Lessons Learned During a Merger

In August 2014, I purchased the assets of a fourth-generation, 133-year-old roofing contracting company with which I had been competing locally for a few years. As a relatively new contractor in the area (I had been in business just under nine years), I wanted a larger share of the commercial roofing market. The clients I hoped to inherit with this acquisition would help me to accomplish that goal.

I had no formal business training, nor knowledge of how to make such a merger work. I started my company with very little industry experience back in 2005; I had a working knowledge of roofing and a desire to be my own boss. Things had gone well, so I trusted that my instincts would guide me through the merger. I was operating on nothing more than a gut feeling that this merger would be a good thing and a blind assumption that I would be able to handle whatever challenges might come my way.

I began the dialogue with the company’s owner in early 2013 and it took until August 2014 to close the deal. There were plenty of challenges created by this process—definitely some things I handled well and some I did not.

The primary goal of this acquisition was to retain the company’s customer base, thus growing my own. Relationships were in place that went back years, even generations, and maintaining those relationships was of utmost importance. I had a plan in place to personally visit with or reach out to all of these customers within the first two weeks. I thought this would be one of the main challenges—certainly the most important thing to get right—but, surprisingly, it was one of the easiest things to achieve. The previous owner assured these customers I would continue to take care of them well and I think these customers’ trust and loyalty already was so solid that the accounts transferred over to me almost without question. As planned, I personally met most of my new customers within the first couple weeks, continued to serve their needs with the same people and took care of them with the same high level of service to which they had become accustomed. I am proud to say, after six months, we have retained 100 percent of these customers.

I am fond of saying, “I don’t know much, but I know exactly what I don’t know.” It’s the tenet to which I attribute what modicum of success I have had. I knew that I did not know how to manage a process like this! It was definitely a good move on my part to work with a consultant. It did not answer all the questions, nor did it eliminate all mistakes, but the insight and advice of someone who had been through similar processes was invaluable.

Before we closed on the deal, I told myself that despite what problems, issues or frustrations might arise, I would treat the first five months as an observational period rather than a time to implement changes. I was patient and held true to that timeframe. Trust takes a while to establish and people take a while to know. I am glad I waited to learn what I needed to know before making any significant changes.

The biggest challenge the merger created was in dealing with the significant increase in my employee count and all the associated human-resource issues that resulted. I had kept my business pretty light on hourly employees in the field, whereas the company I purchased had close to 30 full-time roofers. I had written an employee handbook prior to the merger but many of the policies had not yet been questioned or tested. Of course, in the first few days after the merger, I had a wave of guys coming at me with issues and problems with the new systems to which they would be subjected. I modified a few policies based on legitimate concerns and to ease the transition while I held firm on others. I should have had clearly defined and time-tested policies in place, so I would have been better prepared for the questions I was asked.

In hindsight, I think the biggest mistake I made was to agree to keep this sale completely confidential until the deal was confirmed and I had officially taken over. This meant the first time I met any of the employees they were already on my payroll. There had been no opportunity to meet existing employees, interview the office staff, or gain any insight into systems and processes prior to the day of the merger. I basically had to jump right in! That could have been avoided and would have prevented a lot of stress and at least one early layoff I had to make.

I should definitely have hired, if only temporarily, an additional office person to assist with the mountain of paperwork that was created. We used a Small Business Administration loan to finance the purchase, which added significantly to an already overwhelming workload. A backlog of paperwork was created that took a few months to sort out.

Although I do not consider the merger process completed, we are definitely over the hump and, despite a few challenges, it has turned out as I hoped it would. Our commercial revenues have increased as forecast and I feel good about the fact that, had I not purchased this business, the employees I gained would be unemployed right now. Instead, they are part of a growing company that aims to provide long-term security for them and their families.

Twice in the same day earlier this month I was asked, “What one thing have you learned from the process of buying another business?” I did not have a clue how to answer that question. Certainly I have learned a great many individual lessons and become the wiser for it, but I’m not sure how to boil it down to one thing. I guess it can be summed up with my favorite cliché:
“That which does not kill you makes you stronger.” Mistakes are inevitable, and they are good. If you are afraid to make them, you will accomplish nothing. You will learn way more from one mistake than you will from 10 good decisions. People will not notice your mistakes nearly as much as you think. So don’t hesitate; make the call; learn from it if you can; and move on.

On a personal note, I owe a very heartfelt and big thank you to Horace Thompson King III (Tommy) for being such a pleasure to work with and for making a difficult process much easier than it could have been.

Metal Roofing Underlayments Protect Structures in Hawaii

The newly constructed Safeway Shopping Center, Honolulu, happens to be the largest Safeway on the Hawaiian Islands. It contains a parking garage below—in part, because of its location in a densely populated neighborhood.

The underlayment manufacturer worked on and approved a design in which the underlayment could be installed directly on the metal deck.

The underlayment manufacturer worked on and approved a design in which the underlayment could be installed directly on the metal deck.

ITS METAL ROOF WAS INSTALLED by Kapolei, Hawaii-based Beachside Roofing, which has been doing business in Hawaii for more than 25 years. The company, which installs all kinds of roofing and waterproofing systems, specializes in high-rise buildings, resorts and complex projects.

The 20,000-square-foot metal roof on the Safeway store had to meet strict color requirements in keeping with the Safeway brand. The color of the roof is Gargoyle, which is a greenish-brown.

The metal roofing was designed to be installed over corrugated 20-gauge steel decks. The underlayment manufacturer worked on and approved a design in which the underlayment could be installed directly on the metal deck.

The metal deck (HSB-36SS type) was installed with the wider corrugations facing up and parallel to the eaves (horizontally). The self-adhering underlayment also was installed horizontally, and the metal panels were then attached to the horizontal corrugations of the deck using panel clips and self-drilling fasteners penetrating through the underlayment into the flattop of the corrugations of the steel deck.

The self-adhering underlayment also was installed horizontally, and the metal panels were then attached to the horizontal corrugations of the deck using panel clips and self-drilling fasteners penetrating through the underlayment into the flattop of the corrugations of the steel deck.

The self-adhering underlayment also was installed horizontally, and the metal panels were then attached to the horizontal corrugations of the deck using panel clips and self-drilling fasteners penetrating through the underlayment into the flattop of the corrugations of the steel deck.

The walkability of the underlayment was an important factor, considering that the roof slope was 4 inches per 12 feet in some places. Also, the 120-day exposure allowance for the underlayment was reassuring, though not necessary for this project.

The metal roofing system included many architectural elements, such as canopies, penthouses and mansards. It covers not just the Safeway supermarket, but also other shops in the Safeway Shopping Center. The way the metal was used architecturally really dressed up the exterior of the project.

Secondary Water Barrier

A self-adhering metal roofing underlayment, like the one on the Safeway Shopping Center, perfectly complements metal roofing panels. The underlayment provides a watertight secondary membrane while the metal panels serve as the primary roof to protect against wind-blown objects and UV radiation. If the primary roof is damaged, the secondary roof acts as the water barrier.

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Perseverance Will Keep You Ahead of the Competition

I have never climbed a ladder to inspect a job my company bids on, but that has never been an obstacle to winning roofing contracts. I know a great many roofers who have climbed the proverbial “ladder” to the top of a company they now run from the windowed corner office. A lack of hands-on experience has never been an obstacle for me. In fact, just ignore that I’m a woman working in a predominately male construction industry and I will also ask you to disregard that I’m paralyzed from the chest down. That has not been an impediment either—as difficult as that may be to believe.

No, I have not allowed this long list of potential challenges to be an obstacle (for long!) to my business success. Doing so would just not make good business sense.

When I see an obstacle in business, it’s a boulder in the road and my business sense shifts into full gear: Get over it, around it, smash through it or phone a friend with a crane. I never choose another path. I never give up. I simply don’t allow an obstacle to loom larger than my own determination.

The unwavering willingness to “get the job done” is a common thread I share with many hard-working roofers. However, there is a secret weapon that separates those who marginally succeed and those who are, well, let’s just say “comfortably successful”. I call it perseverance.

Many industry people are silently nodding their heads in agreement saying to themselves, “yeah, that’s me”. But are you too comfortable? It takes more than true grit to persevere in the highly competitive roofing business world of today.

Not only do we face the ever-present competition, there are increased regulations, greater safety standards, high costs for workers’ compensation, not to mention the shrinking pool of qualified professional roofers. We have a lot that challenges us!

Today, perseverance will cement your future success because if you don’t stay ahead of the curve, boulders, like the newest technology, higher industry standards in energy efficiency, new and improved environmentally responsible products and guaranteed safety standards, will stop you. These boulders require greater perseverance, as does meeting customer demands for knowledge and understanding their needs.

To persevere in the roofing business, you have to continue to challenge your team (and yourself) at every turn. Encourage learning and invest in employee training and professional development. As a business owner, I take the lifelong approach to learning in my business. When I had questions and was hungry to learn more about how to run a successful business, I reached out to the community for answers. I discovered allies, like The Women’s Business Development Center that provides workshops, business counseling, networking and access to knowledge that empowered me. No matter where you are in business, you have to keep learning and growing to persevere. Even the largest of boulders look small in the rearview mirror once you have overcome them.

In 1999, I was a young sailor in the U.S. Navy when Hurricane Floyd blew into Virginia where I was stationed and hurled me off a balcony that was just 1-story up. That gust changed my physical world forever. But I had something that storm could not steal from me: perseverance—a willingness to overcome challenges and a commitment to succeed. There are blockades up for each of us, but there are also ways around them, over them and through them if you refuse to accept failure as an option.

My military training has always helped me to stay “mission focused” with a commitment to excellence. The Navy also gave me a strong work ethic and the ability to work under pressure. It taught me to put an emphasis on teamwork and gave me the leadership skills to build a great business. I seek out opportunities to not only learn and grow, but also to become involved in communities of knowledge, such as The Bunker, the nation’s first veterans incubator for small businesses.

Although being a woman- and service- disabled veteran-owned business can bring advantages over many competitors, I still have to earn each and every opportunity. We have been successful at this by building relationships with our customers and earning their trust by performing projects on time, on budget, and with the quality and safety expected. In addition, just as importantly, we bring determination, knowledge and truckloads of professionals who gladly climb all kinds of ladders for me.

Single Insurance Policies that Insure All Parties on a Specific Construction Project Offer Benefits and Risks

With the use of wrap-up insurance policies on the rise for commercial construction projects, many contractors and subcontractors have questions about how these policies work and what unique concerns and questions they present.

Generally, wrap-up insurance refers to single insurance policies written to insure all parties involved in a specific construction project—providing coverage for the job-site risks of the owner, construction manager, general contractor, contractors, subcontractors and design firms—instead of the individual parties each purchasing and carrying their own insurance policies. Wrap-up insurance policies are most commonly used on very large commercial or public projects. Many project owners and general contractors have found that using these policies is an effective risk-management technique for handling loss exposures related to single and multiple-site construction activities.

With wrap-up insurance, the cost and extent of coverage are generally within the owner’s control.

With wrap-up insurance, the cost and extent of coverage are generally within the owner’s control.

Benefits

There are two primary types of wrap-up insurance policies: Owner Controlled Insurance Policies (OCIPs), in which the project owner is the primary sponsor, and Contractor Controlled Insurance Policies (CCIPs), which are controlled by the general contractor. Additionally, owners and general contractors can cover multiple projects under a single program in Rolling Controlled Insurance Policies (RCIPs). Typically, wrap-up insurance policies include general liability, workers’ compensation/employer liability, excess liability and builder’s risk as standard coverages, but many owners also add coverage for project environmental liability and project design team errors and omissions.

The benefits of using wrap-up insurance are numerous, especially for the owners or contractors who sponsor them. A successful wrap-up insurance program can significantly reduce risk for owners or contractors, giving them more control over insurance coverage for all the parties and avoiding unpleasant surprises about the extent of coverage parties have. Under the traditional model, owners or general contractors establish minimum insurance requirements for subcontractors and require them to furnish a certificate of insurance specifying coverage areas and limits. However, because all insurance policy terms differ slightly, there is no guarantee that a given subcontractor’s insurance will be adequate, or still in force, at the time of a loss. Furthermore, contractors and subcontractors normally have to build their insurance costs into their contract costs, and this increases bid amounts.

With wrap-up insurance, the cost and extent of coverage are generally within the owner’s control. When sub-contractors no longer have to increase their bids to factor in insurance costs, owners claim they can utilize the cost savings to fund the costs of the wrap-up insurance. And the potentially more streamlined process for handling claims can make prospective litigation less time-consuming and costly.

Risks

OCIPs and CCIPs, of course, come with their own set of risks and drawbacks for owners, contractors and subcontractors, and the parties who are asked to enroll in these policies do not always look upon them favorably. Some subcontractors and contractors have found that enrolling in wrap-up insurance policies is administratively burdensome and that the resulting decrease in volume of insurance purchases for their companies can increase the costs of other insurance they must purchase. Additionally, subcontractors should make an effort to understand the limits of coverage; it may differ from the coverage in the policies they have been accustomed to using. This should be done at the procurement stage, before a project begins, and not later, after project contracts have been signed.

Those investigating the level and limits of coverage will want to determine how responsibility for any injuries, losses or damage will be addressed and confirm that the responsibility is outlined in the building contract or the written wrap-up policy. One potential source of misunderstanding is builder’s risk coverage. Often, builder’s risk insurance is carried by the builder. With wrap-up policies, owners and general contractors may be particularly concerned with the scope of the builder’s risk coverage. For example, if a wrap-up policy excludes property damage occurring during construction but the builder’s risk policy excludes faulty workmanship, a potential gap in coverage would exist. The wrap-up insurer might take the position that it won’t pay for what is essentially a builder’s risk claim. To prevent such an outcome, owners may find they need to add coverage to the builder’s risk policy to cover faulty work or at least repairs.

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The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress Secures the Future Excellence of the Roofing Industry

Maya Angelou once said, “To make a difference is not a matter of accident, a matter of casual occurrence of the tides. People choose to make a difference.” Since its inception, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress, Rosemont, Ill., has not only made a difference within the roofing community, it has funded a number of critical industry initiatives, core programs and projects, and meaningful research that have contributed to securing the future excellence of the roofing industry.

At 144 members strong, the Alliance is a diverse and dedicated forum of roofing contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and industry professionals who have united to help preserve and enhance the performance of the U.S. roofing industry to support three primary objectives:

  • Supporting high-quality education programs.
  • Ensuring timely and forward-thinking industry responses to major economic and technological issues.
  • Enhancing the long-term viability and attractiveness of the roofing industry to current and future workers.

More than 105 members of the Alliance are professional roofing contractors and, with the help of more than 35 manufacturers and suppliers, the Alliance members have raised more than $11.5 million for a unique industry endowment fund in support of programs and research in four key areas: education and training, technology, sustainability and philanthropy.

During the past year alone, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress developed partnerships with three of the leading schools of construction management; embarked on an innovative workforce program to create cultural and leadership training programs to educate Latino workers; and continued work on important roofing industry research projects, including RoofPoint, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing’s comprehensive roof rating system for the assessment and selection of sustainable roof systems, and air retarder testing.

MEET THE ALLIANCE

The The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress was established in 1996 by the National Roofing Contractors Association, Rosemont, under the operations of the National Roofing Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization. A 16-member board of trustees manages the Alliance, overseeing existing projects and considering funding for projects addressing critical industry issues. The Alliance holds two member meetings each year, including its annual meeting, which will be held April 16-19 in San Francisco, and another held during NRCA’s Fall Committee Meetings.

Robert McNamara, president of F.J.A. Christiansen Roofing Co. Inc., a Tecta America company, Milwaukee, is the Alliance’s 2014-15 president; Ken Farrish, president of Atlas Roofing Corp., Atlanta, is vice president; and Jim Barr, president of Barr Roofing, Abilene, Texas, is secretary/treasurer.

Since June, the Alliance has welcomed eight new members: AAA Roofing Co. Inc., Indianapolis; Anderson and Shah Roofing Inc., Joliet, Ill.; Adler Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc., Joliet; Blue’s Roofing Co., Milpitas, Calif.; Bone Dry Roofing Co., Bogart, Ga.; EagleView Technologies, Bothell, Wash.; Polyglass U.S.A. Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla.; and Roofing Solutions LLC, Prairieville, La. View a list of all Alliance members on the Alliance’s website.

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress offers different levels of membership to encourage small-, medium- and large-sized firms to join and have a voice in determining the roofing industry’s future. Commitments to the Alliance can be pledged for three- to five-year periods. Public recognition is given in accordance with donors’ wishes and levels of commitment and include national public acknowledgement during NRCA’s annual convention and other special events and programs. Alliance members also are invited to participate in the project task forces established to guide the Alliance’s agenda and are invited to the semiannual meetings of the full Alliance.

“We decided to join the Alliance this year to support the industry at a higher level,” states Chad Collins, president of Bone Dry Roofing Co. “We have never measured the value of membership in dollars, so the financial commitment to support the Alliance was not perceived as an obstacle but rather as an opportunity. The enhanced avenues to further develop relationships and be a part of the advancements in this great industry moving forward are exciting.”

EDUCATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

In 2014, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress formed educational partnerships with the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University, Fort Collins; McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.; and M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The partnerships enhance college students’ experiences by exposing them academically and experientially to roofing as a career choice.

Through the partnerships, the universities have agreed to a three-pronged approach that includes incorporating more roofing-specific information and case studies into existing curricula; providing scholarships for construction management students and faculty; and developing industry internship programs with roofing contracting companies, manufacturers and distributors.

Three faculty members received scholarships of $5,000 each and were asked to collaborate as they developed their recommendations; the outcomes will serve as a model that can be used in other construction management schools throughout the U.S. Ultimately, the plan is to have roofing-specific materials incorporated in the construction management departments beginning in the fall of 2015.

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Built-in Gutters Should Be Carefully Inspected, Restored and Maintained

Sheet-metal gutter linings, whether made of copper, lead or both, are relatively involved and require the services of a highly skilled artisan craftsman.

Sheet-metal gutter linings, whether made of copper, lead or both, are relatively involved and require the services of a highly skilled artisan craftsman.

Built-in gutters may be the most complicated system in the building envelope, yet they are also the most elusive when you start searching for information about them. Sometimes called Yankee gutters, box gutters or even Philadelphia gutters, it’s no wonder they remain a mystery to many. Built-in gutter systems are actually built into the cornice structure and drain through internal or external leaders. They are not readily visible from the ground, further lending to the mystery of their design and function. Because they are integrated into the structure, built-in gutter linings that fail will cause extensive damage to the cornice and sometimes also the interior of the structure.

In “Traditional Rainwater Conductor Systems of the 18th and 19th Centuries,” Karen Dodge of the U.S. National Park Service, Washington, D.C., states built-in gutters were first adopted in North America during the 18th century in high-style Georgian and Federal-style buildings, usually institutional or commercial, where refined architectural qualities were desired. Although built-in gutters are highly functional, they also serve an aesthetic purpose. As structures were erected in the classical order with elaborate cornices and entablature, it became necessary to collect and channel rainwater without detracting from the architectural character of the building. Built-in gutters served this function well, hidden from sight and shedding water to the exterior.

Built-in gutters, today, are typically constructed in the same manner as they have been since the 18th century. They are wooden boxes with bottoms sloped toward the outlets where water is drained to leaders, or conductor pipes, that channel the water away from the building. The first gutters in this style were actually troughs or box gutters, carved out of wood and rubbed with linseed oil or painted to protect the wood. Corners and seams were bonded with lead wedges. Needless to say, maintenance was critical to their success or failure. Later, the advent of sheet lead allowed for broader gutters, as linings covered the wooden troughs. By the end of the century, copper became available in the U.S. and a popular choice for gutter linings because of its durability and the functional nature of the material in a sheet-metal application.

INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE

The most common sign of water penetration is peeling paint and decay in the wood soffit under the gutter. Other signs are dark stains and mildew or deterioration of masonry. Water infiltration may be visible in attic spaces or areas beneath the gutters where plaster and other interior finishes evidence water damage. The sooner a leak or area vulnerable to failure is addressed, the smaller the scope and cost of repairs. Cleaning out leaves and debris from gutters as often as necessary is essential for durability and proper performance.

Careful inspection by a competent roofer is critical to the longevity and success of the system. He or she will look for defects, such as localized damage caused by fallen limbs or other debris, cracks from expansion and contraction at joints or folds, or pinholes from corrosion. Roofing tar and other bituminous compounds should never be used to patch, repair or coat gutter linings. It makes the condition of the gutter indeterminable, corrodes metal linings, will crack and fail quickly, and cannot be removed without destroying the lining. Ice damming is not uncommon in the winter but should not be removed with sharp tools for obvious reasons.

When tin or terne-coated steel gutter linings fail, water intrusion will occur and cause wood rot. Eventually, architectural details will be lost and replacement will be necessary.

When tin or terne-coated steel gutter linings fail, water intrusion will occur and cause wood rot. Eventually, architectural details will be lost and replacement will be necessary.

RESTORATION

Restoration of long-neglected built-in gutter systems that leak and have caused decay in the cornice and roof structure is often complicated and can be costly. But once the work is completed, a regularly maintained, well-detailed system can last 60 to 100 years or more, depending on the life of the metal lining. A preservation architect or consultant should inspect the building, propose treatment options, develop working drawings and specifications, and supervise bidding and construction. Temporary protection and permanent repairs should be performed by a roofer experienced in this specialty on historic buildings.

“We encourage restoration of historic built-in gutter systems,” says Michael Devonshire, a building conservator and principal at Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, New York. “The use of modern building materials as an adjunct to traditional materials boosts longevity.” Devonshire states the typical steps involved with a built-in gutter restoration involve:

  • Removing the gutter lining and 2 feet of the roof covering above the curbing of the gutter.
  • Repairs to rotted or otherwise deteriorated frame work. Where rafter ends or lookouts are rotted, install sisters (new rafter ends adjacent to old ones) or scarf in new wood and sisters.
  • Replacing the old wooden gutter bottom with a sustainable wood material, such as cedar or kilndried- after-treatment (KDAT) plywood. KDAT is treated for resistance to decay, minimal expansion and contraction, and increased longevity.
  • Installing the gutter lining: an elastomeric ice-and-water shield on the bottom (not always required); building felt; a slip-sheet of rosin paper; and copper on top (16 or 20 ounce, depending on the dimensions of the gutter).
  • Installing the roof covering on the roof deck above the gutter. This includes 2 feet of elastomeric ice-and-water shield (or copper flashing) beneath.
  • Repairing or replacing cornice mouldings, brackets and other architectural woodwork.

PHOTOS: WARD HAMILTON

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Hiring Our Heroes Helps Veterans Find Employment in Roofing and Other Industries

When Grant Smith returned from active duty as a U.S. Infantryman in the Marine Corps, he was concerned about finding a job. He had been in the military since the age of 18 and, having been a rifleman, he did not believe he had any marketable skills that would lead him to a job with a future. Smith’s sergeant told him about a trade fair in Columbus, Ohio, in which potential employers would be available to interview veterans for a variety of jobs in the area. At the trade fair, Smith met Chad Muth, president of Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, and was hired as an installer in the spring of 2013.

Fast-forward two years and Smith is now a field supervisor.

It was a win-win for Smith and Muth, and it was all thanks to the Hiring Our Heroes program.

HELPING VETERANS

Grant Smith (middle), a former U.S. Infantryman in the Marine Corps, was hired as an installer by Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, through Hiring Our Heroes. Just two years later, he is a field supervisor.

Grant Smith (middle), a former U.S. Infantryman in the Marine Corps, was hired as an installer by Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, through Hiring Our Heroes. Just two
years later, he is a field supervisor.


Hiring Our Heroes is a national initiative administered by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Washington, D.C. Its mission is to help veterans, active service members and their spouses transition back into the workforce through a series of hiring fairs held throughout the country, as well as through an online process. To date, more than 850 fairs have been held with 35,000 employers participating, including businesses of all sizes, as well as government and nonprofits. The program also offers employment workshops, résumé reviews and career coaching.

The initiative began four years ago as a response to the gap between businesses looking for skilled workers and those returning from the military with no idea where to look for employment. Job seekers and potential employers may attend hiring fairs at no charge.

“That is one thing that makes the program stand out and makes it so successful—small- and medium-sized businesses can come. A lot don’t have recruiters or HR, but they want to hire a vet, a quality worker,” says Kim Morton, communications manager for Hiring Our Heroes.

Though the numbers are not updated daily, Morton says her team has been able to track 25,000 hires made through the hiring fairs, and those are only from employers reporting back to the program.

The draw for employers is multifold. “Most employers are there because they know they’re going to get a quality employee,” Morton notes. “[Veterans] have had years of discipline and dedication. They know how to stay until the job is done and know how to problem solve; that is the No. 1 skill employers are looking for.”

In addition, Morton adds, veterans know how to work in flexible and uncertain conditions and can be resourceful to get the job done. “Once [a company] hires a vet, they want more, so we see employers coming time and time again,” she says.

Although the fairs are open to veterans of any era, Morton says the majority who attend are post-9/11 vets because their unemployment rate consistently has been higher than the national unemployment average. “For veterans under age 25, those numbers are closer to 20 percent. Those are the ones we see come to events the most,” Morton states.

In addition to in-person fairs, employers and veterans can find each other via online tools, such as a jobs portal and an employer best practices site, within the Hiring Our Heroes website. “Our goal is to ensure veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses are able to utilize our resources to connect with employers no matter where they are in the world,” Morton remarks.

PHOTO: MUTH & CO. ROOFING

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Deft Planning and Skillful Moves Play Out on the Reroof of the World’s Largest Water Filtration Plant

Reroofing the 10.3-acre surface of Chicago’s highly sensitive James W. Jardine Water Filtration Plant posed logistical challenges on par with the building’s magnitude. Phasing to ensure the plant continued to supply fresh water to its 5 million customers in the city of Chicago and its suburbs, the need for complete containment areas, roof-load restrictions, unique stainless-steel expansion joints and the Department of Homeland Security’s onsite presence all made for intricate operations. But John Cronin, president of Chicago-based Trinity Roofing Service, says Mother Nature was his toughest challenge.

The James W. Jardine Water Filtration Plant arguably was the largest and most complex roofing project in Chicago during the past decade.

The James W. Jardine Water
Filtration Plant arguably was the largest and most complex roofing project in Chicago during the past
decade.

“Conducting construction on the Lake Michigan waterfront during Chicago’s harshest winter in 30 years [2013-14] was by far the hardest part of this job. Driving rain, wind, black ice and snow—it was unmerciful,” asserts Cronin. “Constant communication had to be our priority, because we could go to the site in the morning and discover that weather made impossible the sequence of work we had planned. Senior Project Manager J.J. Matthews, Job Superintendent Rob Reno and I had to be incredibly flexible to keep the job moving.”

Water Protection

The water-treatment plant’s 50-year-old coal-tar roof and concrete roof deck had been leaking, which created potential health concerns. The plant supplies approximately 1 billion gallons of clean water a day, which meant many concrete filter beds had to remain operational and free of contamination during construction. Filter beds beneath the phased work area were drained. To protect the drained beds, Trinity cut a hole in the roof and erected a specialized watertight “shoe box” work zone, extending 6-feet down. These shoebox areas consisted of a plywood scaffolding platform blanketed by a 60-mil membrane. Inside the box, existing structural steel had to be sand blasted free of lead paint, inspected and replaced in some spots. At any given time, the team had two 56,000-square-foot scaffolding platforms in place.

Winter winds blew snow across the flat roof and down into these protection zones carrying multiple forms of contamination. Rooftop bird droppings were one source. Asbestos from the original 1960s roof was another. The team had to bring in heat torpedoes (portable forced-air or convection heaters) to melt the snow and divert it through custom-made gutters into cisterns to be hauled offsite so workers could access the steel.

Protecting materials from the elements was also paramount. More than 1,000 rolls of fleece-backed membrane had to remain completely dry. In addition, cellular glass roof insulation (specified from Belgium for its proven 50-year track record on the facility) had an eight-week timeframe for production and overseas delivery, making critical that each square of insulation stayed in pristine condition. Chicago rain can fall in isolated pockets, so every load had to be fully secured with tarp, even on seemingly sunny days.

The harsh Chicago winter of 2013- 14 didn’t stop Trinity Roofing Service from completing the twoyear project on schedule. Seven miles of backer rod are being laid between seams of concrete roof channels despite snow and ice.

The harsh Chicago winter of 2013-14 didn’t stop Trinity Roofing Service from completing the two-year project on schedule. Seven miles of backer rod are being laid
between seams of concrete roof channels despite snow and ice.

“It was an ongoing job to impress the importance of covering all the materials that came to the site, especially at the slightest hint of rain,” Cronin says. “It worked, though. We fully inspected every material load that came to the job site. Out of more than 712,000 board feet of new insulation, none of it was rejected thanks to our strictly enforced quality-control program.”

Despite the snow and ice accumulation on staging areas, no salt was allowed on the property for fear of water contamination, which meant Trinity also dealt with slippery walking and driving surfaces.

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Wind-damaged Roof Systems

Wind damage to roof systems is often catastrophic, placing the building users at a life-safety risk, resulting in interior and furnishing damage and suspension of interior operations, loss of revenues, legal ramifications and great costs to repair. Because of my 30 years of experience in the design of roof systems and forensic investigation, I’m often called upon as an expert witness after wind events. In this article, I’ll review a couple wind-event roof failures, the causes of the failures and how they could have been prevented. I’ll also provide recommendations for failure prevention in the design process for new roof systems, as well as for existing roof systems.

1. The concrete roof deck panels deflected more than 3/4 inch, which the design architect should have accounted for if a thorough field investigation was undertaken.

1. The concrete roof deck panels deflected more than 3/4 inch, which the design architect should have accounted for if a thorough field investigation
was undertaken.

The Perfect Storm

How can it be that when roof systems are to be designed for code-required wind-uplift resistance that so many fail in winds well below the design parameters and/or warranty coverage? The answer could be design-related, material or installation; typically, it involves all three.

Architects and some roof system designers are often not as knowledgeable about roof systems as they should be, have little empirical evidence in how all the components work together as a system, and move beyond their abilities (a violation of their standard of care) when designing roofs where specific detailing is required. In addition, manufacturers are all too often
bringing new products to the marketplace that have not been properly vetted in the field and their long-term performance is truly unknown. Unfortunately, the roofing contractor cannot escape any of this. The lack of proper specification and contract document review; failure to review product data, including installation guidelines for new products; poor project oversight and management; and pressure from general contractors often result in installations that are subpar. The result is a “perfect storm” of design, materials and installation that fail under stress.

Consider the following case studies that I have been involved in as a forensic or “expert” witness when litigation was involved.

Coastal Facility

A large aged warehouse along the eastern seaboard was in need of a new roof system. Because the interior was not conditioned, thermal insulation was not required. The existing roof was an asphalt built-up with aggregate surfacing on high-density fiberboard on precast concrete panels 24-inches wide on a steel structure. The northern portion of the building had overhead doors that were seldom closed. On the interior, an aedicule structure (a building within a building) was constructed approximately 65-feet south of the overhead door, which had a ceiling level 5-feet below the roof deck.

2. The thin, flexible 1/2-inchthick high-density board was found to have little, if any, contact with the full-coverage spray-foam adhesive, making uplift extremely easy.

2. The thin, flexible 1/2-inch-thick high-density board was found to have little, if any, contact with the full-coverage spray-foam adhesive, making uplift extremely easy.

The architect who designed the replacement roof system called for the existing BUR roof to be removed down to the precast concrete roof panels. Then a new 1/2-inch 4- by 8-foot high-density wood fiberboard was set in full-coverage spray polyurethane foam adhesive with a 60-mil EPDM membrane fully adhered to the high-density wood fiberboard.

Additionally, the architectural drawings called for rooftop relief vents to be removed and capped over.

Around June 2008, a Nor’easter (an intense rainstorm), coming in from the east off the ocean, swept into the city. This resulted in the new roof system being lifted off the roof deck. Mode of failure was the fiberboard detaching from the precast concrete roof deck.

Investigation revealed several acts and conditions that contributed to the wind damage.

PHOTOS: Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

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Emerging Trends in New LLC Acts

Although the Limited Liability Company (LLC) is still a relatively new form of unincorporated business structure, LLCs are now outpacing newly formed corporate filings in most states and are quickly becoming the predominate form of new business entities across the country. The appeal of the LLC is obvious; it combines the corporate- style limited-liability benefits to its owners with the pass-through taxation benefits of partnerships. With these benefits, it is no surprise that contractors across the country are now choosing LLCs in lieu of corporations or partnerships when selecting their business structure.

Every state has now adopted an LLC act, but these acts vary significantly from state to state. Despite the growing popularity of the LLC structure, many states are still operating under old acts implemented more than 20 years ago, and many of these acts have not been significantly revised. Instead, they have been amended on an as-needed basis in an attempt to keep up with emerging LLC developments and case law. This has created piecemeal and disorganized acts governing LLCs.

To solve these problems, states across the country have been extensively revising their LLC acts or implementing completely new acts. Currently, 11 states and the District of Columbia have formally enacted new LLC acts based on the Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act (RULLCA). These states include Alabama, California, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. In addition, South Carolina has been considering adopting the RULLCA. Other states, like North Carolina, which hasn’t officially adopted the RULLCA, have enacted new LLC acts and looked to states that had already adopted the RULLCA for guidance.

These new LLC acts are reshaping the LLC landscape. Contractors of existing LLCs and those wanting to form LLCs should be aware of the potential impact changes to their state’s LLC act can have on their company. Contractors need to be aware that the LLC act they initially filed under—and have been operating under—may now be significantly different or may no longer even be applicable. Failing to review newly revised or implemented acts may lead to unintended or adverse consequences, especially in states that are already operating under a new LLC act.

While a state-by-state analysis of new LLC acts is beyond the scope of this article, there are several trends emerging from states that have already enacted new LLC acts. These trends may soon be universally applicable and it is beneficial for the contractor operating or considering an LLC to be aware of them.

The Operating Agreement

Arguably, one of the most significant and widespread trends emerging from the new LLC acts is that many of the acts are eliminating the requirement that the operating agreement be in writing. Under many of the old LLC acts, an operating agreement was commonly defined as a written agreement between its members. Under many of the new acts, however, an operating agreement can now be a written, oral or implied agreement between its members. This is a broader definition of what qualifies as an operating agreement and essentially allows any type of agreement between members to become part of the operating agreement governing the LLC.

Although this change provides greater flexibility within the business because companies no longer need to adhere to a strict operating-agreement structure requirement, it also opens the door for increased internal litigation. Under these new LLC acts, internal disputes among members are likely to increase when operating-agreement terms are ambiguous or when members claim there was an oral or implied operating agreement.

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