A little over three years ago, Tanner Tennyson was an estimator for Fife-based firm that does large roofing installations for the military and other commercial users, when an idea crossed his mind that ultimately changed the course of his life.
The product the company was using – a unique asphalt-rubberized roofing material – was now available for residential use after more than 40 years in the commercial sector.
“I knew rubberized shingles were the best,” said Tennyson. “When they came available for homeowners, that’s when I decided to start my company.”
A few months later in March 2016 – and with the blessing of his friends from Chinook Roofing & Gutters – he launched Integrity Roofing and Construction in Poulsbo with himself and two laborers.
Just three years later, the company has close to 30 employees and is one of the fastest growing firms of its kind in Kitsap County, if not the entire Puget Sound region.
Tennyson says his firm’s rapid rise is due to sudden increases in roofing costs by larger outfits, his use of a very durable roofing material, and his service orientation.
“Everybody (in this business) does the same thing,” he says. They install new roofs or fix damaged ones. But, he adds, “what it comes down to, is how good is your service.”
Judging from its track record, Integrity’s service must be pretty good. In the short time he’s been in business, Tennyson and is crew have done 370 roofing jobs in the area and added a remodeling side to the company that does decks and other carpentry work.
One of Integrity’s signature projects is the Bloedel Reserve Gate House on Bainbridge Island.
“The market has constantly said ‘we want you,’” insists the 32-year-old Tennyson, who grew up in Kitsap County and spent time as a teenager working on the roof of the new Suquamish Clearwater Casino building.
Tennyson later earned degrees in anthropology and communications from the UW before finding his career niche. He says the two subjects were “essentially” about marketing and human psychology.
Those disciplines came in handy when he was hired as a sales and marketing manager by a struggling Colorado sports medicine firm. “I learned to take a company to market and rebrand it,” he says of the experience. “It’s really played well to what I’m doing now.”
Tennyson is quick to note that a few other factors aided Integrity’s success. He bought a foreclosed building at 19740 Viking Way in Poulsbo on the “cheap” and transformed it into their headquarters. The building acts almost like a billboard for the company.
“To have the kind of visibility we have is very, very fortunate,” he says. Integrity has also benefited from the purchase of a small Tacoma roofing company that added crewmembers to its staff and some clients to the company’s portfolio.
Tennyson credits his friends at Chinook for teaching him the ropes of the business, and perhaps, more importantly how to deal with challenging customers. But at the end of the day, he simply loves doing what he is doing.
“I had no idea Integrity was going to be this big this fast,” he says. “It’s been a huge blessing.”
– KEVIN DWYER