Fans of local TV news in Omaha, Nebraska, already know the story, but for everyone else, here’s the short version:

Army veteran Ricky Cole’s house suffered storm damage, so he found a contractor to fix his roof ... and paid out about $9,000. The roofer had been recommended by others, so Cole wasn’t expecting a shoddy job that ended up failing inspection.

Cole had reached out to another contractor, D&M Roofing, to fix his siding. When he mentioned to a D&M rep that his roof was in bad shape, D&M owner/president Eric Oberembt came out to take a look.

Oberembt, who has been in the family business for more than two decades, told Home HQ that he was “fairly shocked at the poor workmanship that somebody did.”

“I kind of went to Ricky and was like, ‘Hey, man, there’s a lot of issues up here, and I don’t feel comfortable doing a repair on it, because then I’m going to own it, and I’m not sure it’s going to perform properly,” Oberembt said.

He told Cole he’d make some stopgap fixes for the roof and “make some phone calls” about a permanent solution. He rounded up some manufacturers to provide the materials, and his company donated the labor for the fix.

“I wanted to make him whole again,” Oberembt said.

He estimated that Cole’s new roof, with a higher-quality shingle than the initial fix, would’ve run about $12,000.

Oberembt doesn’t come from a military background, he said, and that might be the reason why he decided to help a veteran in need.

“As a guy who didn’t serve, I think maybe it makes me appreciate [veterans] more, because I didn’t,” he said. “It makes me even more angry that somebody would take advantage of someone who did that for us, as a country.”


Oberembt offered a few tips for troops and veterans considering a home improvement or in need of a repair.

  • Meet your neighbors. “You knock on the door and you ask your neighbor, ‘Hey, I heard we got hail here. Who’d you guys use?’” he said. “And that, to me, is really the best way. You just grab names out of a phone book or look online or whatever ... everybody pays for Google ad words. You’re going to find a lot of people you don’t want to find.“
  • Research, but be wary. The Better Business Bureau is a common starting point for those seeking contractors, but it’s not a one-stop shop, Oberembt said. While BBB-accredited companies must adhere to certain standards, the bureau doesn’t review or endorse their products or services.
  • Hit the middle. “No contractor out there is every going to say to go with the cheapest bid” from a selection of offers, Oberembt said. “The cheapest guy? There’s a reason that guy is the cheapest guy. ... Usually, the honest guy is the guy in the middle.”

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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