115 year old family-run commercial roofer moves mountains to help local leather manufacturer.

Brahmin is a Massachusetts-based leather goods company founded in 1982 by Bill and Joan Martin. They specialize in handbags and other high-quality leather goods that are designed to exemplify the American dream. All of their products are designed in Massachusetts and delivered to their brick-and-mortar stores and customers around the world. The company is celebrated for their commitment to diversity, creativity, and innovation. 

Being based in New England, their production facilities have been subject to the severe weather that descends upon the region every winter. Over the years, their factory in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, has not been spared the harsh winters and blistering summers. Joni O’Calliham, Brahmin’s factory facilities manager, noticed signs of aging and began her search for the right New England roofer to begin the process of replacing the roof. 

Joni had found Chaffee Industrial Roofing from a google search, and following a competitive bid process ultimately selected Chaffee to replace the brahmin leather roof because they were friendly, thorough, professional, and they did more due diligence than any other contractor she spoke with.

“They’re clean and respectable, and I wish everyone else could have the same interaction with roofing companies like them,” she said not only did they do the work to make sure they were offering the best solution for Brahmin, but they looked the part and conducted themselves in a way that was first-class.

They also liked that Chaffee did an “apples-to-apples” comparison with each type of roofing solution that was available to them, as well as detail the benefits and drawbacks of each – helping Brahmin make an informed decision. With all of the craziness of the holidays coming up, the reroofing of the factory was scheduled for early January. 

Chaffee Industrial Roofing was to perform a full tear-off of the previous tectum roof system and install R 30 adhered Insulation and install 60 mil Johns Manville adhered TPO. They would additionally install 1.5” insulation as well as 60 mil TPO via Rhinobond over the section of the roof with a metal deck. This area only had one roof on it, so a full tear off was not needed or recommended.

A total of 120 squares (12,000 square feet) would be re-roofed during the project.

Just weeks before the scheduled construction was set to begin, a powerful windstorm struck Fairhaven, Massachusetts over the Christmas weekend, tearing off much of the old roof. It was a legitimate roofing emergency and Chaffee, who keeps their customer’s best interests in mind, knew they needed to spring into action.


On Monday, the day after Christmas, Joni called the Chaffee Industrial Roofing team to inform them that a major catastrophe had occurred. A 40’ x 40’ section of the Brahmin roof was torn off in a powerful storm just a day earlier, and the factory was suddenly at risk of suffering serious leak damage on all of their leather inventory. 

Even with the re-roofing projects just weeks away, Peter Chaffee, the 4th generation owner of the 115 year old roofing company, and his team rushed to the site to see what could be done. The very next day, Peter and Jeff Zielke, Chaffee Industrial Roofing’s Operation Manager surveyed the damage and developed a plan to address the compromised roof.

Obtaining and mobilizing large amounts of roofing materials has become increasingly difficult, especially in light of the global supply chain conditions beginning in early 2020. For years clients and construction companies have seen building supply prices skyrocket due to travel and trade restrictions that have left crucial pieces stranded off-shore. 

While the supply situation has begun to ease around the country, some distributors are still reluctant to guarantee product availability before a scheduled delivery date. In a rapidly changing landscape, vendors need to be conservative with the amount of product they keep on hand at any given time. 

With bottlenecks at supply points and a busy roofing schedule looming in January and beyond, the Chaffee team had to think quick and decide whether to temporarily cover the roof and wait for the scheduled build date, or try their hardest to mobilize all of their resources as fast as possible to achieve an improbable roof replacement by today’s standards.

Typically, a large commercial roof cannot be prepared for replacement in under 48 hours notice, especially when every roofer in the nation is feeling a squeeze on roofing material availability. Regardless, Peter Chaffee contacted Dan Cohen at Northbridge Supply, a trusted local roofing product distributor based in Lowell, Mass. to see what could be done.


Rather than spend precious time and resources on temporarily covering the roof,  a method that could leave the property at risk of yet again being damaged by winter storms, Chaffee ultimately decided to make adjustments to their production schedule to accommodate the full roofing project at Brahmin immediately. 

The amount of time, headache, and money spent to deploy a temp roof was just not worth it, and Peter Chaffee and his team wanted to do everything they could to take care of their new client in a time of need. To achieve this feat, Chaffee Industrial Roofing would have to call on favors from their vendors to have materials secured and delivered for Brahmin’s roofing project in record time. 

Dan Cohen is the rep distributor for Northbridge Building Products, a roofing supplier based in Lowell, Massachusetts, and has worked with Peter Chaffee for nearly a decade. He helped Northbridge become Chaffee Industrial Roofing’s Johns Manville supplier several years ago, and he had already been working on the Brahmin leather purchase order to supply the TPO roofing rolls and the other required materials needed for the factory’s roof replacement.

Throughout their partnership, Dan knew that Chaffee doesn’t normally ask for quick favors like next day delivery since the 115 year old firm is usually well prepared and organized. After a few minutes on the phone, and a new understanding of the threat that Brahmin was facing, it was clear that a long standing local Massachusetts business was in need, and without a helping hand they may suffer an unthinkable amount of supply loss in the upcoming winter storms.

Northbridge Building Products moved things around their schedule to accommodate the Brahmin project, much to the delight of Joni O’Calliham who, back at Brahmin leather, was beginning to fear the company would suffer severe losses of inventory and production during the busiest season of the year. 

The call to Northbridge was made on Tuesday, December 27th by Peter Chaffee, who knew he was asking for big a favor in mobilizing the full amount of John Mansville TPO needed for the Brahmin job to be delivered the next day. Amazingly, Dan Cohen and his team were able to muscle the supply together right on time.

“At the end of the day, roofing is a relationship business. We’ve been through a lot of things together, and we’re happy to have strong relationships with people like Peter Chaffee and his team. Working with great people makes going to work every day a lot more enjoyable.” Says Dan, who has enjoyed his working relationship with Peter and the Chaffee team.

A warm relationship between Northbridge and Chaffee helped ensure everything needed was loaded up and delivered on time in less than 24 hours. Now, the Brahmin job had been pushed up the schedule and fully stocked with materials, and ready to begin work right away, just days after the storm blew off the roof. Chaffee Industrial Roofing’s team arrived on-site the next day on Wednesday, December 28th, 2022 ready to work diligently.

Jeff Zielke, who has been with Chaffee for over a decade and managed the Brahmin leather roof replacement, says they were happy to go above and beyond for their client, even if it meant coming off of his Christmas vacation a few days early. 

In construction, things are going to happen… It’s how you deal with it that sets you apart from the others,” says Jeff, who is determined to create a lifelong customer every time he takes on a project with a client.

Jeff explains that to respond so well to catastrophic roof failures like the one experienced on Christmas at Brahmin leather, “you need to be like a duck on water. Above the water everything is calm and orderly, while under the surface the little feet are kicking like mad.”

This is how Jeff and the rest of the team approach their day-to-day, all year long. The Chaffee Industrial Roofing team completed the full roof replacement of the tectum and steel decking areas of the roof, all while negating any additional cost or losses to Brahmin leather that would have been caused by the storm that damaged the roof.

Brahmin received a brand new Johns Manville TPO roof on their Massachusetts factory complete with a 20 year NDL warranty. 

Chaffee Industrial Roofing’s professional team of experts is more than capable of operating with grace all while under the immense pressure of meeting project deadlines, achieving customer satisfaction, and performing the highest quality workmanship.


Joni at Brahmin says that her simple Google search for a ‘local new england roofer’ ended up being very fruitful, as she found a roofing company for life after her experience with Chaffee Industrial Roofing. 

Chaffee was remarkable in helping us handle catastrophic roof failure. I’d hate to think of what effect a delay would have had on Brahmin’s business,” she said.

Projected losses could have been in the tens to hundreds of thousands had a roofing company not been able to rush to Brahmin’s aid just days after the biggest holiday of the year. Joni was pleasantly surprised at how attentive, helpful – and fun – the Chaffee Industrial Roofing team was in the midst of a crisis.

Joni and the Brahmin team are thrilled with the outcome of their brand new roof, and even have plans to have Chaffee address some concerns on the roof’s of their other properties in early 2023. 

Whenever I needed something from Chaffee pertaining to the job, Jeff made it happen, even when he was on vacation! Their whole team is great to communicate with and they were so approachable and willing to help in any way possible,” Joni said while recounting the experience.

I can’t wait for them to come back and perform preventative maintenance so I can see the team again!

Joni O’Calliham says that Chaffee Industrial Roofing has earned a client for life, and that with multiple other properties under her management, Peter and Jeff will be the first people she calls when she needs preventative maintenance, commercial roof repairs, or another roof replacement in the future. 

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