Who is Steve Downey? Well, I originally graduated with a Sports Science Degree with every intention of one day qualifying as a Physiotherapist at my beloved Brighton & Hove Albion FC! I started my career as a Personal trainer, eventually going on to run an exclusive Country Club before being asked to start a Flat Roofing company with a childhood friend. I am sure you will agree that’s a complete U-turn in my career, but the main reason behind the change was the birth of my daughter. I simply wanted to embrace the 9 to 5 routine so I could see my daughter (and now my son) growing up, rather than working every weekend, bank holiday & Christmas which is notorious within the leisure industry.
So, there I was back in 2001, leaving an industry I knew inside out to venture into Flat Roofing – something I knew absolutely nothing about! My knowledge of flat roofing was limited to garage blocks I used to climb on retrieving footballs in my younger days. I had no idea of the size of the market and variety of applications, and I will always remember constantly asking ‘how do I calculate a drip edge?’.
During the following 10 years I learnt a lot, fast. I soon discovered that the flat roofing industry is an extremely passionate, friendly but also competitive market with many contractors & manufacturers all vying for business. I feel truly fortunate to have met so many people from across the sector that have become close friends over the years.
In contracting I concentrated on understanding roofing systems as quickly as possible and estimating projects as accurately as possible, rewarded over the years with a conversion rate close to 50%. I found the nature of single ply membranes remarkably interesting, especially with the number of ways you can price a project considering wind load calculations, different forms of mechanical restraint etc
In 2011 I made the move from contracting to manufacturing, utilising the knowledge I gained as best as I could. I felt that I had a particularly good understanding of contracting in general and recognised the challenges met by those on site, who were trying to complete their projects on time and on budget. This knowledge gave my customers the trust they needed in me to help them secure projects. I was once told ‘you can only be successful if people trust you and believe in you’. Credibility and integrity are everything.
I was delighted to join SPRA as a Council Member in 2018. SPRA prides itself on having new ideas & fresh approaches from an incredibly talented group of individuals from across the industry. Personally, I have enjoyed sharing my experiences, learning a lot from others as well as working together to achieve continual progress for everyone involved in the Single Ply Roofing Industry.
The key challenge moving forward for the industry is attracting, training & developing the next generation. With the worrying restrictions we are currently faced with due to COVID-19, our industry is extremely fortunate to have maintained some sort of stability when others have suffered a much worse fate.
To summarise, I never thought in my wildest dreams I would be in roofing all this time. Many people have said to me ‘once you get into roofing you are in it for life’ and that can certainly be said for me!! They also say time flies when you are having fun, well my daughter, who was the very reason I stumbled into the roofing industry, turns 19 this week…. I must be having fun 😉
Steve Downey BSc (Hon’s)
Commercial Director – DANOSA UK