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Insight into Waterproofing: Affording Harley-Davidson(s) [VIDEO]

Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with Thomas Borrosco, Senior Waterproofing Superintendent at Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing, to interview him about how he came into his construction career, and what he could share about that experience.

Thomas shared with me that his waterproofing crew does many aspects of waterproofing from below-grade (think: basements) to “top out” on waterproofing projects.  He has orchestrated projects from commercial buildings to high-end residentials.  Waterproofing involves sealing the exterior of buildings from water getting into the buildings, whether it be with vapor-barrier systems, sealants, or other methods of waterproofing.  This includes sealing both roofs and walls.  Thomas explained, “When a building comes out of the ground, the crew will do the basement floors and walls to keep water from getting into the building, and protect the structure of the building.”

He talked about the Exxon Mobil project he was currently working on north of Houston where his crew has worked on underground tunnels which were encapsulated with a waterproofing system, and then the buildings were built on top of that.  Everything was sequenced with the other projects, including the elevators which ran through all.  “It is all an envelope system basically from water intrusion into the building.”

Thomas got into the waterproofing business when he was still in high school.  His friend’s dad owned a roofing and waterproofing company and hired Thomas and his friend to “smear black stuff on some holes in a roof.”  At the time, Thomas did not understand much about waterproofing, but he did the work and learned a few basic skills.  Later, his family moved, his parents divorced, and Thomas left school so that he could work to help the family out financially.  His previous experience gained him a position at another waterproofing company where he learned more about the business and became a foreman, before eventually coming to work at Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing.

When Thomas met John Kafka, Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing President and CEO, he found the head of the company to be a “super nice individual,” and Thomas particularly liked the “Chamberlin Way” – the camaraderie where everyone works as a team.  He met Chamberlin’s Mike Lawrence and helped him start the Maintenance Department at Chamberlin.  Thomas became fascinated with all aspects of waterproofing – from finding the leaks to restoration.  He explained, “In waterproofing restoration you are taking something that is old, a building that has been around for a while and has some issues, and restoring it back to its original, or even better than what it was.”

The Maintenance Department which Thomas and Mike developed took on the smaller repair and restoration jobs – projects that cost around five to ten thousand dollars.  These included high-end residential, leaking window systems, sealing roofs – each job was different depending on whatever the skin or the substrate of the building was.

Throughout his career, Thomas has been trained in both new construction, such as the work he is currently doing on the Exxon Mobil project north of Houston, and in restoration, where existing buildings are in need of some kind of repair.  Most of the training is hands-on training, but Chamberlin also offers training courses in topics such as job start-up, project billing, and blueprint reading.  This helps employees understand the “big picture” of a project, and how other members of the Chamberlin Team contribute to it.

As a supervisor, Thomas also trains others at Chamberlin in topics such as installation of materials, completing paperwork, and customer relations.

Thomas shared that his favorite part of his job was when he and his team were able to solve a problem that other companies had been unable to solve.

“We love those jobs because at the end of the job people would say ‘we had all these other contractors look at this job, and nobody could solve it.’  “We would put our heads together and come up with a plan to make it happen, to make it work, and to get it watertight.  To make the customer happy and build relationships: that’s what I love about the business.”

Thomas explained that his Chamberlin team’s motto was that “You are either the hero or the bad guy.  You were able to fix the leak or you weren’t.”  He said, “We always instill in our guys that ‘hey, you want to be the good guy … you want to be the people that the customer wants to call back.’”

Thomas loves Harley-Davidson motorcycles.  He is a second-generation fan who collects and modifies them.  His construction paycheck allowed him to own four Harleys at one point.  This even sparked the attention of one of his fellow Harley enthusiasts who went on to gain a construction job building cranes after Thomas’s success.

Thomas said, “It is something else, being able to do the things you love, and to care about the people you do it with – there is no other better feeling than that.”

Thomas says that there is “no better happiness.”

See more in the 7-minute video below.