Owner and President
Owner and President
A&S is owned and operated by William H. Roark. Roark has a rather unique if and diverse background compared to most specialty trade contractors. He didn’t grow up in the field or rise from the ranks as a drywall framer; he didn’t spend his summers as teenager installing ceiling tiles or step into the shoes of a father handing over the reins of the family business. Instead, he confidentially took a leap of faith and bought the business as a rather inexperienced investor. He was passionate about being a business owner and when one door was abruptly closing in his career, the knock of opportunity came to another. In 2008, he answered that knock.
By education, Roark started his career as a Certified Public Accountant. Yes, a bean counter. Initially he set out to become a dentist and partner with his much older half brother that already had a successful practice. But, when he struggled to get a C in freshman chemistry, it quickly changed his mind and his major. General business seemed to vague so accounting was chosen as the his path. In three years he earned his Bachelors of Accountancy from Ole Miss. He stuck around Oxford for another year and finished his Masters. Both degrees were attained with honors and while maintaining a long distance relationship with his high school sweetheart, now his wife.
With degrees in hand, he eagerly joined the ranks of multinational accounting firm Arthur Andersen as an Staff Accountant in the Memphis Audit and Advisory practice. It didn’t sound exciting on the surface but it was fascinating for him. He had the privilege of gaining responsibility as fast as he could take it on. He was surrounded by unusually bright and energetic co-workers and bosses, all the while gaining exposure and invaluable experience with varying businesses: small mom & pops to global enterprises, banks and real estate investment trusts, casinos, employee benefits plans, cotton merchandisers, bond trading companies, resort management companies, manufacturers, logistics and transportation firms, and the list goes on and on. While he did spent a fair amount of time with rather mundane audit work, with it came the opportunity to assist with consulting and advisory services where he could truly help customers. It was this process improvement work and transaction advisory services that he enjoyed most. This work was formidable in his present day business of serving customers day in and day out.
When the bombshell of the WorldCom and Enron financial scandals hit in 2002, both of which were clients of his employer, it wasn’t long until Roark’s hand was forced to look for another firm to call home. His anchor client at the time, First Horizon / First Tennessee Bank, promptly switched its services to KPMG and Roark and the balance of the engagement team followed suit.
In his four years at KPMG, Roark rose from Senior Auditor to Manager. He spent most of his time in the financial services and real estate practices, handling publicly held company audits such as First Tennessee, BancorpSouth Bank and Mid-American Apartment Communities. As an auditor, he did everything from count cotton bales for the likes of Dunavant Enterprises to count cash in the vaults at Harrah’s Casino; he reconciled bank accounts for International Paper, verified the accuracy of financial info for earnings press released for numerous public companies, ticked and tied countless 10-Q and 10-K reports, audited boring employee benefit plans to ensure compliance with rigorous US Department of Labor laws, documented countless processes and internal control procedures, presented audit findings and advisory information to senior managers and member of boards of directors, supervised engagement teams, assisted with recruiting initiatives, built project budgets and schedules, and everything in between.
However, with the financial industry’s regulatory changes of Sarbanes Oxley law, the consultation and advisory services work that Roark so enjoyed was now off limits for his firm to provide. Conflicts of interest. It didn’t take long for Roark to seek greener pastures.
When a former mentor from his Andersen days called and asked him to join him as the Chief Financial Officer of a real estate development company, Roark knew it was just what he needed. So in 2005, he packed up from Memphis and headed for the white sands and emerald waters of Destin, Florida to join Axiom Capital Group. Axiom, now defunct, was a real estate investment and development company that managed certain assets of a wealthy family partnership based out of the Atlanta area. During his three years at Axiom, Mr. Roark was responsible for the day to day operations of the development and construction activities and assisted with the management of the many real estate development investments including related construction activities. Roark served as an owner’s representative on projects ranging from the speculative construction of single family residential homes to the development and construction of 600 unit high rise condominiums. When the real estate wave crashed, things got interesting. The family partnership wanted out, there was in-fighting between them and their investment partners and the value of their investments seemingly evaporated overnight. When the purse string holders decided to retreat, Roark declined the opportunity to move to Atlanta to help wind down their numerous investment positions from afar. As luck would have it, about that same time he got a lead on an opportunity back in Memphis. A phone call to a business owner seeking a successor lead to Roark’s current ownership of A&S.
For eight months, Roark and the then owner of A&S, Ed King, worked their plans for the transfer of ownership. Roark would join A&S as a project manager and estimator, learn the business, ensure all was well with the company he intended to acquire and in two years time the purchase would be consummated. The plan held up and Roark did just what he set out to do. In 2010, Roark was the proud new owner of a business that was twice as old as himself. King continued to be involved for another couple of years and mentored Roark and his immediate and first hire, J Andersen, in their roles as Project Manager and Estimators. King’s 30 years of knowledge and relationships were transferred and when the timing was right he retreated to his life of bouncing between the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico enjoying the fruits of his decades of labor.
Mr. Roark’s title is President of A&S and in that capacity handles the day to day operations and strategic initiatives of the company. As a certified small business owner, he gets to (some say “have to” but he likes it) wear many hats. It is that very diversity that drives him as owner and president of A&S. He is involved in everything from business development to contract negotiations, from estimating to project management, from signing paychecks to implementing cloud based project management software.
Under Roark’s ownership, A&S has continued it long standing legacy as the preferred drywall and acoustical ceiling contractor in the Mid-South. Under his watch, the company has enjoyed the challenge and benefit of being awarded and successfully completing the largest drywall projects for A&S, multiple times over. He is forever seeking ways to improve the operations of the business and reduce risk while earning a fair profit.
Roark enjoys what he does and therefore works quite a bit. He subscribes to Teddy Roosevelt thought process: “When you play, play hard. When you work, don’t play at all.”
When he’s not working, Roark enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter which can range from playing house, trail riding on horseback, fishing, hiking, bike rides and enjoying the unplanned activities that make being a father so wonderful. Roark also enjoys traveling and finding any excuse to spend out of doors. From planting food plots for wildlife on his family’s farm, calling in long bearded gobbling turkeys each spring, shooting sporting clays in the summer, relaxing on a deer stand in the autumn, shooting decoying ducks with friends in the winter, Roark is a passionate outdoorsman.
Roark’s business philosophy is to question the status quo, seek more efficient and effective processes and techniques, continually strive for improvement with a focus on maintaining and strengthening Acoustics & Specialties’ strong reputation, one successful project at a time.