50 Years of Malone Roofing, Metal Walls, and Maintenance

The year 2023 marks 50 years of service for Malone Roofing, a company that started as a small residential roofing contractor created by Cornell Malone in the early 1970s in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, that has grown to expand across multiple states and generations. Throughout the decades, the Malone family business has weathered historic natural disasters, economic challenges, and technology revolutions on the way to becoming a regional roofing powerhouse. With a strong set of core values – and an endless appreciation for their community and customers, Malone Roofing stands as a testament to the power of family, hard work, and adaptability. Cornell and his sons recently sat down to reflect on the life-long journey they have been on with the business on this five-decade anniversary.

How It All Started

Cornell Malone first opened the doors to his own roofing company in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1973. His father, Horace, had developed the first roofing company in the Malone family back in the late 1940’s, and a couple of Cornell’s brothers followed suit years later, making roofing a trade that ran in the Malone’s blood.

Throughout his upbringing, Cornell got to see first-hand what it took to run a business, and the culmination of his experiences as a child and young adult led him to believe in himself that he too could start a company one day. When he finally did in the early ‘70s, he couldn’t have known the story that was set in motion and how many lives the Malone’s would impact over the next several generations.

Throughout the decades Cornell and his sons Roman and Ryan, who serve as President and Vice President respectively, have witnessed everything from exponential growth to times where grit and perseverance through natural disasters and global uncertainty were required to make it through.

Their combined experiences create the Malone Roofing story, and paint a full portrait of an all-American family roofing business that has lasted and thrived for five decades in the heart of the South. Cornell and his sons recently shared their thoughts in a retrospective conversation where they recounted experiences and shared dreams of the future. A common theme among the Malones; dedication to honest, hard work and an appreciation for the people they are lucky to call neighbors and customers.

Developing a Work Ethic Foundation

Cornell Malone learned everything he knows about business from his father, Horace, and his 8 brothers and sister, half of whom have worked with him at one point or another throughout his life. His experiences with them throughout the years shaped his understanding of the world, and how to carve out one’s place in it. Most of those experiences involved committing to hard work, and finding the grit within himself to achieve his goals.

The Malone Roofing, Metal Walls, and Maintenance founder remembers always having a job, even when he was just a young boy growing up in Hattiesburg, MS.

“When I was 10, I sold Kool-Aid on the side of the country road near my family’s house. After that, I sold firecrackers one summer because they were a lot of fun and caused a ruckus. When I turned 15, my brother Charles got me a job working at the local grocery store, although I may have been a little young for a real job then! The point is, I was always working from a young age,” he says when reflecting on his early years growing up in Hattiesburg, MS.

Later on, Cornell rode with his brother Jim on his potato chip distribution route, who shared earnings with his younger brother when he helped, solidifying Cornell’s resolve for entrepreneurship. Cornell remembers his brother Jim being one of the first people to truly make him feel like he could accomplish anything.

Learning from his elders and peers, Cornell articulated the strong work ethic that propelled him throughout his life and through the years at the head of a regional roofing company. Even in school sports Cornell was determined to put up a fight and overcome obstacles. “I was the smaller guy of the bunch, so I never got to whoop up on my brothers,” Cornell recounts with a laugh.

The Malone Roofing CEO is not the kind of person that just gets things easily; Cornell has always had to work hard to earn his place. He had to fight to play in games on the high school football team: After a particularly difficult practice, Cornell was told by his coach that he might not have the it factor needed to be a successful football player. He committed himself to getting better, and the next year Cornell was the starting OG for Hattiesburg High School. In essence, “I loved proving those who doubted me wrong,” Cornell says with a grin.

Roofing Runs in The Family 

The Malone’s seem to have roofing in their blood. Cornell’s brothers Charles, Claude, Sid, and Larry, all either owned their own roofing company or worked in one throughout their careers. Horace and his roofing-minded children had started, closed, and started again a dizzying number of roofing companies throughout the early years in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Cornell was never one to simply accept a situation that he felt he could improve upon, Whether there was a fundamental disagreement based on company structure, value-proposition, or establishing long-term goals. He ventured out on his own, starting Hattiesburg Roofing Contractors, Inc. in 1973 with the intention of delivering first-class roofing solutions to residents in the city of Hattiesburg and surrounding areas.

As Horace was winding down his working years, he felt a strong desire to support the efforts of his children’s endeavors as much as possible, helping them understand the world of business and guiding them past the pitfalls he encountered early in his career in the 1940s and ‘50s. After battling an illness that left him hospitalized, Horace proudly went to work with Cornell to help him build the company from the ground up.

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The Next Several Decades

By 1983 Cornell Malone had over a decade of residential roofing experience under his belt, and he adapted his company to keep pace with the rapidly changing roofing industry. With new materials and installation methods becoming more prevalent each year, implementing cutting edge technology was imperative to stay ahead of the competition. As Malone Roofing developed their best practices and operations, the family business namesake began to have bigger ideas about the path of the company. The itch Cornell always felt to achieve more and reject contentment had led him to break into the commercial roofer space with ECMC, and the firm began performing work in multiple states.

A large 100,000 square foot commercial roof replacement on a mall in New Orleans would help make Malone a respected name in the region and led to an increase in opportunities across Louisiana and Mississippi. The mightier the project, the better the opportunity for Cornell and his team to demonstrate their world-class roofing techniques and services, and EC Malone Corp began to earn awards from manufacturers like Firestone, who were distributing the new plastic and rubber roofing materials and moving away from tar-based applications.

Cornell recalls that adopting new technologies early on led to much of their success. “I’ve never been scared to try new things. I’ve tried and failed many times, but I just kept going” he says, affirming the Malone brand’s commitment to innovation. While many businesses in the industry are happy to stay afloat and maintain a position, Cornell simply had loftier dreams and believed he could build the largest and best residential and commercial roofing company in Mississippi.

A Forever Family Business

As Cornell says, “Nobody makes it 50 years in any business doing it alone.” From his father, Horace, to his sons Roman and Ryan helping guide the company today, the Malones wholeheartedly embrace the idea of a family business.

When Roman and Ryan were 13 years old, they spent their summers working at their father’s roofing company, starting out with production crews and soaking up as much knowledge as they could. Regardless of their professional ambitions, their father knew it was important for his kids to learn as much as possible about hard work and dedication.

Roman Malone can still recall his first day on the job in the summer before he began high school. “We were removing a coal tar pitch built-up roof. My job was to remove the debris and help it find its way into the dumpster. This was one of those 95 degree days, and so I was sweating profusely and it was getting in my eyes. The foremen offered me some pitch cream, but I didn’t think I needed it. As I wiped my brow with my dirty sleeve, the fibers that got into my eyes caused unreal pain, and my eyes swelled shut. I was miserable for the next few days, but I learned a valuable lesson.

His wounded eyes would eventually heal, and Roman would spend the next three summers working with the crews, taking their practical roofing advice a little more seriously. At 16, he started working in the sheet metal side of the business, gradually climbing to a sheet metal foreman position which he held for several summers throughout college.

At 22 years old, Roman graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi ready to make a splash in the family business. His education exposed him to the hot new technology at the time, Microsoft Excel spreadsheets. After observing his father do job bids and estimates the old-fashioned way with a legal pad, pen, calculator, and lots of White-out pens, Roman recommended modernizing some of the company’s best practices. From then on, Roman saw more and more of the office, learning the administrative side of the business.

A Solid Foundation Leads to Explosive Growth

 In 1991 EC Malone Corp was experiencing rapid growth. Cornell decided it would be wise to launch a satellite office in the state capital of Jackson, Mississippi, where they could expand the business’s reach and tap into a larger commercial and residential market. The plan showed signs of success early on, and the Malone team felt confident that it would pave the way for expanding across state lines in the future.

A couple years before the turn of the millennium, a permanent Jackson office was opened, and EC Malone Corp solidified itself as a multi-location business. It took an outsized amount of determination to expand the business and a firm commitment from Cornell and his sons, who were dedicated to seeing the branch become the first of many and not just a meager dip of a toe in the water.

“You can hire someone to do clean-up work, but you can’t hire someone to create something out of nothing,” Cornell says about the commitment he and his adult children made to the roofing company.

Eventually, there came a time when primarily working out of Jackson was the necessary course of action to carry forward with an expansion. In 2000, Cornell relocated to Jackson so he could better manage the day-to-day operations there. Roman joined him a year later, sparking the beginning of the next great company expansion.

Once moving into new territories proved successful, EC Malone Corp decided to open another new location in 2003, this time in Pensacola, Florida, where they could better serve the communities on the Gulf coast in Florida and Alabama. The timing of the new operation would set Malone up for a trial by fire in the roofing services division.

A year after the Pensacola location opened, Hurricane Ivan devastated the Florida Panhandle with dangerous winds and rain, causing billions of dollars in losses and damage. EC Malone Corp had never had to manage anything like it, but they banded together to help get local businesses covered and dry while offering them a head start on their insurance claims. The storm was an eye-opening event and primed the roofing squad for what would come a year later in 2005.

MALONE Roofing Residential and Commercial Roofing

When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, South Alabama, and the Florida Panhandle, catastrophic damage was shown on every news station around the country and many other parts of the world. The sheer amount of damage and loss was so overwhelming that many homeowners and businesses were unable to get a local roofing company to assess damage and provide any sort of relief.

Having just experienced a severe hurricane, Malone Roofing was able to process the shock and get to work. Service calls came through in droves and the team had to learn on-the-fly how to respond to those in need. Cornell, Roman, Ryan and the company knew they had to wait and deliver the same exemplary service to each and every customer that had hired them.

The amount of service requests effectively tripled the size of the company by project volume, completely changing the game for EC Malone Corporation. Now, with three locations and the hardened experience from two historic storm seasons, the company officially opened a full-time service department focused on repairs and preventative maintenance.

Cornell recalls something unexpected happening in Pensacola back in 2004 that essentially changed the course of the roofing company. While he was driving his truck through the town, observing the destruction that had just occurred, he came upon a man on the road who needed some gasoline for his wife’s F-250. When Cornell pulled over to help, he learned that the man, whose name was Jon Pruse, was quite talented with computer programming.

One conversation led to another, and eventually Jon would end up working closely with Cornell and Roman to effectively connect the multiple Malone Roofing office locations via computer software, helping pool all of the company’s vital information into a single place. This was years ahead of most roofing companies at the time, and created a strong advantage in the roofing market in the Mississippi, Louisiana, and northern Florida areas.

The connectivity that Jon’s technological prowess brought to the company was invaluable, and proved an important factor in revolutionizing the business. A partnership and friendship that lasts to this day was forged, all from simply stopping to help someone in need. “I feel things happen for a reason, and meeting Jon and having him help us connect our company across long distances just seems like proof of that to me. He was a guy on the side of the road after a hurricane and now look at us!” The gratitude the Malone’s feel for relationships with people like Jon Pruse is something that is never lost.

MALONE Roofing Residential and Commercial Roofing

The Next 50 Years of Malone

In the 18 years since Hurricanes Ivan and Katrina, Malone Roofing, Metal Walls, and Maintenance has continued to grow and expand the reach of our commercial and residential roofing services to the homeowners and businesses of the Southeast, all while opening new permanent offices in Birmingham, Alabama, the city of Mobile, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The Malone family and the rest of the now 225+ member team attribute their success to the belief that each challenge faced is an opportunity to learn how to adapt and improve upon the way things are done. Over the years Malone has assisted with countless tornadoes, hail storms, and some of the most damaging hurricanes that the South has experienced, and with each passing natural disaster we’ve found new ways to better get customers dry, and keep them that way.

During the recovery efforts after the hurricanes, the Malone team found that businesses and homeowners were often unaware of the stipulations within their insurance policies that entitled them to the best roofing solutions in the event of a claim. Realizing that many were averse to taking actions due to steep costs and a belief that they wouldn’t receive the funds they need to repair or replace a roof, Malone sprung into action.

Since 2010 the business has employed a group of insurance experts who have extensive knowledge of real estate insurance policies and the rules they are governed by. These team members empower the service and production departments to accurately assist customers through the claims process, resulting in far happier and dryer customers. To Roman Malone, it’s just another way the company is able to give more value to their patrons.

From the introduction of Excel spreadsheets and formulas, to a serendipitous computer programmer in hurricane aftermath, to the development of some closely held trade secrets that enable Malone to serve their customers faster and more efficiently, there has consistently been a dedication to betterment across the business. This spirit of self-improvement has been evident in Malone Roofing, Metal Walls, and Maintenance ever since Cornell decided to go out on his own back in the early 1970s.

Cornell has always held for himself that he is never satisfied – a belief passed down to his sons who now guide the largest roofing company in Jackson, Mississippi. The family mantra to keep moving forward and improving oneself is as strong as ever, and now Roman and Ryan are considering their children’s involvement in the future of the company.

“I would like to see the family legacy continue with our fourth generation. They are still several years away from entering the business, but I believe we have laid a solid foundation in which they can take it even further than we could dream,” he says regarding his own sons and daughter.

The story of the next generation of Malones has yet to be told, but if the past 50 years are any indication of what lies ahead, the future of Malone Roofing looks bright.