True North Roofing: Transforming The Trades
Some people find their happy place lounging on Florida sands, some find theirs zooming down a mountain on skis.
But if you’re anything like Sarah Lechowich, you just might find yours admiring the magic of the sunset from a newly finished rooftop after a hard days’ work.
“Who knew roofing could bring someone joy?” laughs Lechowich, CEO and founder of Twin Cities roofing company True North Roofing. “I call it ‘True North’ because it was me finding that internal compass,” Lechowich says, something she talks a lot about.
True North Roofing opened for business in January 2021, after Lechowich’s long journey through the post-secondary education and nonprofit industries.
She was never a stranger to the trades; both her father and grandfather were tradesmen, her grandpa opening a company called Viking Aluminum in 1962. But, as we do, she traveled down a different path after high school.
After blatant sexism and that uneasy feeling led her away from managing restaurants, she moved on to teaching at several universities in the Twin Cities area. It broke her heart to see so many students drop out with mountains of debt and nothing to show for it, not realizing those loans weren’t going anywhere.
“We’d sell this myth that, you know, a four-year degree, or a degree, is your magic bullet out of poverty – and it can be, but it’s not always,” Lechowich explains. It was here that her compass began to shift in the right direction.
She soon got an opportunity to go to St. Paul College and help put together their “Trading Up” program, which aided the unemployed (many new immigrants and formerly incarcerated folks) in finding trades careers, and then went on to direct Construction Careers Foundations (CCF), which focused on educating high school teachers and counselors about the trades career option readily available to students. These were lucrative careers that were within reach for folks without all of the debt and traditional-style schooling, if they only knew their options.
After years of helping others get into the trades, she felt that same spark of excitement for power tools creep back into her body, her compass finally pointing back where it started, but it felt right.
True North Roofing was born.
“I spent my whole life trying to get away from my trades background and what brings me joy? Trades. But I had no idea,” Lechowich smiles.
It’s no secret that women are scarce in the trades. In 2021, statistics revealed that women make up just 11 percent of all people in the construction industry, even less of those women being actual laborers, and even less in the roofing industry.
One of True North Roofing’s missions is to help change these statistics, and be an industry leader when it comes to diversity.
“We are diverse!” Lechowich exclaims with pride. 97% of her staff represent people of color, women, and LGBTQ folks, a statistic she couldn’t be happier about.
“That is a big value of my company. I try to create an environment that is based on inclusion and retention,” she explains. “We do better when we all do better,” she states, a Paul Wellstone quote that rings true with her.
She extends the same true care for her clients. “Everybody deserves to be somewhere, whether you’re the homeowner or somebody who works for me, where you can be seen, valued, and heard.” She shares stories she has heard from other women and LGBTQ folks describing previous experiences with contractors. One contractor wouldn’t look his female client in the eye, and another went on a horrific homophobic tirade caught on voicemail by mistake, later heard by his lesbian clients.
“Nobody deserves that,” Lechowich says. “It shouldn’t be traumatic to get your roof done.”
When it comes to knowing your roof’s health, Lechowich has a few things to watch out for: seeing granules at the base of your gutters, fiberglass shining through on shingles, and cracked or dry caulking are all signs that you may need to give the pros at True North a call. If you can’t see well from the ground, you can call them to get up high for you and give your roof a check-up. Note that most roofs will last about 18 years, not as long as some may claim, at which point it is a good indicator that you are due for a full replacement.
And don’t forget about those giant icicles or “ice dams” hanging out this time of year. They can cause leaks, and if you’re struggling to figure out how to take care of them, True North can help with that too.
If there weren’t enough reasons to give True North Roofing a call, just check out their commitment to sustainability. Lechowich has been a trailblazer when it comes to installing Euroshield, a shingle material that is 95% recycled, mostly from rubber tires. “I am the third contractor in Minnesota to install it, and the first female-identified contractor in Minnesota to install it. So I’m very proud of that,” Lechowich says. She has also committed to steering clear of so-called “virgin plastic,” a material that is completely new and cannot be recycled at all.
Her vision for the future? A change in company culture for everyone.
“I think every company has the ability to be an inclusive and welcoming environment, I don’t think it has to be led by a lesbian woman,” Lechowich says in earnest. “I think anybody can do it.” She hopes True North and its success can be a shining example for other construction businesses.
Every person deserves to be seen, valued and heard, and Sarah Lechowich is proving that it’s possible.
Hooray for women in roofing!
Give Sarah and her amazing team at True North a call or check out their website for all of your roofing, window, and siding needs.
True North Roofing