Venture Construction Group of Florida, a Boca Raton-based roofing construction and restoration company founded in 1998, is licensed in five cities in Florida, and its parent, Venture Construction Group, is licensed in 19 states. Owner and president Stephen Shanton says that the general state of roofing systems on commercial properties, which account for 75% of his jobs, is “pretty horrible,” primarily because property managers are often unaware of basic maintenance requirements.
“It’s the last thing owners think about, until it leaks,” says the 38-year-old Shanton. So over the past few years, he has taken it upon himself to encourage owners to pay attention to their roofs before a more expensive calamity arises.
Last year, his company conducted two seminars in Florida, at which it brought in weather and insurance experts to offer advice about roof maintenance. He also does presentations to train property managers about what potential problem areas to look for. He’s planning another seminar for November.
Shanton recommends that property owners hire professionals to conduct roof inspections at least once a year. By way of example, he notes that a condo property near the ocean in Florida should be inspected regularly for pit pockets that need to be filled with tar, and for flashing and seams that need recaulking. “Some things that can be fixed for a couple hundred dollars can turn out to be thousands and thousands” if left unattended long enough, he says.
Shanton cautions that most properties don’t have sufficient insurance to cover roof damages. “There are a lot of exclusions that don’t cover hail and wind, which owners sign off on to get [premium] discounts,” he explains. Shanton points to one local shopping center that had a policy with a $300,000 deductible. He calculates that if this center had significant roof damage it would cost up to $500,000 to fix. “So what’s the point of having insurance if you end up paying for most of the damage?” he asks.
Insurance reimbursement is never a sure thing, either. About 18 months ago, a hail storm with 80-mile-per-hour winds blew through Florida. The YMCA of the Treasure Coast, with which Venture had done some charity events, asked his company to assess three of its properties. The YMCA itself suffered around $1 million in roof and exterior damage, and Venture donated 25% of the materials and labor to repair this building, which included the teardown and replacement of its 40-year-old roof.
The storm also damaged about 15% of its roof and exterior of the Y’s SportsWorld facility. But the insurer determined that the damage didn’t warrant replacing that facility’s roof, which Shanton says had been neglected for years and was leaking like a sieve.
The Y didn’t have the funds to pay for a permanent fix, so Shanton stepped forward. He approached one of his suppliers, Mule Hide Products, to donate some of the materials to replace the roof. And Venture contributed materials and labor (a crew of 20 construction workers and managers). Combined, they covered about 80% of the cost of this $175,000 repair job.
During the repair process, Venture held a special “Minion Day,” and its staff got into character after several children at the Y thought the crew were Minions due to the building signage. The crew dressed up as Minions while finishing the job.
Philanthropy has been a more important part of Shanton’s life ever since his father was diagnosed with amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2010. He shut down Venture’s offices in North and South Carolina, Chicago, and Oklahoma so he could take care of his dad, who passed away in 2012.
That experience “has changed my attitude about giving back, which is something I never really thought about before.” He founded the nonprofit Shanton ALS Foundation, which raises money and awareness about the disease. Venture Constuction Group of Florida company works with several charitable organizations including Safe Space, Courage on All Fronts, and Gemma's Angels. Most recently, the company sponsored a golf tournament Jensen Beach, Fla., that supported the Courage on All Fronts veterans group.
At the same time, Shanton has been rebuilding his businesses with leading education and accreditations, including Platinum Preferred Contractor certification from the National Insurance Restoration Council.