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Updated: March 6, 2023 / 2023 Business Leaders of the Year

Business Leaders of the Year: Klein never stopped growing Greenwood

Greenwood Industries owner David Klein sits on the back of one of his company's trucks. Photo | MATT WRIGHT David Klein, president and CEO of Greenwood Industries

David Klein worked on his first roof when he was 4 years old. His parents owned a roofing company, and they were building a new warehouse to store materials. Under supervision, Klein climbed up the ladder and kicked open a roll of paper for the tar-and-gravel roof. There’s a photo of him on the roof, somewhere, but he hasn’t seen it. Proof he was up there at an early age working the job that would be passed down through the generations. His uncle also owned a roofing company.

The only problem that day: No one knew how to get him down. The ladder was too dangerous, so they sat him on a family friend’s lap and had the two of them ride the conveyor used to bring materials up and down from the roof.

Klein’s parents continued to own and operate a roofing company in Worcester throughout his childhood. He grew up off of Salisbury Street, attended Doherty Memorial High School, and eventually found himself at New York’s Syracuse University in the 1980s.

A bio box on David Klein
A bio box on David Klein

Then the stock market crashed in 1987 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 22.6% during a trading session and wiped out businesses across the country, including his father’s. His dad happened to get sick around this time with kidney cancer, and Klein chose to start a business for the two of them to work on together. In 1992, he began Greenwood Industries, Inc., and by 1994, the company was in business installing roofs.

“We were just kicking ideas around more than working,” Klein said. “It took 18 months to get going.”

The company quickly grew. Klein pushed. He was young and worked hard. The company’s current Chief Operating Officer Matt Brown finished graduate school at California’s Pepperdine University, and his first job was driving Klein to work every day. The company began expanding. Klein was aggressive as he went after jobs and acquisitions, which became necessary because there was a dearth of labor. By acquiring new companies in Massachusetts as well as Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York, Greenwood brought a new pool of experienced and skilled workers. To fill in the gaps, Klein made the choice to become a union company, which gave Greenwood access to jobs in Boston because the unions had skilled labor in the city.

Since then, Greenwood hasn’t stopped growing. Last year, Roofing Contractor magazine named Greenwood the 10th largest roofing company in the country, with $166 million in annual revenue and 529 employees.

“We're an aggressive company focused on growth and different opportunities and trying to make things happen,” Klein said.

At the time, though, Klein and his team didn’t know any other way than to be aggressive. There was no roadmap telling them to take it slow.

“We were young and didn't know any better,” Klein said. “We thought that was what you were supposed to do, grow, and we haven't lost that mentality even though we know better.”

Klein has never lost touch with his blue-collar roots. He may not be out there installing roofs anymore, but he hasn’t strayed far from his family’s legacy.

“There’s a lot of smart people out,” said David Brunelle, managing director of North Point Wealth Management in Worcester and Klein’s childhood friend. “But Dave is still a blue-collar guy and has the tenacity to do it.”

Greenwood Industries started as a family venture, and now it’s the company the state government calls to roof the golden-domed State House on Beacon Hill, as well as the Worcester baseball stadium Polar Park and the Boston University Center for Computing and Data Science.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the last name of David Brunelle, the managing director of North Pointe Wealth Management.

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March 13, 2023

Greenwood 4 life ?????

Carl Aframe
March 8, 2023

atta boy

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