Michael Wakerling: The Old-Fashioned Way
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
OAKLAND — As the third-generation owner of General Roofing Company in Oakland, it’s no surprise that Michael Wakerling has been immersed in the roofing industry throughout his entire life. “My grandfather started the business back in 1924 and it’s been in the family ever since,” he says. “When I was a little kid, I used to go to work with my dad on weekends, and over time I just gravitated toward the trade.” Mike’s deep industry roots also explain his commitment to upholding the old-fashioned service approach his grandfather originally instilled in the company. “My grandfather had a set of rules that he did business by, and we’ve tried to keep those rules with us. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able maintain our loyal customer base over the years, including relationships that span multiple generations.”
A lifetime East Bay resident, Mike was born in Castro Valley and later settled in Livermore, where he lives today. Outside of work, he enjoys being outdoors, whether fishing in the mountains or spending a day at the beach in Carmel. In addition to personal hobbies, Mike keeps up with his sons, Matt and Shane, and makes frequent trips to Texas to visit his daughter, Laura, and grandson, Ethan.
In his life and career, Mike says he adheres to the age-old Golden Rule. “I always try to treat people how I like to be treated. People deserve to be regarded with respect and dignity, which is why, when dealing with customers, I try to be as upfront and honest as possible to ensure there are no surprises while we’re working on their roofs.”
As he draws nearer to retirement, Mike says he looks forward to passing his business down to its fourth generation of family ownership. “My son, Shane, works with me and is going to take over when I retire.” When asked one thing he’ll do after that takes place, Mike says he’ll likely take a vacation to trace some of his family roots. “I think I’ll head to Switzerland, because that’s where my grandfather immigrated from. We still have some distant relatives there, so I’d like to go see where my family came from.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: What’s your favorite restaurant?
A: Italian Colors in Oakland.
Q: Have you ever had a conversation with a famous person?
A: I met Ricky Henderson, the former Oakland A’s outfielder, when we re-roofed his mother’s house. This was back when he was still playing, and he actually set us up to watch a game in his personal luxury box at the stadium.
Q: What’s your favorite dessert?
A: Key lime pie.
Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
A: “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet.
Q: What’s your favorite newspaper comic strip?