- Associated Press - Sunday, May 7, 2017

MAQUOKETA, Iowa (AP) - Nobody would suggest that you drop out of school, as Jamison Nienke did halfway through his high school junior year.

But anyone who does could consider looking up the 27-year-old. Not only does he own a roofing business with a storefront in Maquoketa, but he also could probably teach a college course on it.

“He’s always reading and watching videos on roofing,” said wife, Heather. “I see him doing a lot of work, probably more than what I’d like to see. But I know it’ll pay off in the end.”

Get him started and Jamison will take you further into a shingle than the thickest piece of hail. Especially when talking historical roofs.

“There are products from historical restoration slate, wood, mission style, Spanish style … I’m getting an understanding of the different things and different time periods,” said Jamison, who has owned Nienke Services LLC since 2011. “The 1877 school-church roof we’re working on now has no felt paper underneath it because, historically, in those days, they didn’t have underlayments. I want to make sure to stay in the date range while restoring it.

“I would say I’m pretty educated when it comes to roofing,” he told the Telegraph Herald (https://bit.ly/2pb0hR9 ), while emphasizing he sticks to sloped, not flat, roofs.

He had a good teacher in his dad, Richard Nienke, of Roofco Residential Roofing in Dubuque. The two often work together on projects.

“I had seven sons and he was the only one who was interested in it,” Richard said. “He’s gung-ho and gets right in there. He spent all his winters on the internet.”

“He’s a very, very smart kid,” said Keith Kunde, of East Dubuque, Illinois, who is a Nienke foreman. “It’s kind of like working with my little brother.”

Early on for Jamison, “it was basically carrying nails up the ladder to fill their pouches because in those days, they were still hand-nailing roofs on,” he said.

He continued to help his father, who would chase major storms in different states to assist in roof repairs. Richard was called by Bel-Aire Home Improvement, of Platteville, Wisconsin, in 1994 to help repair roofs in Dubuque after the huge hailstorm. From there, he headed to Nebraska.

Richard liked Dubuque and moved here to establish Roofco in 2000. Jamison lived with his mom in Kansas, but during the summers, he’d return to Dubuque to help his dad.

He stayed here for his freshman year at Hempstead High School, but then moved back to Kansas.

“I felt like I wanted to start my own thing,” said Jamison, who established a small Kansas scrap metal business during high school. “I was getting jobs, but didn’t have time to handle them. So if I dropped out of school, what am I going to lose?”

At that point, he believed he would eventually have a long career in roofing. And he was going to get married to Heather, who is a year older, when she graduated high school in 2007.

They moved to Dubuque on money made from his scrap metal business. He started working with his dad, while she started working the night shift at the Diamond Jo Casino.

Jamison branched off Roofco to start his business in 2011. He chose Maquoketa after more research.

“Down here, there’s not a lot when it comes to roofing,” he said. “I opened the storefront (on Main Street) so people would have a place to go if they have questions and want to get answers.”

Heather quit her casino job and joined Jamison in the office.

“It’s definitely nice working here, but now he might say we’re working too much together,” she said with a laugh.

He has a six-man crew that does roofing jobs. He’s swamped with customers and can’t get out as much as he’d like to.

“My average appointment takes 45 minutes,” he said. “I don’t sell people, I inform them. That’s why I’m in this business. To help them make the right decisions.”

The historical church-school job is in Canton, about 10 miles from Maquoketa. He’s been able to cut about a third of the $12,000 estimated cost by using leftover materials and scaffolding he owns, partly because he believes in restoration.

“Especially with an 1877 school-church,” Jamison said. “I mean, that’s a staple in the community, so you don’t want to see it get torn down because it wasn’t maintained.”

No matter how busy he gets, Jamison plans to call the shots.

“I could hire another six people, but I don’t think I’d ever get to the point where I wasn’t making sure things are done the way I want,” he said. “Because at the end of the day, it’s my name on the business.”


Information from: Telegraph Herald, https://www.thonline.com

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