“One-on-one” service is the key to Roark Aluminum’s success for more than 65 years, co-managers Doug Rackers and Chip Isenberg told the News Tribune recently.
“People want to know about the products they’re buying, and we have hands-on service,” Rackers said. “We go to the home and measure — and we just follow from the beginning to the end, when the product is all installed and the job’s completed.”
The company name suggests one specialty — aluminum products.
And aluminum gutters are a big part of the business.
“It’s a major player for us, seamless aluminum,” Rackers said. “We used to do 20-foot sections (of gutters), before anybody had a seamless machine in town.
“So you’d have to take out a bunch of 20-footers, put them all together and put all the corners on. But, when the new machine came, all you had to do was just turn on the new machine and run out a 30-footer, a 40-footer or whatever you needed. Then all we had to do was put the corners on.”
But gutters aren’t the only product Roark Aluminum sells or installs.
The sign on their building at 104 Jaycee Drive also lists:
• Doors — sliding, storm and insulated.
• Siding — aluminum, vinyl and steel.
• Windows — wood, aluminum, vinyl.
• Glass and screen repairs — all types.
“We can repair any screen, build any new frames — if the corners are broken, we can fix that,” Rackers said of their custom shop. “We fix insulated glass (and do) all types of storm window repairs, screen repairs, patio door screen repairs.”
Some people may not know of those services, he added, noting some customers tell Roark’s staff that they’ve taken windows for repairs to other businesses, “and they’ll sit there for two, three, four weeks.”
When the customer gets tired of waiting, they’ll “pick them up and bring them here — and we’ll get them done in a couple of days,” Rackers said.
Rackers has worked at Roark Aluminum for 41 years, and Isenberg for 40.
They noted the company recently hired a couple of young men to help with the work. Otherwise, the shortest-serving employee has been there more than 15 years.
“There’s over 200 years’ experience, just in like six or seven guys,” Isenberg said.
The company started in 1953 at a plant on East McCarty Street that included equipment for building a lot of the products Roark Aluminum’s customers want to buy. That in-house manufacturing mostly has been replaced with pre-made products purchased from suppliers.
Over the years, the company moved to a Madison Street location — then to Jaycee Drive in the early 1960s.
The company has survived by adjusting “a little bit at a time,” Rackers said, as the industry and the products have continued to change.
“We try to give the customer a professional service from beginning to end,” Rackers said, “(to) be courteous and kind, and help them understand what the end result is going to be or what it’s going to look like — just give them that one-on-one service that a lot of people love to have.”
Isenberg said one of the differences is knowledge, “because they (large stores) are basically a big lumber yard/hardware store. We specialize in window parts, door parts that they don’t even offer. And we basically have the knowledge of how to repair a window where the box stores — they just sell the product.”
At least for now, Isenberg added, “There’s enough work for everyone.”
But profit margins are tighter these days than they might have been years ago.
Isenberg and Rackers expect Roark Aluminum will continue to thrive because, Rackers said, of “the good customer service and the quality of work that we provide.”