Putting “home” in “home improvement” since 1953.
by Crystal Richardson
Over the course of 63 years, five owners, three buildings, and thousands of successfully completed jobs, Roark Aluminum has had but one home — Jefferson City. They originally opened their doors in 1953, the same year Phil M. Donnelly took the governor’s seat back, and have been there to see 11 subsequent governors. Roark Aluminum has shared in the triumphs and tragedies of this great city, weathering 95 tornadoes and the Great Flood of 1993, and then helping rebuild the city even better than before.
Roark Aluminum has grown and matured alongside their hometown — Jefferson City had 25,000 residents in 1953, when Roark opened, and over 43,000 today. And Roark continues to grow, continues to thrive, and continues to stand alongside their family, friends, and neighbors. A lot has changed over the last 63 years, but, just like Jefferson City itself, the Roark name and what is stands for — working to restore, renew, and remodel the city they call home — has withstood the test of time.
“Roark Aluminum has evolved with the home exterior improvement industry by pursuing new products and services,” says manager and 38-year Roark veteran Chip Isenberg. “That’s how we’ve grown.”
History of Growth
Originally, Roark and Runge Sash and Door Company was owned by Aubrey Roark and Omar Runge; they manufactured their own install windows at 114 E. McCarty St.
When asked to explain the window manufacturing process Roark and Runge used, manager (and most senior employee) Doug Rackers says, “At that stage, I was about 2 or 3 years old.”
Four short years after opening their doors, Roark consolidated ownership and acquired Boes Insulation Company in 1957. The new acquisition expanded products and services to include aluminum windows and insulation under a new name, Roark Aluminum Window & Insulation, at their brand new headquarters located at 721 Jefferson St.
“Roark Aluminum was the first business of its type in Jefferson City,” says Isenberg. “Almost all of Westview Heights purchased windows from us.”
After about 20 years, Roark Aluminum made the decision to not reinvest in the machinery needed to continue in the insulation business. They ebbed and flowed with the industry, allowing them to focus and capitalize on the demand for siding, windows, doors, and installations.
During this time, while Roark Aluminum was experiencing change in their products and services, ownership was changing hands as well. Aubrey Roark decided to pursue other investment opportunities while Norm Reichard took the reins of Roark Aluminum in 1963. Due to the need for more space to expand, Reichard moved Roark to its current location, at 104 Jaycee Dr., on July 1, 1968.
“We moved to our brand new building and started carrying, selling, and using more and more products for home exterior improvements. The building was built in ’65, and I remember it being out in the country back then,” says Rackers, who was a year or two into his career with Roark Aluminum at the time.
For the past 48 years, 104 Jaycee Dr. has been home to Roark Aluminum. That site has seen three owners, from Norman Reichard to his son, Bill Reichard, and to the current owner, Frank Burkhead, who bought the business in 2003.
63 years and five owners later, the Roark name has stuck and been synonymous with an outstanding reputation for quality and service.
“We kept the name because it was established and people knew who we were,” says Rackers.
And that is what they are — established and well-known. Their work can be seen all over buildings and homes in Jefferson City. From replacement windows to siding, soffit, and gutters, Roark Aluminum as a company is as long-standing as the structures they work to restore.
A Modern Look
Roark Aluminum has changed and grown with Jefferson City as well as the industry. The home exterior improvement business has grown to offer more than 17 services in both residential and commercial capacities.
“The products are constantly changing,” says Rackers. “The internet has changed the way we do business now. More people are going online to do their research. More people know what they are looking for.”
Roark Aluminum recently made another effort to keep up with change and demand by launching their new website in September. Now, homeowners, builders, and contractors can easily learn more about Roark’s products and services in just one click — anytime, anywhere. Roark Aluminum has been providing Cole County with free project estimates since 1953, and that tradition continues through their new website. Appropriately featured on their home page is the city’s skyline, underneath the message, “We helped build Jefferson City.”
Roark Aluminum has been a Jefferson City staple for more than half a century, and perhaps their website says it best: “We promise to use over 200 combined years of experience to provide the highest quality in our materials, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. To always be responsive to our customer’s needs, desires, and expectations. To build lasting relationships with our clients and partners based in utmost professionalism, communication, and integrity. For over 60 years, Roark Aluminum has made and kept these promises all over Cole County, MO, and we are proudly promising 60 more.”
For Roark Aluminum, Jefferson City is home, and its residents are family. Their work is founded in tradition, workmanship, and value. It’s back-in-the-day craftsmanship meshed with the highest quality, cutting edge materials.