Whether Bigger Or Smaller, Roofing Firms Have Advantages, Disadvantages
Bigger firms are not always better. The roof installation is only as good as the quality of the local mechanics who are installing it. What matters is matching the qualifications of the local firm to your particular needs.
Bigger and smaller firms have advantages and disadvantages. A large company has more resources available — higher bonding limits, more equipment, more staff, and wider range of services. This means that whatever particular method and material you have chosen, they can probably accommodate you. Because of the greater number of personnel, they can sometimes begin your project quicker than a firm with fewer resources or more quickly provide services after a wide-scale natural disaster. Larger firms can sometimes provide lower prices, as the fixed costs of their business are spread out over a larger number of projects.
If you do choose a larger company, however, be sure you meet the project manager and foreman who will be supervising your project and find out their qualifications in advance. Do not be content with only meeting the general manager or owner. They are not going to be on site when the roof goes down unless there is a major problem, and then it is too late. The project manager and foreman, not the company owner, will be the ones directly responsible for the success or failure of your application. If you are OK with them, be sure when the project starts that they are the actual people supervising the project.
Smaller companies usually have a more hands-on presence by ownership, as there are usually fewer layers of management. The owner usually has a higher interest in being sure that the work is done correctly since the buck has to travel a lot shorter distance until it falls at his or her feet. Being a smaller firm, they cannot be as flexible with timing of projects as their resources are fewer, but they are usually more flexible with pricing. Smaller firms tend to specialize in one or two materials or installation methods, which is to their advantage as they can learn these few applications really well, but you do not want to ask them to bid projects for which they are less qualified. Although larger firms have more resources to apply to your project, smaller firms have the flexibility and willingness to tackle the small, knotty problems all roofs eventually face, problems that are not economically feasible for a larger firm.
It is very important to see exactly where the contractor's resources are located. A small local firm is, well, local. All of their resources are nearby. A large company may not be as local as you think. If a company says it has 200 employees, it is a large firm. However, if 100 employees are in Houston, and 90 in San Francisco, and you are in Nebraska, it negates any advantages of being a larger company. The farther away a company is located, the less likely they will be responsive to repairing minor problems. Since minor problems are usually the source for major problems, you may want to steer clear.
Find out how long the company has been working in your area. A Chicago-based company that has recently located to the Miami area may be unfamiliar with the local climate, codes, roofing practices, and customs, so that it will be difficult to properly install the roof where you are. If they have been there less than two years, let them practice on other roofs before they tackle yours.