Bob Gummer was a Baltimore legend in the roofing business. From an alley behind Barclay and 25th Street he operated a slate business, supplying Pennsylvania and Vermont slate to roofing contractors.
He took time to teach ‘new guys’ how to cut, shape and punch slate with a slate hammer, and dropping by his office was always a respite from a hot day on the roof.
He grew up in Manlius, New York and as a young man found work in slate roofing. He was very familiar with the quarries of the Slate Valley, on the Vermont/New York state line, but came to Baltimore to work on the Patapsco and Back River railroad as an engineer.
He made time for a second job, founding the Gummer Roofing Co in 1958 which he incorporated, with his son Bernie Frist, in 1978. He retired from the railroad in 1973, but continued his roofing business until 1985 when he established the Gummer Slate Company. Until well into his eighties he ran the Gummer Slate truck back and forth between Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania and Baltimore. In 2002 he passed away, just shy of his ninetieth birthday. He is missed and fondly recalled by the roofing community.
Bernie Frist took over the business for the next six years, finally selling to the present owners, Wayne and Pat Roland in 2007.
While the hey-day of the slate industry was in the 19th and early 20th century, it still has a strong niche in the US economy.
Existing slate roofs need material for maintenance and the luxury home-building market value the quality, beauty and endurance of slate roofs. For those who want the best, slate is the only choice, while some insist on slate as a ‘green’ alternative to asphalt, an oil-based product.
Gummer Slate is a member of the NSA & SRCA
We have structured the Gummer Slate Co. to provide a reliable supply of slate to home-builders and contractors, while expediting deliveries from quarries to the job-site at state and national levels.
Our established business relations are with quarries from New England, Virginia, Canada, Wales and Spain. We stock eighteen sizes in both Vermont Black and Semi-Weathering Grey-Green.
Our Spanish connection brings us the outstanding Galcar products, both Secca and Hebra, our first choice for roof replacement and new construction projects.
In addition we have a large inventory of Peach Bottom, Buckingham and Monson as reclaimed slates. In reclaimed roofing tile, we have Barrel, Interlocking, French and Spanish Imperial, Bar, Slab, Hip and Ridge tile.