In 1981, Herzog Roofing was born in the Detroit Lakes area with a $30,000 loan from mother, some guidance from father and the hard work of two brothers. 40 years later, the company, which just opened a new location in Fargo, stands strong with a solid team and a family feel.
The Early Years
In the early years, equipment was sparse and the budget was tight. The most either brother took in take-home pay during the first four years of the company was $15,000. Mike was actually living in the company office at the time.
“There was one day during that first summer that we had a semitrailer show up at our shop to deliver us a bunch of 2×4 wood,” said President and Founder Mike Herzog. “The driver asked us where our forklift was and we had to explain that we didn’t have one. We unloaded that entire thing by hand.”
However, what the young entrepreneur lacked in original funding and equipment, he made up for with a few key hiring decisions. During that first year, Mike and his brother were able to hire several long-term employees. One stayed with the company for over 35 years until their retirement. The other was with the company until their death five years ago. Another, Alan Boehne, continues to work with the company as a project manager and estimator and has been a major part of the company’s success.
Since then, a lengthy tenure has been a major point of emphasis for the company. If you look down the team roster you’ll see that it’s littered with people who have been with the company for 10+, 20+ and 30+ years. In fact, the average tenure of Herzog Roofing’s 27 employees listed on their company website is over 15 years. That is unheard of in today’s market, but how do they keep people around for so long?
The answer is simple, pay people the right way and treat them the right way,, like family.
“So many of our employees have known our kids since the day they were born,” said Mike. “They aren’t just people that I work with, they’re friends. They’re friends to the family. My kids understand how important having those types of relationships are.”
I think, for me, personally, the turning point in the business came when I got married in 1987. Her dad was a veterinarian and we hit it off right away. He was a great influence on me, business-wise, and provided great advice. During that time period, I just developed a lot of confidence through the support of my wife and her dad.-Mike Herzog
If you were to say roofing is part of the Herzog clan’s DNA, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone to argue that claim. When asked at school what he wanted to be when he got older, Josh used to always say, “a roofer.” After Josh graduated high school he began working on the roof, always volunteering for the nastiest jobs in order to earn his stripes. Maddie Herzog is still in school at North Dakota State, however, a career in the business seems probable.
Christine took a less direct approach to work in the family business.
“When I was young, roofing was such a male-dominated industry so I didn’t even really consider working in it,” said Hvidston. “However, once I went to school and started studying business, and after I worked at a different company, I realized there were some things that we weren’t doing that we could’ve been doing. I jumped on and have been doing what I can to help make the company better.”
“Christine has proven me very wrong,” said Mike. “Originally, I was a little too old school and wasn’t sure about having my daughter working in the industry, but she has been tremendous for us as a company.”
“I feel very blessed and excited to come to work every day,” said Hvidston. “I get to work with family, which can be difficult at times, if I’m honest, but at the same time, there’s always that constant love and trust amongst them that you aren’t going to have at other companies. It makes me very emotional.”
First Memories of the Family Business
Some of my first memories of the roofing company come from riding around with my dad. We would visit job sites and I would just tag along with him.-Josh Herzog
Growing up, I used to wear this big baggy Herzog Roofing shirt with one of our logos from the early days. I would just run around with it on at home. I also remember coming out to the office and Sally Askelson would always have coloring crayons or markers for me to play with.-Michael Herzog
I remember coming out to the office quite often with my dad on Saturdays. He still continues this tradition of coming out and working on Saturdays. Back in the day, I think my mom wanted some peace and quiet, so Josh and I would sit in his office while he worked. I remember him having this little putter in his office and this little cup, and we would putt while he was working. I also remember a lot of the employees bringing us treats while we were there. A lot of the memories I have about the company involve the people.-Christine (Herzog) Hvidston
Nearly every long-tenured employee at the company will tell you that even though they may not be family, they sure feel like it.
Talk amongst the ranks and you will hear dozens of stories of how the Herzog family was there for an employee when they needed them most, whether that was a family tragedy or otherwise.
One employee’s story that sticks out among the rest is that of Sally Askelson. When Askelson started with the company 21 years ago, at the age of 20, she was the receptionist. However, the company and family has supported her during her tenure and helped her become the company’s COO.
“The company has supported me in a lot of different ways, not only professionally, obviously, moving from the secretarial position into the position that I’m in now, but also personally,” said Askelson. “I can’t even put into words how much I’ve grown and how much my family has grown during my time here. My family has really benefited from Herzog Roofing. The family is great.”
That’s the reason Askelson and so many others have stuck around with Herzog Roofing for as long as they have. It’s also a huge reason why they have been able to stay successful over the last 40 years.