Noffke Roofing’s Milestones
Leonard Noffke starts Noffke Roofing and completes his first project. Because roofing is seasonal, Noffke looks for other income opportunities.
Noffke removes 100 trees from his uncle’s land and sells them in downtown Milwaukee for $3 each.
He purchases land and starts Noffke Tree Farms.
Noffke Roofing works its way into more markets as Noffke starts to focus on commercial projects and completes his first asphalt roof.
Kenneth Noffke, Leonard’s son, joins him in the family business.
After years of growth and a dedication to emerging products and technologies, Noffke Roofing installs its first rubber roof and enters the single-ply market.
The Noffkes open Mequon Supply Co. and start purchasing and direct selling to contractors in the greater Milwaukee region.
Mequon Supply, looking to increase its customer base, trains 12 area roofing contractors on rubber-roofing methods.
Benjamin Noffke, Leonard’s grandson, officially joins Noffke Roofing.
The Noffkes commit to a shingle division and complete steep-slope and residential shingle installations.
Known for quality craftsmanship and durable products, Noffke Roofing makes repairs to a rubber roof it first installed in 1974.
Over the past six decades, Noffke Roofing has earned a reputation for its unmatched skill in roofing. Company vice president Benjamin Noffke says that though no two projects are alike, his company is ready and willing to handle any challenge. “We say no project is too big or too small,” he says. “We do a little bit of everything and enjoy the variety that it brings.” That almost seems like an understatement: the company completes residential, commercial, civic, historic, religious, and custom projects, and it specializes in seven flat and six shingle methods of installation, providing an array of services from crane operation to gutter work to maintenance to repairs. Here’s a look at its history and capabilities in detail.
Q+A with Benjamin Noffke
What’s your most popular roofing system?
We are still really known for rubberroofing. This is an area my grandfather got into in the 1970s, and the expertise his company developed over the years. It’s been a big part of our success and is our most common system today. We do all types, not always fully adhered. TPO and PVC have been gaining ground.
Why is rubber better than asphalt?
A lot of it is just safety and convenience. Asphalt comes in chunks that you heat to 500 degrees and pump from the ground to the roof. It stinks. Rubber comes in large sheets and is easier to apply. Right away you start to see cost reductions in materials and labor. It’s also easier to maintain and has a longer life expectancy.
You’re known for handling custom and unusual systems. Any interesting ones?
We’ve done cool roofs and sustainable projects. There’s a vented-roof system by 2001 Co. that we’ve been installing since the 1980s. It involves laying rubber over an entire building and then installing vents so that when the wind blows over the roof, it sucks air from underneath the roofing. The harder the wind blows, the harder the rubber gets sucked down. It has a very high wind warranty. We use this method when a current roof is leaking and the building owner might not have enough money to do a total rip and replace.
A Complex Project
In 2013, Noffke Roofing tackled a large commercial project that showcased the breadth of its expertise. “We were called into a large wholesale flower shop that had five different roof sections,” Benjamin says. “They had a leak, and upon inspection, I discovered their roof was aged, deteriorated, and wet. The roof was actually shrinking and in dire need of replacement; it was beyond typical repair. Since the clients were renovating the interior and planned to stay in the space long-term, a bad roof was simply not an option. Roofs help protect other investments.
“I took a core sample in each section,” he continues. “Some of the roof sections had multiple layers of roofing and a variety of decking: some was plywood, some was steel, and some was gypsum [drywall]. This building required multiple roof systems to be designed.”
One of the larger roof sections had just one drain, and Benjamin found three inches of standing water trapped on it. “We had to think ahead to find the most efficient way to get water off the roof, so we devised a detailed tapered system and brought in a plumber to install additional drains,” Benjamin says. “On top of that, we added insulation to get them up to an R-20 minimum value.”
Another part of the roof had an 18-inch parapet with only one roof drain. “If it were to clog and fill with water, it would take 18 inches of water before relief and probably collapse the roof,” Benjamin explains. “We added overflow drains to correct the system.”
Finally, as Noffke Roofing was removing parts of the roof, it found many spots of bad steel decking and even ran into deteriorated block walls. “We had a mason tear down and repair parts that had lost their integrity prior to completing the roof,” Benjamin says, concluding, “This project was all about evaluating the long-term needs of a customer and building the right scope of work within a budget.” The firm completed the 17,624-square-foot roof in September 2013.
Tear-Off Process In 5 Steps
In recent years, Noffke Roofing has completed a growing number of tear-off repairs to address neglect associated with the global recession. Here’s the process:
- Noffke arrives on-site with a five-person crew and removes a 20-by-100-foot area of single-layer roofing (or a 20-by-50-foot area of double-layer).
- The crew installs the preselected insulation and membranes. Rubber, which arrives folded or rolled, is removed and allowed to relax before crew members glue it to the insulation.
- Workers temporary flash all penetrations to seal the system in case of rain.
- Steps 1-4 are repeated daily until the task is over.
- Noffke Roofing seals the finished roof and cleans the site of all debris and equipment.
Noffke Roofing: By The Numbers
300 roofs each year
1,000+ repairs each year
50,000+ roofing jobs since 1952
150 customers participate in its yearly maintenance program
40 employees at the third-generation company
6 professional association memberships
Anatomy of a Roof Failure
The integrity of a roof gets compromised for many reasons. The following are the most common issues Noffke Roofing has seen throughout its history.
Faulty installation and poor workmanship
A properly installed roof system should last more than 20 years.
Careless HVAC contractors
Rushed workers using sharp-edged materials often ding roof systems. Another culprit: dropped screws that leave holes when stepped on.
Bullets and other projectiles
It’s sad but true: one Noffke employee (with 37 years of experience) has filled two large jars with bullets he has recovered from rooftops.
Hail and wind wreak havoc on roofs. A secure surface is anchored by a strong metal edge system to withstand the forces of nature.
The natural freeze-thaw process produces moisture that seeps through walls and roofs, and dampness causes certain systems and membranes to shrink and tear.