Today is the fourth day in our eight part blog series featuring memories from several of CentiMark’s longest term associates and a focus on the “Mark” that CentiMark and the Dunlap’s have contributed to the commercial roofing and flooring industries. We’re celebrating CentiMark’s 53rd anniversary on April 19, 2021.
John Rudzik is the Executive Director of the CentiMark Foundation after retiring in 2000 from his role as CentiMark’s CFO. When he began his career at CentiMark, the finances of the young, growing company were challenging. John struggled to pay the bills and make the payroll. Over the years, he witnessed the growth and financial success of the company, the building of the Corporate headquarters at Southpointe in Canonsburg, PA and the expansive philanthropy of the Dunlap Family and CentiMark Corporation.
How would you describe Ed Dunlap?
“He is a visionary. He is a man of his word and the ultimate salesman. He always said: ‘Without sales, there is no business.’
“When he hired me 44 years ago, he told me that he couldn’t pay me what I was worth, but that if I stuck with him and helped him grow the company, he would take care of me. And he was true to his word. I was challenged by the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of a good, growing company.
“We have a great relationship. He kept every promise to me. From the very beginning, I told him that I didn’t know how to lie - I would always tell him the truth about the financial statements. He said: “That’s what I want. Tell me the truth’.”
Ed Dunlap and CentiMark’s philanthropy is well known. Share some stories on Ed Dunlap and CentiMark’s “Mark” on philanthropy: “Well, I have three stories to share. In the early days, I never had enough money to pay the bills - it was week-to-week. Ed Dunlap asked me for a donation check to help a charity in the city of Pittsburgh. I told him that I didn’t have the money. He said: ‘Find it. These people need our help and we’re going to help them.’ And we did. And we continue to do so.
“Ed Dunlap came into my office 40 years ago and said: ‘I read this article in the newspaper about Junior Achievement. It looks like a good program that teaches students about business and I want you to teach at one of the schools’. I replied: ‘I am so busy working 10-12 hour days - I just don’t have the time.’ And my response from Ed Dunlap was simple: ‘What part of you are going to teach Junior Achievement don’t you understand?’ And 40 years later, I still teach Junior Achievement. Pre-Covid, we hosted field trips at our Corporate office for the students and our Corporate associates from multiple disciplines teach the students about our business. We love sharing the work of our Corporate Team with the 8th grade students - along with pizza, of course!
“One day in the late 1970s, Ed Dunlap told me to come to work in a sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes - we were going on a field trip. We went to lunch at The Jubilee Soup Kitchen in Pittsburgh’s Hill District - under the direction of a petite Catholic nun, the indomitable (now deceased) Sister Liguori (Rossner). Ed Dunlap wanted to understand who came to the homeless shelter for lunch as he was prepared to give the first of numerous donations to this facility and other food banks and food pantries. We had lunch and talked to many of the men who were eating lunch that day and had a better understanding of their situations and needs. And we knew we fit right in when one of the men told us about a great place in a church in downtown Pittsburgh to get a good dinner that night. Afterwards, we introduced ourselves to Sister Liguori and began 40 years of friendship and support for the Jubilee Soup Kitchen.”
Let’s talk about CentiMark’s “Mark” from a Financial/ESOP perspective:
“Ed Dunlap was tired of the warranty arguments between workmanship and materials - two separate warranties in the early days of CentiMark roofing. In the 1980s, he decided to fund a Single Source warranty - a 20 year guaranteed warranty on both workmanship and materials. It was really a unique concept in the roofing and construction industry and is still one of CentiMark’s strengths with customers today.
“CentiMark was a private company and, therefore, we had no requirement to be audited. But Ed Dunlap had our financial statements audited by a public accounting firm each year. He wanted our customers to have documentation that we had the finances to back up our warranty claims.
“Ed Dunlap always shared the wealth with his associates. On November 1, 1988, he shared the ownership of the company with his associates through an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan). He and I traveled the country to our CentiMark offices to explain the Plan to our associates. Ed Dunlap wanted everyone to know the opportunity of this ownership: ‘If you do what’s best for the company, you are doing what’s best for you. This opportunity will be as good as you make it’. To this day, he takes great pride in the financial success of the ESOP and the retirement opportunities that many of his associates are able to enjoy because of the ESOP.”
Let’s talk about CentiMark’s “Mark” from a Geographical/Expansion perspective:
“When I started at CentiMark 44 years ago, we had three offices: Pittsburgh, PA; Akron, OH; and Harrisburg, PA. The bad weather in the North basically stopped our roofing business from November until March, except for emergency roof repairs. We had to rely on our flooring product material sales to get us through. In order to expand the roofing business, Ed Dunlap made the decision to go South, Central and West. It was the only way to grow the company. He sent trusted, well-trained associates to open the offices and expand our footprint. We now have 85 offices throughout North America.”
Let’s talk about CentiMark’s “Mark” from a Technology perspective:
“From a roofing standpoint, Ed Dunlap took a chance on a new state-of-the-art roofing technology - a rubber roofing membrane known as EPDM. His willingness to take a chance on this cutting edge EPDM roof membrane, along with the development of a National Accounts program, were absolute game changers in the growth and success of CentiMark. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, we were often referred to as ‘The Rubber Roofing Company’. Ed Dunlap would take a square sample of the EPDM membrane to his customers and say: ‘Look at this new roofing membrane. Give us a chance on your roof with this product that lasts 20 years’. To those of us working at CentiMark, Ed Dunlap said: ‘This EPDM membrane starts a new era that will take us to the next level.’ And, it certainly did that!
Congratulations John Rudzik on your 44 years at CentiMark!