Shortly after beginning his one-year tenure last June as president of the Roofing Alliance, the nonprofit education and philanthropic arm of the National Roofing Contractors Association, Greg Bloom carved out time to give his peers a peek under the hood of what makes the industry luminary tick.
Sitting with his back to the views for which he drove about three hours north from his home in suburban Detroit to the family’s lake house in the upper reaches of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, that he even felt clear-eyed to converse was an indicator of Bloom’s vigor.
A three-hour drive may not be arduous, but having taken a red-eye flight back to Detroit from Denver the previous night — then stopping off at home to see his wife and youngest daughter — before hopping in the car for the three-hour drive is not for the weary.
Here is one thing you should know about Bloom as a benchmark of the man, beyond any bona fides as Roofing Alliance president and member of Beacon’s top brass as vice president of National and Strategic Accounts: he has run a four-minute mile.
Actually, 4:03, since precision is the great arbiter of track and field.
“You know, I'm blessed to still have the school record for the indoor mile,” he said, referring to his college career at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. “It's an honor to have gone to that school, to run for that school, and for the coaches that were just fantastic human beings.”
That record, set in the early 1980s, remains unbroken still. Bloom’s athleticism afforded him the luxury of a full scholarship to college, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in management marketing, graduating in 1983.
Bloom is a true roofing “lifer,” like many of his peers now in leadership positions. He first joined Allied Building Products working in the warehouse, even before college graduation, in 1982 as a summer job. In 1983, he joined the firm as an outside sales representative and, from there, was off to the races; Allied was a once-venerated building materials supplier based in the Northeast.
He rose through the company ranks until landing himself an office in the C-suite as the firm’s chief sales and marketing officer. His tenure at Allied concluded only because Beacon purchased the company during its largest one-time acquisition in 2018. The Allied purchase gave Beacon entrée into “unfamiliar” markets: New York, New Jersey and the upper Midwest. It also greatly expanded Beacon’s presence in Texas, Florida, Colorado and California. All told, Beacon nearly doubled its national footprint, adding 208 Allied branches to its portfolio in a $2.6 billion deal.
Many executives would be unsettled by having their company subsumed by another, but Bloom has run a four-minute mile, so anything less difficult likely seemed manageable.
“I learned so much [from competitive running],” he explains. “I learned how to overcome adversity —because I was hurt probably half of my career — how to build a team because I was captain my senior year … and it really paved the way, set me up for my entire career.”
How can anyone argue with that?
“Like, honestly, I do not feel I would have been as successful if I hadn't competed at the highest level because I was, I competed at the highest level,” he adds. “That taught me so much and helped me become the businessman I am today; I mean, that sounds kind of Pollyanna, but I mean it from my heart.”
The Man Has 'Heart'
Seizing the phrase “from my heart” is relevant if you know Bloom, have had an opportunity to hear him speak professionally or even bumped into him inadvertently and then felt like you made a new best friend.
It may sound saccharine, but if so, you don’t know Bloom. At 61, he’s still in excellent shape and a prototypical “roofer” insofar as he loves the outdoors, loves being physically active and is a self-avowed “gym rat.” But he also bursts with emotion, compassion and graciousness.
During our conversation, he listened like a seasoned reporter, picking up on a nuanced thread and expanding on it. And while he willingly waxes poetic about virtually any subject at his attention, roofing is his wheelhouse and, even more than his industry of choice, an outlet to express his humanity.
In that context, I asked him what it means to be a good businessman.
“I could talk about this for hours,” he says. “So, I think, one, it starts with character, integrity and character.”
Those two characteristics undergird how he operates, as he adds: “I know that I have the highest level of integrity and, as a leader, and not only at Beacon but also in the industry, it starts with that; and then just what I've learned, over the years, from all the incredible people in this industry.”
Bloom described being in the roofing supply industry as akin to being in the relationship business, which isn’t far afield, considering how many of Roofing Supply Pro’s articles and columns cover how to “enhance the supplier-contractor relationship.”
Having spent four decades in the roofing supply industry, “41 years, my friend, 41 years,” he corrects me; it doesn’t seem like he tires of being one of its most prolific spokesmen.
“The industry has been so good to me; I'm going to choke up here,” he says, and the emotion is flowing, “And I speak for both Allied and Beacon; I am the vice president of National and Strategic Accounts [but] I started in the warehouse at Allied, so I’ve pretty much held just about every job except the credit manager: from sales positions to different management jobs — branch management, regional management — and then when Beacon acquired us, and it already had someone in the [C-suite role] so they gave me the national accounts team.”
And he loves it.
“I love what I’m doing; I’m customer-facing, I have a phenomenal team that I get to work with every single day, and we work for a great organization that is very, very successful,” he says. “And we build winning relationships every single day, and it’s been wonderful.”
Roofing’s Power Couple
The only thing that can knock roofing supply from its pole position in Bloom’s heart is his family. And there’s adjacency there, too, since Greg Bloom is the husband of Jill Bloom, who, in full disclosure, is the publisher of Roofing Contractor and Roofing Supply Pro.
I asked him how it felt to be one-half of roofing’s “power couple?” “That’s a phrase that gets thrown at us a lot,” he laughs.
I followed up by offering an anecdotal observation of them together and the sheer vastness of name recognition they enjoy within the roofing space.
“It is absolutely true, Jill is as recognized in this industry as I am, if not even more, and we are a great team,” he explains. “We try not to talk business all the time, but it's unavoidable … we communicate so well, and I learn from her, and I think she learns from me too; it's a beautiful union.”
Together, the Blooms have four children: Geoffrey, Kenzie, Kate and Kelly, a rising sophomore in high school.
Like any power couple, they work hard, and relaxation is intermittent, but it works for them. This August, they will celebrate 16 years of marriage. Their union is often punctuated by the amount of travel each does for their respective jobs, but that works for them, too. When the stars align, they can find themselves in the same place, other than home, whether that’s a roofing-related trade show or a weekend jaunt for fun.
A week before we spoke, the Blooms went to Nashville for a weekend away, and the following story encapsulates Greg Bloom:
“So, it was a busy weekend; there was a big parade on Saturday, so it was packed,” he says, building the story arc. “Obviously, the energy level in Nashville — the vibe — is phenomenal, so we started [with cocktails] in the afternoon, and then we [returned] to the hotel to take a break before dinner.”
What did Jill Bloom do for downtime? Like most people, she took a nap. Her husband?
“I’m like, ‘I have to get this out of me,’” he explains, “this” being the alcohol that ostensibly flows uninterrupted in Nashville. “So, I went to the gym.”
Earnestness is Next to Godliness
We didn’t discuss religion, but we did wrap up our conversation by talking about being earnest: not putting on “airs” or seeming “affected.”
“No phony here, it’s all,” he pauses, “I sometimes think I’m too honest’; I wear my heart right here, man,” he said, patting his chest. “You always know where I stand, and it’s always respectful, and I’m just blessed to be part of this great industry.”