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When floodwaters inundated the Waterloo area last spring, Billy Hirschman and his wife, Taylor, evacuated with their young children.

Seven days passed before Hirschman could return to H & H Roofing — the business that he and his brother, Justus, have owned for years. Billy Hirschman and his family, who include a son, Marshall, 5, and daughter, Hazel, 2, live in a house at Waterloo.

The Hirschmans’ basement was flooded, yet he and a couple of his workers took dump trailers to people in the community, providing free disposal of flood-damaged items.

And the company did something else.

“We chose one person in the Waterloo area who we gave them a free roof and gutters and downspouts,” Hirschman said.

The community-minded effort is part of a company founded by brothers, who grew up on a farm and understand the value of hard work.

Accredited with the Better Business Bureau, the business specializes in roofing, gutters and siding with offices in Waterloo, Norfolk and Yankton.

“Our main focus is residential roofing, but we also do all types of commercial roofing and agribusiness, metal roofs for farmers and the ag community,” he said.

Hirschman said an average-sized home can be roofed in a day and the company completes an average of three roofs a day throughout eastern Nebraska, southeast South Dakota and northwest Iowa.

“We have good crews and they travel for us and we rotate them on where they work,” he said.

Hirschman cites what sets the family owned and operated business apart.

Small-town values and ethics, integrity and honesty characterize the Waterloo-based business, Hirschman said.

“We still do business on a handshake,” Hirschman said. “We have contracts that we use, but with a lot of our business we still have the value of just shaking hands and agreeing on something — and what’s said gets done.”

People in small communities from Fremont to Yankton, South Dakota — such as Hartington, Wisner, West Point, Hooper, Beemer, Scribner, Norfolk, Stanton, Neligh, and Pierce — like to work that way.

“Ninety percent of the work in the small towns, we get,” he said. “If our competitor is from a big city, like Omaha, we’re going to win that work nine out of 10 times, because of our values and the way we do business.”

He notes something else.

“Our word means a lot,” Hirschman said. “Over 90 percent of our work is referral-based — either from insurance agents, homeowners or business owners — and I think that trumps any other kind of way of getting business. I think the work we do is outstanding and we’re definitely one company who can 100 percent say we’ll stand behind what we do. The integrity is there.”

The Hirschman brothers grew up on a farm near Fordyce. Billy Hirschman is a Hartington Cedar Catholic High School graduate. He graduated from Northeast Community College with a business administration degree with an emphasis in business management. He obtained a real estate license degree from Northeast Community College and Randall School of Real Estate.

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He returned to the hog farm to join his brother, and their dad, William.

“We know hard work — seven days a week — and that’s really what gave us the drive for being in the roofing business,” he said.

The brothers began by doing roofing jobs on the side and smaller jobs in the summer to supplement family incomes on the farm.

“It was a hobby for us and, basically, our hobby turned into a business,” he said. “We now have a roofing business and we still have a cow-and-calf operation on the side. We still help our dad on the farm when we can. Farming is still in our blood and so is hard work. If I take a day off from here, I go back to the farm to feed hogs, check cows, fix fence.”

Hirschman said the roofing business has about four people in the office and four salesmen. The business is a GAF master elite installer and is one of the few contractors that offer in-house financing. The business offers competitive rates.

“It makes it a one-stop-shop to come here and work with the contractor you want and finance a project and go home — all in one day,” he said.

More information can be obtained by calling the Waterloo office at 402-359-2546.

Looking back, Hirschman recalls the days after the flooding.

“Our building didn’t sustain any water damage, but it was like a river around it,” he said.

A berm around the shop saved it. Otherwise, it could have been water-damaged.

That was a positive factor, but the flood occurred during the spring when roofing business is starting to get busy — and left it temporarily at a standstill, while the company also was working to help others.

“We definitely spread ourselves thin, but in the end, it was all made it worthwhile,” he said.

And there were the homeowners that the business was able to help by providing a free roof — which included materials and labor.

The recipients, a man in his 60s and his wife, were grateful.

“They just cried. They were so happy,” Hirschman said. “He knew his flood insurance wasn’t covering a lot of the stuff that he had and he was not looking forward to going through a loan process at his age and getting the house fixed up. I told him I wanted to help with the exterior (of the damaged house) and take that burden off his shoulders.”

Hirschman said he found it satisfying to provide a roof. And if possible in the future, he’d like to provide a free roof to one family a year.

“It’s nice to give back,” he said.

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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