August 11, 2015
Tom Curry has a lot of energy and a good attitude. That’s impressive for a roofer pushing 40 years in the trade, a profession that requires large and equal doses of each, plus spontaneous math skills, crew management and perhaps a secret pleasure in standing on steeply pitched rooftops 20 feet or more off the ground.
“Tom likes risk and always seems up for a challenge,” says Bruce Giffin. “He’ll take on very difficult roofing and waterproofing jobs.”
That’s probably why he’s been the primary go-to guy for Giffin & Crane since their initial collaboration about 10 years back on a complicated below-grade waterproofing job at a celebrity’s Montecito hillside compound.
“I enjoy working with Giffin & Crane,” Tom says. “They have good management skills, and they’re true believers in professionalism and quality.”
Tom started with union jobs straight out of high school, hot-roofing with tar and gravel “back in the old days,” he says, while learning about new materials and techniques—and launching his own business—as the industry evolved at a fairly rapid pace.
In his late 30s, he earned an associate of science degree from Santa Barbara City College (which led to a few roofing jobs for various professors). He branched out into waterproofing 15 years ago, and 10 years ago he added a sheet metal shop to his growing workload. These days, he says, energy-efficient PVC roofing is very popular (and guaranteed for life), and he also does a lot of custom copper gutters.
His crew—headquartered next door to his materials yard in Santa Barbara’s lower Eastside—is about two dozen strong, some of whom are recovering alcoholics and users he’s coaching through stages of sobriety. “To give back quite a bit,” he says, “that’s what me and my wife are striving to do.”
On top of all that, he’s had a successful run of rehabilitating beat-up housing and building new residences on empty lots, lining up a considerable bevy of income properties that will someday bankroll his retirement.
Until then, business is good and he’s keeping at it. When he has time off, he enjoys sailing trips to the islands with family and friends and dinners at Joe’s with his better half—oh, and the occasional 20-mile hike up Tunnel Trail all the way over the mountains to the Red Rock backcountry, an endeavor best accomplished with lots of energy and a good attitude.
(Story and photo by Keith Hamm)