Honesty, reliability and the Golden Rule have served Ben Molina and Chris Cuellar well at the award-winning Pinnacle Roofing Systems.
By: Dayna Worchel
Photos by: Mark Joseph/Dark Lab Photography & David Olds
Corpus Christi business owner and community leader Ben Molina has a philosophy that has served him well in business and in life. “I like to treat people the way I want to be treated. I always give people the benefit of the doubt, and I say, ‘I’ll trust you until I can’t trust you,’” Molina said recently inside his newly purchased Pinnacle Roofing Systems office on SPID.
So far, this way of thinking and working has served the 36-year-old president of Pinnacle well. He owns the company along with his partner, Chris Cuellar, who serves as the company’s vice president. Molina, a Kerrville native, began working with the company immediately after graduation from King High School. “I started at the bottom, doing what needed to be done in inclement weather and on hot days, installing roofing,” he said.
He soon began working in a managerial position with the company, then known as Apex Engineers and Consultants, doing sales, estimating, project management and repairs. Previous owner Charles Schibi decided to retire after Molina had been with the company for 17 years already and gave Molina the opportunity to purchase the business. Molina became president in 2015 after he and Cuellar decided to purchase the business from Schibi.
“I’ve known Chris for several years,” Molina said of his partner, who started working with Pinnacle Roofing in late 2014. Cuellar has a background in residential roofing, and he brought his expertise to Pinnacle, which had previously performed mostly commercial roofing, according to Molina. “Chris has built our residential market, as well as helping our commercial market grow,” he said.
Molina said Pinnacle Roofing was born out of a company called Apex Engineers and Consultants, which was also owned by Schibi. Apex was hired in 2004 to help an irrigation district in the Rio Grande Valley to find a solution to a problem with blowouts happening in its irrigation canals.
Molina said the company studied various membranes and materials and came across a material called Duro-Last, a roofing material created in 1978. Apex contacted the manufacturer and told them they wanted to line the canal with the membrane. The Duro-Last company sent material and a crew, and Apex lined the canal with it. “It saved the irrigation district half a million dollars and solved their problems,” Molina said.
Duro-Last honored their warranty with that canal, and the Apex staff became more familiar with the product. “One of the guys we worked with came up with the idea to use it on a roof. Who would have thought? It’s one-fourth pound per square foot, so it’s not too heavy,” Molina said.
He’s won awards from Duro-Last for his work. “Over the years, we’ve been awarded Master Contractor status, Elite contractor status and the president’s award,” he said.
Both companies, Apex and Pinnacle, ran at the same time for a while. Molina was general manager of both from 2006 until 2015, when he and Cuellar became the owners of Pinnacle in 2015. “I knew the ins and outs of both companies,” he said.
Business has picked up for Pinnacle since Molina and Cuellar have taken over. “We hired more sales staff and installers, and have purchased and renovated an office building,” Molina said. “We have several good residential and commercial projects going on now.”
Molina, married for more than 11 years to Jennifer Molina and the father of two school-aged children, didn’t attend college, but he has no regrets about that at all. “I took the road less traveled,” he said. “While my friends were attending school and incurring debt, I kept my nose to the grindstone. I think the hard work paid off, and now being a small-business owner has been my reward.”
In May, Molina, who has a history of being heavily involved in his community, announced he is running for Corpus Christi City Council to represent District 2, which occupies several neighborhoods in the center of the city. “I told my friends what I was thinking, and they encouraged me to do it,” he said.
He said there is no one issue that pushed him to run. “My goal for city council is to be receptive to new ideas,” he said. “I want to be responsive. If there are issues that I’m not aware of in the district, I want to find out what those issues are and see what I can do to help in those areas. One of the things I want to do to open that line of communication is to set up quarterly town hall meetings in the district.”
Holding the town hall meetings will give him feedback from the community so he can find out the concerns and hopefully come up with solutions. “I think that’s important,” Molina said. “That and the overall improving the quality of life, which will include streets, drinkable water and all the other issues you see in the news.”
Molina has also served as board president of Habitat for Humanity, and was vice president of the City of Corpus Christi’s Zoning Board Adjustments. Molina is currently the board president of Westside Business Association, he is a graduate of Leadership Corpus Christi’s Class 42 and he recently served on the Steering Committee for LCC Class 44.
He credits his experience in the Leadership Corpus Christi program with helping him to decide to run for city council. “It was very enlightening,” he said of the program. “It is what you make of it. You get out of it what you put into it.”
Molina, who enjoys serving and helping, got a chance this summer to put it into practice in a very concrete way, with Mission 911, a local organization that serves the homeless. Founder/Director Tony Reyes called to say he needed help replacing a roof at the shelter. He called Molina, who donated some of the roofing materials and partnered with his roofing supplier to donate the rest.
“Ben was very influential in helping us out,” Reyes said. “He did it out of his heart. He asked what we needed, and he made sure it happened.” The new roof houses the dental office and a meeting room at the Mission 911 shelter. “A lot of times, when people say they are going to come through with something, they don’t,” Reyes said. “That wasn’t the case with Ben.”
For more information, visit Pinnacle Roofing Systems online at http://pinnaclersi.com.