There was reason for apprehension when John Porter quit his job at Century Electric and decided to start his own roofing business.
That was back in 1978.
“Like most roofing companies, I started from the back of a pickup,” said John. “It was me and a couple guys helping me.”
Porter probably never dreamed at the time his upstart company would climb to the highest rooftop and one day land the contract to install the roof on the Atlanta Falcons’ new stadium.
The stadium, with a price tag of $1.5 billion, is under construction about 100 feet from the Georgia Dome. It’s been named Mercedes-Benz Stadium and has its own website where it’s billed as “the finest sports and entertainment facility in the world.”
So how did a once-tiny, McMinnville-based company land the massive job to roof what will be the grandest stadium in the Southeast? It’s been through steady growth, quality workmanship, and a dedication to safety.
Porter Roofing has a well-established reputation in commercial and industrial roofing, which includes jobs like the 450-foot William Snodgrass Tower in Nashville.
Porter Roofing has grown to have four locations, three in Tennessee and one in Florida. It will add a fifth location in Augusta, Ga., in about three months.
Rodney Cadorette is Porter Roofing’s vice president and chief operations officer. He is also serving as the project manager of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium roof. Rodney has been living in Atlanta since July to go through all the project specifications. Roof work began in December.
Rodney says it takes about 20 minutes to get from the ground to the stadium roof, a terrifying journey which currently requires climbing a 7-story tall scaffolding at the end.
“It will raise the hair on your neck once you get to the top and I’ve been doing roofing for 30 years,” said Rodney of the 306-foot tall stadium. “It’s scary up there.”
Working on the stadium has been rewarding for Porter Roofing employees because it’s like playing in an all-star game. The best and brightest contractors in all America have been assembled.
“It really is a one-of-a-kind structure,” said Rodney. “They say it’s a building unlike any building that’s ever been built before.”
Particularly tricky from a roofing standpoint are the eight sloping facets around the perimeter of the dome, which add visual flair. Rodney says Porter Roofing has 50 workers on site to construct what will be 500,000 square feet of roof.
The roof will be retractable, although Porter Roofing is not involved in the mechanics of that.
The roofing material is not a shingle but a laminate similar to a traditional kitchen floor. Rodney says it has a 20-year warranty.
John has been retired from Porter Roofing for 11 years. Even though he is no longer involved, he admits there’s a degree of satisfaction in seeing the company he started from scratch make its way up the ladder of success.
“It’s one of the largest roofing companies in the Southeast and right now they’re one of the best,” said John, who built the workforce to around 150 employees by the time he retired. “It’s a good sign when people want you to open offices in their area because they want you to be close to their business operations.”
Porter Roofing is currently run by John’s brother, Jeff, and his partner, Eric Cason. John credits Eric with transforming Porter Roofing into a top-tier company that has been recognized with quality awards.
“Eric has really done a great job with training employees and with motivating employees, which can be tricky to do,” said John. “He’s taken it to the next level.”
The first major event scheduled to be held at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is one which is likely dear to the hearts of many Tennessee fans. The Vols will face Georgia Tech in a college football game scheduled for Sept. 4.
“With it being the first game, I’m sure there will be several aerial shots of the stadium,” said John. “When they show that dome from above, there will be a big piece of McMinnville written all over it.”
Like so many businesses that started in a basement and achieved prosperity through hard work, Porter Roofing is a perfect example of what can be accomplished right here in Warren County. I know when I see the blimp view of Mercedes-Benz Stadium, I’ll be proud to say, “Look! That roof was installed by a company that got its start right here in McMinnville.”
Thyme for new antique store
Wendy Kliever says she finds redoing antique furniture to be “mind-soothing.” That’s one reason why she was eager to open Olde Thyme Primatives on Beersheba Street in Mt. Leo. She loves the work. Friday was her opening day.
“This is my first business and I can’t wait to get bigger furniture pieces in here and really get it going,” said Wendy. “I’ve already sold one piece I had in my window.”
Wendy says she will have new merchandise coming in constantly to fill her store. This includes homemade salsa with a tang of heat. I bought a jar and spent most of Friday afternoon in indulgence mode.
Wendy’s eight vendors will also be parading in new items regularly. The eight booths combine to make an interesting mixture of artistic style and pet supplies.
A booth called Wigs and Waggles is filled with items for the pooch in your life. There are doggie toys, clothing, and flea treatment.
One booth has boutique clothing. Another has paintings and glassware. Still another has handmade soaps and balms for your silky skin and luscious lips.
Stella Patrick is known for her wreaths and woodwork and they are available. So is the eye-catching jewelry of Pamela Duvall.
In short, Olde Thyme Primatives is like a tossed salad with croutons, black olives, and a little bit of everything. There are even handmade throw pillows which look so fluffy and comforting. They make me want to nap.
The business is located in the Mt. Leo shopping center next door to Rainbow Flowers and Gifts. Hours are Tuesday thru Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The phone number is 743-7843.
A help line for new home buyers
If you’re a first-time home buyer and you’re looking for a house, the state is offering a new program that could give you $15,000 in assistance. Yes, $15,000.
Ralph Perrey was in McMinnville on Thursday to explain the program. Perrey is executive director of the Tennessee Housing Development Agency. He gave a speech to local realtors gathered at First National Bank in an effort to ensure they are aware of this sparkling program and all its benefits.
“Our goal is to make homeowners of more Tennesseans,” said Perrey. “There are many, many people who do not know what we do. And some people who know about us think we’re just here to help low-income people and that’s not true.”
Perrey said state government is targeting 55 areas to help this year and Warren County is one of those areas. He said a household of two people can earn up to $56,000 a year to be eligible for the housing program. A larger household can qualify with an income up to $65,000.
“By helping the first-time home buyers, we’re also helping the families who are looking to sell their first homes and move up,” said Perrey. “We do this by offering a no-gimmick, 30-year mortgage with a competitive interest rate and $15,000 in closing cost assistance.”
Perrey said first-time home buyers are defined as people who have not owned a home in three years. If you have bought a home before, but have been renting for three years or more, you qualify as a first-time home buyer. There are also exceptions made to members of the military as a way of saying thank you to the fine men and women who serve our country.
By making trips like this throughout Tennessee, Perrey says the use of this loan product has increased 35 percent over the past three years. He said the $15,000 in assistance is not for somebody who is looking to flip a home. They must live in that house for 10 years to reap the benefit of the full $15,000 in savings.
Several banks in the area are working with Tennessee Housing Development Agency to offer this loan program. For a wealth of information, visit greatchoicetn.com.
As a trusted source of financial information, I must make this one disclaimer before allowing you to run full speed toward this loan program. While it may be helpful, the editors of Business Cheetah do not advise ever taking out a 30-year mortgage.
The math is simple. If you take a 30-year mortgage on a $100,000 home at 4 percent interest, you will end up paying $71,869 in interest over the life of the loan. It’s too hard to get ahead in life paying that much interest. That’s my tip of the day.
That’s all folks
Great things are happening in Warren County. Read about them in the Southern Standard.