In 1886 Bernard Kelly bought the Knickerbocker Roofing & Paving Co. Inc., founding a family-owned business that today – five generations and over 130 years later – has grown to be one of the largest roofing contractors in the Midwest. Here are some of the steps in our family business history.
1898 – 1915 Bernard Kelly’s new company took on some big projects in turn-of-the century Chicago, including roofing the new Public Library (we know it now as The Cultural Center) and paving Michigan Avenue when it bordered Lake Michigan’s shore.
1915 – 1954 Bernard was followed into the roofing business by his son-in-law, Mark A. Cronin, Sr., a founder and an early President of the National Roofing Contractors Association. Mark expanded Knickerbocker’s services to roofing railroad structures. In those days of steam engines, large wooden roundhouses were spaced about eighty miles apart along each right-of-way. Corroded by steam and the fumes from burning coal, these structures were in constant need of deck and roof replacement. Knickerbocker worked for the major railroads all across the country.
1954 – 1982 The three sons of Mark Cronin – Jim, Bob and Mark, Jr. – all graduates of the University of Notre Dame, continued to expand the services of Knickerbocker with large contracts from the steel industry, utilities, and major corporations. Our services were extended throughout the United States.
1982 – Present Today’s generation of Knickerbocker leaders includes four great grandsons and one great great grandson of Bernard Kelly, all college graduates, several with advanced degrees. All these men are substantial stockholders in the company; thus, they have a significant investment in the quality of Knickerbocker work and the reliability of Knickerbocker service.
Today, Knickerbocker Roofing is a company of substance. Because of our company’s outstanding stability we have an established line of credit and strong bonding capability. We are one of the largest roofing contractors in the Midwest. We are, also, a company of tradition – a tradition of workmanship and of service. We would like to extend that tradition to you, and we welcome this opportunity to share our Knickerbocker history with you.