The popular phrase, “never say never,” is something John Maxwell understands well. With no intentions of ever working in the family business, Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc.’s former president proudly carried the torch of his family’s business legacy for 45 years. John’s father, Kenneth Maxwell, a decorated B-17 Bomber Squadron Commander, started the business as Maxwell-Webster Roofing in 1956 as a Nashville branch of the company he worked for in Knoxville. In 1963, Kenneth bought the Nashville branch from the former owners and established Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc.
Before graduating from Tennessee Technology University in 1976 with a degree in electrical engineering, John worked for the family business during his summer breaks in various roles from helping in the business office to assisting estimators and project managers. Upon graduation, John found himself diving in full-time at Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc.
From his beginnings as an estimator trainee, John never imagined how his career would evolve during the next six years. In 1982, John’s father fell off a roof, landing on his head and injuring him extensively. Though he was able to recover, Kenneth couldn’t continue managing the company, and John took on a general manager role to keep things moving along for Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. In 1986, John formally became the company president and majority owner.
“The 80s were tough for Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc.,” says John. “With the generational shift in leadership and a compilation of industry changes, we muddled through,” he added. As the commercial roofing industry had been dominated by the old “built-up” tar and gravel style roof, technology gave way to single-ply roofing during the 1980s. The 1990s were more stable for Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc., as single-ply roofing gained popularity, and the company was tuned into the growing trend. “The 90s were a decade of growth for Maxwell. We consolidated the company and entered a season of expansion,” affirms John.
In 1993, John hired his brother, Dan, to join the company from the automotive industry as parts/tools designer. Dan is still here today and is one of the owners of the company. In 1997, another stockholder, Keith Stiles, joined Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. with a reputable roofing background in Arkansas. “The three of us have been growing the business ever since,” says John. Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. has been operating in the same industry and geography, using evolving technologies and practices, to serve the same market for nearly 70 years.
“If you’re in an industry that values reliability, it’s hard to look past longevity,” says John. “When somebody has been doing the same thing we’ve been doing for as long as we’ve been doing it, it suggests we’re doing something right,” he affirms. In 2010, Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. started a small office in Huntsville, Alabama, where it continues to grow. John explains, “We wanted to bring the same stability and reliability we are committed to in Middle Tennessee and Southern Kentucky into the North Alabama region, and it has proven to be a good decision.”
In 2021, John transitioned out of his familiar role as President of Maxwell Roofing and passed the reins to his daughter, Kathleen who now serves as CEO, and son, David who is now President. “Seeing my children step in and serve in such leadership capacities truly shows our family commitment to the business and the commercial roofing industry,” says John.
John remains as Chairman of the Board to advise and support the family business while also serving as Technical Director for Maxwell Roofing. John is mentoring young talent by leading and managing the Estimating team members who are growing in their roles and learning about the industry. It’s a role that those who know John best call his “true passion.”
Why Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. Stands Out:
“If you look at what we’ve done rather than just what we say, you’ll see who we truly are,” says John. Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. has been on the same street in Nashville for nearly 70 years. They’ve been considered as a tier-one roofing company and are leaders in the market not by their acclamation but by their results.
A true Middle Tennessean, John grew up in Nashville, Tennessee, attending the Saint Henry School and Father Ryan High School. Beyond the office, John is a genuine family man. John and his late wife, Betty Ann, were married for nearly 45 years. Together, John and Betty Ann have four children—David, Sarah, Rachel, and Kathleen—and 5 grandchildren. On occasion, you can find John golfing or exploring the outdoors at Percy Warner Park (which he’s been doing since age 5).