The Commercial Roofing Market: My View at the Top of 2011

The years 2009 and 2010 were a strange time in our economy as a whole and in the construction industry specifically. Strange, yes. But not without opportunity, as shown by Duro-Last results: we closed out 2010 with a healthy sales increase over 2009.

There hasn’t been any real growth in roofing and construction as a whole in 2010. In the government segment, spending for roofing is up and the number of contractors pursuing public works projects is at an all-time high. However, not all contractors are willing or able to jump through the hoops that it takes to tackle government projects; public works jobs aren’t for everyone.

New construction, of course, is still largely in the tank. For owners and managers of existing facilities, financing can be difficult. Some are still afraid – after two years of recession – to invest in a new roof; they will keep patching what they’ve got.

With limited organic growth in roofing, the way that authorized Duro-Last contractors are growing or even keeping their volume of roofing going is by outshining local competitors that sell non-value-added products and services.

I’m in daily, close contact with roofers from all over. It’s common for me to hear that they are managing ok financially, although doing less volume with fewer people. The success that they are having comes from a couple of things.

First, they are staying close to their core competencies – the characteristics and tactics that made them successful in the first place. Although there’s not one industry that stands out with respect to roofing sales, it appears that the roofing market as a whole is predominantly smaller, retrofit projects that don’t require major financing or involve multiple decision makers. This niche is the sweet spot where many Duro-Last contractors have made their mark, and they are focusing their efforts on these opportunities.

Second, they are diligent about marketing and selling. They use marketing tools available to them from manufacturers, or are using their own tried-and-true methods.

I’m confident that the “strangeness” won’t last forever. In the meantime, contractors who stick to their business strengths and make good use of the extensive selling and marketing tools available to them will prevail.

International Roofing Expo – Best one Yet!

It looks as though things just might be finally turning around. The Duro-Last® booth at the 2011 International Roofing Expo was non-stop all three days. Attendance was up 18% compared to last year and we could really see a difference, primarily because of our hands-on welding contest for visitors and the comprehensive array of new products that were introduced.

About 50 people competed in the welding contest, and anyone who could weld a roof stack in less than 90 seconds was awarded a Duro-Last t-shirt. This was intended to demonstrate how Duro-Last’s pre-fabrication approach to producing roofing systems results in labor-savings for contractors. The winning time was 57 seconds to completely install a 3″ round stack.

Roofing contractor participating in the Roofers Challenge.

New products that were introduced included; standing seam roofing panels, Duro-Fleece™ System, new color terra cotta, Duro-Bond™ Inductive Weld Roofing System, and separation slip sheets.

Standing Seam Metal Roofing System

One of our biggest announcement was the addition of standing seam metal roofing panels, produced by EXCEPTIONAL® Metals. With five profiles and over 30 metal colors and finishes, Duro-Last’s standing seam roofing options will enhance the appearance of any sloped roof design. Profiles are available for architectural, structural, and flush wall/soffit panel standing seam applications.

Duro-Fleece™ System

The Duro-Fleece™ System combines Duro-Last’s proven thermoplastic membrane and five-and-a-half-ounce fleece material that’s bound to the underside of the membrane during manufacturing. The fleece offers enhanced adhesion characteristics between the membrane and the substrate. For some applications, it can also act as a separation barrier. The Duro-Fleece System can be applied using Duro-Last’s water-based WBII adhesive or a new product: the two-part bead-applied Duro-Fleece™ Adhesive.

New Color Terra Cotta

Duro-Last announced the addition of a new terra cotta color to our membrane offerings. Like the other standard Duro-Last membranes, the terra cotta material is a proprietary thermoplastic formulation that provides exceptional flexibility, resistance to U.V. radiation, and flame retardance.

Duro-Bond™ Inductive Weld Roofing System

This is a mechanically-attached installation option that uses non-penetrating technology. Induction welding bonds the Duro-Last membrane to a specially-coated fastening plate beneath the roof membrane, which also fastens insulation and recovery board materials to the roof deck. With the Duro-Bond system, contractors have the choice of using plates and welding tools made by OMG (the RhinoBond® Induction Fastening System) or FRS (the Centrix® Induction Bonding System).

Separation Slip Sheets

Duro-Last is offering two new separation slip sheets for use with the Duro-Last roofing system. Both sheets are chemical-resistant and have excellent weatherability. They are highly resistant to mildew and because they are made of inert organic materials, they do not provide nutritive value to plants, animals, or microorganisms. The Duro-Blue™ and Duro-Weave™ slip sheets may be used as a separation layer between the Duro-Last roof membrane and incompatible materials.

The 2012 International Roofing Expo will be held at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida, February 22-24.

Would you like to share your IRE experience? Send us a comment and we may post it on the blog!

Notes from the NRCA Fall Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the NRCA’s fall conference in Washington DC the week of October 18. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • In general, the attendees were not positive on the short-term future. The overall feeling is that trucking, raw materials, and a decline in demand will make 2011 similar to 2010. Contrary to much of the industry, I’m pleased to report that Duro-Last is having a good year; we are showing solid growth over 2009.
  • NRCA Executive Vice President Bill Good said that some regions and markets are years away from any type of growth. He commended companies as “doing well” if they are seeing growth volume at all in their businesses.
  • An NRCA lobbyist discussed the activities they are working on with Congress and the “insiders” view on the upcoming elections. He feels that Republicans will get 39-45 seats in the House and seven seats in the Senate.
  • An OSHA representative from the Obama administration said that there will be changes with respect to fall protection next year, some prompted by NRCA lobbying. There will also be sweeping changes with respect to crane safety standards – a topic that is important to anyone with a crane of any size. Safety regulations concerning loading roofs will change and contractors with cranes will need to learn them.
  • There was a lot of talk about solar and renewable energy. Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industries Association, made several points, including:
    • There are 93,000 solar jobs in the US. Resch used Hemlock Semiconductor (based in Saginaw County, Michigan) as an example of solar growth.
    • Solar output in 2010 will grow 100% and another 100% in 2011.
    • Residential systems now comprise 50% of solar wattage installed. This is because incentives are now more favorable for residential installations in the United States and because a large portion of corporate America has lost its tax appetite the past two years.
    • Cumulative Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for solar is expected to be 24% through 2015.
    • The solar industry needs to be subsidy-free by 2016. This is dependent on scale; the volume needs to grow at the current pace or better.
    • Roofers that have included solar as an offering have seen revenues grow 36-50%.
    • Integrators, roofers, designers, raw material manufacturers and others are profitable, but panel providers are losing billions. However, the industry is too big to fail, and this will change the next three to four years.
    • Solar installation volumes are still concentrated in the states with the best incentives.

Selecting A Commercial Roofing System

Building owners, roofing contractors, and specifiers have many options when deciding which commercial roofing system is best for a specific project. When selecting a roofing system, there are many issues to investigate. A thorough investigation will assure you that your investment is the best long-term roofing decision.

1. History/Longevity:

How long has the roof product been on the market under one owner? Proven longevity is critical when selecting a roofing system or manufacturer.

2. Cost:

Up-front cost is often perceived as the key factor in choosing a roofing system. However, the life cycle cost is the more important financial aspect that needs to be investigated. Considerations should include: tear-off, maintenance expenses, energy savings, additional warranty cost, and fast, non-disruptive installations.

3. Installing Contractors:

The long-term success of any roofing system ultimately falls on the installing roofing contractor and their application quality. Building owners and specifiers need to investigate the roofing contractor thoroughly. Roofing contractors should be trained and authorized by the manufacturer to ensure that quality is kept at the highest level.

4. Warranty:

Roofing system warranties can occasionally be confusing. Many times, manufacturers don’t have a published warranty and in some situations, the manufacturer or roofing product has been on the market less than 10 years, with warranties ranging from 10-20 years.

Features you may want to consider for a commercial warranty are:

  • Exclusions for consequential damages
  • Additional cost for the warranty
  • Exclusions for ponding water
  • Whether it’s a “repair or replace” warranty
  • Whether the warranty is transferable

5. Type of Building Design:

The roofing system should be flexible and able to be designed to meet the needs of virtually any type of structure. Determine if the roofing system can be designed for:

  • Dead level, low-sloped, or steep-sloped roofs
  • Buildings that cannot handle additional weight
  • All types of decks
  • Retrofit applications
  • Small roofs to large facilities
  • The strictest wind or fire code requirements
  • Metal buildings

6. Prefabrication:

Prefabrication is very important when choosing a roofing system as it allows the manufacturer to construct a portion of the roof in ideal factory conditions. Many commercial roofs are completely “manufactured” by an installer on top of a building where heat, humidity, cold, wind, and poor labor decisions will affect the roof’s long-term performance.

7. A Complete System Supplier:

With respect to commercial roofing systems, it is important to select one that has single-source accountability. It is important to have complete system warranty coverage, not just a warranty for the materials supplied by the manufacturer.

8. Company Support:

Contractors especially should investigate this issue to make sure the company supplying and warranting the roofing system is a complete service provider. These support services should be provided to all contractors:

  • Sales
  • Marketing
  • Engineering
  • Quality Assurance
  • Manufacturing

9. Rooftop Environment:

  • Is there a lot of foot traffic on the roof?
  • Are there numerous penetrations on the roof?
  • Any rooftop emissions?
  • Are there extreme variations in the expansion and contraction of the building?

Each of these issues needs to be addressed when choosing a roofing system to purchase or install. Make sure that the roofing system you choose for your commercial application has the sales, marketing, quality assurance, engineering staff, and reputation to meet your needs.

It’s October – Will Your Roof Survive The Winter?

If your commercial building is in need of a new roof, there is still plenty of good weather to complete the process. Often, the need for a new roof is forgotten during the drier summer months, but as the end of the year approaches and cooler, wetter weather sets in, building owners and managers should consider whether their roofs will be able to outlast another winter.

Now is the perfect time to evaluate the integrity of your roofing system. In the fall, leaves, branches, and debris often collect on a roof and clog drains and vents, causing water to pond and possibly damage the roof. It’s a good idea to take a roofing expert – perhaps a local contractor you can trust (get references) – up on the roof to help you determine whether to repair or replace it.

If you decide to replace your roof, the Duro-Last roofing system is formulated so it can be installed with top-quality results during the marginal weather that affects much of the country in the last quarter of the year. A Duro-Last installation does not require a specific daytime temperature range, and is not affected by humidity variations.

If you need a contractor, we have relationships with local roofers across North America. If you are already working with a roofing contractor on a new Duro-Last installation you still have plenty of time to complete the process and get the roof installed before the arrival of harsher weather in the first quarter of the year.

Performing a little rooftop “due diligence” now could prevent the formation of a bucket brigade inside your building next spring.<-->