While serving on reserve duty for the U.S. Marine Corps, Josh Sparks started subcontracting for a roofing company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He had worked as a roofer after he graduated from high school and always dreamed of running his own business. When he discovered the company that he subcontracted for was taking advantage of homeowners, he opted to hang out his shingle.
“I had about $20,000 in the bank, and I invested it all into a full-page Yellow Pages ad and really decided to try to make a go at it,” says Sparks, who founded Infinity Roofing in 1997. “And then I just started figuring out how to run a business of scale. Operations, for me, was the single most important thing; I’ve always operated on a principle of reputation for profit. It was about making sure I could deliver a world-class experience to my customers—I knew profit would come later.”
Sparks developed an internal process that enabled the company to aptly guide clients through his custom-built CRM. Infinity established a solid reputation within the Milwaukee market and grew business to more than $40 million in sales annually. Eventually the company changed its name to Infinity Exteriors once the firm began offering siding and windows in addition to roofing service.
“And then private equity got into the space, but I wasn’t really interested in selling my business,” Sparks explains. “I didn’t want some financial engineer to come in and mess with my space. But I ended up finding a really small, really cool firm down in Chicago called North Branch Capital.”
The investment firm had been successful in the HVAC industry, so Sparks spoke with nine CEOs who partnered with North Branch Capital. “Everybody had great things to say about their ability to help scale their business [and] help professionalize it even more. For me, it was about having relationships that would allow me to have a strong M&A opportunity and banking opportunity.”
Sparks entered a partnership with North Branch Capital in September 2021, and the two parties put together a five-year goal of growing the business to $120 million annually. Around the same time, they created Infinity Home Services as parent company. “We hit that goal of five years in eight months, so we scaled incredibly fast,” he notes. “And we ended up having to recapitalize.
“North Branch Capital is a small, middle-market firm. It didn’t have the bandwidth to help us grow at the pace that we were growing at; so, we went out to market, and we swapped out our private equity partner with two additional ones, who have a combined fund of over $3 billion. Now, we have basically just unlimited runway in front of us to partner with great businesses.”
Infinity, the No. 1 installer of Tesla roofing in the U.S., uses a few primary levers to drive growth across the country, Sparks says. “One is organic growth in existing roofing markets, so that’s just better branding, better marketing, and best-practices sharing. Then it’s green fielding (or opening up) new locations. Third is cross-selling services—happy roofing customers just kept calling us.”
They asked whether the company did siding, windows or any other repairs on the exterior of the house, he explains. “We became proficient with that because we thought it was important that we could take care of our customer on the full outside of their home; it just was a natural parallel. A lot of our mature markets have a great reputation on the roofing side, so we’re retargeting those existing, happy-roofing-customers databases in order to get new siding and window customers.”
Companies who join the organization become equity partners in Infinity and benefit from all the resources provided them at scale, Sparks says. “Our vision statement is to save our communities from unscrupulous contractors. Our mission is to install peace of mind, and the values I require are integrity, hard work, and service. A lot of entrepreneurs in the roofing space stumbled into it.
“So, what you get are these incredibly hardworking entrepreneurs who are purpose-driven—they want to succeed—but they’re not excellent marketers,” he says. “They’re not excellent operations people, they’re not excellent sales organizations, but they’re kind of good in a lot of them. At IHS we have hyper-focused, specialized individuals who are really good at marketing and operations.
“We have brands who are doing $10 million understand what it takes to move a business from a $10 million operator a year to $50 million operator a year,” he adds. “We have those playbooks.”
In 2022 Infinity Home Services reached $176.7 million in remodeling gross sales on 10,500 jobs, according to the Qualified Remodeler Top 500. For 2023 Sparks expects to achieve $300 million.
“We’re looking for roofing companies who have good human beings working for them and who fundamentally care about their customers,” he says. “They’ve been in business for a while and are just looking to help improve the growth of their brand.” QR