James DeHart and his wife have just finished putting their two small children to bed for the night when a text message interrupts the silence. It’s from one of DeHart’s customers and he says his roof is leaking. For the roofing and home repair expert, this is disappointing. He immediately grabs his tools and heads towards his customer’s home.
As he drives an hour towards Pasadena where his client lives, a thunderstorm dumps a blinding rain in his path.
“The storm was so bad that the GPS on my phone wasn’t even working,” DeHart said. “I got there and got up on the roof in the rain to put a tarp on that section of the roof.”
The contractor has a dozen of these stories, where he put his client’s comfort in front of his own.
“Every single client of mine will contest that not everything goes 100 percent as planned, but JD is always there if things don’t.”
DeHart began his career in the roofing and home repair business as a subcontractor when he was just 15-years-old. He struggled in school and found he had a natural ability when it came to construction.
“I worked my way up and became a sales contractor,” he said. “I did that for a few years and then in 2008 when Hurricane Ike hit I began selling roofs.”
He found a mentor in another roofer, who began showing him the ropes of the roofing and home repair business. DeHart began taking on his own clients and helping with other contractors’ customers. After six years, he decided he wanted to strike out on his own and start his own business.
“I moved back to the Katy area and started my own company,” DeHart said. “I started with only $500.”
As he built his clientele, he realized that what set him apart was the fact that he genuinely cared about his customers past the initial sale and installation. He wanted them to have a safe and secure home and think of him as more of a friend than a contractor.
“I feel like so much of my job—which is probably why I like it so much—is helping people,” he said.
DeHart sees a need and helps to fill it, even when it has nothing to do with roofing.
“If I have a client who’s on a fixed income, I might do more for them than just fix their roof,” he said. “If they say, my car doesn’t work very well, I’ll take a look at their car and try to fix it if it’s a quick repair.”
He has even been known to take unusual payments for his roofing and home repairs.
“I had a client say, ‘I have a smoker that I don’t use anymore, would you take a smoker?’”
Although his business practices might seem out-of-the-ordinary, DeHart said he is just following what God puts on his heart.
“My faith is everything, and I couldn’t be a strong person and business owner if it wasn’t for him.”
He said God is his backbone, followed closely by his wife, who helps keep the business running smoothly.
“It takes a really strong person at home taking care of the kids and the house in order to support someone like me,” he said. “I sometimes work 90 to 100 hours a week. I wouldn’t be able to go like I do if it wasn’t for my wife.”
Along with providing support for her husband, DeHart’s wife also keeps up with the businesses paperwork and billing.
“I have her backing me up on the road so I can do my job taking care of the customers,” he said.
The “mom and pop” feel of DeHart’s business is what he believes sets him apart from large corporate roofing and home repair businesses.
“For large companies, their first priority is new customers, which means it could be weeks before current customers get much-needed repair work done,” he said. “But for me, past and present clients are my first priority.”
Everything stops with him, DeHart said. He schedules appointments, talks to clients, and makes the repairs.
“All of the accountability is on one person, which is tiring for me, but I feel like my clients like it,” he said.
He said the long hours and grueling work can sometimes be difficult, but his Heavenly father gives him the strength to get through the day and provide assistance for those who need his help.
“[My faith] is what grounds me and centers me,” he said. “At the end of the day nothing’s ever as bad as it seems when you have God helping you through the tough times.”