Nathan DuCharme: Building a Reputation
By James Florence, Diamond Certified Resource Reporter
SANTA ROSA — Nathan DuCharme got an early start in the roofing trade by working alongside his father as an adolescent. Later, when he took over his father’s business, he knew he’d have to maintain its reputation while also building it to reach a wider demographic. “When I was a kid, my dad started taking me to work with him and had me throwing shingles and cleaning the grounds,” he remembers. “By the time I was 15, I was doing basic installation and continued to progress from there. About the time I graduated high school, my dad started Capstone Roofing. He and I continued working in partnership until he retired in 1999, at which point I took over the business.”
Shortly after assuming ownership, Nathan made a high-risk investment in his company that he hoped would pay off. “My dad never focused on growing his business, so when I took over, it was just me and four other guys,” he explains. “I wanted to make sure I was getting enough work to keep my guys busy, so I took out a full-page ad in the phone book. My wife thought I was crazy, because it cost more than our mortgage, but I knew I needed to get our name out there. It worked—by 2003, we had doubled the size of our crew, and by 2014, we had expanded to two crews and were doing hundreds of jobs each year. Today, the bulk of our work comes from word-of-mouth referrals, so we’ve definitely built a reputation over the last couple of decades.”
Today, Nathan says his favorite part of his job is wowing customers with Capstone Roofing’s efficient approach. “Whereas most roofing companies will send three guys and take a week to do a job, we send 10 to 12 guys and knock it out in a day or two. I love seeing how shocked clients are when we’ve finished the whole job in a day and it’s like we were never there.”
A lifelong resident of Sonoma County, Nathan currently resides in Windsor. “My dad graduated from Healdsburg High School and my mom graduated from Petaluma High School, so I have deep roots in Sonoma County,” he says. “As a roofer, I really appreciate the weather here. Even in summer, the fog tends to cool things off a little, which makes for pretty good working conditions. I don’t think I could do this somewhere like Arizona.”
Outside of work, Nathan’s primary pastime is staying in shape with mixed martial arts. “I train at Nor-Cal Fighting Alliance four days a week,” he affirms. “I’ve had two amateur MMA fights, but since I’m blind in one eye, it wasn’t realistic for me to pursue fighting as a career, so I mainly do it to stay in shape.” Nathan also enjoys spending time with his wife, Rhonda, and their six children. “Most of our kids have grown up and moved out, which makes it hard to get everyone together, but we try to gather everyone at least once a year.”
In his life and career, Nathan espouses the importance of honesty. “If we’re doing an estimate for a roof replacement and the roof is still in decent shape, I’m not going to sell the customer something they don’t need—I’m going to tell them to save their money,” he says. “Besides, they’ll probably call us again when they do need a replacement, so there’s no real advantage to being dishonest. All it can do is harm your reputation, which, when you’ve put as much effort into growing a business as I have, simply isn’t worth it. It’s just better to be honest and upfront.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he were to retire tomorrow, Nathan says he’d see the world—that is, after taking a few days to recuperate. “I’m pretty much working all the time, so the first thing I’d do is sleep in. Then maybe I’d do some traveling. I’ve never been to Europe, so that would probably be my first destination.”
Ask Me Anything!
Q: Who are your favorite MMA fighters?
A: Nate Diaz and Cain Velasquez.
Q: Would you rather live in the city or the country?
A: The country.
Q: Are you an early bird or a night owl?
A: An early bird.
Q: What’s your favorite local restaurant?
A: Catelli’s in Geyserville.
Q: What kind of music do you like?
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A: Real country, whether the old classics or newer artists like Sturgill Simpson who fly under the radar a little more.