100 Anchors Way, St. Joseph, 49085 (directions)
When Larry Schultz, president of Schultz Roofing Supply Company, traces his family tree, he doesn't have to look far to see the roots. At the turn of the century, his grandfather, Henry Schultz, made a living building roads in the Berrien County area. As a matter of fact, he helped construct a road very close to the current location of Schultz Roofing Supply Company at 100 Anchors Way in St. Joseph.
It was Larry's father, Clarence Schultz, who started the family business in 1935. He was strictly a roofing contractor until 1960 when the business converted to a wholesale/retail distributorship. Larry joined his father in 1963 after spending his first year out of college in California in the finance business.
Larry Schultz and his father weren't the only family members at the business. "Frances Schultz had two brothers who worked in the business with him for a time and my aunt worked with us until she was 85," Larry said. "Now, my wife, Judy, is the secretary and treasurer and my daughter, Lori Schultz Deja, serves as the office manager and as a sales consultant, along with my son-in-law, Chad Deja, who is now General Manager."
The quality standards put in place by Clarence Schultz are what continues to make the business a success today. "My father was my mentor and I learned a lot from him. He always kept the warehouse very neat and clean, and I continue to do that today. We take pride in the condition of our warehouse, show room, and delivery trucks. These are the things our customers notice and it reflects back on us," said Larry Schultz.
Carrying on family business traditions and maintaining operations through three generations are major accomplishments by themselves, but thriving in a particular industry often becomes a greater challenge. Larry Schultz explained the current situation in their industry, "Single location distributors are a minority. It takes a strong commitment to operate this type of business. Not only have we stayed in business for 68 years, but over the past 10 years, our sales volume has increased two or three times."
What makes Schultz Roofing stand out from other companies in their industry? Family business principles make the difference in this case. "I think customers know that with a family business they are more likely to get special service. We do a lot of special orders and spend a lot of time with our customers and they remember this kind of attention," noted Lori Deja.
The success of a family business is also driven by the team effort put forth by family members, pitching in whenever something needs attention. Larry Schultz agreed, "This business is definitely a team effort. Each member of the family who works here wears many hats and fills whatever void there is." In addition, Schultz Roofing has a dedicated staff which includes two employees who have been with the company for over 25 years.
Discussing the changes that occur when each generation enters the business, Schultz was quick to describe the benefits. "I think the sharing of knowledge that occurs is one of the greatest things about being part of a family business. Sharing ideas and information makes you much closer as a family. Each generation helps the business learn and keeps us on top of the market and in tune with the latest technology," he said.
The Schultz family also feels that part of their philosophy as a family business is to be supportive of the community. Larry explained, "This community has been very good to my family and we want to give back by supporting the community in whatever way we can." The Schultz family continually gives back to the community through their commitment to their customers and their dedication to the continuous improvement of this community.