Cornell Roofing Leadership Feature: Meet The Owner

Mary McNamara, Owner and President of Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal is from a family of leaders within the roofing industry. In fact, the McNamara name has been a force for three generations, starting with her father, Jim and uncle, Don. But don’t get the idea that Mary had it easy coming up in the industry. She has earned her spot as leader in the commercial roofing space and Kansas City-area commercial construction.

Mary grew up in Michigan and Illinois, earning her BS in Accounting from Northern Illinois University and later her MBA from Rockhurst University in Kansas City. She started in the industry assisting her dad and uncle in their partnership with multiple roofing contractors across the United States to manufacture high-end roofing material. From there, she applied for and earned a key role in launching the company in Kansas City, KS.

In 2007, Cornell Roofing was a customer of Mary’s. When presented with the opportunity to buy the business, she took it. It was a risky move and pushed Mary to her financial limits at the time. With grit, determination, sharp business acumen, and surrounding herself with a rock-solid team, Mary forged ahead to grow the business from 26 to 92 employees.

Cornell was originally established in 1927 and, under Mary’s leadership, is breaking records as they approach 100 years in business. Being a women-owned business in this industry has both challenges and advantages, but in the end, the company must still perform and deliver top-notch quality to succeed.

Mary credits much of her success to her team at Cornell and her background as CFO with the materials manufacturer, “I met some of the best contractors across the nation. They were the leaders in the industry, and it was overwhelming in many ways. Today, I am working with new peers and many of our younger ‘family’ members, and enjoying watching the legacy of our industry move forward.”

In addition to leading Cornell Roofing & Sheet Metal to new levels of success, Mary has held many leadership positions on industry and community boards. Positions include, Director, Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA); Director, Greater Kansas City Builders Association; Director, Blue Ridge Bank & Trust; Trustee, Teamsters Local 541, Health & Welfare; and Trustee, Roofers Local 20, Pension.

For more information about Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit and or call 816-252-8300.

Building Kansas City’s Skyline

Over the past 95 years, Kansas City’s skyline has seen a lot of changes. At Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, we are proud to have played a part in the growth and evolution of our City. Since our beginnings in 1927, Cornell has been roofing Kansas City commercial facilities, including some of KC’s most iconic buildings.

From Children’s Mercy to KCMO City Hall, One Light to UMKC, to the new KCI Terminal – and countless more projects, our Cornell crews literally go to new heights to deliver top-quality results for our customers. While we are constantly striving to improve by leveraging the most up-to-date, high-performance products, materials and processes, our philosophy for service has remained steadfast through the years. In addition to being the premier commercial roofing contractor in our region, we are dedicated to operating with integrity with all associates, customers and suppliers and become a leading voice in our industry for civic outreach and community involvement.

As we’ve helped build Kansas City’s skyline, we’ve grown our company along the way, by staying true to our core values:

– Operate with integrity with all customers and suppliers

– Offer opportunities for growth and development to our associates

– Deliver top quality products and services to the marketplace

– Develop strong community and civic outreach

– Build a strong and profitable company

To learn more about Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, our expertise and the projects we’ve completed, visit or call 816-252-8300.

Careers in Construction Month

Careers in Construction Month is an annual month designated to increase public awareness and appreciation of the more than five million construction craft professionals working in the United States. Skilled trades professionals are in high demand, with some industry analysts predicting the construction industry will need one million new craft professionals by 2023.

Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal is proud to participate in efforts like this to honor the men and women working in skilled trades careers, and the critical role they play in the development of our local cities and nationwide economy. We also understand the importance of engaging students and job seekers to educate them on the vast employment opportunities in construction. Cornell supports scholarship programs leading to careers in construction, which can be long-term, lucrative and rewarding opportunities. 

Cornell’s nearly 95 years of success in Kansas City construction comes from the skilled craftsmanship and dedication to excellence that has carried through generations of Cornell crews. This month, and all year through, we celebrate our hard-working teams of skilled trades professionals. Thank you for your expertise and commitment to delivering unmatched quality for our customers. We appreciate you!

For more information on Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit or call 816-252-8300.

Cornell Roofing Honored with 2021 Perfection Award

Since 1927 Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal has been striving for perfection on every project. Recently, we were honored to be granted the 2021 Perfection Award from Carlisle SynTec Systems in recognition of our commitment to excellence.

Carlisle SynTec Systems, based in Carlisle, PA, has been a leading manufacturer of roofing materials for over 50 years. Each year they recognize a distinguished few quality-oriented contractors across the United States. Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal was named as a recipient after meeting Carlisle’s stringent criteria for the award. To be selected, contractors must:

  • Maintain a minimum 7-year track record of exceptional installation quality
  • Maintain a minimum 7-year track record of excellent warranty claim performance
  • Complete a set minimum amount of warranted work
  • Complete a set minimum number of jobs annually

Mike DuCharme, Carlisle’s VP of Marketing notes, “Perfection Award winners demonstrate their dedication to excellence on every installation, and Cornell Roofing & Sheet Metal Co. exemplifies this mindset.”

Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal is proud to receive this converted industry honor recognizing our dedication to top-quality workmanship. For more information on Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit or call 816-252-8300.

Above & Beyond: Cornell’s Commercial Sheet Metal Shop

Many folks know Cornell has been a leader in commercial roofing in Kansas City for nearly 95 years. Some may not know that we also operate a full-service commercial sheet metal shop. Our General Superintendent has over 40 years of experience bringing design and function into perfect harmony to deliver optimal results. Our sheet metal team is critical in ensuring our roofs stand up to the toughest conditions.


The Cornell sheet metal team has earned a reputation for providing innovative design and installation solutions. In fact, Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal received the prestigious AIS Award for Workmanship for our work on the Truman Medical Office Building in Kansas City.


Cornell’s sheet metal experts can design and construct any type of flashing, counterflashing, roof spouts or downspouts needed to make our roofing systems watertight and operating at peak performance. Our shop can also handle any type of metal wall panel design, construction and installation. 


For more information on Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit or call 816-252-8300.

Cornell Roofing & Sheet Metal Partner Feature: Weather or Not, Inc.

At Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, we’re fortunate to work with many wonderful industry partners. Weather or Not, Inc. based in Shawnee, Kansas is one of our vendors who plays a key role in helping us achieve our high safety standards and deliver the best possible service to our customers. We recently sat down for a little Q&A with Weather or Not founder, Sara Croke.

Q: What services does Weather or Not provide?

A: We conduct Weather Operations Audits throughout the US and Canada. This is how we help outdoor businesses create a process for safe and profitable weather decision making. The audit includes in-depth case studies of when weather has hampered productivity, evaluation of all forecasting tools, communication protocols and data reporting. Recommendations are made including training options and assistance in hiring a weather company in their region of the country. We’ve managed those RFPs and helped with on-boarding the other weather company. We also provide:

  • Meteorological Consulting working with outdoor businesses in Eastern Kansas and throughout the state of Missouri. 
  • Mid-Range Forecasts: Designed as a decision making tool for the project manager or owner, our meteorologists prepare a 21-day weather trends outlook. By seeing upcoming projects through a lens of “workable” or “shut down” days, creating the right Plan B, helps keep jobs profitable.
  • Climate and Post Storm Reporting to provide professional and objective third-party weather analysis during “working day” mediations. 

Q: What types of clients and industries do you serve?

A: Our clients include the Kansas City Royals, along with numerous utilities, airports, construction, public works and schools.

Q: How long has Weather or Not been in business?

A: 35 years.

Q: How long have you worked with Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal as a vendor?

A: Six years.

Q: What are your service goals with Cornell and customers like us?

A: To be a resource for improving profits, safety and brand. Our meteorologists’ job is to answer the superintendents’ question before they even know they have one. We know where they’re working, if they’re open or performing maintenance, or simply pushing off rain from earlier in the day to get materials on the roof so they can increase productivity the next morning by having everything up on the roof and ready to work.

For example, when our meteorologists see that conditions are ripe for rain to develop, their first thoughts are, “Will that affect Wally’s job sites?” If so, they call him with an update. This may occur even before the rain appears on radar. The same thing happens with high winds which can be very dangerous, especially in those downtown wind tunnels on the tallest of buildings!  

Another example is when they call in about rain they see on radar and our meteorologists can explain why that won’t affect their job site so they can keep working safely and making money. Keep in mind, there may be some job sites affected in one part of town thereby shutting them down while jobs in other parts of town continue uninterrupted.

Q: What are some results you have helped deliver for your clients to improve their service, performance and safety?

A: We have a solid track record of successes for clients. For Cornell specifically we have several instances, including comprehensive weather reporting that resulted in saving Cornell $23,000 on a potential weather delay penalty. Here is another scenario from as recently as last month:

Cornell’s Senior Field Superintendent made a decision to shift to his Plan B for workday operations and not open any roofs based on guidance from his Weather or Not meteorologist.  She reported that while storms with high winds and heavy rain should start between 2pm and 4pm, the atmosphere, as it had been all week, was unstable enough to trigger earlier storms with heavy rain. With this critical information, the Superintendent knew the instability was not a comfortable environment for opening roofs or staying on too long. At 11:30am he was alerted by Weather or Not that storms could move in sooner. By having all the information to make a knowledgeable, sound decision, Cornell was able to ensure all materials were secured and crews were off the roofs safely when the high winds kicked up and the heavy downpours began.

This type of knowledge and information is crucial to maintain safety and mitigate liability – which protects workers and ultimately supports profitability.

Q: What is the one thing you want people to know about your business and the value of your service?

A: You can’t change the weather, but you can change the way weather affects your business. 

We only have to save a construction client one day on one job site and they’ve made back the money they’ve spent with us all year!

Every other rain or storm threat, where our meteorologists find crews an extra half day of working or get them to shut down before the rain arrives, is additional profit they might not have seen because of false assumptions made when looking at radar or using an app that’s based on a computer model. It’s like an insurance policy that pays dividends all year long!

Q: How would you summarize your partnership with Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal?

A: Our meteorologists are like another member of the team because we discuss their scheduling and project progress with the field superintendents from sun-up to sundown. We alert the on-site crews whenever the stormy weather is coming in faster or holding off until later.  That is how we assist them in optimizing every possible working hour. Most importantly, we advise them when threatening weather will arrive sooner than expected so they can secure the roof and get all their personnel off the roof and into their trucks safely. The critical factor in working with Cornell was getting to know their daily operation and how the superintendents manage it.  

Q: In general, what should people know about how weather – and weather forecasting – can impact their business?

A: Free apps aren’t really free. Either the superintendents you’re paying high salaries to are looking at their phones guessing at what the radar means or comparing their favorite weather sites – an expensive use of their valuable time. Then, if they get caught in a bad situation, they may blame it on the weather as if nothing could’ve been done about it. If that is the case and your project lost tens of thousands of dollars that day and time (the day you got caught in the weather, plus the day or two to repair it) then that’s how much your “free app” really cost.

Many construction companies just “eat” the cost of getting caught by weather assuming that there’s nothing they can do about it. But there is plenty that companies can do to be proactive. It’s all about creating a process that improves safety and profits.
To learn more about Weather or Not, visit or call 913-722-3955. For more information on Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit or call 816-252-8300.

National Safety Month

June 2021 marks the 25th year for National Safety Month, sponsored by the National Safety Council. Safety is paramount in our line of work at Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal. Whether installing new roofing 10 stories high in Kansas City’s skyline or fabricating in our sheet metal shop, Cornell crews take safety seriously.

A lot has changed when it comes to safety since our company started in 1927. While there are many more protections in place, you can never take safety for granted. We continuously look for ways to maximize and enhance safety protocols for our crews. National Safety Month is a reminder for us – and all construction companies – about the importance of working toward our common goals of reducing workplace injuries and accidents, and improving safety on our job sites.

This year, the National Safety Council recommends a focus on the following safety topics to bolster Safety in the workplace:

  • Prevent Incidents Before They Start: Identifying risks and taking proactive safety measures to reduce hazard exposure on everything from ergonomics to chemical management is important in creating a safe workplace.


  • Address Ongoing COVID-19 Safety Concerns: While we are making strides against COVID-19, the pandemic remains. Employers play an important role in the return to physical workspaces, building trust around vaccines, mental health and much more.


  • Ensuring Individual Security on the Job: Being able to work without fear is necessary for an inclusive safety culture. Leading organizations focus not only on physical safety but psychological safety as well.


  • Ongoing Advancements to Your Safety Journey: Safety is all about continuous improvement. Whether organizationally or individually, the National Safety Council has resources to lend a hand. Visit for more information.


To learn more about Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit or call 816-252-8300.

Cornell Roofing Named Large Business of the Year

Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal is honored to be recognized by the Independence Economic Development Council (IEDC) as the Large Business of the Year. The award was presented to Cornell Owner and President, Mary McNamara at the IEDC’s Annual Independence Business Awards Ceremony, May 13, 2021 at the Stoney Creek Conference Center. 

Honorees for the Independence Business Awards were nominated by other business leaders in the community. The Large Business of the Year award recognizes companies with 50 or more employees who are engaged in the growth and development of opportunities for the Independence community. As a business that has made Independence home for over 94 years, Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal is dedicated to supporting our local community and grateful to be the recipient of this award. 


Other honorees included:

  • Apex Aleworks, Small Business of the Year
  • West iNd Connection, Nonprofit Business of the Year
  • Classy Canines, Start-up Business of the Year
  • Wine Down 109, Hospitality Business of the Year
  • Little BBQ Joint, Philanthropic Business of the Year
  • Goad Manufacturing, Best Place to Work

Congratulations to all the other award winners. Thank you to the Independence Economic Development Council for presenting this program and for the work you do to support the businesses in our community. To learn more about Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit or call 816-252-8300.

Celebrating Administrative Professionals

Our Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal crews working in the field and in our shop are on our project front lines delivering top-quality work for our customers. But there are Cornell team members working “behind the scenes” whose work is just as important to our success; the professionals of Cornell’s administrative team.

This month, we are celebrating National Administrative Professionals Day on April 21st (the Wednesday of the last full week in April each year). This is an opportunity to recognize the vital role individuals in administrative positions play in business. At Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, we value our administrative team and appreciate all they do to contribute to our success.

Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal’s daily administrative functions for human resources, accounting, scheduling, reporting and service are managed by a team of experienced professionals with industry expertise. These folks keep our office operations running smoothly to support our leadership team and crews in the field, ensuring we meet and exceed our customers’ expectations. 

The hard work and dedication of our administrative professionals does not go unnoticed. Join us in celebrating our amazing administrative pros at Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal! 

To learn more about Cornell Roofing and Sheet Metal, visit or call 816-252-8300.