MONROE, CT — L.A. Barnaby & Sons Inc. is all about longevity and customer service. This year the family-owned business is celebrating its 75th anniversary. Leon Barnaby and his son, Brian, have found the right recipe to grow the business in today’s challenging times.
The Stratford-based roofing business was started by Leon Barnaby Sr., a Marine and a World War II veteran, in 1947 and Leon Jr. started helping out in the late ’60s.
“We were four brothers working for our father,” Barnaby recalled of the earlier days.
Eventually, Barnaby’s brothers moved on, but he stayed and took over the business. His son, Brian, joined the company 15 years ago and helped guide it to where it is today. In addition to roofing, L.A. Barnaby & Sons is an industry leader in siding, windows, doors and decks.
“I enjoy working with the customers and the different trades we employ — and seeing the advancement of the industry,” Barnaby said.
Barnaby’s son Brian, an alumnus of Masuk High School’s Class of 2010, played guard for the Panthers’ State Championship football team in 2008, under then head coach, John Murphy.
Brian started helping out in the warehouse when he was age 14, and as he got older his responsibilities expanded, from picking up materials to working at job sites. From that point on he moved to sales and marketing for the company.
The Barnabys also have two daughters, Jennifer and Stacey, who both graduated from Masuk. Barnaby said he and his wife, Donna, were excited to introduce the newest member of their family, their first grandchild, Patrick Henry, after Stacey gave birth eight months ago.
Do you do windows?
When Leon Barnaby Sr. started roofing in the 1940s and ’50s, Brian said his grandfather was often asked if he also did windows and doors. Over the years, L.A. Barnaby & Sons expanded its product line to include roofing, siding, windows, doors and decks.
Though the company advertises and has a website, Barnaby said the majority of their business comes from the referrals of satisfied customers. They also get repeat business. For example, Barnaby said his father replaced some roofs in the 1940s, then the business came back to do it two more times over the ensuing decades.
“A lot of times we have the same file from the original job,” Brian said. “It’s an old time company.”
L.A. Barnaby & Sons is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau and is certified as a GAF Master Elite Contractor. Master Elite roofing contractors make up only three percent of all contractors in the United States
“We align ourselves with the top manufacturers in the country who offer extended warranties and the best products on the market,” Barnaby said. “Relationships in this business are everything.”
At a time of supply chain issues amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Barnaby said their strong relationship with distributors has helped L.A. Barnaby & Sons get ahold of the materials its needs more quickly.
Forget the ladder …
Brian said the biggest change in the roofing industry since his grandfather started their business is the advancements in technology.
“Back in the day, you would hand measure the roof,” Brian said. “You would have a detailed formula. There are roofs you can’t see from the ground that you would have to get on a ladder and get on the roof for.”
Now L.A. Barnaby & Sons has satellite measurements online, through its manufacturers, for both roofing and siding.
“We can go right to the shingle,” Barnaby said of the accuracy.
In the past, Brian said a contractor could fall short on the number of shingles needed for a job or overestimate and have to eat the extra costs.
“There’s a savings we pass on to our customers,” Brian said.
They also have the Equipter, a small self-propelled Dumpster, making it easier to remove old tiles and siding without a big mess.
Another change over the years is a stronger emphasis on energy efficiency, Brian said.
Deep Monroe roots
In 1992, Leon and Donna Barnaby bought their house in Monroe, three days before Brian was born.
Barnaby said they were attracted to Monroe’s sense of community and the school system, where their three children excelled, going on to earn PhDs and graduate degrees. “I attribute that to the school system in Monroe,” he said.
Over the years, Barnaby had gotten involved in town government, serving on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Planning and Zoning Commission, where he participated in the adoption of a town Plan of Conservation and Development. He was also a Town Council member of six years and a member of the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library Building Committee.
Barnaby volunteered as a Monroe Little League coach when Brian played baseball and Barnaby had served a stint as league director.
L.A. Barnaby & Sons Inc. is a longtime member of the Monroe Chamber of Commerce and the business was the title sponsor for the Monroe Rotary/L.A. Barnaby Golf Classic.
“We’re just very connected to the town,” Barnaby said. “We’re finishing up two roofs in Monroe as we speak.”