Greenbuild 2009: One for the Generations

The brown and dusty environs of Phoenix became lush – at least for a few days last week – as Greenbuild 2009 brought its verdant footprint to the Phoenix C.C. (that’s Convention Center). The annual sustainable construction fest attracted a reported 25,000+ visitors who strolled through two exhibit halls packed with 1800 booths festooned with asparagus and lime and shamrock – and every shade of green in between. Duro-Last was one of them, and we presented our cool roofing and broader sustainability messages.

Waiting for the exhibit hall to open on Wednesday morning, November 11, 2009.
Waiting for the exhibit hall to open on Wednesday morning, November 11, 2009.

Most of my time was spent with representatives from the multitude of media outlets that serve the construction and facilities markets. Trade shows provide selling opportunities for those folks as well, and as I buy advertising for Duro-Last, I often feel like a meatloaf sandwich at a wolf convention – there’s no escape.

My informal observation was that the green part of the construction/facilities biz is doing well – or at least showing life. Traffic was strong throughout exhibit hours, even up to when things closed down late Thursday afternoon. And clearly, many exhibitors had spent serious money on their presence – size, shape, sophistication, and staff – to attract buyers to their booths. Can an investment in attending Greenbuild – to either exhibit or be exhibited to – foretell an up tick in our corner of the economy? Many would say yes, especially given that green construction products and practices are becoming easier to cost justify.

My non-scientific study also involved a casual interview with the trash police. I managed to sneak away from the media reps on one occasion for a surreptitious saunter around the show floor and spoke to some college architecture students who were monitoring the trash receptacles. They were ensuring that garbage was separated properly (organics from non-organics, etc.) before being disposed of.

Two young ladies in architecture programs at the universities of Idaho and Southern California were tending one bin. I didn’t get their names or photos, unfortunately. I did get their perceptions of the proceedings, and a couple of comments stood out.

First, they seemed pleasantly surprised that this event had attracted people from all generations. They apparently expected that a show with a green focus would be the province of the young, and perhaps not as relevant for those who have been steeped in more traditional construction practices.

Second, they said it was fairly easy for them to discern those exhibitors and attendees who had a clear commitment to sustainability and those who were merely trying to capitalize on the “green” trend.

I don’t know if they saw a connection between the two – e.g., it’s primarily baby boomers who are just riding along on the green bandwagon. Regardless: it’s clear from the stunning growth of the Greenbuild event – not to mention the enthusiasm of the architecture students – that sustainable building practices are going to be a cornerstone of the facilities world for the foreseeable future.

Roof Dilemma: Maintain or Replace?

Is roof replacement a better option than maintaining it when the roof’s watertight integrity – its primary function – fails? In other words, at what point do roof leaks become intolerable, and it’s time to replace the roof?

Think about how roof leaks can affect the bottom line:

  • Interior damage: To ceiling tiles, carpet, computers, gymnasium floors that could cost $500,000 to replace.
  • Production downtime: Shutting a line down for a day could cost thousands of dollars in lost productivity.
  • Lost business: Roof leaks at a four-star hotel can make the priciest rooms unavailable for guests.

Delaying roof replacement can add costs to a new roof project once the decision to replace it is made. Ineffective and inconsistent patching and other maintenance can allow water to penetrate the membrane and cause irreparable damage to roof system components, including insulation and the roof deck itself. Here are some potential added-cost considerations:

  • Tear off – add $1-2 per square foot.
  • Roof deck replacement – add $2.50-6.00.
  • Asbestos removal (possible for some older facilities) – add 10% or more.

The roof contributes – on average – 5% to the construction cost of a building, but is the most litigated component of a commercial building.

Building owners/managers should use their experience to establish a projected average service life of roofs. Several factors will influence a roof’s service life: design quality, installation integrity, products, maintenance, roof use, and weather.

Here’s an example: If you manage a million square feet of roofing that has a projected life expectancy of 20-30 years, you might consider budgeting to replace 1/20 or 5% (50,000 square feet) per year. If the average installation cost is $5 per square foot, look to budget $250,000 each year.

So when you are deciding between maintaining or replacing, look at your annual maintenance costs and if they are exceeding what your annual new roof budget is, it may be time to replace.

maintainreplace

Working With A Roofing Contractor: Part 2

Screening A Contractor

Before hiring a contractor, a building owner should ask several questions:

  • Can the contractor provide references from satisfied customers?
  • What experience does he or she have with similar installations?
  • What is their experience with the product being installed?

Many manufacturers have implemented a quality rating system to ensure that the contractors installing their roofing systems are proficient. Duro-Last’s Master and Elite Contractor programs are intended to give building owners/facility managers confidence that the roofing system will be installed to high-quality standards.

“To qualify for these Duro-Last programs, a contractor must have installed our roofing system on a variety of buildings, and achieved consistently high-quality inspection scores over several years,” said Mitch Guettler, Quality Assurance Manager at Duro-Last.

The building owner should also verify that the contractor’s business is financially stable. Before allowing any business to become one of its authorized roofing contractors, some manufacturers obtain a credit report from Dun & Bradstreet (D & B), noted Tom Allen, President of Allen Consulting Group, Inc. When the contractor’s business is so new that there isn’t a D & B report on file, the manufacturer may ask to see his or her banking history. To be sure, each contractor sets different parameters regarding the information he or she is willing to provide to potential business partners.

“Most of the better contractors have appropriate financial statements that they’re willing to make available,” added Allen.

What A Contractor Should Provide:

  • Qualified employees.
  • Equipment that will enable the completion of the project at hand.
    • Vehicles that can haul away refuse at the end of each day.
    • Safety equipment such as guard rails and fall protection harnesses for employees to use while completing a roofing installaion.

Another crucial factor to consider when selecting a roofing contractor is their employees’ experience and skills levels.

“What drives installation quality today is the experience of the foreman or job superintendent,” said Allen. “It’s critical that the building owner or facility manager ask the contractor how much experience the employees have installing different types of roofing.”

Additionally, the building owner/facility manager and contractor will also want to go over variables that will help ensure a smooth-running project.

Points of discussion should include:

  • The location of a staging area for tools and materials.
  • Expected duration of the installation and what (if any) building disruptions can be expected.
  • Daily work hours.
  • A number to call if problems occur outside of normal business hours.

Finally, the building owner should ask the roofing contractor the following post-installation questions:

  • How does the contractor plan to handle post-installation work?
  • Will the contractor inspect the roof annually? If so, is there a fee?

The best solution is to have the contractor and building owner establish a yearly maintenance program together to help ensure the performance and longevity of the roofing system.

In our next installment, we will discuss who is responsible for what when it comes to the roofing system warranty.

Working With A Roofing Contractor: Part 1

First In A Series

Roles, Responsibilities, and Rapport

When it comes to installing a roofing system on a commercial building, several parties may be involved, including the building owner/facility manager, the roofing manufacturer’s representative, and the roofing contractor. So, who does what, and how do each of these individuals interact to get the project completed?

“The way that everyone works together is determined by the complexity or size of the roofing installation,” said Tom Allen, President of Allen Consulting Group, Inc. in Wilton, Iowa and an independent sales representative for Duro-Last® Roofing, Inc.

In Allen’s experience, the contractor and building owner/facility manager typically collaborate on projects that are fairly straightforward. Allen estimates that between 50-70 percent of roofing projects proceed this way.

“These are typically light commercial to simple industrial jobs,” noted Allen.

When the project becomes more complex or larger, the roofing manufacturer’s representative often steps in.

According to Allen, the sales representative can provide a variety of services to the contractor such as:

  • Giving sales presentations.
  • Answering technical questions.
  • Introducing third-party products such as insulation, skylights, or other roofing system components.
  • Facilitating the integration of photovoltaic or rooftop garden systems by bringing in those product vendors as necessary.
  • Providing other resources to the contractor and/or building owner that will help keep the roofing project moving forward smoothly.

When a particularly complicated project arises, some manufacturers bring in a technical representative to provide additional expertise and recommendations.

“A good example of a complex, multifaceted job might be replacing a restaurant roof that has multiple vents, exhaust fans, and/or air conditioning units,” said Allen.

Given that the primary parties in most roofing jobs will be the building owner and contractor, it’s critical that the two work well together and communicate effectively.

In our next posting, we will highlight how to properly screen a contractor to make sure they are the perfect fit for you and your roofing project.

The A Through Z Of Associations Part 2

There are many associations that roofing manufacturers, contractors and other industry professionals can be involved with. Some are technical and engineering-oriented; others are sales and networking associations; and some deal with each of these aspects in the roofing and construction industries.

This is the second in a series of posts that will discuss the various associations that benefit roofing manufacturers, contractors, and other industry professionals.

ASTM International

ASTM International (ASTM) is one of the largest voluntary standards development organizations in the world; a source for technical standards for materials, products, systems, and services. ASTM International standards play an important role in the information infrastructure that guides design, manufacturing, and trade in the global economy.

ASTM International, originally known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, was formed over a century ago, when a group of engineers and scientists got together to address frequent rail breaks in the burgeoning railroad industry. Their work led to standardization on the steel used in rail construction, ultimately improving railroad safety for the public. As the century progressed and new industrial, governmental, and environmental developments created new standardization requirements, ASTM implemented consensus standards that have made products and services safer, better, and more cost-effective.

Today, ASTM continues to address the standardization needs of the global marketplace, including the roofing industry. ASTM is at the forefront in the use of innovative technology to help its members do standards development work, while also increasing the accessibility of ASTM International standards to the world.

CEIR

A newly established and separately funded organization by the NRCA, the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing (CEIR), is dedicated to promoting the development and use of environmentally-responsible roofing systems.

The center’s core purpose is to establish a forum that will draw together the entire roofing industry into the common cause of advancing and increasing the knowledge base of environmentally-friendly, high-performance roofing systems.

The CEIR attempts to advance innovative solutions to energy and environmental challenges with the belief that the spirit of collaboration is a critical ingredient of innovation.

CFFA

The Chemical Film and Fabrics Association (CFFA) is an international trade association representing manufacturers of polymer-based fabric and film products, used in the building and construction, automotive, fashion, and many other industries.

The organization was established in 1927 to: educate consumers on the uses and benefits of chemical fabrics and film; encourage the development and adoption of product standards and specifications; conduct technical and scientific investigations; and collect and distribute industry statistics and trends to CFFA members.

Duro-Last Honored To Host Extended “Family” At 2009 Sales Seminar

2009 Duro-Last Sales Seminar - General Session

The 2009 Duro-Last National Sales Seminar is in the books. We were privileged to host over 800 guests representing more than 175 Duro-Last contractors at this year’s event, held January 25-27 in Daytona Beach, Florida. Our theme this year was “Above and Beyond,” and the positive feedback we received from our attendees confirmed that, indeed, this conference exceeded all expectations.

Our combination of business-oriented meetings and family-friendly activities provided a well-balanced event. Much of the business emphasis was on environmentally-friendly or “green” construction trends, and how the Duro-Last membrane is the ideal sustainable roofing choice. We also introduced new products, including several from Duro-Last’s metal fabrication subsidiary, EXCEPTIONAL® Metals.

Seminar guests included nationally-known motivational speakers Jim Pancero, Mark Scharenbroich, and Paul Montelongo, whose presentations were interspersed with those delivered by several key Duro-Last managers at both General and Breakout Sessions.

One of the highlights of our annual event is the awards banquet, where we are honored to recognize those customers who reached various sales thresholds during the previous year. It’s exciting to see long-term customers attain higher levels than they’ve previously reached, and to see newer customers accept an award for the first time. Pride is clearly evident on all faces as people reach the stage to be greeted and congratulated by Duro-Last executives.

Parsons Commercial Roofing of Waco, Texas was named Duro-Last’s 2008 Contractor of the Year by virtue of surpassing the $7 million sales plateau. This is the third consecutive year that Parsons has been awarded the Contractor of the Year award and the second straight year they have reached over $7 million in Duro-Last sales.

Duro-Last is blessed with an extraordinarily loyal customer base, many of whom have been affiliated with Duro-Last since the early days, 30 years ago. It’s remarkable to overhear conversations about “family,” where the reference is to the relationship between the contractor’s business and ours. Duro-Last truly enjoys a unique standing in the industry.

We’ve already begun planning the 2010 National Sales Seminar, which will be held January 25-27 in Tucson, Arizona at The Westin La Paloma Resort and Spa. Program details are still to be worked out, but we are already looking forward to welcoming our Duro-Last family to another exciting and informative event.

Duro-Last Finalizing Plans For 2009 National Sales Seminar

Duro-Last Roofing, Inc. will hold its 2009 National Sales Seminar January 25-27 at the Hilton Daytona Beach Ocean Walk Village in Daytona Beach, Florida. This annual event honors authorized Duro-Last roofing contractors for their sales achievements during the previous year, and includes several educational sessions that cover a variety of roofing and business management topics. This year’s Seminar will also feature guest speakers Jim Pancero, Paul Montelongo, and Mark Scharenbroich. All are noted presenters and authors, and have extensive corporate training experience.

The theme of the 2009 Sales Seminar is Above & Beyond, which captures the spirit of Duro-Last’s contractor network. In a year with multiple national economic challenges, many of them in the construction area, our contractors have continued to demonstrate a solid commitment both to Duro-Last sales opportunities and to providing exceptional service to their customers. We take great pride in honoring them at this event.

In recent years, one of the most popular Seminar activities has been the Roofers’ Challenge, in which small contractor installation teams compete against one another to see which team can install a Duro-Last roof the fastest and with the highest quality. To prepare for this event, Duro-Last authorized contractor Damschroder Construction, LLC of Fremont, Ohio, is conducting its own roofer’s challenge. The best Damschroder two-man installation team will receive a free trip to the Duro-Last Sales Seminar to compete against teams from all over the United States. Owner Dave Damschroder clearly takes the Duro-Last Roofers’ Challenge seriously: “We see this as a great opportunity to encourage our installers to realize their important part in the big picture of building customer satisfaction while having a great experience at the Seminar!”

We’re looking forward to seeing Dave, his crew, and hundreds of other Duro-Last contractors in Daytona in January.

Welcome to the Duro-Last Roofing Blog

We’re excited about this new way to keep in touch with our customers and the commercial building and construction market as a whole.

With more than 30 years of manufacturing the “World’s Best Roof”® behind us, we feel we have some nuggets of wisdom to share. We will regularly post articles about industry issues and trends, as well as highlight some of the goings-on here at Duro-Last.

We also believe that we should always be in learning mode, and to that end we invite your comments. Thank you for your participation!