40 years ago, in Bakersfield, California, a roofer was born. David Petrali was a young father trying to make ends meet. Then, in answer to prayer, a man approached him at church, and asked Dave if he wanted a job. David didn’t hesitate. The kind of work didn’t matter. Meeting his family’s needs did. The next day, he was on a roof, learning the trade that would transform his life.
Bakersfield was hot. The temperature on a roof in Southern California can approach 190 degrees in summer- hot enough to fry an egg or cook a man’s hands to a nice medium rare. In the early 80’s, it wasn’t uncommon to see Dave’s girls on the ground, hose in hand, red-hair dampened by the sweat of summer, spraying him down on the roof. They’d steal a drink from the hose, and ask dad about the ice-cream cone he’d promised for their help.
There was no shortage of work in Bakersfield. Over the next five years David honed his craft, excelling at hot mop roofing. There was no counting the number of schools and commercial buildings he hot mopped. Thousands. The risk associate with this type of work is hard to imagine.
During the hot mop process, 100lb blocks of tar are melted in a large witch’s cauldron, bubbling and boiling nearly to 600 degrees before being pumped and mopped over the surface of the roof. Any error could melt a man’s skin and permanently disfigure him. It was strenuous, back-breaking labor. The California sun, normally a tourist attraction and source of inspiration for song, was an enemy to the roofer.
The work was hard, the days were longer, but it paid the bills. David would come home, covered in tar, clothes too ruined for anything but another day of roofing. Yet, he kept a smile and a song. Often neighbors of the house being re-roofed would hear a hymn ringing out over the hammers. The joy of the Lord was David’s strength on many occasions.
A man of ambition and dreams, it wasn’t long before David determined to start his own roofing company. As soon as he could get his contractor’s license, he did. Petrali Roofing was a reality.
With growing girls and a growing business, he spoke of the promised land- a place where the sun didn’t back you during the day and snow capped mountains looked down at you and smiled. Lake Tahoe. The land of resorts, movie stars, and recreation.
In 1990, still a young man, David packed up his wife, Becky, and their three daughters and left the dusty streets of Bakersfield behind them. He found his way to Lake Tahoe, California, put his name on a shingle and went to work.
With the beauty of Lake Tahoe’s ski resorts as backdrop, and the pristine water’s of the lake itself as a playground, David began roofing high profile houses. Shake roof was common at the time, and fortunately provided more tolerable working conditions. This was the birthplace of David’s “Don’t Let a Fiddler on your Roof” calling card.
After a wonderful decade in Lake Tahoe, Petrali Roofing moved to Ozark Missouri to help start a business with his new son-in-law. That company still exist today. Midwest Roofing and Custom Metals is a highly sought after entity, owned and operated by Jason LaForest, a man recognized as one of the best in his field. Whether acting as a consultant, engineer, or installer, Jason has pioneered his industry.
In 2009, the mountains were calling and David followed. He arrived in Colorado Springs, working during the day and attending a local bible college at night. David partnered with another student to launch a local roofing company. David had the license and expertise, and the partner had a phenomenal gift for sales. Together they began making waves in the Springs.
The time came for independence in October 0f 2013. There, gathered around his table, with his wife by his side and his youngest daughter in support, the team once let the Petrali Roofing flag wave.
From 2013-2017, aid by a transitionary group of GMs, sales people, and family, Petrali Roofing continued to grow in size and reputation.
In early 2017, the new year brought a new partnership. 40 years after David had been offered a job in roofing back in 1977, David offered a job to another man with no roofing experience.
Michael O’Malley was in a place of transition out of farming and into business when the Lord connected him with Petrali Roofing. He had separated from the military after nearly 10 years, went into media, then through a veterans-to-farmers organization started a hydroponic vegetable greenhouse in Black Forest.
With the hard work of his business partner Ben H., and the support of their investor, Minibelly’s Farm was producing 2 tons of tomatoes weekly. Despite the delicious taste and generous local support, the greenhouse eventually was sold to YWAM emerge, a local mission organization who teaches practical farming to teams worldwide.
When Michael joined Petrali Roofing in 2017, he knew there was work to be done. With the help of Jason LaForest, Petrali Roofing was able to breakthrough in branding, name recognition and reviews.
Since the 2017, David and Michael have been striving to create a business that blesses the community they love. They’ve continued to support local causes, coach local sports teams, launch other businessmen into their own companies, and provide quality employment to wonderful people.
These days you can find David Petrali on roof, passing on nearly 5 decades of roofing experience to the next generation roofer. One of the great joys of his life is mentoring the ‘baby birds’ of today, helping them to fly. His passion for teaching trades is only surpassed by his ability to tell stories about the roofs he installed and the people he’s worked with.
Very few roofing companies in Colorado can boast the depth of knowledge and generosity of heart found in the business created by David Petrali.
Often times, people long to create a legacy for our families. If you ask David Petrali how it’s done, he’ll show you the palm of his right hand, swollen by decades of swinging a hammer, and tell you legacy is created one shingle at a time.