," Pastore says. "You really are under the microscope, so for that job, I assigned myself because I was trying to show a higher level of support. It's an intense situation, but when you complete something like that, it can be so rewarding."
Morgan says Pastore was the right person for the job.
"It is difficult to get people authorized to work in a nuclear power plant," Morgan says. "We took Dan up on his offer to assign himself to the field for three straight months to work beside his assigned teammates. We needed that type of leadership on the job."
A collaborative effort
Dave says he has enjoyed seeing his brother's confidence grow when it comes to managing crews.
"When you manage a crew, you are in direct control of your destiny," Dave says. "When you manage multiple crews, you are not as in direct control because there are other leaders who need to succeed. That was a challenge for him at first, but he has overcome it. His confidence and ability to lead leaders has grown, and as such, his rewards are more plentiful."
Pastore says he views projects as collaborative efforts.
"I look at things from a collective viewpoint," he says. "I open my mind up to opinions. I try to lead partly by example but also try to listen to what the guys have to say and incorporate them into my responses. I try to attack things with a spirit of cooperation and support crew members however I can."
Gross says Pastore treats crew members with respect and does not simply play the role of supervisor.
"He's doing everything we're doing," Gross says. "If I need something, I call him and he gets it for me without question. It's not just a working relationship. I would consider him a good friend. He treats you with respect, and he gets the same in return. He only asks that you give it your best. He's the kind of guy you want to be."
Dave says his brother's role with the crew has evolved during the years.
"As he has moved through the ranks, there has been a transformation there," Dave says. "At one time, he was like a brother to them; he has moved to the father figure, but a father you want to be around because he's fun."
His fatherly guidance has helped his crew members succeed.
"Everybody who has come in contact with him has great respect for him," Gourley says. "He lets other guys grow and helps them grow. A lot of our current top foremen worked under his supervision when he was a foreman, and they're all successful, so he's taught them well."
One of those foremen is Cesar Martinez, who worked under Pastore's supervision when he came to Upstate Roofing and Painting more than 20 years ago. When Martinez joined the company, he could barely speak English. In a letter submitted for Pastore's MVP nomination, Martinez describes how Pastore mentored him.
"Dan saw my potential and took me under his wing," Martinez writes. "He let me shadow him when meeting with customers and other crew members so I could learn how to communicate like him. When I wanted to talk to someone in English, I would tell Dan what I was planning to say first and he would teach me how to change a few words to make it sound better. I also looked over Dan's shoulder when he would fill out his daily paperwork, which was my first opportunity to learn how to write English."
Pastore explains what motivates him to put in extra effort to help people such as Martinez.
"When people show a level of interest and are willing to do what it takes, I try to help them," he says. "I love helping others, especially when I see they are inspired and just looking for guidance. Cesar didn't have a lot of mentoring as a young man, but he had a lot of desire to turn his life into something."
Martinez says Pastore's confidence in him led him to become Pastore's assistant foreman and, later, a foreman running one of Upstate Roofing and Painting's largest crews. Pastore also helped Martinez through some tough times.
"I am not perfect and have made some poor choices throughout my personal life," Martinez writes. "Even in my toughest times though, when I thought nothing else was left, I always knew that Dan's support and guidance was available to me. Although Dan did not support my poor decisions, which in some cases caused him personal grief, he never judged me and has always encouraged me to turn things around.
"I listened to Dan's advice and because of that, I am a happier and healthier person today," he continues. "Like Dan, I also have the privilege of working alongside my own son. I can only hope that I am able to have the same effect on [my son's] career and life as Dan has had on mine."
A way with people
The way Pastore treats his crew also translates to his relationships with his customers.
"He's an extremely fair person when it comes to his people, and he's the same way with his customers," Gourley says. "If they need something, he figures out a way to get it."
Morgan says Pastore knows the effects a roofing project will have on a business, so he's always ensuring customers know what to expect.
"If a plan doesn't go the way it is supposed to, he makes sure it is communicated to them," Morgan says. "He involves a customer in a project as much as a customer wants to be involved. We never have had a complaint from a customer about Dan."
Dave believes his brother's way with customers—and with people in general—is extraordinary.
"It doesn't matter where that customer falls in the hierarchy—CEO, facilities manager—he is kind, caring and helpful and tries to make your day easier," Dave says. "It's just natural, and I think that's why it's so repeatable for Dan. To us, it's something special; to Dan, it's a way of life."
Pastore says his people skills allow him to get along well with customers.
"My ability to connect with people is one of the best strengths I have," he says. "It is important to be face-to-face with customers as much as possible. I think that's how I best maintain relationships with them. Technology certainly helps expedite things, but I think it's nice to talk in person whenever possible."
Still, he occasionally comes across a difficult customer.
"I take tough customers on as a challenge," he says. "I rise above it and try not to fall into that same trap. I had a guy who used to scream at me on a regular basis, and I'd let him get it off his chest and then move forward. It's not always fun going through it, but I won't give up."
Pastore says the No. 1 thing he enjoys outside of work is being with his family.
"I just want my son and daughter to be happy," he says. "I believe my son is happy because he, too, enjoys working outdoors and working with his hands. He's learning every day and growing in the right direction. His enthusiasm, commitment and the smile he still wears makes me feel great about all of it.
"My kids are self-motivated," he continues. "We don't need to prod them in the back to get them going because that's the way we brought them up and that's the way we were brought up. My daughter has taken on some challenging opportunities and has done well for herself. She's got a welcoming demeanor—they both do—and that's the demeanor I try to portray."
Pastore also likes to fish and travel in his free time.
"I go bass fishing with a co-worker," he says. "We've had a weekend fishing routine every Sunday for the past 10 years. My wife is a saint. We also take trips and enjoy socializing with friends and family."
Pastore sees much of the same for when he retires.
"I would spend time with grandchildren and travel to some places I've never been," Pastore says. "My wife and I are working hard right now, so I want to spend quality time with her. And I'll still be checking in with Bob!"
Pastore also likes to spend his time helping others. He has contributed to United Way and has been a Salvation Army Christmas bell ringer. He and his wife also have opened their home to family members going through tough times.
"I'm a giving person," he says. "I try to help out to whatever level I can. I don't have a lot of free time, so it's tough to do a lot of volunteering. I could volunteer more often when I retire.
"There are givers and takers, and I consider myself a giver," he continues. "I have my mother and father to thank for that. It is nothing for me to stop walking and help my neighbor shovel her driveway. It's just the way I am."
The complete package
Pastore says he is humbled by winning the Best of the Best Award.
"It is an experience I will cherish forever," he says. "I am honored. The support that was written on my behalf from customers, co-workers and leaders of the organization—it has all blown me away. I could not be happier about this prestigious award. I have tried to be that person being described, and apparently I've done something right because I got there!"
Gross says Pastore won the award because he is the "complete package."
"I am working at a company with a supervisor who I consider the best, and he has all the personal traits you look for in a leader—experience, accomplishments, diligence," Gross says. "It makes me happy to know he is here and I have his guidance to follow. It isn't any one thing; he is the complete package."
Morgan says not everyone could do Pastore's job.
"You're out in the field, working in those conditions; then you get in the office and have the mental stress because you're now overseeing three or four jobs," Morgan says. "It takes a special person to mentally handle it and still keep the respect of the guys and customers. It's not a job anyone could just walk in and do."
Kristina says her father is a role model.
"My dad is a pretty amazing man, and some days I don't know how I am so lucky to be his daughter," she says. "He has taught me so much about life, work ethic, commitment and being true to yourself and others. I have never met someone who is so genuinely interested in others' happiness. I am so blessed to have him as a father and as a role model."
Nick says his father deserves the award.
"He's been giving 110 percent his whole life," Nick says. "It's amazing he's finally been recognized for it. I couldn't even describe how he has influenced me. He has pushed me to be the greatest I could be. He always told me you get out of life what you put into it. They say you are the man you are because of your father, and I totally believe that. I love my dad, and I'm proud of him."
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 126th Annual Convention in San Antonio Feb. 3-7. 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.