The year was 1929 and Ernest Eloy Montoya was fourteen years old. He was energetic and ambitious. He recalls selling newspapers in downtown Bakersfield in front of the Southern Hotel and watched the construction of a new building, later to be known as The Fox Theater. As a young man, he worked as a laborer carrying cement to workmen who were installing Mission Tile on a new construction site now known as The Bakersfield Inn. This massive undertaking made claims of being the largest Motel of its kind in the world. It would have 312 rooms. Ernest felt honored to be a part of it’s history.
There was plenty of work for Ernest and his brothers, Louie, Frank and Nick. These four young men worked together to ease the financial burdens of their family.
In 1939, Mr. Montoya married Alyce Lopez. They were blessed with six children; Jo Ann, Patty, Jeanie, Ernie Jr., Rick and Beth. Life was simple growing up in the 1950’s. Alyce was the “lace” around her husband’s life and the very heart of the family. She was a loving mother, caring wife, resourceful and creative financial manager, but above all else, she was a wonderful friend to Ernest. There were many parties and a yard full of toys. (Mr. Montoya’s favorite was the go-cart) He was finally able to enjoy a childhood he had missed, due to early responsibilities. The marriage of these two honest and enterprising people has proven to be Ernest’s most successful partnership.
Since he and his brothers had worked so well together during the early years, it came as no surprise when, in 1942, after earning his Contractor’s License, Ernest invited his brothers to join him in business; Alyce at his side, as Bookkeeper. The new merger was named State Roofing and Insulation Company also known as Ace Roofing Company. The Montoya brothers shared a comfortable and efficient working relationship. Only time could separate them. Through the war years Ernest, his brothers and their families traveled throughout California and Arizona. They were involved in the construction and roofing of our government’s army barracks.
The earthquake of 1952 devastated Bakersfield and the surrounding areas, but Tehachapi, our neighbor to the east, was nearly destroyed. Ernest and his brothers were instrumental in rebuilding Bakersfield and the surrounding communities.
During the 1960’s, Ernest realized that he had been successful in both his personal and his professional life, but he still had one dream that was unfulfilled. He wanted to serve the community as a distributor of roofing materials and advisor to the typical homeowner.
At age 56, his brothers having retired from the business, Ernest found himself with too much time on his hands. He was too young to retire and too ambitious to quit. So, he and Alyce applied for a Small Business Loan. On May 1, 1971 Bakersfield Shingles Wholesale opened their doors at #4 “P” Street. “BSW”, as it has come to be known, now offered the sale of roofing materials to the general public and a staff of technicians for residential applications. Ernest, Sr. still wanted to reach the “little guy” who had a family and a budget. He contracted with local radio station, KERN, and sponsored a new program called, “The Collectors Corner.” During the hour-long radio show, people called in and offered items for sale. Sprinkled with the callers, were Mr. Montoya’s words of wisdom. He spoke daily to his old friend, George Gholdston, about various roofing questions. Serving the community as a Distributor and Advisor was now a reality.
As God willed, sons, Ernie Jr. and Rick Montoya, both majored in Business Administration. These two young men have brought continuity and their own wisdom to the company. Now at the helm of their family’s business, they have led the firm in new and exciting directions. Today they have a staff of 50 employees, Alyce remains the Bookkeeper.
Bakersfield Shingles Wholesale Roofing Contractors, Inc. as we are known today is involved in commercial and residential application, and refurbishing. BSW has held Saturday morning classes for homeowners and have given seminars to the City of Bakersfield Building Department. BSW finished the roof-restoration of The Fox Theater for the Historical Society in July, 2000.
“Who would have thought that this young paperboy would have such an impact on the community and the building of Bakersfield. Mr. Montoya is now an Advisor to his company. He was 87 years young this year. We love him and mom.”
– Patt “Montoya” Galland, 2001