When Clayton Watson arrived in Brownwood on Dec. 26, 2005, he had no car, no home and no job to speak of.    

What he did have was a past, plenty of demons and one overriding concern: staying sober until the next day. “I was fresh out of rehab,” Watson said of those early days. “I went through that halfway house that Allen Sheffield had.”   

But Watson struggled to find a good job and pay even the halfway house’s modest rent.   

“I didn’t have anything,” he said. “I had literally thrown my life away to the point that I was suicidal, and when I called out to God I said, ‘Just show me a way that I don’t have to get high any more. I don’t care if it’s prison. I don’t care what it is. Just show me a path.’”   

Watson said his prayers were answered when he found a job picking up after a crew of roofers after violent hailstorms in 2007. “I literally was their trash guy,” he said. “I picked up trash for them. It was a company out of Dallas that came down here.”   

Watson impressed the crew so much that their boss invited him to stay in Dallas to work with them. Over the next couple of years Watson traveled between Brownwood and the Metroplex, becoming the company’s top salesman in the process. But he wearied of life on the road — after a stint in South Texas following Hurricane Ike, Watson told his boss he wanted to go home to Brownwood.   

“He got mad at me over it,” Watson said. “He told me, ‘If you’re not coming back to Dallas to sell, I’m going to have to let you go.’ So he laid me off.”   

Two weeks later Watson’s crew called him, wondering where he was. “I said, ‘Well, he let me go because I didn’t want to come back to Dallas,’” he said. “They called me back about two hours later and said, ‘OK, here’s the deal: we called him up … and quit, so we work for you now.’”   

Watson Roofing was born.   

Today, Watson works with the same group of roofers on jobs throughout the region. He may be the boss, but he still picks up their trash. Watson said he specializes in residential roofing, and aims to excel at that one task. “There’s too many people … who say they can do it all,” Watson said. “And everything gets about three-quarters right. I try to specialize, because I’ve got a professional crew and they’re really good at what they do.”   

And to maintain his hard-won sobriety, Watson attends 12-step recovery meetings, assists other addicts in recovery and, above all, maintains his faith. “The Lord looks out for me. I believe that,” he said. “I’ve just been extremely blessed.   

“I’m honest with my customers. I tell people I’m an ex-drug addict, and that I showed up here to turn my life around. And I try really hard to do right by people on the roofing end. If I can’t get the insurance company to pay, I will take a hit to help a little old lady get a roof on her house,” he said.   

Watson grew up in the small town of Caddo Mills, Texas, near Greenville. He described his home life as loving and stable, though some family members did struggle with addiction. Though he cherishes the memories of Caddo Mills, Watson said he sees no future there. “One thing my father always told me — and it used to make me so mad — when you’re from a small town, you know everybody. My dad would always say, ‘Son, if you keep sleeping with the dogs, you’re going to keep getting the same fleas.’ And he was right,” Watson said.   

Now Watson aims to be a resource and example for locals who feel caught in that same cycle of addiction. “I will talk to anybody any time about recovery,” he said, “and I’ll do whatever I can to pull somebody up out of that hole and give them hope.”   

Watson praised the Brownwood community for supporting him and his business, and said his mission is to be of service to the town that helped save his life.   

“I believe God needs roofers as much as he ends preachers,” he said.   

Watson Roofing can be reached at 325-203-4002.