Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels to Hold First Fundraiser

The public is invited to the inaugural fundraiser in Plant City, Fla., May 1 for the Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that helps with financial support for families of construction-industry employees killed on the job.

Dean Sims II, vice president at Sims Crane & Equipment Co. in Tampa, is the founder of the Tampa Bay Chapter of Construction Angels, which originally was begun in Broward County.

According to the Florida Department of Labor, fatalities on construction jobs in Florida increased from 41 in 2011 to 55 in 2012 – a 26 percent jump. Numbers for 2013 are not final yet.

“With all of the industry’s dedication to safety education and safety on the job, the fact that on-site deaths in the construction industry are on the rise is of major concern to everyone involved,” said Sims. “And the reality is, in most cases, the families of loved ones killed on the job need all the financial help they can get. That’s where Construction Angels comes in.”

The fundraiser, hosted by Sims Crane and open to the public, will be held at Keel & Curley Winery, 5210 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City, FL 33565, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. Festivities include live music, silent auction, raffle, commemorative photos and locally grown and distilled strawberry and blueberry wine. Registration/donation is $25 online and $30 at the door.

Register on the Sims Crane or Construction Angels websites.

NRCA Testifies about OSHA’s Proposed Crystalline Silica Rule

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) provided testimony on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) proposed rule to amend its existing standards for occupational exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The testimony was part of a three-week public hearing process held by OSHA.

“In roofing, as OSHA understands very well, our overriding safety concern is falls. The best safety practices in the industry include keeping roofing workers away from the edge of the roof, protecting them from tripping on the roof, and minimizing their trips up and down ladders,” said NRCA Executive Vice President William Good, who testified on behalf of the association. “Unfortunately, we fear the new rule will dramatically increase the risk of falls, because of the nature of roofing work.”

Good explained that in the roofing industry, silica exposures are limited to operations where tile roofs are being installed because the tiles need to be cut to fit in place on the roof. The proposed rule’s engineering controls would require roofing workers to either use wetting or vacuuming, both of which could introduce new tripping hazards because they involve placing hoses on rooftops. In addition, wetting would result in slippery tiles, which is particularly dangerous on steep-slope roofs.

Visuals of a typical tile roofing job site were presented during Good’s testimony to illustrate NRCA’s concern.

“Ours is a unique industry with unique hazards, and a one-size-fits-all approach to reducing silica exposures not only won’t work for us but will likely, in fact, create other hazards that are more immediate and life threatening,” Good continued.

OSHA’s public hearing on the new crystalline silica rule is scheduled to conclude April 4.

Investment in Equipment and Software Is Expected to Grow

Investment in equipment and software is expected to grow 4.2 percent in 2014, according to the Q2 update to the 2014 Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook released by the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation. The Foundation increased its 2014 equipment and software investment forecast to 4.2 percent, up from 3.1 percent growth forecast in its 2014 Annual Outlook released in December 2013. The Q2 report expects equipment and software investment to steadily grow over the next six months as economic conditions solidify and business confidence continues to recover. The Foundation report, which is focused on the $827 billion equipment leasing and finance industry, forecasts 2014 equipment investment and capital spending in the United States and evaluates the effects of various related and external factors in play currently and into the foreseeable future.

William G. Sutton, CAE, President of the Foundation and President and CEO of the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association, said, “The Foundation’s Outlook report reflects a strengthening economy and positive trends in equipment investment. These findings align with data from the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s recent Monthly Leasing and Finance Index and the Foundation’s Monthly Confidence Index. We know the cold winter has had some negative impact on the economy; however, with reduced policy uncertainty, stronger economic fundamentals and replacement demand, we remain optimistic about growth.”

Highlights from the study include:

  • The U.S. economy is expected to grow 2.8 percent in 2014, the fastest pace since the 2008-09 recession.
  • The severe weather this winter may have trimmed GDP growth by a full percentage point, but it is expected that some of the loss will be made up in subsequent quarters.
  • Equipment and software investment grew at an annualized rate of 8.9 percent in Q4 2013, following modest growth of 2.2 percent in Q3.
  • Credit supply continues to improve, and credit demand has rebounded for all business sizes.

Equipment and software investment is expected to steadily grow across most verticals, according to the Foundation-Keybridge U.S. Equipment & Software Investment Momentum Monitor, a newly expanded addition to the Outlook report. According to the Momentum Monitor, which track 12 equipment and software investment verticals:

    o Agriculture machinery investment will likely see slow growth in the first half of 2014 as both farm yields and commodity prices ease.
    o Construction machinery investment will see stronger growth later in the year, but the year-over-year growth figures will appear weak due to a high base year effect.
    o Materials handling equipment investment will experience slightly stronger growth over the next 3 to 6 months.
    o All other industrial equipment investment will likely see moderate growth over the next 3 to 6 months as the manufacturing sector’s competitiveness improves.
    o Medical equipment investment will grow, but at a more moderate pace than in the second half of 2013.
    o Mining & oilfield machinery is currently decelerating, but looks to rebound later in the year.
    o Aircraft investment will likely slow after a strong Q4, and growth will be about average for the year.
    o Ships & boats investment will likely continue at a below-average pace over the next year.
    o Railroad equipment investment will improve from its recent contraction toward modest growth.
    o Investment in trucks will exhibit high-single digit growth over the next 3 to 6 months as economic activity improves and diesel prices remain competitive.
    o Computers investment will be muted in the next 3 to 6 months after strong replacement demand over the past few quarters.
    o Software investment will be moderate in the next 3 to 6 months as companies focus on upgrading to new technology.

The Foundation produces the Equipment Leasing & Finance U.S. Economic Outlook report in partnership with economics and public policy consulting firm Keybridge Research. The annual economic forecast provides a three-to-six-month outlook for industry investment with data, including a summary of investment trends in key equipment markets, credit market conditions, the U.S. macroeconomic outlook and key economic indicators. The Q2 report is the first update to the 2014 Annual Outlook, and will be followed by two more quarterly updates before the publishing of the 2015 Annual Outlook in December. Download the full report.

RISE Announces New Certified Solar Roofing Professional Eligibility Track

Roof Integrated Solar Energy (RISE) has announced a new eligibility track for its Certified Solar Roofing Professional (CSRP) designation, which will enable a greater number of solar roofing professionals to qualify for this certification.

The new eligibility track allows those who have three years’ experience, involvement in a minimum of five projects installing commercial and residential roof-mounted PV systems, and 40 hours of recognized education and training eligibility to sit for the CSRP exam.

In the past, RISE had identified three eligibility tracks to qualify to take the exam. Candidates were required to demonstrate they meet at least one of these tracks.

The new track has been added to the list of the previous three minimum entry tracks, which are:

  • Three years’ experience installing roof systems as a roofing contractor or employee of a roofing contractor in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized education or training.
  • Three years’ experience providing technical roof system consulting services that include a minimum of five installed roof system projects in addition to completing 40 hours of recognized training programs.
  • Two- or four-year construction-related degree from a college or university accredited by an accrediting agency or state-approved agency recognized by the U.S. secretary of education or training.

“The RISE board of directors recognized that many rooftop solar professionals possess the unique roofing and PV system experience critical to the roles of a CSRP, but who previously were not eligible to sit for the exam,” explains RISE executive director, John Schehl. “The new eligibility track opens a door of opportunity for these professionals and provides greater choice to the public.”

RISE and the CSRP credential benefit roofing professionals by demanding a higher standard for all rooftop solar installations by providing a distinguished, nationally recognized professional credential that can enhance a career, satisfying consumers by protecting their roofing and solar investments, increasing the number of successful rooftop solar installations, providing the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals, promoting a healthier roofing industry by differentiating between those who understand how to integrate those systems with the roof safely and effectively from those who simply understand PV systems, and ensuring roof-mounted PV systems work is overseen by individuals who are knowledgeable and experienced in roofing and PV system technologies, safety and construction processes.

RISE was created by the Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing and the National Roofing Contractors Association to provide a means of evaluating and certifying solar roofing professional to support the widespread use of rooftop solar energy. RISE evaluates and certifies solar energy installers for knowledge about critical roof system construction and maintenance practices necessary to support successful rooftop solar energy installations based on principles regarding the installation and maintenance of rooftop solar energy systems without adversely affecting roof system performance and service life. RISE also provides the public with tools to identify skilled rooftop solar energy professionals.

RCMA Enhances Reflective Roof Rebates Database

The Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) launched an enhanced Reflective Roof Rebates Database with increased functionality for searching available reflective roof incentives across the country. Created exclusively for use by RCMA members, the customized search tool can be used to find the most up-to-date listings of local, state, federal, and utility financial incentives available for installing reflective roofs.

The enhanced search tool now allows users to filter results to show comprehensive energy rebates, reflective roof rebates, or all available rebates. Available only to members of the RCMA, the database searches by state or ZIP code to find available financial incentives and has proven an essential tool for members’ sales teams to use when speaking with prospective customers.

“Since its launch, the RCMA Reflective Roof Rebates Database has been one of our most popular member benefits,” says John Ferraro, RCMA executive director. “Independently tracking such a wide array of financial incentives has proven a challenge for our members for years, and they now have come to rely on this user-friendly tool to take the work out of discovering relevant rebates for the installation of reflective roofs all across the United States.”

Additional improvements to the database include the addition of more detailed information on each of the available incentive programs including eligibility, links to supporting documents, key program contacts, and online applications to apply for rebates. A newly-added print view allows RCMA Members to more easily review the available information in a ready-to-share format.

The RCMA Solar Reflective Coatings Council (SRCC), representing the producers of acrylic and elastomeric (non-bituminous) coatings and suppliers to the industry, initiated the creation of the Reflective Roof Rebates Database in 2013 and it has been met with tremendously positive feedback from the industry since its launch.

For more information on how to join the RCMA and acquire access to the database, email RCMA Staff Associate Laura Dwulet.

ARMA’s Website Now Is More Interactive

With technology changing the way the roofing industry communicates, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has made its website more interactive in an effort to keep users better connected in today’s fast-paced world.

The website’s new capabilities will mean convenient access to information for roofing professionals working on job sites and more content on asphalt shingles in the hands of consumers where they are increasingly demanding it—on their smartphones and tablets.

“ARMA makes available industry-leading roofing information to the public through our website,” says Reed Hitchcock, executive vice-president, ARMA. “Now that the site features mobile responsive functionality, roofing professionals and consumers alike will be able to easily access the same resources from their phone or tablet as they do from their desktop or laptop.”

All of the features available on the ARMA website are now optimized for viewing on Apple or Android mobile and tablet devices. ARMA’s popular resources, including Technical Bulletins, Fast Facts, commercial and residential photo galleries, FAQs and videos, have been formatted to fit on the screen of the device with which they are being viewed.

“Whether you are a roofing contractor who’s looking for shingle installation tips while working on a home or a homeowner who wants to see different design options while shopping at the store, visitors to the site will benefit greatly from the more easily accessed information that ARMA’s upgraded website will offer,” adds Hitchcock.

ARMA redesigned its website a year ago to provide visitors with both enhanced user-friendly features which improved navigation and online shopping for roofing publications. ARMA offers a wide variety of general, educational and specialized design and installation guides for both residential and commercial asphalt roofing systems.

Dodge Momentum Index Slipped in February

The Dodge Momentum Index slipped 2.6 percent in February compared to the previous month, according to McGraw Hill Construction, a division of McGraw Hill Financial. The Momentum Index is a monthly measure of the first (or initial) report for nonresidential building projects in planning, which have been shown to lead construction spending for nonresidential buildings by a full year. February’s decline brought the Momentum Index to 116.5 (2000=100), down from January’s revised 119.7 but still nearly 20 percent above the year-earlier (February 2012) reading of 97.4. The latest month’s retreat is expected to be a brief pause in a broader upward trend. Weak employment growth in December and January raised concern that the U.S. economic expansion was losing momentum, dampening the planning environment for commercial and institutional buildings. The moderate improvement in the February jobs report should help alleviate some of that concern going forward.

The February Momentum Index saw contraction in both its main components. New plans for commercial buildings, usually the more cyclically sensitive sector, dropped 1.7 percent while institutional building fell back by 3.7 percent. On the commercial side, declines were reported across all of the major building types. Even so, there were a number of new commercial projects that continued to make their way into the planning pipeline. February’s projects included the $160 million Three Alliance Office Building in Atlanta; a $130 million expansion to the Burns & McDonnell Headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.; and an $80 million distribution center for ConAgra Foods in Frankfurt, Ind. The institutional component, meanwhile, was weighed down by a large downturn in education building plans. The education decline, however, was partially offset by an increase for new health-care projects, including the $50 million Presbyterian Rust Cancer Center in Rio Rancho, N.M., and the $50 million Jewish Home of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y.

Equipment Finance Market Achieves Highest Index in Two Years

The Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation has released the March 2014 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry (MCI-EFI). Designed to collect leadership data, the index reports a qualitative assessment of the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by key executives from the $827 billion equipment finance sector. Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 65.1, the highest index in two years and an increase from the February index of 63.3. The first quarter MCI levels are the three highest since April 2011.

When asked about the outlook for the future, MCI survey respondent Daryn Lecy, vice president of Operations, Stearns Bank N.A. Equipment Finance Division, says: “Considering we are coming off what are typically slower months and the likelihood that our extra-aggressive winter further impacted new business, we remain optimistic for 2014. We are fortunate to be experiencing year-over-year growth, increasing demand, and overall solid delinquency levels.”

March 2014 Survey Results
The overall MCI-EFI is 65.1, an increase from the February index of 63.3.

    When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 31.4 percent of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, up from 21.2 percent in February. Sixty-five point seven percent of respondents believe business conditions will remain the same over the next four months, down from 72.7 percent in February. And 2.9 percent believe business conditions will worsen, down from 6.1 percent who believed so the previous month.

    Just more than 31 percent of survey respondents believe demand for leases and loans to fund capital expenditures (capex) will increase over the next four months, up from 24.2 percent in February. And 62.9 percent believe demand will “remain the same” during the same four-month time period, down from 69.7 percent the previous month. Another 5.7 percent believe demand will decline, down from 6.1 percent who believed so in February.

    Thirty-one point four percent of executives expect more access to capital to fund equipment acquisitions over the next four months, unchanged from February. And 68.6 percent of survey respondents indicate they expect the “same” access to capital to fund business, up from 65.5 percent in February. No one expects “less” access to capital, down from 3.1 percent who expected less access the previous month.

    When asked, 40 percent of the executives reported they expect to hire more employees over the next four months, relatively unchanged from February. The other 60 percent expect no change in headcount over the next four months, up from 53 percent last month. No one expects fewer employees, down from 6.3 percent who expected fewer employees in February.

    Five point seven percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “excellent,” up from 3 percent last month. While 88.6 percent of the leadership evaluates the current U.S. economy as “fair,” down from 93.8 percent last month. And 5.7 percent rate it as “poor,” up from 3 percent last month.

    When asked, 31.4 percent of the of survey respondents believe that U.S. economic conditions will get “better” over the next six months, a decrease from 34.4 percent who believed so in February. And 68.6 percent of survey respondents indicate they believe the U.S. economy will “stay the same” over the next six months, an increase from 59.4 percent in February. No one believes economic conditions in the U.S. will worsen over the next six months, a decrease from 6.2 percent last month.

    In March, 45.7 percent of respondents indicate they believe their company will increase spending on business development activities during the next six months, a decrease from 56.3 percent in February. Another 54.3 percent believe there will be “no change” in business development spending, an increase from 43.8 percent last month. No one believes there will be a decrease in spending, unchanged from last month.

March 2014 MCI Survey Comments from Industry Executive Leadership

Bank, Small Ticket
“We continue to see strong growth in both applications and origination volume. We are optimistic that this trend will continue as we close out the first quarter. In addition, portfolio performance in terms of delinquencies remains very low.” David Schaefer, CEO, Mintaka Financial, LLC

Independent, Middle Ticket
“New business volume targets in our truck transportation business continue to be met or exceeded by our over 2,300 dealers nationwide in the U.S., suggesting continued strength in the economy.” William Besgen, President & COO, Hitachi Capital America Corp.

Bank, Middle Ticket
“The overall economy is fair; however, I do see an increase in capital expenditures in 2014. The capital expenditures will be made to reduce labor cost and/or replace outdated or worn out equipment.” Elaine Temple, President, Bancorpsouth Equipment Finance

Why an MCI-EFI?
Confidence in the U.S. economy and the capital markets is a critical driver to the equipment finance industry. Throughout history, when confidence increases, consumers and businesses are more apt to acquire more consumer goods, equipment and durables, and invest at prevailing prices. When confidence decreases, spending and risk-taking tend to fall. Investors are said to be confident when the news about the future is good and stock prices are rising.

Who participates in the MCI-EFI?
The respondents are comprised of a wide cross section of industry executives, including large-ticket, middle-market and small-ticket banks, independents and captive equipment finance companies. The MCI-EFI uses the same pool of 50 organization leaders to respond monthly to ensure the survey’s integrity. Since the same organizations provide the data from month to month, the results constitute a consistent barometer of the industry’s confidence.

How is the MCI-EFI designed?
The survey consists of seven questions and an area for comments, asking the respondents’ opinions about the following:
1. Current business conditions
2. Expected product demand over the next four months
3. Access to capital over the next four months
4. Future employment conditions
5. Evaluation of the current U.S. economy
6. U.S. economic conditions over the next six months
7. Business development spending expectations
8. Open-ended question for comment

How may I access the MCI-EFI?
Survey results are posted on the Foundation website, included in the Foundation Forecast newsletter and included in press releases. Survey respondent demographics and additional information about the MCI are also available at the link above.

Papers Sought for Eighth Symposium on Research Roofing and Standards Development

Papers are invited for the Eighth Symposium on Research Roofing and Standards Development, which will be held Dec. 6, 2015, at the Marriott Tampa, Fla. Sponsored by ASTM International Committee D08 on Roofing and Waterproofing, the symposium will be held in conjunction with the committee’s standards development meetings.

The symposium provides a forum for contributing to the fundamental understanding of acceptable roof performance with the primary emphasis being current research and development work. The symposium will center on the influence of laboratory and field investigations in the development of standards for roofing and waterproofing materials and systems.

The symposium is intended to address topics describing research and standards development for low- and steep-slope roofing systems, including the following:
• Polymer-modified and conventional built-up bituminous roofing
• Self-adhesive membrane roofing
• Liquid-applied membrane roofing
• Synthetic single-ply roofing systems
• Spray polyurethane foam roofing systems
• Metal roofing systems
• Roof edge systems
• Performance of shingles, tiles and other steep roof coverings
• Wind and fire resistance
• Air and moisture movement in roofing systems
• Cool roofing, vegetative (green) roofing and solar
• Energy-efficient roofing
• Technology of roof coatings
• Hygrothermal simulations/modeling
• Roof system durability and service-life prediction
• Roofing in a sustainability era
• Roofing retrofit
• Advances in waterproofing
• Advances in adhesion technology for synthetic and bituminous roofing
• Advances in low-sloped roofing and its components

To participate in the symposium, presenters/authors must submit a 250- to 300-word preliminary abstract by April 8, 2014. The abstract must include a clear definition of the objective and approach of the work discussed, pointing out material that is new and presenting sufficient details regarding results. The presentation and manuscript must not be of a commercial nature nor can it have been previously published. The symposium co-chairmen will notify the presenters/authors by Sept. 8, 2014, of their paper’s acceptability for presentation at the symposium.

Abstracts may be submitted online.

Construction Industry Safety Coalition Urges U.S. Department of Labor to Withdraw ‘Significantly Flawed’ Silica Proposal

The Construction Industry Safety Coalition, which represents 25 different construction trade associations, issued the following statement recently as it filed comments regarding the Washington, D.C.- based Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s proposed Crystalline Silica Rulemaking:

“After an exhaustive analysis that involved hundreds of construction safety professionals, builders, construction managers and specialty trade contractors representing virtually every facet on the industry, it is our conclusion that the administration’s proposed new silica rule is significantly flawed and will do little to improve workplace health or safety. Specifically, the proposed rule sets a silica exposure standard that cannot be accurately measured or protected against with existing equipment and includes a series of data errors that undermine many of the rule’s basic assumptions.

“The proposed rule’s new silica exposure limit is virtually impossible to accurately measure or protect against using existing technology. For example, commercially available dust collection technology is not capable by itself of protecting workers from the rule’s new silica exposure limit. A limitation the agency appears to acknowledge in its additional requirement that workers also wear respirators, something that would not be necessary if the dust collection technology was effective.

“Even more troubling, the proposal is rife with errors and inaccurate data that call into question the entire rulemaking process. Agency officials, for example, omitted 1.5 million construction workers from its assessment of the size of the affected workforce. The agency also did not consider the broad range of tasks and variety of settings and environments in which construction occurs. And the agency’s assessment of the rule’s cost was off by a factor of four.

“Given the lack of scientific explanation justifying the new exposure limits, the many contradictions between the rule and the realities faced in the construction industry, and the fact that agency officials made significant errors in the basic data the rule is based on, we are urging the administration to withdraw this proposed rule. We strongly urge agency officials to work with us and employee groups to craft a silica measure that will build upon the work all of us have done to reduce silica-related deaths by 93 percent during the past three decades.”