A journey from pickup trucks and kettles to innovative green roofing: Over the past 35+ years, Selden Fox has served as trusted advisor to the owners of American Roofing and now Combined Roofing. With an eye toward long-term planning, Selden Fox has provided Combined Roofing with expert analysis and thoughtful perspectives, as they contemplated a multitude of decisions which have impacted the success of the business as well as its owners.
It was December 1978, and John Lanzendorf had just completed his purchase of American Roofing and Repair Company from his uncle. Lanzendorf called on Bill O’Brien, a long-time friend, to take responsibility for the internal operations within the company. Together, John and Bill turned to Bill Weigel, who had recently moved his accounting practice to help open the doors at Selden Fox.
American Roofing had a significant task for Selden Fox: It was time to move beyond manual accounting. This initial responsibility instantly demonstrated the company’s trust in Selden Fox — a confidence that continues today, more than 35 years later.
“Weigel was instrumental in guiding us,” described O’Brien, when reflecting on the beginning of the American Roofing-Selden Fox relationship.
From the beginning, American Roofing was reliant on Selden Fox for evaluating computer accounting methods, selecting the right computer, and designing and implementing an accounting system that would work for American Roofing’s needs.
As Lanzendorf and O’Brien ramped up the organization, Weigel was intimately involved in business decisions, from setting up the entity to evaluating its tax situation. In the delivery of personalized support and advice, Selden Fox never disconnected the owners’ interests from the business. “What happens to the company happens to the individual owners, and Selden Fox has always been sensitive to that impact,” commented Lanzendorf.
In 2008, Selden Fox played an instrumental role in American Roofing’s merger with E.W. Olson Roofing, creating Combined Roofing Services, LLC. Selden Fox strategized on the entity setup, provided input for other experts needed to execute a successful merger, consulted with Lanzendorf and O’Brien on what the merger meant for the succession planning of the company, and ensured throughout the transaction that all the moving pieces were working together to reach the end goal.
Lanzendorf reflected on the period during the merger when meaningful time was spent on planning the exit strategy for the benefit of the legacy of the organization. “Like any asset, it is not just how you acquire it but how you will harvest it.” By keeping an open mind and discussing the various options with advisors, including Selden Fox, Combined Roofing — and Lanzendorf and O’Brien in particular — have a plan in place to see their successful business continue beyond their leadership.
Today, Combined Roofing handles both commercial re-roofing and new construction, including innovative green roofs, and boasts an impressive client roster, including the Chicago Cubs, Loyola University Chicago Alumni Center, East Bank Club, Caterpillar, Chicago Transit Authority, Kraft Foods, Chase and various public entities.
“Continuing even today, when we have a question, Bill has an answer, and we know he will ultimately get the job done for us,” O’Brien said. “This is a confidence that provides us a significant level of security for ourselves and our business.”
As a trusted advisor to American Roofing, Weigel is always accessible and has established a team to service Combined Roofing. O’Brien speaks very highly of this team and its seamless delivery of service. “Everyone communicates with one another and is visibly well organized. They are all extremely professional and good people,” commented O’Brien. “It is evident that Selden Fox does a fantastic job vetting its people to create an effective team. The team members always work diligently to understand the company and its systems, making the entire process more efficient and easy for Combined Roofing’s internal staff.”
Today, Selden Fox handles the annual audit for Combined Roofing, prepares the tax returns for the company and members of the ownership group, and provides ongoing consulting as needed. The team now regularly servicing Combined Roofing brings audit and tax expertise, which proves valuable with a partnership entity, in which any action taken as a company affects the individual partners.