My dad began working at Dalbec Roofing (now Mint Roofing) back in 1952 as a sheet metal and roofing laborer working for my uncle, Lester Dalbec. It was a common (and embarrassing) occurrence to have a smelly tar kettle parked in our driveway, or a one-ton stake truck loaded for a job starting early the next day.
My parents eventually bought the business in 1980, taking it to all new heights (pun intended); and it was a family-run business through and through. My dad worked long hours in the evening in the spare-bedroom-turned-office of our home putting together bids, while my mom learned about bookkeeping, accounting and general office management.
We kids (there were five of us) had our jobs, too. My parents had no qualms about making the most of their resources! We answered the after-hours phone; counted inventory (learned to write with mittens during the cold months); peeled plastic coating off sheet metal parts once they were bent and ready for a job; washed trucks; and ran errands after school.
It wasn’t all work. Having a family roofing and sheet metal business had its benefits, too. Like the ability to fix the rusted out floorboard of my 1970 Cutlas Supreme (my dad could fix anything with sheet metal); or have a Go Go’s airband (complete with a toilet bowl scrubber as a mic) with your friends on the back of a flatbed truck for the local parade. And let’s not forget the “free” pop because you knew where the vending key was hidden.
Most kids today would probably balk at such expectations, but we never thought anything of it. We were proud of our parents, it was a family business, and we wanted them to succeed. It instilled a strong work ethic in all of us, which was at least a part of why my husband (Kevin) and I believed we could make a go of it when we bought the business in 1995.
Except for the black flecks of tar that appeared on all of my clothing growing up (the drawback of sharing a wash machine with a roofer), it was a great way to grow up. The business continues to flourish today, sans black flecks of tar.