The Great Melt of 2014 Means Buildings Are in Need of Repairs

Thank goodness it’s spring! The entire country battled a tough winter, so I’m sure you’re all breathing the same sigh of relief I am. Although the end of winter was a great thing, here in Chicago it caused what I like to call the “Great Melt of 2014”. For me, the snow, ice and extreme cold were bad; the resulting Great Melt of 2014 was much worse.

A little background: In 2007, I bought a second-floor two-bedroom condo on Chicago’s northwest side. The three-floor, 15-unit building had recently been gut rehabbed and I was among the first owners. For seven years, my neighbors and I have dealt with numerous construction defects; the board even passed a special assessment soon after we all moved in to deal with masonry issues. I still believe the developer is laughing on a beach somewhere with my money and I’d love to sue my inspector, but those are stories for another day.

When the Great Melt of 2014 began, as you can imagine, new problem areas arose. I couldn’t catch all the water pouring into my unit—through the back door’s frame, around a ceiling HVAC vent, through the HVAC ductwork in the utility closet and even through the microwave. Yes, you read that right. Through the microwave. The management company brought a contractor out who claimed water pouring through a duct is just condensation. Really? Even if it was condensation—which I vehemently disagreed with—who considers it OK for water to pour into their home?

After some aggressive emails and phone calls from yours truly, the management company sent another contractor to the building who diagnosed problems with the masonry (again), inappropriate mortar used on the steps leading out of our back doors onto the typical Chicago-style wraparound porch, poor incorporation of our outside-facing doors with the masonry, bad caulking around my exhaust vent (the kitchen exhaust fan is integrated with my microwave above the stove), gutter and downspout problems, and ice dams.

The point of writing about my experience—other than the therapeutic process of writing about nerve-racking problems—is condo boards and management companies could use construction partners who provide regular maintenance, make them aware of issues spotted during maintenance visits and ultimately minimize unit owners’ stress. In “Business Sense”, page 23, Scott Otey, vice president and managing partner of West Coast Florida Enterprises Inc., Naples and Fort Myers, writes about how his business has partnered with condo associations and management companies and has even joined the Falls Church, Va.-based Community Associations Institute.

The partnership not only helps the condo residents, but also keeps Otey’s team busy. I’m sure you’ll glean some ideas from him about how to network with these groups and make yourself invaluable to them.

Despite the ongoing issues with my building, I have many friends who live in multifamily buildings in Chicago that also experienced leaks during the Great Melt of 2014. Feel free to use our experiences to prove how indispensable partnerships between contractors and condo associations/management companies can be.

If you enjoy reading the magazine, please consider submitting something for the next one. Let’s talk about ideas! Call me at (630) 308-4602; email me; post a comment below; and/or Facebook and tweet us. This magazine—and your peers—are counting on you!

New Year, New Magazine

Happy New Year, and welcome to the first edition of Roofing!

Although we may be new to many of you, Roofing actually is the next iteration of a successful regional roofing magazine called Carolinas Roofing. (Check out our back issues in digital format.) Since the first issue of Carolinas Roofing mailed in March 2010, we were approached several times to bring the magazine to a broader audience. Last summer, we decided to evolve Carolinas Roofing into a national publication.

The magazine’s goal, which is highlighted in our tagline, “The Industry’s Voice”, is to provide insight from your peers (roofing contractors, architects, roof consultants, building owners and facility managers). We hope as you receive and read each issue of the magazine you feel like you’re having a conversation with other members of the roofing community. We hope their voices inspire, challenge and sometimes even irritate you. With each article and shared experience, Roofing hopes to drive the roofing industry forward.

Roofing will mail bimonthly, and we plan to keep in touch with you regularly. Our dynamic website is updated daily with news and product information. We’ll be posting online exclusives, as well. If you want to be made aware of these updates, sign up for our monthly e-newsletter. And of course you can follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.

We know everyone is busy these days, so we’ll strive to bring you the best content in the most efficient manner. You’ll notice the magazine contains many short columns that impart knowledge quickly. For example, did you know someone can be suffering from hypothermia but be fully alert? I didn’t until I read Michael Rich’s “Safety” column. James R. Kirby shares efforts by ASTM D08.24 to develop standards specifically related to sustainable roofing in “Environmental Trends”. Craig Dallas helps you brush up on leadership skills with four great tips in “Business Sense”. And an anonymous author reminds us why safety on the job site is of utmost importance in “It Happened to Me”.

Even our feature articles are short and sweet. Get to the gist of some amazing hospitality and entertainment projects, including the 8-acre Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn. Baker Roofing’s crew was challenged by rolling hills, 30-foot parapet walls and a vegetated section. “Tech Point” explains why penetrations in the roof in the form of skylights and rooftop monitors can be beneficial to buildings. And get Solar Installer Matthew Bennett’s perspective about why roofing contractors and solar installers make good partners in “Cool Roofing”.

There’s a lot of good stuff in this issue but we couldn’t have put it together without help from roofing industry professionals. Therefore, I urge you to contact me with your stories. I know you’ve read that before and probably thought the editor doesn’t really mean it. I do! To live up to our tagline of “The Industry’s Voice”, Roofing depends on your wisdom and in-the-field experiences. If you enjoyed reading this issue, please submit something for the next one. Call me at (630) 308-4602; email me; post a comment on our website; and/or Facebook and tweet us your ideas. This magazine—and your peers—are counting on you!

Reinvention from Carolinas Roofing to Roofing

“As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that all of life is reinvention. Sometimes past and future can share the same time period. New just shows up sometimes. In show business it’s easy to understand. You can’t keep coming back with the same show. Unless you get offstage you can’t make another entrance.”

Lorne Michaels, a writer best known for producing Saturday Night Live, wrote this in Vanity Fair’s October issue, which celebrated its 100th year of publishing. Michaels knows a little something about reinvention; for 38 years, SNL has consistently been among the highest-rated late-night television programs. His words jumped out at me not only because they so appropriately explain SNL’s and Vanity Fair’s long and successful histories, but also because they are fitting for this the final issue of Carolinas Roofing.

In 2014, Carolinas Roofing will be reinventing itself as a national publication—Roofing—to remain relevant to the marketplace. Since our first issue mailed in March 2010, we’ve been approached several times to bring this magazine to a broader audience. We’ve been asked to start other regional roofing publications. A couple years ago, we seriously thought about expanding and re-branding Carolinas Roofing as an East Coast roofing magazine. Each time we crunched the numbers and discussed the ideas thoroughly but realized they didn’t make sense. This past summer, we were approached again but, this time, the idea was to make the magazine a national publication. This proposal finally made sense for every aspect of our small business and met our ultimate goal of educating the roofing industry.

In addition to a new name and a broader circulation that will include roofing contractors, architects, roof consultants, building owners and facility managers, Roofing will offer more opportunities for us to keep in touch with you, the reader. We’ll be launching a dynamic website, www.roofingmagazine.com, in January that constantly will be updated with news and product information, as well as a monthly e-newsletter to keep you informed between issues of the magazine, which will continue to mail on a bimonthly schedule.

We plan to remain true to our regional roots by offering a “Regional Report” each issue that will examine climatic challenges related to roofing in various parts of the country, including the Carolinas. And we have lots of other innovative ideas to maintain your loyal readership. We hope you opt to continue receiving the magazine. Please fill out the subscription card for Roofing and scan and email it to Publisher Barrett Hahn at barrett@roofingmagazine.com or mail it to 4711 Hope Valley Road, Box 202, Durham, NC 27707. (Subscriptions will not be duplicated.)

All of us at Carolinas Roofing would like to thank you for the past four years. We credit your engagement with the magazine for its success and, ultimately, taking us to the next level. We hope to see you when the curtain opens for our second act.

Connect to and Motivate Your Staff

A friend of mine recently lost his job because of budget cuts. He was employed at a satellite office and not a single manager who made the decision about his livelihood took the time to commute to the satellite location to share the news. Instead, he was called to a conference room where human resources personnel laid him off via speakerphone. My friend was not surprised he was let go, nor was he surprised by how it was done, considering how disconnected he believes the “worker bees” at his former corporation are from management. He had been disgruntled by the lack of communication and management’s questionable decision-making for some time.

I can attest that managing people is arguably one of the most difficult jobs in any line of work. Being a leader requires a thick skin, excellent communication skills and the ability to make tough decisions, among other talents. However, at a time when budgets are tightened and everyone is doing less with more, becoming too consumed in your own tasks and disconnecting from employees is a fatal mistake. Now is the time to embrace your team, make them feel appreciated, motivate them to take on new roles, and identify and reward their strengths. Employees who feel disconnected from what is occurring within a business will feel unappreciated and will not perform at their best. In addition, without employee buy-in, it will be difficult to enforce new programs and procedures within a company.

In this issue, we feature articles about two safety programs you should seriously consider implementing within your roofing business not only to protect your employees, but also to protect your business as a whole. For example, “Business Sense,” addresses distracted driving. I think you’ll be surprised by the broad interpretation of the law in some of the court cases mentioned within the article: Your roofing business could be liable if a worker has an accident while using a mobile device in his personal vehicle or sightseeing on a business trip. According to the author, state and federal mobile-device laws are not enough; developing and enforcing a reasonable mobile-device safety program is a major step toward minimizing your business’ liability.

In “Safety,” Michael Rich explains the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s priority to require all businesses to have a written Injury and Illness Prevention Program probably within the next two years. California employers already have been operating under this requirement since 1991, providing a model you can duplicate within your business before the requirement is mandated across the country.

Establishing these programs within your business offers a wonderful opportunity to connect to and motivate your staff. You can create teams of volunteers to explore and create policies. When the teams meet, buy them lunch. When your staff goes six months without a distracted driving incident or an injury, celebrate with awards or a party. Take the time to show your employees you appreciate their efforts not only to make your business safer, but also to successfully execute their daily tasks.

In addition, consider setting aside some time on a regular basis specifically to reconnect with the “worker bees”. Join a roofing crew for a week, or answer phones in the front office. Your efforts will establish a new level of trust with your employees and, ultimately, create a better workplace. Perhaps most importantly, your staff will feel as though operational changes, like the safety programs mentioned in this issue, are happening “with” them rather than “to” them.