Chip and Pierce Ward are a father-and-son team. Both are active IIBEC members and work for A.P. Ward Consulting. Chip is a past president of RCI (now IIBEC), an IIBEC Fellow, and an RRC. Pierce is an RRO and REWO. They live and work in Kennesaw, Ga.
How did you get involved with IIBEC (formerly RCI)?
Chip: It was December 1984 and [RCI founder] Bob Lyons called me, since we were both worked for Tremco at the time, and we met for lunch. We were talking about roof consulting, and he started talking about this new association he was working on, called the Roof Consultants Institute [RCI]. He wanted to know if I would join it. We talked about it for a while, and I said, “Yeah, I believe I should belong to the association in the field I am going to be in.” I joined in January 1985.
I went to the first RCI conference that February, in New Orleans. There was about 30 of us there. It was quite overwhelming. I found out I did not know as much as I thought.
Pierce: I got involved because of my dad. I started working for him and heard all about the association, and what they did, and my involvement evolved as I grew to like the business. And it has gone on from there. I have enjoyed every minute of it.
What do you do on a typical day on the job?
Chip: First thing we do is read emails and respond to emails. Pierce has everything scheduled for the week, unless there is something that comes up. We set up a schedule for the following week the Friday before. Since I do not climb on ladders anymore, it’s all Pierce. He is the legs and eyes. I do proposals and invoices, schedule work, and do roof survey reports if Pierce is busy.
Pierce: My day starts with email, then site visits, surveys, viewing details, site reports, more emails back at the office, and then getting home to get my son to bed—and then sometimes more emails before I go to sleep.
Chip: I review all the reports and surveys before they go out the door. When we do have reroofing jobs, I do the specs and get the drawings done, and put together the bid package to put out to bid for owners.
Has there been any project you have worked on that you enjoyed more than usual?
Chip: Several years ago, we had to reroof a building downtown, the old Equitable building at 100 Peachtree Street. It was already floating in water between the membrane and the deck. There was no slope in the concrete deck. Four drains on the main roof and two in the cooling tower roof. We had to figure how to tear this roof off and keep the deck watertight while we had water on the roof and then get the new roof system put together to drain.
It took a little thinking and talking to a few manufacturers and consultants to make this a safe, efficient, new roof system. I really enjoyed that one. There are many times when a job comes up that is hard to do, and it turns out to be a nice job—we really enjoy that.
Pierce: That was an interesting one, which I liked. I am dealing more with the building enclosure side of the business. For me, Echo Lakes was one of the first projects I handled myself. Dad showed up on occasion when he got bored. It had a metal roof clubhouse that was arched all the way around, with tapered panels, and I tried to make sure the whole
system came together with wall flashings. It was one of my favorites because it was one of the first projects I handled completely by myself. I could understand the feeling most consultants have when they walk away and they are proud of the building that they see and helped construct. I could understand my dad’s stories when we are driving around and he’s pointing and saying, “See that building right there? I remember that building back in ’78—how great it turned out or how horrible it was going through.” That project was really an enjoyable experience.
Have you had any mentors in the industry? What have they taught you?
Chip: My first mentor was Bob Lyons. We worked together at PSI. He was my mentor in marketing and sales, which is something you must do, especially as a consultant on your own. I have called and used other consultants across the Southeast ever since I have been a member. They have all come to help me when I had a problem that I could not figure out by myself. I would call them, and they would give me some insight on what things to do. I appreciate all of them from back then, especially Dick Canon, Brian Gardiner, Mike Clark, David Hawn, and Sid Hankins. They would suggest things that I never thought about doing on a certain project. A lot of times, the issues were wind uplift and screwy details I didn’t know how to handle.
Pierce: For me, it is my dad foremost, then all the other consultants I have worked with, including Mike Clark, David Hawn, and Sid Hankins. I have learned that if I have a question that I can’t answer, there is someone in the area who knows the answer. That is one thing IIBEC has been good about; it’s like a family: if you need help, you call someone, and they are more than happy to help you.
Are there any core values that are important to you?
Chip: It is all about how you have been brought up over your lifetime. Honesty, trust, respect for others, and do not forget your family is number one.
Pierce: I agree with all those points and would include dependability and reliability. A client wants to know that when they call you, they are going to get the services they need.
One of my favorite stories my dad tells is about the time when a client called him for a project in Texas, and dad said, “We will be more than happy to do it for you, but I know some perfectly able consultants in Texas who would charge you a lot less than we would because we’d have to fly out there. I’ll be happy to give you their number. But if you want us do it, we would more than happy to.” Dad hung up, and I yelled, “Dad, did I just hear you giving away work?” He replied, “Son, it’s about taking care of the client. I know good consultants who will take care of him and save him some money now. Hopefully, he will remember that later and come back to us for work in the future.”
This business has been built on taking care of the client, not just thinking about the money that you make. It’s about the quality, the product you are giving your client, and making sure they are happy, and you are happy with everything at the end of the day.
What has been your greatest accomplishments?
Chip: First thing, I picked a great wife.
In 1994, at our first convention in San Antonio, Tex., I got my RRC.. I took the first classes of Roof Consulting I and II in 1993. After you finished two, you had the exam. It really was the greatest thing to prepare you for the exam.
We do the best job of educating our members. Now that our scope of work is the full enclosure, we are into everything as far as building goes. It is quite amazing. Anybody in architecture or engineering who wants to specialize in building enclosures has the institute as a resource to help them do it.
Pierce: Personally, meeting and marrying my wife as well as the birth of my son.
Professionally, becoming vice president and CFO of our company. And finally moving up from my dad’s employee to his equal. We’ll go back and forth at times, thinking each other is right, whereas I used to stay back and always let him take the lead. Getting my RRO and my REWO was another professional accomplishment. It gave me a leg to stand on in the industry besides just my dad’s name—which when we go to convention, it’s pretty much the way I am recognized. “Oh, your Chip’s son! I know your dad!”
Speaking of convention, any favorite convention memories?
Chip: I enjoyed the whole year I was president. We did a great job developing our stand on cooperative purchasing concerning construction and roofing. What was going on and what still is going on. We put together our opinion to be shared with the press and other institutions.
In March 2007, we held our first convention at Shingle Creek [in central Florida]. I love that place! People say we should go somewhere else, and I respond, “Why go somewhere else? Everything is there!” It is such a great place; I love it to death! I went down with Jim Birdsong and Karen McElroy in the fall of 2006 to check it out. We got to meet everybody and play a round of golf, and I said, “This is going to be great. A great place to be.”
Pierce: 2014 in San Antonio. It was my first convention. After years of me working while dad went off for “education” and enjoying the company of everyone there, I finally got to go and meet all the other consultants and hear all their war stories and good stories. It was wonderful to see them enjoy this industry and what it brings them as far as happiness and fulfillment.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the building enclosure industry?
Chip: What I have told some of these young architects that we have coming to our convention: Get experience, don’t’ be afraid to get help from any member of IIBEC, and, if possible, pick out a specific part of the building enclosure and specialize in it.
Pierce: This is a great industry to get into. The amount of growth I have seen since I joined is amazing. I’m sure my dad and Bob Lyons would never have imaged the size that we have grown to. And just like my dad said, never be afraid to ask other consultants for help. We can’t know everything, and the knowledge they have comes in handy a lot.
I can’t tell you the number of times that my dad and I have gone up on a roof and my dad has told me, “I can tell what kind of roof it is, when it was put down and who did it,” before he even steps foot on the roof.
Like I said earlier, it’s also about taking care of the client: that is what we are all here for.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, get all the education you can, ask questions—because we all help each other.
You have a unique situation as a father-and-son business. What are your plans for the future?
Chip: I should have retired a long time ago. I just so happen to like what I am doing. When my son came into the business, I talked him into it. I called him and said, “I need you to come home and work for me—my back is gone.” I did not know if he would want it. He had worked with me some when he was in school . He would help me go on roofs and measure the roof and do take-offs on details and that kind of stuff. I taught him to do core cuts, and he learned quickly.
I wanted to leave him something for when I quit. Grab it, and maybe hire another person to work with him. When I set up this business, I did not want to be a big-time roof consultant firm. I did not want a lot of employees, and I wanted to be able to do everything without having to hire a secretary. My CPA is my wife. She teaches Pierce how to code the expenses and do everything. He does all the bookkeeping now. I want the business to be there for him, so he can do his own thing later when I am out of the picture. Completely? I do not know.
Pierce: He will go stir crazy if he just quits completely.
Chip: I can hardly play golf anymore, so that is the killer right there.
Pierce: Dad has always had the hope that I would take the business over. Not just in high school, but college, telling me that if I wanted to, it was here for me. I was not quite sure until I started working for him and just enjoying it. People would ask, “How do you like being a waterproofing or roof consultant?” and I would ask them, “Do you like puzzles? If you do not, it isn’t the business for you.” There are some days you go home scratching your head wondering where the water is coming from, and it will eat you up until you find it.
Eventually, dad will cycle out more, but he will always be a part of the business, he will never fully retire. I will need his knowledge, his brain. I hope to do the same with my son someday. Keep it going. Keep clients happy.
What are your hobbies and interests, and how do you spend your free time?
Pierce: I always love movies. I am all around. I like sports. I like boating and fishing. I do not do as much as I used to anymore. Between work being busy and my son being 1½ years old, that pretty much occupies my entire week. Both my dad and I like to take vacations to the beach because when you work hard you need to take some down time, or you will get burned out. I try to do a little something each weekend to make myself happier, to allow my wife and I to enjoy the weekend, like going on the boat or going swimming, now that it is getting warmer.
Chip: I have free time, but I do not do much. With my back and my knees, I can hardly play golf. No distance and my legs give out on me. The weather has finally gotten good, so I am going to go out to see if I can hit it. We have the golf outing in Phoenix, so I want to be able to contribute, at least my short game, chip and putt. Do not expect me to hit it long.
Pierce: He watches a lot of sports!
Chip: What I really enjoy doing is talking to other consultants about some projects we have worked on. The changes that have happened in the last 10 years has been unbelievable. Back in the 1980s, we thought the greatest thing was gypsum board. Now, we have spray adhesives, low-rise foam adhesives, membranes with fleece backing; we even have one that interlocks with the insulation. It is quite remarkable.
You really try to make a difference in the field of work you are in. You hope to be able to help other people, other consultants and others in the industry, as they to try to achieve what they want to do and, hopefully, give something back to the industry.