Posted on Mon, Nov. 29, 2010
A culture clash in roofing
Main Line contractors, losing jobs to the Amish, cry foul. The Amish say they work harder.
By Harold Brubaker
Inquirer Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA -- Main Line roofers say they are taking it on the chin from Amish competitors, who are getting a significant amount of work in Philadelphia's wealthy western suburbs.
Keith McLean, a Paoli roofing contractor, said he lost a job this month when his bid of $8,000 was $3,000 more than the winning Amish bid.
The 38 percent difference in price, McLean said, rendered him unable to compete. "My wiggle room is hundreds of dollars. I don't have three grand" to play with, said McLean, who owns Hancock Building Associates Inc.
McLean and other non-Amish contractors say the Amish, who come from Lancaster County and western Chester County, have an advantage because they do not have to pay Social Security taxes for themselves or their Amish employees and are eligible for a religious exemption from workers' compensation insurance
, although not all take advantage of the latter.
"If they are going to come into our community, they need to conduct their business the same way we do," said McLean, who has been in business for 20 years.
. . .
Now, with all contractors needing to look farther afield for work, local builders are up in arms over what they call unfair competition from the Plain People, who the local contractors say not only undercut them but go back home without spending money here
"It's a form of outsourcing,"
said Steven Kraegel, who owns CedarTek L.L.C., a Paoli roofing company, and was one of six non-Amish contractors interviewed.
. . .