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.