Bad weather has been good to Michael Lent.
Lent started New Image Roofing just before 2006’s big hailstorm and has Mother Nature to thank for much of his business since then, including last week’s nasty weather.
“As soon as that storm was over, our phones starting blowing up,” he said.
But Lent isn’t relying solely on roofs to grow his business. He added construction and remodeling to his company’s line of work a couple of years ago, and more recently opened 1st Class Dent Removal for vehicles in the same building.
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“I’ve always been a business owner and entrepreneur,” he said.
Lent, 30, grew up in Andover, earned a business degree from Wichita State University and then owned his own landscaping company. When Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast in 2005, he went to work for a Wichita roofing company that sent crews to the area.
“It was winter time, and they were looking for help,” he said. “I decided to try something new. I learned a lot.”
So much, in fact, that he started doing his own roofing jobs in the New Orleans area and then went into the business full time upon returning to Wichita.
“It was perfect timing,” he said.
His brother, Alex, 28, joined the company as a sales consultant in 2009, about the time the business moved from West Kellogg to downtown and added the construction work.
“I needed help, and there’s no one else that would represent us as well,” Michael Lent said of his brother.
About 60 percent of the company’s business comes from working on damaged roofs. New Image also works on windows, siding, decks and other outdoor features, and also paints and remodels homes. Lent said he started 1st Class Dent Removal because so many customers had vehicles as well as homes damaged.
New Image has about a dozen full-time employees and up to 70 construction crew members during peak demand. It averages about 1,000 roof jobs a year, with the company’s fleet of seven high-riding customized trucks carrying its logo around the city.
The Lents’ father, Chris, also works for New Image as a sales representative and project designer. It’s clear from talking to his sons that they are strongly influenced by him.
Chris Lent had been general manager of Scholfield Lexus. Michael Lent said New Image is one of three roofing companies in the area that work on high-end homes.
“I think that’s just the network we’re in,” he said.
Unlike some other roofing companies, New Image doesn’t claim to be the cheapest, nor does it portray itself as doing battle with the insurance companies that pay for so many roof repairs.
“We make friends with all of them,” Lent said. “You get so much further.”