Vision, Dedication, Integrity

Exactly 10 years ago today my Grandfather died.  I think about my grandfather a lot, but I don’t always think about the day that we buried him.  The reason I thought of the day that we buried him is the weather in Saginaw today.  It is miserable here.  Cold, rainy, and windy.  I was walking outside just a bit ago and I thought, “geez this weather is bad?  What’s the date today?  When’s the last time the weather was this bad this late in the year?”  Answer.  The day we buried my grandfather, April 2003.  As long as I live, that is one of the days that I will never forget.  I remember standing at the graveside memorial getting pelted mercilessly by the wind and rain, and I muttered to my brother, “only a roofing salesman likes a day like today” to which my brother responded, “that’s what he was.  He probably ordered it up!”


Now is as good a time as any to look back on what we’ve accomplished over the last 10 years, and we’ve accomplished a lot.  A lot of people in the industry thought, “That’s it.  They’re done.  The old man was the whole show.”  I can assure you that my grandfather loves the fact we showed them that wasn’t the case.  He loves the fact that we’re offering more products for sale, and that the company remains financially strong, continues to grow, and sales are increasing, although to be candid he’d say “you can sell more!”  He loves the fact that we have so many long time, loyal contractors, sales reps and employees and that we’ve added in more contractors, more sales reps and new employees to grow the company.  He loves people like Tom Saeli and Bill Carroll, people that  are going to take us to the next level.  My grandfather loves these companies and he takes tremendous pride in the products and the people.  You’ll notice I use the present tense.  That’s because my grandfather is still here.  So many of us still think about him and what he’d do, what he’d say.  That’s a powerful impact to have on people and a company, any company, even your own, ten years after your death.  So all I want to do today is ask you to do two things.   First, promise yourself that you will take pride in what you do.  Take pride in what you make.  Take pride in the products that we sell.  Take pride in the Duro-Last that you install.  Give your best.  Second, think about John Burt for a moment or two.  If you never met him, grab a copy of the John R. Burt story.  It will make the weather today seem like just another great day to get out there and sell!


Jason P. Tunney
General Counsel & Executive Vice President,

Duro-Last Inc., and
John R. Burt Enterprises

Duro-Last Hires VP of Manufacturing and CFO

Duro-Last® Roofing, Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of prefabricated roofing systems, is pleased to announce the addition of Bill Carroll as VP of Manufacturing, and Cory Gergar as Chief Financial Officer to its staff to support authorized Duro-Last contractors and provide the continued customer service that has made this company the leader in the roofing industry.

Bill has joined the JRB family of companies as the Vice President of Manufacturing and is based in the Saginaw, Michigan office. He is responsible for overseeing the plant operations of all four Duro-Last locations as well as, Plastatech Engineering®, Ltd.; Oscoda Plastics®, Inc.; EXCEPTIONAL® Metals;, and TIP-TOP® Screw Manufacturing. Bill’s responsibilities include oversight of production, quality, inventory, and safety, with the overall objectives of meeting customer delivery requirements and company sales and profitability goals.

Bill has over 25 years in leadership positions in multi-plant manufacturing environments, most recently as Plant Manager for Gardner Denver Thomas, a manufacturer of industrial pumps for the medical and environmental industries.

Bill is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh where he received both a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Industrial Engineering.

VP of Manufacturing, Bill Carroll


Cory will be responsible for all accounting activities including financial analysis, strategic planning, policy development and implementation, compliance and reporting in support of corporate objectives for Duro-Last and its sister companies; Plastatech® Engineering, Ltd., EXCEPTIONAL® Metals, Creative Impressions®, Oscoda Plastics®, Inc., and TIP-TOP® Screw Manufacturing, Inc.

With extensive experience in financial management, budgeting, coordination between multiple departments, costing systems, and continuous improvement processes, Cory will be a strong contributor to the achievement of the financial goals of all companies.

Cory is a graduate of Michigan State University where he received his Bachelor of Arts in Accounting. He received his Master of Science in Finance degree from Walsh College, School of Accountancy and Business Administration.

Cory will be based in Duro-Last’s Saginaw Michigan office.

Chief Financial Officer

Duro-Last Hires Marketing Director and Product Manager

Duro-Last Roofing®, Inc. is pleased to announce the hiring of Robert C. Carnick as Marketing Director and James R. Townsend as Product Manager for EXCEPTIONAL® Metals, a division of Duro-Last.

In this newly-created position, Robert will be responsible for creating and implementing strategic product marketing plans, product development and rollout, sales forecasting, identifying new revenue streams, and tracking costs, margins, and sales growth.

Most recently, Robert worked as General Manager for Total Garage Solutions in Forked River, New Jersey. Robert has a track record of innovation, project management and successful commercialization of building materials including fire rated and hurricane resistant fenestration products. He has been awarded two patents and has served on numerous industry committees for standards and code development work.

Robert will report to Duro-Last Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Steve Ruth, and will be located at Duro-Last’s Saginaw, Michigan, office.

Robert C. Carnick

Jim will be responsible for representing EXCEPTIONAL Metals’ entire product portfolio, including metal edge and other roof details, and the recently-introduced standing seam metal line, in this newly-created position. He will work with Duro-Last’s independent sales representatives and authorized roofing contractors to position EXCEPTIONAL Metals product with end-user customers, including corporate accounts.

Jim has extensive experience in standing seam metal roofing, marketing, and engineering design. Prior to joining Duro-Last, he spent 20 years on the manufacturing side of engineered standing seam metal roofing. Previously, he was Principal of The Peer Group, Inc. a consulting agency focused on forensic evaluation of roofing system failures. He is a member of the Roof Consultants Institute, The Construction Specifications Institute and the National Roofing Contractors Association. He is a professional speaker for the American Institute of Architects, the Construction Specification Institute, and the Association of Professional Engineers.

Jim will work from his office in Atlanta, Georgia.

James R. Townsend

Duro-Last Welcomes Another Little Roofer to the Business!

Duro-Last is excited to announce the birth of Lauren Elizabeth Gerhardt to our chief blog editor and publisher, Tara Gerhardt and her husband, Duro-Last HR Recruiter, Matthew. Lauren, the couple’s first child, was born on Friday, April 8 at 11:48 pm, weighing 7 pounds, 2 ounces and measuring 18.75 inches in length.

We will attempt to measure up to Tara’s blogging prowess over the next several weeks as she and Lauren become acquainted at home.

Congratulations Tara, Matt, and Lauren!

Duro-Last® Roofing, Inc. Appoints Chief Executive Officer

We are pleased to announce that after a long and thorough search process, we have found a Chief Executive Officer for the John R. Burt Enterprises family of companies. Thomas L. Saeli has agreed to join us as our C.E.O.

Thomas L. Saeli

Tom brings a wealth of experience and a breadth of knowledge to our growing business. He was recently the Chief Executive Officer of a billion dollar publicly traded company, and has grown companies through acquisitions, joint ventures and, most importantly, by increasing sales. Tom has an M.B.A. in Finance and Accounting and a B.A. in Economics. Originally from New York, Tom has lived in Michigan since 1988, where he and his wife Molly have raised their four children.

Tom will be the Chief Executive Officer of each of the following John R. Burt Enterprises companies: Duro-Last® Roofing, Inc., which includes EXCEPTIONAL® Metals and Creative Impressions®; Plastatech Engineering®, Ltd.; Oscoda Plastics®, Inc.; TIP-TOP® Screw Manufacturing, Inc.; Energy Solutions Insulation®, Inc.; and JRB Personnel LLC.

“Tom was the unanimous choice of our Board of Directors,” said Chairman Jack Burt. “My father was a classic entrepreneur, and his vision, ambition, and business philosophy brought great success to our company. We are confident that Tom will provide outstanding leadership for Duro-Last and the other businesses as they grow and strengthen their positions in the marketplace. The Board of Directors would also like to extend its appreciation to Dan Murphy for his counsel during our CEO search. Dan will remain with us as a member of the Board. Tom Hollingsworth will continue his excellent service as President of Duro-Last.”

Tom Saeli will start with us on Thursday, March 31st, and will be in the office on a daily basis beginning Monday, April 11th. We are excited to have Tom become part of the John R. Burt Enterprises family of companies. Please join us in welcoming Tom to our organization.

Customer Service Week 2010

Customer Service Week is an international event devoted to recognizing the importance of customer service and honoring the people who work on the frontlines serving and supporting customers. The International Customer Service Association began Customer Service Week in 1988. In 1992 the U.S. Congress proclaimed Customer Service Week a nationally recognized event, celebrated annually during the first full week in October.

At Duro-Last we pride ourselves on providing the World’s Best Customer Service. That claim applies to all employees, not just those who work directly with our external customers day-by-day and hour-by-hour.

All of our inside sales staff (CSRs) go through an intense process that includes two days of hands-on training on how to install a Duro-Last roof. It’s essentially the same training that new authorized Duro-Last contractors attend. This experience helps CSRs understand our products so that they are ready to assist customers in a timely and effective manner. The Duro-Last customer service team consists of Amanda Diedrich , Shannon Doerr, Kris Emerick, Katie Grantham, Adam Johnson, Peter Ouderkirk, Mike Pawlaczyk, Adam Scully, Aaron Snook, Stacey Wascher, and Eric Whelton, The have almost 30 years of combined customer service experience. Duro-Last’s Customer Service Manager is Wayne Ross. Our CSRs are available from 7:00am to 9:00pm Eastern Time Monday through Friday.

Christy Shorkey is the sales secretary for Duro-Last, assisting the entire sales department with their administrative needs. She’s involved in many other projects as well, such as handling the registrations for the Duro-Last Sales Seminar, attended annually by approximately 1000 individuals representing 200 of our contractors customers.

We also take care of our customers through our phone system. When you call Duro-Last during normal business hours you will always get a real person on the line – not a confusing automated system – to assist you with your call. Pam Histed is usually the voice you will hear on the other end, and she has been cheerfully getting customers connected to Duro-Last for over six years.

Need some literature or a product sample? No problem! Raphael Bassey is here to assist you with those requests. If you visit Duro-Last in Saginaw, Michigan, for a plant tour, he may even pick you up at the airport.

These are just a few of the ways that Duro-Last provides its customers with the Worlds Best Customer Service.

To show our appreciation for the hard work of our customer service staff, we celebrated National Customer Service Week with a kickoff breakfast on Monday, lunch on Tuesday, and a wrap-up lunch on Friday. Throughout the week there were team-building activities, and teams were entered into daily drawings for prizes.

The CSR staff is the starting point for assisting our customers with their sales needs. But this talented team also provides order advice, price quotes, and product details, and also expediently directs contractors to other appropriate resources at Duro-Last. Taking good care of our authorized contractors is their number one goal, and we were proud to honor them during Customer Service Week!

Duro-Last Inside Sales Team

Faces of Duro-Last: Bill Paul

Bill Paul - Government Sales Manager

Bill Paul has been with Duro-Last® for 10 years with the last three as the Government Sales Manager. Bill works out of the Jackson, Mississippi office where he is responsible for GSA, State of Texas and State of Ohio contracts and price schedules, and projects sold under these contracts. Since Duro-Last is named as the prime contractor for government projects sold under these contracts, most of his time is spent working with Duro-Last contractors and sales reps to develop new government business and manage current projects.

Prior to his current position, Bill was a regional sales manager responsible for the Jackson sales office as well as sales reps in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. While in that position, Bill worked closely with the Duro-Last GSA contact person while applying for and eventually receiving the Duro-Last GSA contract. Previous to that he was a sales manager where he was responsible for the Jackson sales office, shipping, and order processing, as well as sales reps in the Southern United States.

Previous to Duro-Last, Bill received an MBA from Tulane University and worked in sales management for the Ford Motor Company Glass Division where he worked with independent glass distributors and window and door manufacturers to grow the business.

Bill enjoys the daily challenges of working with contractors to develop new government business as well as manage the 60+ government projects that are in progress at any time.

“I enjoy the challenges of working with our contractors and our government customers to sell the Duro-Last system.” I think the customer service that we offer our customers is the best in the industry, and every day it’s our goal to make it just a little better,” said Bill.

Faces of Duro-Last: Steve Kowalewski

Steve Kowalewski - EXCEPTIONAL Metals Technical Manager
Steve Kowalewski - EXCEPTIONAL Metals Technical Manager

Steve Kowalewski has been with EXCEPTIONAL® Metals, a division of Duro-Last® since 2004 as the Technical Manager and works out of the corporate headquarters in Saginaw, Michigan.

He is responsible for providing technical advice on the design, manufacture, and installation of all EXCEPTIONAL Metals products as well as estimating, design, and technical services for standing seam inquires. Other duties include the development of installation details and working closely with the marketing department on product literature and the EXCEPTIONAL Metals website.

Prior to joining Duro-Last, Steve worked in the local sheet metal union for over 15 years as a sheet metal mechanic working on architectural jobs. It is that experience that Steve credits for his extensive sheet metal knowledge.

Steve enjoys the daily interactions he has with customers, sales reps, and architects. “One of our strengths at EXCEPTIONAL Metals is our custom work. Most of our business involves making products that are unique to a particular roofing job. I welcome the challenge of helping spec difficult applications and create new metal components,” said Steve.

“I thoroughly enjoy working for such a great company with people that make my job a pleasure,” concluded Steve.

Faces of Duro-Last: Drew Ballensky

Drew Ballensky - General Manager, Duro-Last - Iowa and Cool Roofing/Architectural Spokesperson
Drew Ballensky - General Manager, Duro-Last - Iowa and Cool Roofing/Architectural Spokesperson

Drew Ballensky joined Duro-Last in 1996 as plant manager and was responsible for start-up and production activities at the Iowa facility. He also handled customer relations activities for several years before taking on his current role as general manager and spokesperson for Duro-Last’s cool roofing and architectural market initiatives.

Drew received his Bachelor of Technology from the University of Northern Iowa and MBA from Florida State University. Prior to Duro-Last, Drew worked for Butler Manufacturing as an industrial engineer and a manufacturing engineering manager. He moved on to Champion Products where he was an operations financial analyst before serving as a plant manager for Nordico Manufacturing. Drew then co-owned a construction business.

By combining his manufacturing and construction experience with his more recent involvement with new energy technologies and the regulations intended to encourage their use, Drew has become Duro-Last’s energy-efficiency and cool roofing guru. Drew frequently writes articles on sustainability issues for industry media and the Duro-Last roofing blog. He also facilitates classes on cool roofing for The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

Drew enjoys opportunities to interact with a wide variety of roofing industry people, from contractors to sales reps to building owners to specifiers and even to our competitors through the organizations he participates in. These include the Chemical Fabrics and Film Association where he is the president, the Vinyl Institute, the AIA, and the U. S. Green Building Council.

Drew likes working for a company that has a product and system that just makes sense and is easy to believe in. “Our history of product quality and customer support provides a good foundation for any conversations I have about roofing systems. It’s also a pleasure to be able to confidently discuss Duro-Last’s ability to help facilities meet sustainability goals, which is clearly one of the key decision-making factors in the marketplace these days,” said Drew.

“I welcome any questions or comments you have about cool roofing and invite you to ask them here,” concludes Drew. You may also contact Drew directly at 641-622-1079 or