We’re excited to share the article that appeared in the Village News in September. The full article is reposted here, and a link to the original article is posted below.
Friends and Consummate Professionals, They’ve Formed The Oldest Roofing Company In Houston
By Katie Tong
For the oldest roofing company in Houston, good business has been about family from the beginning. While they’ve merged, expanded and reincorporated over the years, they’ve always kept ties to the memories and relationships built by both workers and customers throughout the decades.
It all started with Coale Roofing, established in 1927 by Robert Coale. Robert Sr. eventually passed the reins to his son, Bob, who ran the company up until the mid-90s. In 1990, Bob was contacted by another local tradesman, Rice Roofers’ John Stroman, who made him an offer, but Bob wasn’t ready to sell just yet.
John Stroman got his start in roofing in the late 70s, almost “unintentionally” as he remembers it. A Rice graduate with a degree in education, Stroman was teaching at Kinkaid when he and his brothers did his first roofing job as a favor to his aunt where, he says, they “read the directions that came on the back of the times.” Soon his aunt’s neighbors, then his students’ parents, were asking him to do their roofs as well. Stroman learned on the job, refined his technique, and within a decade made Rice Roofers a trusted name for high-end roofing in the Southwest area. Looking to expand, Stroman came to Bob Coale with a contract. Bob made him wait, but five years after Stroman first made his offer, Coale agreed to the acquisition and the Rice and Coale conglomerate was born, with Bob Coale continuing to manage the latter company for another 20 years.
Fast forward to 2020, it’s now Stroman who’s ready to take some time for himself, but like Bob Coale before him, he’s not ready to let go just yet. For this transition, he found the ideal partnership with Rainproof Roofing’s owner, Cesar Alvarez. A native of Guatemala, Cesar studied finance in his home country before immigrating to El Paso in 2000 where he initially worked in advertising and insurance. Cesar’s work often brought him to Houston, a city who climate doesn’t go easy on roofs. So many friends began to ask for his insurance expertise to cover their roof repairs, Cesar realized the roofing market was ripe for him to realize the dream of owning his own business — Houston’s Rainproof Roofing, which was formed in 2012.
Rainproof Roofing officially purchased Coale-Rice this year, but Cesar Alvarez is eager to maintain the excellence, and the trusted names that have kept a dry roof over so many southwest Houston heads. Stroman and Alvarez’s newly merged offices at 4229 Bellaire Blvd. preserve many remnants and reminders of the roots laid down before them. From decades-old newspaper clippings and signs proudly advertising “Coale Roofing” to a quaint old wooden file cabinet where they can pull out the typewritten flash cards of past customer projects.
While the main database is of course, on computer, the old files still come in handy from time to time. Even if a homeowner is new to the area, his house has been well documented. “John has diagrams from every single roof he did,” Cesar says. “Coale has the same, diagrams going back to ’27.”
At the front of the office sits John’s daughter, Hannah Stroman Norman, Office Manager and multitasker extraordinaire for all three companies.
Bob Coale, now retired, doesn’t get down to the office much these days, but he’s never a stranger to Stroman, whose farm in Brenham is right next to Coale’s.
Farther back in the offices, Alvarez, too, is surrounded daily by his family. Youngest son Joseph, a Texas Tech graduate, specializes in customer relations and technical operations, while oldest son Juan Andres, a former hospitality manager, recently joined the company to oversee advertising.
Since Rainproof’s start, the stalwart support of the business has been Cesar’s wife, Jennifer, who’s always ready to assist in any department needed. As Cesar describes his wife, “She is the engine that keeps me going.”
But it’s not just the business owners who make this company a family affair. Multiple customers and more than one crew member, have multi-generations of work history recorded in the company books. All have a part, and a connection, to this now three-company household.
It’s close to a century since Coale Roofing first put down shingles in Houston. But in the end, it’s not about counting the years, it’s about when quality counts. Consistent, quality satisfaction is the goal, whether you’re calling Rainproof Roofing, Rice Roofers, or Coale; and they look forward to covering your needs, now and in the future, always with an eye to the tradition of excellence established by the past.
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