Caption: Pete Korellis and Jeff Tharp stand in front of the new Hammond High School, where they both attended and played on the football team.
When George and Harriet Korellis founded Korellis Roofing out of their garage back in 1960, they never could have imagined their small family business would grow to be one of the largest roofing companies in Indiana. This year, Korellis Roofing, Inc. celebrates 60 years in business, as their son Pete Korellis continues to run the company he’s worked for all his life.
“I spent summers working for my father but after graduating college, I came on board full time in 1983,” Korellis said. “At the time we were strictly a residential business, but we later evolved into the largest commercial/industrial roofing company in Northwest Indiana.”
Once the company outgrew the Korellis family garage, it moved to a small building on Cherry Street in Hammond, and then to 167th Street with an office and shop. It was there that Jeff Tharp, current Executive Vice President at Korellis, joined the team.
“We were continuing to grow and needed more space,” Tharp said. “A large construction company went out of business about three blocks from the 167thlocation, and in 2002 we moved down to 169th Street in what was part of the previous owner’s property.”
Korellis Roofing’s most recent transformation, a $2 million renovation to sustain business in its founding city of Hammond, was completed in 2017. The project transformed a new building into office space, and the company’s previous office space into a state-of-the-art training center.
Over the years, both Korellis and Tharp have seen the company grow in every aspect, from broadening services to include sheet metal, wall panels, green roofing, masonry, and concrete restoration, to outperforming past sales records exponentially on a consistent basis.
“When Jeff and I started our careers in the mid-1980s we were a 90 percentresidential company,” Korellis said. “Today we are a 95 percentcommercial/industrial company. The sales volume we generate in less than a week today now exceeds our sales volume over an entire year back in the 80s.”
“At that time most of the work we did was reroofs on existing buildings with some new construction work,” Tharp added. “In the early 2000s we started to do more new construction, and with new construction came architectural sheet metal and metal roofing. In the past few years, we have started to expand into architectural wall panels and masonry.”
The secret behind Korellis Roofing’s monumental growth and success has never been goal-oriented. Rather, it stems from an emphasis on taking care of their people and enjoying the success reaped from that top notch care as a positive byproduct of the Korellis character.
“Korellis Roofing has become one of the largest roofing companies in the state, but that was never the goal. Honestly, we never really set goals. We did the best we could and it kind of took off from there,” Tharp said. “We were always honest with our customers and worked hard to give them what they needed. It’s a good feeing to have helped make the company successful and be able to have employees make a good living and provide for themselves and their families.”
“At Korellis it is our goal to take care of our employees first,” Korellis added. “If we take good care of our employees, then our employees take good care of our customers. You surround yourself with good people – people that are smarter than you. You do not micromanage and you trust them to do their job.”
“The best part of my job is providing stable and safe employment opportunities providing very good wages and benefits. We offer more than jobs – we offer careers,” Korellis continued.
While this culture of hard work and quality care has certainly paid off, Tharp acknowledged that they would not exist had Pete and the entire Korellis family not instilled them from the start.
“Pete Korellis is the driving force behind Korellis Roofing,” Tharp said. “In all the years I have worked here he was always looking for a better way to do things and was not afraid to try new ideas. He would say you can always go back to how it was if it does not work.”
“Pete worked hard to keep the office up to speed with technology and keep the field crew updated with the best equipment to help everybody do their job as best they could,” Tharp continued. “It has been very satisfying to work here and work side by side with Pete Korellis for 34 years.”