We put the questions to Darren McGhee of DMG Roofing and winner of Screwfix’s Tradesperson of the Year 2019.
TC: What was your path into roofing and to your current position?
DMcG: I am a third generation roof tiler. I always knew what I wanted to be and I couldn’t wait to leave school to get started with my father. I was apprentice of the year three years in a row – which has never been done before or since in roofing or any other trade. I have always put 100% effort into everything I do and aimed to be the best in my field. Winning Screwfix’s Britain’s Top Tradesperson 2019 is surely a sign that I am getting there.
Take pride in knowing that the roof you complete could be there for a hundred years. You only fail when you stop trying
TC: If you had one piece of advice about working and progressing in the roofing sector, what would it be?
DMcG: Don’t give up! Be the best you can be. Take pride in knowing that the roof you complete could be there for a hundred years. You only fail when you stop trying; always remember that you are only as good as your last job and never get complacent.
TC: Tell us about a current project you’re working on…
DMcG: I am currently working on a 17th Century mansion in Helensburgh. We are changing the original slate materials used on this and replacing them with a beautiful Cupa H3 Spanish slate supplied by CUPA PIZARRAS. A home of this age has its challenges which makes completing it even more rewarding.
TC: You must have worked on some difficult projects over the years. Does one in particular stand out?
DMcG: There have been many, and the challenges always vary. Competing with the Scottish weather is never easy to begin with. Lots of things have to align to make a job run smoothly before a job can even begin – so many things have to be in place, ranging from deliveries to health and safety. Then there’s the job itself. I am lucky to have worked on an extensive range of roofs and the challenges just make you better at what you do.
One recent residential customer required hour long, sit-down meetings daily and requested a briefing on every detail of the re-roofing works
TC: What about difficult customers, how do you deal with them? Any situations that stand out that you can tell us about?!
DMcG: Customers are always challenging when they have had bad experiences previously, and I don’t blame them! It is extremely common in the roofing industry. I have so much confidence in my abilities that I think it transfers to the customers. One recent residential customer required hour long, sit-down meetings daily and requested a briefing on every detail of the re-roofing works, even down to the nails we were using.
TC: What’s the most frustrating thing about your job?
DMcG: Other people not doing their jobs properly. ‘Rogue Traders’ are a huge problem in the roofing industry. What makes it frustrating is, firstly, having to compete against them when they aren’t qualified. Secondly, having to fix the destruction they leave behind, and thirdly, having to justify that I am in fact a qualified tradesman.
TC: And the most satisfying?
DMcG: The most satisfying thing about my job is giving the customer peace of mind and protecting their family. I also take great pleasure in pointing out roofs to my family, knowing they will be there for generations. My biggest achievement comes from knowing that I have created MyRoofCare, the first and only roof care package in the UK. I am so proud to have created something so amazing that’s going to change my industry forever.
If you take everything else away, strip it all back, I feel as if I could still be a roofer with my Estwing hammer
TC: What’s your most important tool as a roofing contractor?
DMcG: My hammer! If you take everything else away, strip it all back, I feel as if I could still be a roofer with my Estwing hammer.
TC: What’s the biggest issue currently affecting you as a roofer?
DMcG: Trying to change the reputation of an industry that continues to disappoint. The most frustrating thing that I have been faced with recently is that not only the customers are being fooled by rogue traders, but so too are the companies who carry out the vital checks. It’s so frustrating when you get called to a person’s home who has been left devastated at the hands of a shoddy workman, only to learn that they did their checks and the regulating bodies have actually approved them – someone is not doing their job properly.
I have also become first Scottish Roofing Company to be RoofCERT approved
TC: How has 2019 been and are there reasons to be positive for 2020?
DMcG: 2019 has been my best year yet! MyRoofCare has been going from strength to strength and has been recognised on many different levels. Winning Screwfix’s Britain’s Top Tradesperson is the ultimate accolade for any tradesperson. I have also been nominated for a number of awards, including The Federation of Small Business’s Best Product and Innovation Award for MyRoofCare, and The Pitched Roofing Awards in December for the category of Domestic Property Application Using Slate. In addition to this I have also become first Scottish Roofing Company to be RoofCERT approved; 2020 looks set to be even better than last year.