By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.
John Christina stopped by the RooferCoffeeShop booth at this year’s IRE and when we learned it was his 40th convention we knew he would have a great story to share.
John Christina knows roofs. He started working full time for Dun-Rite Roofing, owned by his strict, Italian father, right out of high school. His father didn’t play favorites and John worked hard out in the field every day. When his father passed away suddenly in 1971, John was 23 years old and stepped up to the task of running the business.
Unfortunately, any experience and advice that he could have learned from his father was gone and John had no idea how to run a business. “I made so many mistakes in the beginning,” said John. “My father had a good business and was well respected in the industry so that was an advantage for me.”
After a year of running the company, which was mostly new construction, John turned his attention to residential work because it was much more lucrative. When the energy crisis hit in the early 1970s, John had a well-established residential roofing business that wasn’t affected.
Always eager to learn about the newest roofing systems coming on the market, John took a class on EPDM through Goodyear and he started attending roofing conventions every year. In fact, the 2018 International Roofing Expo was John’s 40th year attending!
He went on to roof high rise buildings in Manhattan in the 1980s and remembers lifting tar kettles 16 stories to the roof – overtop of sidewalks! As the business continued to grow over the years, John realized that he wasn’t running the business, but the business was running him. “The office became so active just trying to keep up with accounts receivable, accounts payable, payroll, and insurance that I realized I wasn’t having any more fun. I missed working on the roofs,” he explained.
John sold the business and went to Florida on a friend’s 118-foot yacht. He stayed in Florida for three years before coming back to New York in 2005. He had started Christina Roofing before he left for Florida and when he came back, he focused on running that business and remaining a small operation that would allow him to enjoy the work.
When he noticed that tar was on the way out and coatings were becoming more and more popular, John dove in and learned everything he could about coatings, becoming an expert. He changed the name of his business to Cool Roof Consulting in 2007 and has been working as a consultant with roofing contractors and building owners ever since. “What I do is when people call me to run jobs, I rent out my equipment, work as a consultant and train the crews on how to do coatings,” he said.
Superstorm Sandy in 2012 also had a significant impact on the direction of his business. “My business was located in Queens and we lost our home in the storm. After that we moved out to our summer home in Mattituck, New York, 90 miles east of Manhattan on the tip of Long Island.”
Running Cool Roof Consulting allows John the opportunity to continue learning, even while teaching others about coatings. “I’m still learning every day,” said John. “For example, when wicking out remains of coating left after dumping the 5-gallon pail into the 55-gallon drum, a guy threw the brush into water and I was like ‘why did you do that?’ When it was time to use it again, turns out the wet brush was actually wicking better than the dry brush!”
“Now that I am working with other roofers and standing back watching, I see so many amazing possibilities, John explained. “The workers are so smart. I was a hands-on roofer and I’ve learned from watching other crews – how they do things that are better than the way I did it. You think you know it all and then all of the sudden you see someone doing something that seems so simple but turns out to be so much better.”
John is enjoying living out in the country with his wife Camille, two dogs and six chickens. He’s got a 44’ x 24’ shop behind the house and still has some clients calling him for maintenance work, though he now specializes in coatings.  When he’s not working he’s most likely out on his boat or building something in his shop, which he calls his ‘Man Cave.’
I asked John if he had any words of wisdom for someone who might be thinking about getting into the industry. He said, “The roofing industry is recession proof. Maintenance and repairs are a hidden jewel that can be very profitable and lead to future business. Start small and learn on every job. I’m still learning. There are tricks to being more efficient and doing the job better. Make believe you are the client wanting the service and listen to what they say and do less talking. Your first impression is also so important. The way you look and even your work truck. These are the things that I found throughout my many years in the business.”
Do you know of someone working in the industry with a good story to tell? Email us and let us know!


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