Duro-Last's Company History

John R. BurtLumberjack, carpenter, tool and die maker, Army veteran, swimming pool installer, pilot, salesman. Throughout his life, Duro-Last® Roofing, Inc. founder, John R. Burt wore these shoes and more. Along the way, John endured many struggles. Yet, with only an eighth grade education, he reached deep inside and, at the age of 58, started a small business that has since grown into a multi-million-dollar conglomerate of companies.

"I always strived to achieve the goals that I set for myself," Burt said. "Without putting your nose to the grindstone and working hard, you cannot ultimately reach those goals and enjoy success."

In the mid-1970s, John came up with the inspiration that would lead him to Duro-Last. At the time, he owned Tri-City Vinyl®, Inc., a manufacturer of swimming pool liners, and came to the realization that if a vinyl liner kept water inside a swimming pool, it should also keep water out. From that simple premise, the Duro-Last® single-ply roofing system was created in 1978.

"We were confident that the company would be successful, because we had a product unlike any other in the commercial roofing industry," John said.

The business grew, and in 1981 a building at 525 Morley Drive became available, off Holland Road about a half-mile east of the General Motors – Steering Gear Systems complex in Saginaw's Buena Vista Township. It offered 57,000-square feet of manufacturing and office space, and would become Duro-Last's world headquarters and a roof system manufacturing plant. In 1991, a parcel of land in Jackson, Mississippi was obtained for another Duro-Last plant. As the business continued to thrive, Burt opened three new manufacturing plants in one calendar year – 1996: for roofing prefabrication in Sigourney, Iowa, and Grants Pass, Oregon, and for membrane calendering, knitting, and laminating in Saginaw (part of Plastatech® Engineering, Ltd.).

Through John's efforts and the dedication of his family and employees, Duro-Last was the pioneer and is now the world's largest manufacturer of custom fabricated commercial roofing systems.

Duro-Last uses precision fabrication to produce high-quality commercial roofing systems by performing 80-85% of roof membrane seaming in a controlled factory environment. Custom fabricated stacks and curb flashings, made in the factory from the same membrane as prefabricated Duro-Last roofing deck sheets, eliminate most rooftop labor from critical roof areas – transitions and changes in plane. This reduces the amount of field workmanship required by the installing contractor, in turn reducing the likelihood of rooftop leaks in the future.

Our unique custom-fabrication approach to commercial roofing systems makes Duro-Last ideal for any flat or low-sloped, new or retrofit roofing application. Architects, specifiers, consultants, contractors, and building owners can have peace-of-mind knowing that only 15-20% of the seaming is done in the field.

Yet, there's more to the Duro-Last story. The roof manufacturing company has grown into a multi-faceted business operation, now known as JRB Enterprises, that includes Plastatech Engineering, Ltd.; Tri-City Vinyl®, Inc.; Oscoda Plastics®, Inc.; TIP-TOP Screw Manufacturing, Inc.®; and EXCEPTIONAL® Metals.

John Burt and Duro-Last have received many honors including the "Vision of Free Enterprise" award presented by the Saginaw County Chamber of Commerce in 1998 as well as recognition in 1991 as the "Entrepreneur of the Year" in Michigan. In 1987, then-Governor James Blanchard presented Burt with the "Businessman of the Year" award. Duro-Last also received the "State of Michigan New Product" award in 1986. In 2010, Corp! Magazine recognized Duro-Last with its "Going Green" award, and the State of Oregon presented Duro-Last with the "Governor's Sustainability" award.

Duro-Last founder John R. Burt passed away on April 11, 2003 in Tampa, Florida at the age of 82. However, his legacy has continued through the second, and now third family generation. John's son, Jack Burt, and daughters, Kathy Burt Allen and Sharon Sny, are Senior Vice Presidents and co-owners, as is John's long-time business associate Tom Lawler. Also on the Board of Directors is Dan Murphy, Jr. In April of 2011, JRB Enterprises hired Tom Saeli as Chief Executive Officer. JRB Executive Vice Presidents are two of John's grandsons, Shawn Sny and Jason Tunney, who is also the corporation's General Counsel.

Corporate leadership continues to direct the business with the same spirit and commitment that John Burt embodied. "My philosophy is this — if I'm going to manufacture a product, that product better be the best of its kind and do what it's supposed to do," he said. "That's why today, we have the highest quality roofing system in the industry and are well-known for backing that system with outstanding customer service and excellent warranties."