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When Ray Bowen founded Premier Metal Roof Manufacturing in 2019 in Tampa, he intended to someday serve the entire Gulf Coast of Florida.  

Hurricane Ian accelerated that plan.  

The metal roof company celebrated the ribbon-cutting of its new Fort Myers headquarters Friday at 4222 Edison Ave.  

Now, Bowen and his 37 employees can better serve Southwest Florida.  

“We are local here,” Bowen said. “We believe in order to service our customers directly, we need to be local. That’s why we have a place right here as opposed to shipping it from Tampa.”  

Bowen spent about 15 years working for his father-in-law’s company before starting one of his own. They agreed not to compete, with his father-in-law focusing on Sebring and North Florida, while Bowen focuses on Tampa south to Naples.  

With Florida’s population continuing to grow, the time was right to start his own company, Bowen said.  

“We see it continuing to do well,” Bowen said of the metal roof industry. “Florida seems to be growing and continuing to grow. I don’t see that changing. There’s a lot of people moving from a lot of different places.”  

About 10% to 15% of the roofing market belongs to metal in Florida, Bowen said, and he expected that figure to grow.  

“Metal in particular has a minority of the market share,” Bowen said. “But especially since the last storm, metal has gotten to be an option that a lot of people want pricing from, because they’re seeing how well it went through the storm. If you drive through neighborhoods, and the roof was installed correctly, the storm is pretty much not going to blow it off. There might be a little bit of damage, but it’s repairable.”  

Bowen called Brock Rasmussen, a broker with Lee & Associates Naples-Fort Myers, looking for Fort Myers warehouse space. Rasmussen pulled through, Bowen said, as Bowen signed a five-year lease with an option for five more on two 18,000-square-foot warehouses.  

Premier Metal Roof Manufacturing is subleasing the second warehouse for now but intends to make use of it within the next couple of years, Bowen said.  

“Long term, we’ll have 36,000 square feet of space here,” Bowen said. “It means a lot. We’ve got some great employees that we’ve hired here. I’m happy for them, and they’ve done an amazing job. This is an exciting time for us.”  

Trademark Roofing is just one of the company’s clients. CEO Tristan Starbird visited the new factory for the ribbon-cutting event and discussed how the Fort Myers site would make acquiring metal roofing supplies easier for a lot of roofing companies.  

“We used Premium Metal when they were in Tampa,” Starbird said. “Now, it’s only a 15-minute drive for us to pick something up. I placed an order one morning at 10:30 a.m., and it was ready for us to pick up by 1 p.m.”  

Inside the warehouse were pallets of steel rolled into coils. The steel arrives in up to 40 different color options. Once the company gets it into the warehouse, workers can cut it and reshape it with various equipment.  

Each coil has about 4,000 square feet of metal on it. Each coil costs $5,000 to $6,000, Bowen said.  

Just before the ribbon-cutting, Bowen told his team and guests, including Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson, that they were here for the long haul.  

“We’re excited to be a part of the construction industry here for years to come,” Bowen said. 

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