The Eleven Percent: Meet Ami Feller, Roofing Contractor

Updated: Jan. 29, 2024

Ami Feller discusses why she left corporate America, the challenge of hiring women crews and shingle industry advances she's excited about.

Ami Feller first learned about roofing in college, when her older brother invited her to work with him on a crew one summer. She spent the first few weeks on the ground, tossing scraps into the dumpster. But before long, she was up on the roof. The following summer, she was the crew foreman.

After earning her business degree from Iowa State University in 1997, she left construction for corporate management. By 2012, burnt out on corporate America, she teamed up with her brother and his wife to found Feller Roofing and Remodeling. Four years later, Feller left to launch her own company, Feller Roofing of New Braunfels, Texas, now called Roofer Chicks.

Today, Feller wholly owns and manages her company, while her brother and sister-in-law have their own roofing business a few towns over. She also runs the YouTube channel @rooferchicks, dedicated to helping laypeople understand what’s up with their roofs.

We asked Feller for her thoughts on the state of the roofing industry.

Q: Why did you want to leave the corporate world?

A: I always thought working for corporations would be what I did because I had a business degree. But I hated corporate America. I hated the red tape and having to implement decisions that didn’t make any sense. I hated the long hours and being away from my daughter.

One day when we were in the shop with a broken down truck, I called my brother in tears, asking if this was all there was to life, working and working until you die? That’s when we started Feller Roofing.

Q: Are you happy you made the switch?

A: The most important thing is that I haven’t missed my daughter’s life. When she was four and I worked in corporate America, I was only seeing her awake for about 30 minutes a day. Now she’s 15, and I get to tailor my life around being there for her.

I have also really enjoyed being part of my community. I had lived in New Braunfels for almost 10 years, but really only knew my immediate neighbors. I didn’t even know my way around town. It was just a place to rest my head.

Now I’m a chamber and rotary member. I’m going to all the festivals, volunteering at the food bank and learning every street, as we do in roofing. I’m really proud to be involved in the community.

It’s also fun to be a female roofer because I’m unusual. I get to change people’s perceptions.

Q: Where do you find so many women roofers to work for you?

Roof contractor Girl teamCourtesy Ami Feller

A: My W-2 employees are about 75% female, and while my 1099 shingle crews are run by a woman, they’re mostly male. I like having a mix. I hope to reflect the community with both gender and ethnicity.

Admittedly, it’s very hard to find female employees. Sometimes I have to talk them into it, and then their husband, boyfriend or dad might talk them out of it by telling them they can’t do it. It isn’t for everybody — even men. It’s hard, dirty work, which takes a special breed.

I found my initial women crew from a mom’s group on Facebook. Funny enough, some of the ads I post looking for women employees on Facebook get taken down for being sexist, which is crazy, because in roofing, 0.05% of laborers are female. It also takes patience, because it takes a long time to recruit six women for a crew.

Q: Any advice for women looking to get into roofing?

A: One nice thing about roofing is there aren’t really any barriers to entry. You don’t have to have a degree or do an apprenticeship. At least at my company, you don’t even need to have any experience. If you really want to try it, find the right company to go work for, which is important because not all roofers are nice.

And remember, you can work on a crew swinging a hammer as well as in sales. There’s money to be made, and women do really, really well at sales because homeowners trust them — especially women that spent some time on a crew and know what they’re talking about. It’s definitely an industry where paying your dues pays off.

Q: What changes have you seen in roofing over last decade?

A: The price per square has risen from $175 in 2012 to over $500, which is huge.

The technology of shingles has also gotten better. GAF [a leading shingles manufacturer] has come out with a 50-year shingle, up from 30 years. Now they have an unlimited 15-year wind warranty, which is amazing. They’ve also gotten algae resistance up from 10 years to 30, which is big in Texas.

Another trend I love is an increase in recycling efforts. They’re not super efficient yet, but they’re trying, and I know GAF is making a lot of efforts along that line.

It makes me sick to see roofs being dumped in the landfill. It’s such a waste. So I am passionate for the day when that actually stops happening. This year so far we’ve recycled almost 60,000 pounds of old shingles! It’s not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a start.

Q: How do you use social media for your business?

Ami Feller on the roofCourtesy Ami Feller

A: I’ve done a lot of how-tos on YouTube directed at customers and homeowners, from how to deal with insurance to how to replace one shingle. People watch them all the time, and I get a lot of satisfaction knowing that someone might have saved hundreds of dollars by being able to repair their own roof.

We also showcase projects and products people don’t see every day, like our chimney flashing, which we custom-make on site. We also use Facebook, which has been a huge generator of customers; Instagram; and we’re starting to focus on TikTok, so we’ll see what comes of that.

Q: What are your key roofing tools?

A: Cougar Paws shoes are amazing to keep you stuck to the roof. They’re like magic. I feel like Superman on the shingles.

I like the Estimator Boot, because I am mostly doing sales and they look like hiking boots. My crew folks like the Performer Boot, because it’s a bit more rugged.

A good extension ladder is also critical. I prefer my teams use a 28-footer, because 24- and 26-foot ones don’t always reach the second story. And I use aluminum because I can’t lift the fiberglass. It’s also very handy to have a really nice fold-up ladder, because a lot of times you have to go from one ladder to another, or get in somebody’s attic.

Then a hook blade for utility knives really helps cut through the face of a shingle. They come in packs like normal razor blades, and you can just stick them in your utility knife. A pry bar is amazing to get in between shingles, and it has to be the right kind because the narrow ones don’t work; they tear the shingle. Don’t forget sidewalk chalk, for marking up roofs!

And then for me personally, there’s Job Nimbus software. I don’t think I could run my company or live my life without Nimbus. It stores all of our pictures, invoices and contracts. We can make material orders in there, and work orders for our crews and suppliers. It’s also my appointment center. If anything ever happened to it, I don’t know what I would do.

Ami Feller Bio

Before starting Roofer Chicks, Ami Feller worked in high-profile corporate management positions for Caterpillar, DHL Express and Coca-Cola. Today she prides herself on her civic involvement and her company’s sterling reputation.

Roofer Chicks is certified as a GAF Master Elite contractor for residential and commercial buildings. It’s also a member of the Roofing Contractor Association of Texas (RCAT), and holds a Tile Roofing Industry (TRI) certification for concrete and clay tile roofing and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.