Here in Oklahoma, tornadoes and hail are a regular part of our weather, like it or not. One company near downtown Edmond is doing their part to help.
HailTrace is a technology company that specializes in real time and forensic weather information. Their service shows areas that have been impacted by severe weather so that their customers can leverage that data to efficiently get to affected areas, which is data that can be extremely valuable in industries like roofing.
A lifelong obsession with weather
For founder and CEO Derik Kline, the weather has been a lifelong obsession, which inspired him to start his own company. “I have always been obsessed with weather,” Kline shared. “I knew that I wanted to start a weather-based company, so I started a storm chasing company.”
For some time, Kline worked other jobs while trying to get people to pay him to take them storm chasing. A significant storm hit Oklahoma City on May 16, 2010 that changed everything for him.
“A family friend and contractor asked if I could create a map that showed the areas that were hit by the hail storm,” Kline said, “and the concept of HailTrace was born.”
Over the next year and a half, Kline continued to work a full-time job while tracking storms on the side and saving as much money as he could. In February of 2012, he took the leap, quit his job, and went full-time. “I took what was then Extreme Weather Predictions LLC—soon to be HailTrace—to the International Roofing Expo in Orlando, Florida.”
“The rest, as they say, is hail-story,” he said with a grin.
Changes, enjoyment, and challenges
More than just the company’s name has changed over the years. They now have far more employees, different goals, and scalable processes.
Kline said, “We now have 25 employees, which seemed so far away even two years ago. Our goals have also changed. You know, just a few years ago we would have had a hard time seeing HailTrace have as successful a year as we did last year.” Kline gives full credit for that successful year to his team.
Kline also shared that their processes have changed to become more scalable. “As we have grown,” he said, “we have had to figure out how to scale processes and SOPs.” Kline finds that type of change both challenging and enjoyable.
Naturally, there are other aspects about the business that Kline enjoys. His team is one of those. “I love getting to work every day, ready to go to bat for our entire team. That is really motivating for me,” Kline said.
He enjoys how the company has been a big part of so many milestones for his team. He shared, “From buying a first house to bringing children into the world, it is so rewarding that I get to be a part of that.”
Given his life-long obsession with weather, it’s not surprising that he finds enjoyment in that aspect of the business as well. “I still get that same feeling in my stomach leading up to an intense potential outbreak,” he said. “It is such an adrenaline rush for me, [and I enjoy] letting other people experience that with me.”
Naturally, there are challenges as well. A big one for Kline is time away from family. “With my schedule,” he said, “I sometimes spend a lot of time away from my beautiful wife Leah and our four amazing kids.” He is thankful that they are so understanding, but it still remains a challenge for him.
But, having the ability to help customers goes a long way toward making time away worth it. On one occasion, Kline was at his desk tracking a series of hail storms in the Denton, Texas area when a customer called.
He shared, “I answered to hear loud pounding noise—hail—and the tornado sirens going off in the background.” The client was scared and not sure where the tornado was. Thanks to the information Kline and his team had access to, he was able to let him know it was just six blocks away and moving in their direction.
Derik said, “A few seconds of panic transitioned into a calm but scary, guided path out of the direction of the tornado.” The customer made it to safety, and both he and Kline laugh about the story now.
Humor plays a big part in the company culture of HailTrace. “We laugh a lot at the office,” Kline said. “We like to have fun, and we are very passionate about what we do.” He added that he views their team as a big family that enjoys being together.
Hard work and accuracy is also extremely important and something they emphasize to their customers. “Our team spends hours perfecting their craft,” Kline said. “Sometimes, they work 12-15 hours mapping severe weather.”
Giving back is also important to Kline. One organization that is close to his heart is The Arthritis Foundation. Kline said, “We have a few family members that are affected by arthritis, so any chance I get to give back, I take because they are constantly fighting for awareness and support for arthritis sufferers.”
Personally, what gets Kline out of bed every day is two things: his relationship with Jesus and providing for his family. Kline said, “Striving to be more like [Jesus] every day motivates me. [And my family is] the reason I get up so early every day.” He wants his children to know he would do anything for them and strives to set an example of hard work and commitment to a dream and a purpose.
That all ties back into the vision statement for HailTrace as well, which guides Kline in every interaction. Kline shared, “It is to glorify God by being. Faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come into contact with HailTrace.”
In a company that specializes in measuring accurately, that vision statement is the key to measuring their own success.