Three brothers in North Billerica, Massachusetts, just north of Boston, are keeping the slate roofing trade alive through their company, Triple M Contracting, Inc. Having two grandfathers who were expert carpenters, the Menezes boys (pronounced "ma-knees") had a solid foundation on which to develop a specialty roofing trade. Kevin Menezes, 54 (below, right), runs the office end of the business with his wife's help, operating from a wing of their 1890 farm house, which includes a sheet-metal shop. Brothers Keith, 50 (below left) and Frank, 43 (below, center), do the ladder and roof work. They're helped in the field by Jeremy Antonuk and John Ganley.
Triple M's specialty roofing business began in 1987, incorporated in 1988, and focuses on slate, tile and copper, with an emphasis on restoration contracting. Considered one of New England's premier roofing contractors, Triple M serves the greater Boston area. "We believe that the best way to gain the respect of our customers is to take the time to educate them on the right and wrong ways that roofing projects are done. We have found by using this approach that many customers who have found cheaper quotes from others have known how to compare the work, known the questions to ask, and have ultimately chosen us for our commitment to craftsmanship and honesty," explains Kevin. Triple M is fully insured and licensed and all their work is done by their own employees, never subcontracted. They are charter members of the SRCA (Slate Roofing Contractors Association of North America, Inc.).
Unlike many roofers these days who look for the cheapest approach to a roof situation, Triple M emphasizes quality and craftsmanship in their work. "If you want to pay peanuts," Kevin reminds us, "you will get monkeys." The old adage, "you get what you pay for," rings especially true in slate roofing workmanship. When someone pays for bad workmanship on a slate roof, they usually have to pay again to have it redone. In many cases, it's the next property owner who’s stuck with the expense of reversing bad workmanship on their roofs. That's why it's important for slate roof owners to seek out contractors who specialize in slate roofing.
One service Triple M offers, for example, is the lining of wood gutters with copper, as shown below. Frank is holding a section of copper gutter lining to demonstrate how it fits in the wood trough. The lining greatly increases the lifespan of the gutter system.
Frank also demonstrates the unique, hand-crafted roof brackets used by the firm, shown below. The brackets are made from 1X8 rough-sawn local lumber and measure approximately three feet in overall length, including the copper tongue. The tongue itself has four center holes for nails and extends 9 inches above the wood frame. It slides under the slot between two slates and is nailed in the slot. When removed, a bib is installed in the slot. The horizontal platform part of the bracket is 20 inches long. The back board is 26 inches long.
There are still a few fine roofers in the Boston area keeping tradition alive. The brothers three of Triple M Contracting have made it a family affair.
For more information, contact: Triple M Contracting, Inc., 148 Treble Cove Road, North Billerica, MA 01862-2212; Contact: Kevin Menezes; Ph: 978-671-9523; Fax: 978-667-5873; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; TripleMContracting.com
All photos this article by Joseph Jenkins.