After her husband’s death, Gayle Goodman took over the helm of Southfield’s American Standard Roofing and helped it grow.
By Sandra Gross
Industry insiders and customers might have been worried that Michigan’s American Standard Roofing (ASR) would be on shaky ground after the untimely death of its founder, Arnie Goodman, in 2017. But they were proven wrong.
Just three weeks after Arnie’s passing, his wife, Gayle Goodman, stepped in and took over leadership of the Southfield-based company, and business is better than ever, according to Gayle.
Arnie started the roofing company in 1997 and built a loyal customer base throughout Southeast Michigan. ASR also sells gutters, skylights, siding and insulation and does roof repairs.
Trial by Fire
Gayle had no experience running a roofing company when Arnie died. “I didn’t know A from Z,” she said.
She wishes Arnie had spoken more about business to her. “He liked to leave work at work,” she said. “However, there are times I do think, ‘I wish I would have known how he handled certain situations.’”
Gayle found her own voice and gained confidence in her own opinions in short order. Plus, much of her staff worked at ASR when Arnie was in charge and were able to tell her how he handled certain business issues.
Because she was at the helm of ASR within three weeks of the loss of her husband, Gayle barely had time to grieve. “I just got up and showed up every day at 8 a.m. and was here all day,” she said. “But, as time went on, I allowed myself the process to grieve.
“Grief is not linear anyway, you know,” she added. “It ebbs and flows and it comes in different ways.”
Gayle has no problem running a company in a male-dominated profession. She does employ a male production manager to work with ASR’s crews. “A lot of times, women are the ones making the [roof-buying] decisions anyway, so that’s not a challenge,” Gayle said. ASR also employs a woman on its roofing crew.
Gayle said she feels that being a woman in a male-dominated industry has its advantages. “I look at things from a woman’s perspective,” she said. “I bring out female elements … and I can relate in a different way.”
Gayle said men and women can command the same level of respect in the industry “as long as you’re sharp and you know what you’re talking about.”
Making Her Mark
Drawn to the marketing side of the business, Gayle advertises on radio, complete with a new jingle written by the company’s bookkeeper.
She has standardized the company’s branding, creating an updated logo that can be found on ASR’s newly wrapped van, apparel and even the Starbucks gift cards that salespeople give out to customers.
A high percentage of ASR’s sales are from referrals, because “our name speaks for itself,” Gayle said. She is working to boost those figures and is now using social media to increase brand awareness. She has updated ASR’s Facebook page and started promoting the company on Instagram.
ASR also has a new financing policy under Gayle. Before, the company’s financing was cash-based. “A lot of people don’t have $10,000, $15,000 or $20,000, depending on the size of a house,” Gayle said. “What if you can finance for as low as $70 a month?”
Before becoming president of ASR, Gayle worked fulltime at Temple Israel in the Early Childhood Center as the preschool fitness and yoga teacher. Although she’s cut her hours teaching since taking over ASR, she still works at the temple two afternoons a week. Teaching the children is a source of happiness for her. “I just didn’t want to give up the kids,” she said.
Another source of happiness for Gayle is her family. She has a daughter on each side of the U.S., Alila (formerly Jaclyn) in Hawaii and Nicole in Boston. And then there is Alila’s daughter, Andara, who, the proud grandmother proclaims, “is as cute as a button!”
When asked where she sees ASR in five years, Gayle said, “Growing … definitely growing.” She added that ASR took on investors this April, including Alan Gildenberg of West Bloomfield, who also has a senior management role with the company.
Plans also include further increasing advertising to bring in more sales.