The Evolution of Roofing Manufacturers

A hundred years ago, there were many businesses that provided roofing materials to local markets. While a town may have had a sawmill supplying lumber to the community, there were many small providers of roofing products, such as local slate quarries and lumber mills, that manufactured wooden shingles.

Similar to what happened in the sawmill industry, the era of small local roofing manufacturers eventually ended. By the early 1980s, only 70 roofing plants still remained. Through good management, governance, stewardship, and people, TAMKO Building Products endured the various industry changes that have occurred over the years and caused so many businesses to shut down. Since TAMKO’s founding more than 70 years ago, the company has not only survived these numerous changes, but was also able to thrive. Today, TAMKO is one of the largest asphalt roofing manufacturers in the U.S.

While market share is affected by consolidations, pricing and products, it’s mostly impacted by technology. So many plants closed their doors by the 1980s because they failed to transition to fiberglass. Additionally, the move from off-line laminated shingles in the mid-1970s and to on-line laminators in the late 1980s resulted in even more consolidations. The manufacturers who did not invest in the new technology found themselves out of business.

TAMKO’s leadership has had the foresight and good fortune of making each of those transitions at just the right time as the industry changed. Each transition seems obvious in hindsight, but was groundbreaking at the time.

“So the price doesn’t move the dial very much one way or the other on market share,” said David Humphreys, TAMKO’s President and CEO. “New products can make a difference there. But the other dynamic in this industry has been the technology change.”




TAMKO Donated $100,000 to the Red Cross Following the Baxter Springs, Kansas Tornado in 2014

Image Source: Roger Nomer/Joplin Globe    TAMKO President and CEO David Humphreys presents a check to the Ozark Chapter of the American Red Cross to help with tornado relief efforts.
Image Source: Roger Nomer/Joplin Globe
TAMKO President and CEO David Humphreys presents a check to the Ozark Chapter of the American Red Cross to help with tornado relief efforts.

TAMKO Building Products donated $100,000 to the Ozark Chapter of the American Red Cross to help with tornado relief efforts in Baxter Springs, Kansas and Quapaw, Oklahoma. Tornadoes hit Baxter Springs and Quapaw just after 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 27, 2014. TAMKO President and CEO David Humphreys presented the $100,000 check to Debi Meeds, CEO of the Southern Missouri Region of the Red Cross, on May 2, 2014.

“This is an incredible gift,” Meeds told the Joplin Globe. “Because of the support from community partners like TAMKO, we are able to help these families on their road to disaster recovery.”

TAMKO, which was founded in Joplin, Missouri in 1944, has been a big part of the community for more than 70 years. Today, the company has several manufacturing facilities in the Joplin-area, as well as its headquarters. Joplin is only minutes from the Baxter Springs community. TAMKO is one of the largest privately-owned manufacturers of residential and commercial roofing products in the country.

TAMKO also provided a sizeable donation to the American Red Cross following the Joplin tornado of 2011 to help with relief efforts and to encourage others to make donations as well. During the Joplin tornado, the Baxter Springs and Quapaw communities stepped up to help the Joplin community, and Humphreys said he believed Joplin should do the same to help them.

“Baxter Springs and Quapaw supported the Joplin community after the 2011 tornado,” Humphreys said. “We feel that the Joplin community should be equally supportive in their time of need.”  As with the Joplin tornado, Humphreys said he hoped TAMKO’s donation would inspire others to also make donations to help tornado victims.

At the time of the donation, Meeds said that Red Cross relief efforts would focus on immediate basic needs, including food, shelter and clothing. The Red Cross’ focus would be on making sure families have a safe place to stay and the basic needs like food and shelter.


History in the Making

America is full of history and it is important for us to remember where we came from and how we achieved the success we have today.  It is always a shame when people are ignorant about their history.  For TAMKO Building Products, that’s not the case.  There is a rich history behind the company, the family that owns it and the many other families which have been a part of the company.

TAMKO was originally started in 1944 in an old streetcar barn in Joplin, Missouri.  It was the dream of E.L. Craig to create a company with the philosophy of “work hard, do your best, be fair and honest, and believe in those around you.”  Since the company started in 1944, it has lived up to those principles and continued to prosper and grow.  The company’s name, TAMKO, comes from the first letters of the original states which the company did business in: Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

The company entered a new phase of growth in the 1960s when Jay Humphreys, E.L. Craig’s son-in-law, took the reins of the company. TAMKO became an industry leader in roofing products and has continued to be at the cutting edge for providing new roofing products as technology has advanced.  One of the ways in which the company has stayed at the forefront and maintained success is through vertical integration.  TAMKO owns and operates its own raw materials plants allowing the company to achieve produce its own raw materials instead of relying on other companies.

After E.L. Craig began the business in 1944, he continued to work till 1954 when his health prevented him from continuing.  At this point his daughter, Ethelmae, took over and ran it through the 50s until 1960 when her husband, Jay Humphreys, took over.  He led TAMKO to great success with his entrepreneurial vision for growth.  After he passed in 1993, his son, David Craig Humphrey’s, took over the company and helped continue its growth and production capabilities by adding additional products.

TAMKO isn’t just about one family though, either.   There are more than 50 families which have had two or three generations working at the same TAMKO plants.  The Carder family is one of those families.  Mike Carder is a second generation employee. His father, Odes Carder, was a longtime plant manager, vice president and employee shareholder. Mike’s brother, George, also worked for TAMKO for several years, and Mike’s son, Kyle, currently works for the company.  For many families like the Carders, TAMKO is a family business for them as much as it is for the Humphreys.  TAMKO is without a doubt a great example of an American business with a rich history.