The expertise you can trust: A Q&A with our owners, Eddie and Andrew Prchal

August 18, 2023 by

Gunner was founded in 2013 by two brothers who saw a need in the contractor and construction industry: a combination of excellent work with exceptional customer service. Read on to learn more about founders Eddie and Andrew Prchal and how they built Gunner upon the core principle that the secret to success is to do the common thing uncommonly well.

Eddie and Andrew Prchal

What inspired you to start your own roofing/windows/siding company?
We just saw a huge lack of customer service for the industry and saw that a lot of things could be updated and changed as far as how appointments were set and quotes were given, and we wanted to shake things up a bit.

What sets your company apart from others in the industry?
Again, it’s that customer experience. You know, a lot of guys can install roofs, windows, or siding, but with ours it comes at a higher level of customer experience where the customer gets constant communication. They know what’s going on with the project. If a change comes up, they’re comfortable with it. It doesn’t feel like they’re getting scammed. We install probably better than anyone out there. Most customers don’t notice the tiny technical details to a great installation. What they do see and appreciate is the customer experience. That’s a huge one.

Have you received any awards or recognition in your field?
There’s not many awards in our industry that we haven’t received. One of the awards that stands out the most was the James Hardie President’s Award. There’s only 18 companies that get that per year, and we received it our first year, which is probably the first time that’s ever happened. We’ve also received multiple install and design awards from Brava for our synthetic roofs.

To check out all the awards that Gunner has received, read our blog post entitled It’s good to be recognized.

How do you ensure that your team is trained and up to date on the latest industry techniques and safety protocols?
We’re part of different organizations like the National Roofing Contractors Association and OSHA. We get constant updates, so there’s new changes that come in and we implement them. Also, our guys are huge on safety. It’s not uncommon for our project managers to pull guys off the roof to make sure they are wearing harnesses correctly. We make sure any unsafe situation get corrected right away. We try to make our sites as safe as possible because, regardless of if it’s an in-house team or a subcontractor we work with regularly, everyone is really family. So we’re huge on safety and always talking about it and having those conversations.

Can you tell me about your involvement in the local community?
So far, whenever people ask for support, like local schools and sports programs, we help out. We’re actually going to be doing a lot more of that this year. So that’s on our to-do list. We’re finally at a point where we can give back more.

In terms of charitable work, Andrew has been dedicated to raising funds and awareness for several charitable organizations, including St. Baldrick’s (raising money for childhood cancer) and Cycle for Survival (raising money for Memorial Sloan Kettering cancer research). He is currently training for his first marathon in 2023 – the prestigious Chicago Marathon – raising money for the Ronald McDonald House.

By the way, we also offer military, first responders, and teacher discounts.

Can you describe a particularly challenging project that your team has worked on and how you were able to successfully complete it?
Yeah, there was one project where the son was getting the roof replaced with his mom, and when we went, there was a lot of roof damage (holes). One of our newer sales guys sold it, thinking they just needed a roof, and then our product manager Anthony went there and realized it needed much more. There were busted rafters, holes in the actual roof, so when it would rain, literally water was coming in, and also fascia damage, like there’s animals living inside of it. So it went from a $15,000 job to $35,000 job. Crazy amount of work on everyone’s part, but it needed to be done quickly. The whole team just stepped up like we’re neighbors, and we fixed the whole thing. It looked absolutely awesome. Neighbors were coming up, like, thank God you guys did this to this house.

For more information about the project, read our blog post Roof replacement – GAF asphalt, Port Chester, NY.

Here are some highlights from the post:

“A couple of months later, our product manager crossed paths with our client at the grocery store. She was obviously still excited about it all, saying how thrilled she was every day about everything being so perfect, about not having to worry about water pouring into her room at any moment.

“In fact, she called us back later and asked to have her siding replaced. Roof referrals followed. After seeing her home repairs done by roofing professionals, three neighbors called with requests of their own.”

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I’d say getting reviews, having people say that they wish all contractors were the way we are. I think that’s the most fun of it all, because it just shows we’re doing the right thing.

What do you find most rewarding about running your own company?
We can make our own decisions since we are a smaller company (unlike a big corporation), like being able to put a paid maternity policy in place without a lot of red tape. We’re able to respond quickly and provide feedback without waiting on other stakeholders to make decisions.

From Andrew: It’s exciting to see the company evolution over time and growth. Also, there are a lot of challenges, but we’ve found that over time what used to seem like an obstacle becomes more manageable.

It’s also exciting when new team members come on board and see how innovative we are compared with where they used to work. It’s about the people. We’ve got the best people. That’s what makes it work. Yeah, we do a great job at roofing, siding, and windows, but it all comes down to our customer service and the people that we have.

What are your long-term goals for the company?
We obviously want to go nationwide. We want everyone to have that customer experience that we’re able to bring. Eventually, we want people to be able to change their roofs a lot more frequently. We’d like to make it more affordable with financing or bringing down costs so that they don’t have to sacrifice other things like a family vacation to change their leaking roof.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your background or experience in the industry?
We had a little bit of construction background, but we really came from outside the industry, which I think is why we do such a good job at changing it. We weren’t influenced by how things were typically done. We just saw how customers wanted the industry to be run and got to do that.

Business is so much more than just an idea. You have to make money or close your doors. You’ve got to work really hard to get customers in the door. You don’t just open and they show up. That’s why we’re always changing marketing – always trying new stuff to avoid becoming stagnant.

Are there any tips or advice that you can share for choosing the best roofing/windows/siding contractor for a specific project?
Uh, yeah. Pick us. But if we are not in your market just yet, do a little research on your guys. If someone showed up with just a piece of paper and gave me a quote, they might be able to install it, but it’s not really about what I’ll say with this industry. It’s not about getting the initial job done; it’s what we do afterward. We do jobs where a storm might hit and a gutter flies off. Two years later, our customers may reach out to us again. We’re there in a couple of days. That’s what you want from a company – a company that’s going to be around. When you call them and you’re no longer a current customer, they’re still showing up to do the right thing. So I think that’s the most important.

Do you use subcontractors to complete some of your projects, and if so, what methods do you take to ensure quality results with minimal disruption?
We use all subcontractors. They really are like our own guys. They might do very small side projects, but we always keep them on our projects and not working for other contractors or anything like that. They do the same trainings that our guys do in-house; we’re on-site with them, making them better. We bring a lot of subs in and teach them our ways.

So, for example, we’re probably one of the top James Hardie installers in the Northeast for residential; most of these guys come in doing a couple of Hardie jobs a year. So they don’t have much experience with it. So we’ll train them well before they actually get on-site. We built out a training facility downstairs in our warehouse. We take the time to actually train people. We’re probably the only company that actually has this type of training facility on the East Coast. Our biggest focus is obviously on quality, and even though they’re subcontractors, that’s still at the forefront of everything.

Bonus question: Where do you see this heading in the future? Are there any trends that you’re excited about?
Obviously, our new website with online roofing quotes using satellite data is a huge thing. People are just tired of making these calls for a roofing quote. We’ve been getting more and more of “Oh, can you just get me a quote right now and I’m ready to move right now.”

Also, we are always on top of new trends. A big trend in the industry from a roofing standpoint is definitely that metal is starting to become more popular. We actually just got a metal machine, which was pretty exciting. So we’re going to be able to do that all in-house and pass the savings on to our customer. Even when you saw the marketing search results that people are looking for metal and more often. So we’re super-excited about that.