KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An East Tennessee contractor has stepped up by fixing the roof of a disabled veteran. The roofer is a veteran himself and he didn’t hesitate to help a fellow veteran who had been ripped off.
The professional roofer who went to bat for Tom Westphal and his wife got the job done within two days. The original contractor never replaced the roof. All he did was drop off roofing materials a year after he had been paid in full. The Westphals were worried a week ago, but now, the couple can relax.
“I am absolutely tickled. This is wonderful. We waited over a year to get this,” said Tom.
There was no wait once the roofers arrived on Saturday, November 11.
“They were here at sunrise and left after sunset. Then came the next day until it was done. They were amazing,” said Kim.
The old asphalt roof on the couple’s home was in bad shape when we first visited. The deteriorating roof created leaks inside their home and ruined some of their belonging. They signed a $7500 contract with Tommy Rippy in September 2022. Rippy, who’s from Kodak, received the full amount in advance. The Westphals said Rippy assured them they’d have a new roof quickly.
“When we paid them they said it would be next week when they’d be here to take care of it. Suddenly their tire was flat on their trailer and they couldn’t come. Then their tire was flat on their truck,” said Tom.
Rippy sent text messages to the couple earlier this year. The contract Rippy agreed to included materials, labor, and installation. WATE talked with Tommy Rippy. He said there would be no refund. He would only deliver the materials and nothing more. Within a few days, Rippy delivered the metal roofing materials and other supplies But Rippy reminded Tom he’d have to find his own roofer.
Four days after our story aired, the old asphalt shingles were ripped off the roof of Tom’s house. An Army veteran, who happens to be a roofer, said he didn’t like what happened to the Westphals and said he’d install the roof for free. Phil Fries operates Flow Roofing of Knoxville. On November 11 and 12, his crew worked on the roof.
“I fight that every day in my business. Roofers treating their customers by taking their money or doing shoddy jobs. This person deserved someone to step up and do the right thing,” said Fries. “The most amazing part was when this story ran, it was just a couple of days before Veterans Day. Everything lined up for us to install the roof on Veterans Day and that weekend.”
When asked what he thought of what Fries did, Tom said he was impressed.
“Oh, I’m so impressed. Their workmanship is spot on, they’re perfect,” said Tom.
“We tore everything off that was on the roof that was creating problems for his family. Inspected to make sure the decking and everything was good and we put on a brand new lifetime metal roofing system for them,” said Fries.
Fries enlisted the help of another businessman, Mason Burchette who owns True Metal Supply company. Burchette’s business provided some of the missing materials that Tommy Rippy failed to deliver.
“We partnered with Phil from the start. Our values align with the values that Phil and Flow Roofing have. When he alerted us to this person in need, we were more than happy to help,” said Burchette.
“My partner at True Metal Supply, I know that at any time there is someone in need and we want to help, they are the first ones to raise their hands. We are partners 50/50 on all these things,” said Fries.
“The dread, the dread is gone. The dread of having a house falling down around us is gone. Our house is safe,” said Kim.
“Whenever we hear stories like this I hope that we are able to jump in two feet and be able to deliver for people,” said Fries.
“When we started True Metal Supply our values are up on our wall. A lot of time values become cliche for some companies, that’s not something that we wanted to happen here. We like to put our values to work and help people that are in need,” said Burchette.
The Westphals were grateful for the generosity of Flow Roofing and True Metal Supply. Tom said their quick action touched him and restored his faith in professional contractors. Several roofing contractors had called WATE wanting to volunteer their services as well. No doubt, there are many honest roofing contractors in our area.