Josh Thull poses for a portrait with his german
in his back yard in the town of Trenton.
John Ehlke/Daily News
Like father, like son.
The apple doesn’t fall far
from the tree.
A chip off the old block.
No matter how you put it,
there’s no denying the steadying influence
Josh Thull’s dad has been in his life — and
Thull, 30, owns JRT Top Notch
Roofs in Saukville. The West Bend native
freely admits the business “was born into
His father, Jerry Thull,
established JT Roofing in 1982 as a oneman,
one-truck operation. Josh related that in
elementary school his nickname was “JT,”
owing to his strong resemblance to his dad,
and that he and his buddies would kick balls
up to the roofs where his dad’s crews worked
to have them toss the balls back down.
“I had to pay a couple
timeout consequences at recess for that but
it was still worth it,” he said.
It wasn’t long before Josh
was tagging along as “dad’s helper” to
roofing jobs. When conditions were safe, he
was allowed up on a roof to learn the trade
first hand, and he gained further experience
through a co-op program in high school,
learning and working alongside roofing
“I knew that it was what I
wanted to do,” Josh said.
After graduating from West
Bend East High School — where he was a
four-sport athlete, excelling in football,
wrestling, track and baseball — he joined an
ABC of Wisconsin Apprenticeship for Roofing
and Waterproofing program, finishing a year
early at the top of his class. He earned an
associate degree and business certificate at
the University of Wisconsin-Washington
County in 2008 and was set to pursue a
bachelor’s degree in business management
when fate intervened.
As Josh tells it, his dad was
planning “his next dream” and was ready to
turn the business over to his sons, Josh and
Jonas, in 2011.
“When he was making the
transition it was a great opportunity to
turn things over into our hands” Josh said.
“Jonas was going into law enforcement but he
switched over and we kind of went into it at
the same time.”
Josh established JRT Top
Notch Roofs, handling commercial and
residential roofing projects, while Jonas
started JT Rams, which focuses on extending
the life and durability of existing roofing
“JRT Top Notch Roofs
generally tears off and installs new roofs
whereas JT Rams — Roofing Asset Management
Systems — corrects existing roof
deficiencies so you do not necessarily need
to install a new roof right away,” Josh
There’s no denying that
roofing is hard work. It’s hotter up there,
with the sun beating down and heat radiating
back from the roof, and it’s windier, too.
“Everyone understands that in
construction, it's hard to bring people in
because they don't want to sweat,” Josh
said. “They'd rather have a desk job or
something in technology where you're in an
So there are limits to the
company’s growth, based mostly on manpower.
“The jobs are there, Josh
said. “It's a matter of getting the manpower
to go and do them.
“Have we grown? Yes. At the
same time, retaining (workers) is the other
hard thing. You've got to do on-the-job
training and that's something we've done,
something my dad did in the past.”
Another lesson from Dad.
“My father plays a big role
in my life as my mentor,” Josh said. “He’s
made me the determined individual I am
“I'm motivated to complete
the goals I set in my head every morning,”
he said. “If I don't complete them, I'm not
going to bed. I won't close my eyes.”
It hasn’t been all rainbows
and ice cream, either. Josh cites the
“building blocks” of his company as safety,
attitude, workmanship and attendance. It’s a
tough, demanding business, Josh said, and
“you've got to get bruised up to learn.”
Bruised up? Like getting
punched in the nose a couple of times?
“I did,” Josh said with a
laugh, “ by my brother.
“You've got to fail to
learn,” he said. “You've got to get back on
your horse and keep doing it.”
So what does the future hold?
With retirement too far off to even consider
— “Who can retire any more? What are you
gonna do? I guess I could go fishing,” Josh
said — he hints at his next challenge. A
“I'd like to hand the
business down to a third generation,” he
said, adding, with a laugh, “when I find a