Communication Is Crucial When You’re Working on Top of the Village Hall

Lincolnshire Village Hall houses city offices and a police station. The structure’s roof and gutter systems were recently replaced by All American Exterior Solutions. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

The Lincolnshire Village Hall, located in Lincolnshire, Illinois, houses city departments and the offices of elected officials, as well as the Lincolnshire Police Station. When its natural cedar shake roof and inlaid gutter system began to fail, city officials looked for a solution that would provide the desired aesthetics but last longer and require less maintenance.

Dale Pole of All American Exterior Solutions, a full-service union roofing contractor headquartered in Lake Zurich, Illinois, thought he had the answer. Pole, a 32-year industry veteran who is now the company’s vice president of operations, dropped off samples of a synthetic shake roofing tile manufactured by DaVinci Roofscapes and asked if city officials wanted to give it a try.

All American was awarded the job in 2016. The scope of work consisted of a complete re-roof of the complex, including the steep-slope roof system on the hall and tower. The project also included five sections of flat roofing and replacement of the copper gutter system. The job was complex, but All American was up to the challenge. The company worked in conjunction with Illinois Roof Consulting Associates, located in McHenry, Illinois.

The Steep-Slope System

The building’s signature feature is the observatory tower over the main entrance, which extends approximately 45 feet in the air. The main roof features a pitch change at the rear of the building, where the roof goes from 4:12 to 12:12. All

The complex is located right next to a large pond and bordered by mature trees, so the jobsite limited access to sections of the roof. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

American installed approximately 23,000 square feet of the DaVinci product, Bellaforté Shake in Tahoe, a blend of four colors. The company also fabricated the new gutter system out of 20-ounce lead-coated copper with soldered seams. Approximately 600 feet of new gutters were installed.

Work began in late spring, and the 23-year-old existing roof was torn off in sections. GAF Weather Watch Water & Ice Shield was applied as a leak barrier, followed by Proof Synthetic Underlayment from ABC Supply. “We couldn’t install the tiles until the inlaid gutter was in place, so we used a synthetic underlayment to keep everything watertight during the tear-off process,” says Pole.

Gutters were installed in an 8-inch-by-8-inch trough. “There was a course or two of the DaVinci, and then the inlaid gutters were set into the roof, and the roof starts again,” notes Pole. “The trough area was also layered with ice and water shield before the copper gutters were put in.”

Transitions and flashings were also made of copper. “Everything on this job was 20-ounce lead-coated copper,” notes Pole. “All of the valleys, transition flashing, and the gutters were all lead-coated copper.”

The DaVinci synthetic shake tiles were easy to install, according to Pole. “They are nailed in place,” he says. “You can use stainless steel nails or hot-dip galvanized nails. In this case, we used 1-1/2-inch stainless steel ring shank nails.”

Low-Slope Areas

The low-slope roofs were covered with a GAF two-ply modified bitumen system. Michael McCory, project manager, headed up the crews on the five low-slope sections, which totaled approximately 2,700 square feet.

The observatory tower over the main entrance features a walk-out area with a modified bitumen roof system. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

The low-slope sections had different substrates. Two balconies had concrete decks, while two canopies and an area over the garage had wooden decks. Some of the flat roofs had paver systems, which had to be removed and replaced after the new system was installed.

Half-inch DensDeck Prime cover board from Georgia-Pacific was installed over the wood and concrete decks. The GAF mod bit system consisted of a Ruberoid 20 base sheet and Ruberoid Granular FR cap sheet in white. “It was applied in a cold-process adhesive,” says McCory. “No torches were used. A manufacturer’s inspection was part of the process for a 20-year warranty.”

The upper level of the tower features a small walk-out balcony. “That was probably the most difficult area,” notes McCory. “It was covered with pavers and difficult to reach. We had to remove the pavers and store them in the stairwell during the installation.”

A Challenging Jobsite

Logistics at the jobsite posed a few problems. “The hardest part was the observatory tower by the front entry,” Pole recalls, noting an 80-foot man lift was used to remove the existing cedar and install the synthetic shake. “On the tower, it was all lift work. For other parts of the project, workers on both the steep-slope and the low-slope portions of the roof were tied off at all times.”

Crews installed 23,000 square feet of Bellaforte Shake by DaVinci Roofscapes on the building’s main roof. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

The building is bordered by mature trees and a large pond, limiting roof access. “On the west side of the structure, the pond comes right up against the building,” Pole says. “We had to use a lift that could stretch over that pond to get that end of the roof.”

An Equipter mechanized debris hauler was used to get around narrow grassy areas near the building. “We used an Equipter, which is like a gas-powered, mobile dumpster, to drive around the building and enter the courtyard for our debris,” Pole says. “We have two of those pieces of equipment, which we use on a lot of our jobs to get the shingles out. They don’t damage lawns and help protect the landscaping.”

The building was occupied during the installation, so care had to be taken to ensure business was not disrupted and passers-by would be safe. “The village offices were open for business while we were working, and the police station was open as well,” notes McCory. “The tower and front entryway had to be completed on the weekend, as that was the only walkway for the public to get in.”

The police station had several doors, so crews had to coordinate with officers while replacing the roof on that section and let them know where they were setting up the crane. The courtyard area was also restricted at times.

“We obviously had to keep everything neat and organized and make sure we cleaned up every day to make sure nothing would bother the people working in the building and the residents who came in to the village hall to get permits or whatever the case may be,” McCory says. “You don’t want police cars getting flat tires.”

Communication is the key to meeting customers’ needs, especially with an occupied building. “Whoever the building owner is, I give him my cell number and make sure I have his,” Pole notes. “I try to stay in contact with them and let them know if anything is changing. I ask them if they have any questions or issues, or if their schedule is changing. On this project, they said it was like we were never even there, and that’s what we like to hear.”

Feedback from the city has been positive, according to Pole. “They are very happy with it,” he says. “The system has the look they wanted. It looks like shake, they had a lot of colors to choose from, and they won’t have the maintenance issues that they did with the cedar. And it will last a lot longer. They will save a whole roof replacement phase in the life of the DaVinci product.”

Pole believes his company’s diverse portfolio gives it an edge. “We’re one of very few union companies that have their own shinglers, flat roofing crews, and sheet metal workers in house. We also do waterproofing, metal wall panels and insulation,” he says.

“This project shows our strength — we can do it all.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: All American Exterior Solutions, Lake Zurich, Illinois, www.aaexs.com
Roof Consultant: Illinois Roof Consulting Associates, McHenry, Illinois, www.irca.com

MATERIALS

Steep-Slope Roof System
Synthetic Shake: Bellaforté Shake in Tahoe, DaVinci Roofscapes, www.DaVinciRoofscapes.com
Underlayment: Proof Synthetic Underlayment, ABC Supply Co. Inc., www.ABCsupply.com
Leak Barrier: Weather Watch Water & Ice Shield, GAF, www.GAF.com

Low-Slope Roof System
Modified Bitumen Base Sheet: Ruberoid 20, GAF
Modified Bitumen Cap Sheet: Ruberoid Granular FR, GAF
Cover Board: DensDeck Prime, Georgia-Pacific, www.DensDeck.com

Garland Introduces a Quality Assurance and Communication Program

Garland introduced a quality assurance and communication program for its manufacturing operations at its Cleveland headquarters. GMAX, which stands for Garland Manufacturing Attention to Excellence, is a proactive program designed to provide more education to the manufacturing staff and open the lines of communication between key players in the product manufacturing process.

At its core, the concept is to keep all involved—from team members working on the production line to the management team—well informed with up-to-date information. The program also outlines a strategy for improving on safety, quality, inventory and efficiency. Each piece of the GMAX program was designed with one goal in mind: engage employees in a positive way that fosters personal ownership and a healthy team dynamic to maintain Garland’s high standards.

The GMAX program brings together many of the departments—manufacturing, product management, research, quality and safety—that help make the products a success in the factory, as well as out in the field. One aspect of the program is the GMAX Command Center—a new room built in the manufacturing plant with product mock-ups, educational information about the products, and real-time information from the Product Management and Quality teams.

Already, the new program has brought positive changes to the Cleveland operations. “Now that all of the team members know the goal and everyone is educated on the what and why of what we’re trying to accomplish, the quality assurance team went from just one department to the entire manufacturing team,” says Colin Downey, plant manager.

The GMAX program will continue to grow and evolve to meet the needs of a constantly changing business landscape while striving to always put customers first.

Software Improves Safety and Makes the Roofing Process Transparent for Clients

Safety is always a major concern and, at Castro Roofing, Dallas, it’s one of our core values. In fact, we have a full-time safety manager and a third-party safety consultant who evaluate every one of our jobs from a safety perspective. On top of that, we also have monthly safety meetings with the whole crew where we discuss best practices and train on new equipment. Safety should be a top priority for everyone in our line of work. I’m sure most contractors are pretty familiar with this routine.

So is there anything new to say about safety? Well, we’ve found a secret weapon! This past year we implemented an Online Project Management (OPM) software system. It has been a game changer for us.

How the OPM Works

The OPM streamlines communication with our clients and workers by archiving photos and information for every single project we have—every day. It notifies the client, via email, five days before the start of his or her job to ensure the client is prepared. We can personalize this email if we choose.

Once the job begins, each client receives daily reports, which include 12 to 16 photos from the job site covering the entire workday. Of course, someone on your team has to take the photos, but the software is linked to your smartphone and an app makes the process pretty simple. Through the OPM, everyone involved is made aware of the entire construction process.

The truth is, our clients really only have three questions for us:

    1. When are you starting my project?
    2. What have you done so far?
    3. When will you be finished with the work?

Ok, maybe there’s one more:

    4. How much is this going to cost me?

None of these questions take into consideration the personnel involved. Maybe this is a no-brainer, but if we are losing workers because of safety issues, our customers’ jobs are not going to be completed on time. Implementing this OPM addresses all those client questions and so much more.

OPM and Safety

The OPM allows quick response times by allowing us to fix anything we see that might become a hazardous issue before the next workday. Increased communication is literally available at the click of a button. Plus, the OPM makes it possible to go back and review any day of a project for different factors, like weather, safety and material delivery—not just work progress.

For example, while looking through the photos of a job’s progress as it was getting started, we noticed that if we unloaded and set up the scaffolding in a slightly different way, the unloading would be much smoother. We are constantly adjusting our approach to each job.

A New Outlook

While the OPM has made our work available in a much more transparent way—allowing our clients an all-access pass—it has also given us a new way to evaluate the ways we are utilizing our resources and our human capital.

When we know that others are able to keep such close tabs on the work we do, it changes the way we run our business. Our communication with clients should be as open and honest as possible. And the work that we do should be safe for everyone involved.

It’s pretty easy to pay lip service to safety in a monthly meeting and check it off the agenda. It’s altogether different when we are able to evaluate our daily routines from a different perspective. Our clients love it because our process no longer feels like a mystery to them. We love it because we can take our attention to detail to a whole new level—a bird’s eye view, if you will.

Before the OPM, it was nearly impossible to include our clients in our workflow. It was even harder to quickly evaluate and make changes that make work safer and more efficient for our employees. Now, we really can’t remember how we got along without it. Isn’t technology amazing? The OPM has genuinely helped us work smarter, not harder.

Online Project Management Software

Castro Roofing, Dallas, uses LookOut Software.

Improve Your Relationship with Condo Associations

Is your roofing company struggling to make ends meet, or are you searching for new ways to make your company thrive? I think at some time in every business owner’s career they come to a point where they realize that just being “good” isn’t good enough in today’s competitive marketplace unless your service or product is truly niche.

In the roofing industry, let’s be honest, there are quite a few of us out there. In my neck of the woods it’s not difficult to find two-dozen or more competitors. This is why my firm has to come up with ways to set ourselves apart from the pack. One of the best ways to do this is by improving our business relationship with condominium associations and board members, as well as property managers. These relationships have led to us not only being the first contractor called when there’s a problem at a building, but we also have received a number of referrals.

There are many ways to build relationships with condo associations and management companies, and I can almost guarantee that if you do it right your company will see gains like never before.

Network

To get your foot in the door, search the Internet for “condo management associations”. In my area of southwest Florida, the Falls Church, Va.-based Community Associations Institute is active. We joined the group and attend its chapters’ networking events. Groups like these are where condo managers decide on their “favorite” contractors. They talk to each other; “word of mouth” is a huge marketing tool. If you want to be on their minds, you need to be on their invitation list for these meetings. Once these relationships are built, managers won’t be looking for cheap bids anymore. You put yourself closer to the driver’s seat for potential negotiations.

If you personally don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, you’re missing a HUGE opportunity to network on America’s largest social-networking platform for professionals. Join LinkedIn for free and, if you own a company, be sure to build your company page, too. Then search for groups in your state or city that relate to property managers or condo associations. Most importantly, don’t just be a fly on the wall in these groups. Comment on other members’ posts and share your knowledge. This is how you add value and what makes your company unique. Being active online will increase activity toward your website; by the way, you should have a website worth sharing.

Don’t Sell; Educate

When joining these groups, don’t just sell yourself or your company because people are tired of being sold. Instead of touting how great your company is to every property manager you meet, try finding out their pain-points and objections and then educate them about how your services will make life easier for them. This is HUGE!

We recently asked approximately 50 building managers via email what frustrated them the most in dealing with contractors. We received informative answers that will help our business. Consider the following frustrations building managers cited:

  • Long response times: 25 percent
  • Taking too long to perform tasks: 25 percent
  • Not returning phone calls: 25 percent
  • Not following HOA rules/regulations: 15 percent
  • Dirty contractors and vehicles: 10 percent

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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.