Spring Forward, Fall Protect

Spring arrived late here in Michigan, and before the weather — and construction — began to heat up, I saw a press release from MIOSHA indicating the second year of its “Stop Falls. Save Lives.” safety awareness campaign would focus on the roofing industry. I called Nella Davis-Ray, Director of MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division in Lansing, to ask her why.

“Nationally and at the state level, we are pleased to see that overall, when you look at general industry and construction, there is a downward trend in work-related fatalities and injuries, and we like to think we play a part in that downward trend,” she said. “Even though we are seeing this downward trend, when you look at roofers’ fall-related incidents, and particularly when you look at roof-related fatalities, their rate is 10 times higher than the rate for construction workers as a whole. So, if there is any trade we can talk to about falls, the data shows the one group we should be focusing on is the roofers.”

The statistics were sobering, but the overall message was hopeful. “Our message is that all falls are preventable,” Davis-Ray said. “We really do believe that in MIOSHA.”

The key is making sure every employee is properly trained, has the proper safety equipment — and knows how to use it — and follows the jobsite-specific safety plan. According to Davis-Ray, the MIOSHA can help with all of those things — and the services are free.

The CET Division works independently of the Enforcement Division. It provides guidance to employers and employees through a variety of methods, including classroom training and educational materials including literature, videos, and a fall protection website, www.michigan.gov/stopfalls. The greatest tool of all, noted Davis-Ray, is a staff of consultants who can provide individualized training.

“I’m surprised how many employers, particularly contractors, are not aware that all they have to do is pick up the phone and call us,” she said. “At their request, we can schedule a time and location for one of our construction safety consultants to come out and work with them directly on safety and health issues.”

Consultants can review written requirements, explain interpretations of the standard, and answer specific questions about a project and whether or not a contractor might be in compliance. They can also help in crafting a comprehensive safety program. “We always try to look at the big picture,” Davis-Ray says. “The overarching issue is to have an effective system in place so that you ensure that safety is considered as a part of every contract.”

Davis urges contractors in every state to explore the free educational resources OSHA can provide. Michigan contractors can call 800-866-4674 or visit www.michigan.gov/miosha to learn more.

 

Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt Welcomes Four Contractors to Platinum Advisory Board

Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt, LLC is welcoming four roofing contractors to its Platinum Advisory Board. The prestigious honor is awarded to Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Preferred Contractors who have demonstrated a commitment to sustained excellence in all aspects of their business.

The newly announced Platinum Advisory Board members are: Levi Phillips, Idaho Roofing Contractors, Inc. (Boise, Idaho); Lenny Scarola, DreamHome Remodeling (Springfield, Va.); Wayne Holloway, Best Choice Roofing & Home Improvement (Hendersonville, Tenn.); and John Phillips, ARAC Roof It Forward (Kennesaw, Ga.). These new members join 13 existing members on the Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Advisory Board.

Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Advisory Board members provide in-the-field experience and business insights while collaborating with Owens Corning twice a year to offer perspective from the vantage point of leading contractors. Members of the Platinum Advisory Board also work with Owens Corning to evaluate products and provide suggestions for continuous improvement.

“We are excited to continue to grow our Platinum Advisory Board with roofing contractors who have demonstrated high levels of market leadership and customer service,” said Jason Lewinski, Owens Corning Roofing Contractor Network Leader. “Our Platinum Advisory Board members play an important role in keeping us connected to emerging issues and opportunities that impact both contractors and the homeowners they serve.”

For more information, visit www.owenscorning.com.

TAMKO Offering Exclusive Training for Pro Certified Contractors

TAMKO Building Products, Inc. is excited to offer new live webinar training exclusively for its Pro Certified Contractors. The training is available now and includes multiple webinars that cover business tools to help contractors increase and manage their business.

“We want success for our TAMKO Pro Certified Contractors,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing for TAMKO, Stephen McNally. “These webinars introduce TAMKO Pros to technology and business resources that are available to help them achieve more with their roofing business.”

TAMKO’s 2018 webinar series began in March and the lineup includes topics such as: home industry trends, led by HomeAdvisor; the basics of social media for businesses, led by Digital Fusion; how financing jobs can increase your business revenue, led by GreenSky; and the importance of roof measurement technology and how to use it, led by EagleView Technologies. Webinar host companies and topics will vary monthly.

A goal of the TAMKO Pro Certified Contractor program is to help contractors grow their business and assist them with finding the tools and services to help along the way. As part of the program, contractors are also eligible for Pro Rewards where they can earn cash back for qualifying purchases.

For more information, visit TAMKOpro.com.

 

MRA Predicts Major Demand for U.S. Metal Roofing Installers this Spring

With a hot U.S. housing market and still-favorable interest rates, the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) is predicting a heavier than usual demand for qualified metal roofing installers and contractors for spring 2018.

For homeowners planning improvement projects this season, that means the time to swing into action is now, says MRA’s Executive Director Renee Ramey. That’s especially true for metal roofing, which is booming in popularity thanks to its durability and exceptional performance in severe weather.

“Not only are we seeing greater demand in general, we’re also coming off a tough winter which leads to the need for more qualified re-roofing contractors,” said Ramey. “In many cases, homeowners should be aware that these factors can significantly increase the competition and the timeframe for being able to complete re-roofing projects.”

Even with the flurry of activity predicted for this spring, MRA is cautioning homeowners to take their time and do their homework to vet contractors thoroughly before embarking on any re-roofing job. Inexperienced installers may prey on homeowners’ impatience and the high market demand, using it as a means to overcharge or push sub-quality services and materials. Inadvertently or not, rushed contractors under pressure or anxious to get to their next job may cut corners or overlook key details, so it’s up to homeowners to make sure the job is done to their satisfaction each step of the way.

“No matter what the material, a new roof is a major investment, so homeowners will want to take the necessary steps now to ensure their home is protected, comfortable and will perform reliably for many years to come,” said Ramey.

MRA is reinforcing these tips for homeowners seeking quality metal roofing installers this year:

  1. Don’t assume all roofers are equally skilled

Some contractors push homeowners towards a certain roofing material, not because it’s the best or most appropriate for their home, but because it may simply be the option the installer is most familiar with.  Make sure your installer is properly trained, experienced and skilled in installing metal roofing. Ideally, look for a roofer that has been in business for at least five years; roofers who don’t do quality work usually don’t last that long.

  1. Get referrals

Reputable installers are typically involved in the industry and are committed to keeping abreast of the latest trends and techniques. Check to see if the prospective installer is a member of MRA and other reputable trade alliances. Be sure to ask for and contact recent references. When contacting references, ask if they were satisfied with the work, if the process went smoothly, if the installers were careful and courteous and they did what they promised, including sticking to the estimate and change orders.  Also, ask the installer to provide you with a few recent job locations so you can drive by and check out the work. While pictures may be helpful, there’s nothing like seeing how a roof looks first-hand.

  1. Do your own homework

With metal roofing alone, there are hundreds of different options, material types, finishes and installation techniques. Request the highest-rated, longest lasting material you can afford and always do your own research for whatever product recommendation your installer suggests, verifying it’s what you want for your home. For resources about metal roofing materials, styles and options, check out www.metalroofing.com or visit the manufacturer’s website directly.

  1. Protect yourself

Make sure that installers are licensed, insured and carry workers’ compensation coverage. Don’t be afraid to ask for proof-of-insurance certificates and the insurance agent’s name. A reputable installer won’t hesitate to provide you with that information. Don’t pay the full amount of a job upfront; ideally, pay one-third upfront for materials, and the remainder when roofing and clean up are completed to your satisfaction. It goes without saying that evaluating warranties is essential: make sure it covers not only materials and finishes, but leaks, flashing failures and other labor-related defects.

  1. Be thorough

Putting on a new roof is only part of the equation. Replacing eaves flashing, pipe boots and roof jacks is less complicated when reroofing, so consider having it done at the same time if needed. Be sure to have your contractor or HVAC provider verify proper attic ventilation. Poor ventilation can cause significant damage, high utility bills and worse case, can lead to serious safety issues.

“Metal roofs are one of the best and most reliable ways to protect a home for the long run,” said Ramey. “We’re encouraging homeowners to invest some time and effort upfront before their re-roofing project begins, and it will pay off with many years of loving their home’s roof.”

For more information, visit www.metalroofing.com.

 

KM Coatings Unveils New Website

KM Coatings, a manufacturer of quality roof coatings for roofing professionals, announced the launch of its new website. Introduced on Jan. 22, 2018, the new site is dynamic, searchable and improves the web experience for visitors.

The new design is modern with cleaner page layouts featuring hues of blue, gray and white to match the KM Coatings rebranding. From the website, contractors can sign up for the KM Academy, search and download content, and connect with roofing experts.

“We are pleased with the new website which allows for improved online access to our products, people and services,” said Brady Kolden, national coatings manager for KM Coatings. “The website was constructed with the needs of our customers in mind and reflects our dedication and commitment to them. We believe they will find what they need every time they come through our virtual doors.”

For more information visit kmcoatings.us.

 

Polyglass Launches New Q Rewards Website

Polyglass U.S.A., Inc. announced the launch of its newly revamped Q Rewards website. The new platform allows roofing contractors to quickly earn points for Polyglass purchases and redeem them for trips, event tickets and merchandise.

A leading manufacturer of roofing and waterproofing solutions, Polyglass introduced the Q Rewards program in 2013 as a way to say thank you to contractors. From the website, contractors can enroll in the Q Rewards program, manage points and redeem prizes. The newly designed website has improved navigation and functionality and is compatible with mobile devices. It features Snap2Claim Technology, enabling photo capture and faster upload of invoices.

“We are excited about the launch of the new Q Rewards website,” said Director of Strategic Marketing Scott Lelling. “The website has a cleaner design, is user-friendly and improves the overall customer experience. We value our customers and look forward to making more amazing rewards possible through the Q Rewards program.”

Contractors can sign up for Q Rewards now at www.polyglassqrewards.com and earn bonus points at the 2018 International Roofing Expo on Feb. 6-8 in New Orleans, LA.  Stop by booth 701 and play the Spin2Win game.

For more information, visit www.polyglass.us.

ABC Supply Co. Inc. Opens Branch in Valparaiso, Indiana

Building products distributor ABC Supply Co. Inc. has opened a new branch at 184 W. State Road 130 in Valparaiso, Indiana, that will benefit northwest Indiana contractors. The location will give local contractors access to roofing, siding and other exterior building products they need to run their businesses as well as business support and expertise from ABC Supply’s associates.

Jessie Vega will manage the new branch. Vega, who joined ABC Supply’s Tinley Park location in 1999, has worked as a delivery driver, inside sales associate and, most recently, a delivery service manager during his tenure with the company. He brings nearly two decades of experience and a passion for helping customers succeed to Valparaiso.

With the addition of the Valparaiso branch, ABC Supply now has 15 locations throughout Indiana. “The goal of every ABC Supply branch is to support contractors and make their jobs easier,” said Jim Welch, vice president of ABC Supply’s Midwest Region. “We’re looking forward to building relationships with customers in the area with our high-quality products and trusted expertise. Of course, we’re also excited to become part of the larger Valparaiso community.”

Branch hours are 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. CST, Monday through Friday. The phone number is (219) 286-8200.

For more information, visit www.abcsupply.com.

MRA Will Host Seminars for Metal Roofing Contractors at METALCON

The Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) has announced it will be hosting two seminars for metal roofing contractors at METALCON 2017.  Both are designed to help contractors grow their residential metal roofing businesses with advice and ideas that can make an impact. Led by metal roofing expert Frank Farmer, the MRA training sessions will be held on both Oct. 18 and 19, as follows:

Growing Your Residential Metal Roofing Company in the Age of Millennials

Hiring, Training and Turning Millennials into Rock Stars

  • While most companies are struggling with low productivity of a millennial workforce, your company can excel.  Understanding what the millennial generation wants and needs is the key to your growth and profitability. This seminar will share how to turn your company into a magnet that attracts people while developing a profitable company culture that millennials crave.
  • Presented Oct. 18, from 9:30 a.m – 10:30 a.m. and Oct. 19, from 10:45 – 11:45 a.m.

Increasing your Residential Metal Roof Company’s Profitability

  • Learn how to create value and urgency without being the lowest bid.  Frank will share sales techniques specific to the metal roofing industry, including how to become your customer’s first choice and make the order on the first visit at the price you want.
  • Presented Oct. 18, from 10:45 – 11:45 a.m. and Oct. 19, from 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.

For more information, and to register for the sessions, contractors can click here to review the conference schedule and choose a session.  MRA is also offering registration for the show floor at this link.   

ABC Supply Offers Building Products to Contractors at the Bowling Green Branch

ABC Supply Co. Inc. has opened a branch in Bowling Green, Ky., located at 125 Hunter Court. The location will offer steep-slope and low-slope roofing and other select building products that contractors need to run their businesses.

Jason Swigart will manage the branch. Prior to joining ABC Supply, Swigart worked for other building products distributors in the Louisville area in positions ranging from inside and outside sales to operations manager. In March 2016, he started at the Louisville branch located at 619 Industry Road as an outside sales associate. He graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and marketing.

This is ABC Supply’s sixth location in Kentucky. “Our new location in Bowling Green will help contractors in south-central Kentucky have access to the products and services that they rely on for their businesses every day,” says Tom Kuchan, vice president of ABC Supply’s Northeast Region. “Whether it’s working with new or existing customers, Jason and his team look forward to continuing to build relationships with the area’s contractors.” 

Branch hours are 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CDT, Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. CDT on Saturday. The phone number is (270) 782-8787. 

Three Types of Contracts Offer Different Benefits and Risks

For the first time in years, construction material costs are rising. In March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported numbers showing a 4.8 percent rise in material prices between February 2016 and February 2017.

For contractors who have been working on long-term projects, the price increases could mean lower profit margins, or even losses, as they complete their work. Contractors who are in the estimating, bidding, and contract negotiation stages for new projects will want to ensure profitability and manage risk where possible. In particular, selecting the best pricing system for a project and properly drafting the contract to reflect it is essential, especially during periods of material cost increases.

Three prevalent pricing mechanisms are fixed-price contracts, cost-plus contracts, and guaranteed maximum price contracts. Here’s the lowdown on each type and the benefits and risks with respect to cost changes.

FIXED-PRICE CONTRACTS

Fixed-price or lump-sum contracts are contracts where the parties, sometimes through extensive negotiation, agree upon a fixed sum for the labor and materials to be furnished. Typically, the contractor will prepare a schedule of values where portions of the work correspond with a certain percentage of completion, and pay applications are submitted for the appropriate percentages (often, minus an agreed-upon amount of retention). If the parties want to change the scope of work, a signed change order will be required, and the parties must negotiate and agree upon the change order pricing before signed.

Fixed-price contracts offer contractors limited protection—and in some cases, no protection—in the event of material price increases. Indeed, “the normal risk of a fixed-price contract is that the market price for subject goods or services will change.” (See Seaboard Lumber Co. v. U.S., a 2002 Federal Circuit Court opinion.) Many contracts contain force majeure provisions that excuse or absolve parties from performing their contractual duties in the event of unforeseeable circumstances that are beyond their control and that make performance impossible or commercially impracticable. Examples of such events include “acts of God” like floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes, as well as events such as riots, terrorist attacks, and labor strikes. However, force majeure clauses can be difficult to enforce, and most courts, like the Federal Circuit in Seaboard, view cost changes as a normal, foreseeable risk and not an event that will excuse contractors from further performance. Therefore, when negotiating a fixed price, contractors generally should plan to be held to that price.

However, properly drafted fixed-price contracts can give contractors options to mitigate potential losses arising from cost increases. One strategy is drafting the contract to read that the fixed price is based upon material prices as of the date of signing and that significant increases in material prices will or shall (not “may”) entitle the contractor to an equitable adjustment of the contract price through a signed change order.

Contractors should also be entitled to adjust the contract price or time of completion to account for other problems—like delays, material shortages, or other difficulties acquiring materials—that can occur when costs increase. Such provisions will have better chances of being enforced if the contract specifically defines what constitutes a “significant” percentage increase in price. Additionally, contracts should include provisions protecting contractors from liability associated with delays and shortages. Some fixed-price contracts also provide that in the event the parties cannot agree on a price for change orders, the change order work shall be paid for on a time-and-materials basis including overhead and profit. If contractors are unable to negotiate an equitable adjustment provision, a time-and-material measure for change orders can provide some protection.

COST-PLUS CONTRACTS

For contractors, while the above revisions to fixed-price contracts may be helpful, cost-plus contracts will provide the maximum protection against material cost increases. Cost-plus contracts—also known as time-and-material agreements—are agreements whereby contractors bill for the cost of the labor and materials, plus a fee that is either a percentage of the project costs or an agreed-upon flat fee. When invoicing, contractors include documentation of their payment to subcontractors, vendors, and material suppliers to provide proof of the cost. They then invoice for the cost plus the agreed-upon percentage of the cost.

Unlike fixed-price agreements, cost-plus agreements place the risk of cost overages and increases on the owner. If the contractor’s fee is a percentage of the labor and material costs, these arrangements also create potential for contractors to benefit from cost increases. However, they eliminate the need to negotiate a fixed price, they make change orders much simpler to implement, and in periods of cost decreases, they can benefit owners.

GUARANTEED MAXIMUM PRICE CONTRACTS

While some owners will be wary of cost-plus agreements—especially when material prices are on the rise—guaranteed maximum price (GMP) contracts may serve as a compromise that could help both contractors and owners mitigate risk. GMP contracts are a modified cost-plus option in that they function like cost-plus agreements—contractors invoice for the labor and material costs, plus their fee—but the contracts establish a maximum price for the entire project. Contractors invoice in the same manner they would for a cost-plus agreement, but once the owner has paid the maximum agreed-upon amount, the remaining costs are the contractor’s to bear.

Often, parties to GMP contracts also agree that if the sum of the cost of work and the contractor’s fee total less than the guaranteed maximum price, the difference in the cost and the agreed-upon maximum fee reverts to the owner or is split between the two parties. This makes some owners more amenable to these agreements than they would be to traditional cost-plus agreements, which can make project costs very unpredictable.

Whether parties decide that a fixed-price or cost-plus agreement is best for their needs, they should take care to draft the price terms clearly in order to avoid ambiguity and confusion. Generally, courts enforce contracts as written if they are clear and unambiguous, but if an ambiguity exists, courts will must look to extrinsic evidence to determine what the parties intended, leaving the fate of the dispute to a jury or fact finder. For example, in Rosa v. Long (a 2004 N.C. Court of Appeals opinion), a homeowner and contractor entered into a contract stating that the contractor would build a turnkey dwelling for the “sum of $193,662.60” but later stating that contractor would receive a commission in the amount of 10 percent of all materials, subcontracts, and labor obtained and expended by the contractor. Because these terms suggested that the contract was both fixed-price and cost-plus, a jury decided what the parties intended instead of a judge enforcing the terms as drafted. Clear, proper drafting is essential to increasing the parties’ chances of a predictable outcome in the event of a dispute.