The Roofing Industry Seeks to Protect Buildings from Storms

I used to love storms. I was never one to cower at the sound of thunder. I often found storms a good excuse to turn off the TV and lights, open the blinds and marvel at the sheer power of nature. If you read my January/February “Raise the Roof”, however, you know I have had a love-hate relationship with rain since moving in with my husband (we married in August 2015). I found myself awake on rainy nights, counting the seconds between pumps of our sump
pump. If less than 20 seconds passed, I knew the basement was flooding and dreaded the morning’s cleanup. (I work from home and my office is in the basement.)

In March, a waterproofing company spent two days installing its patented drain- age system and a new sump pump inside our basement. We monitored the system throughout the month of April, which was rainy, to ensure there were no leaks in the system. It worked like a charm! During April, we also hired contractors to create my new home office, a guestroom and walk-in closet within the basement. So far, we have new windows, lighting and insulation; the contractors are finishing up drywall and ceiling installation as I type.

I know what it’s like when you can’t trust your house to weather a storm. There’s nothing worse than feeling powerless, and seeing your belongings destroyed is gut-wrenching. As the nation braces against another summer of intense weather, it’s comforting to know the construction industry—specifically roofing—is researching and innovating to protect people’s homes and businesses from Mother Nature’s wrath.

For example, in “Business Sense”, Jared O. Blum, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, writes about initiatives to improve the resiliency of our building stock and infrastructure through codes, standards and proactive design.

The Clinton, Ohio-based Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues Inc., better known as RICOWI, recently sent 30 researchers to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex after an April hailstorm. According to Joan Cook, RICOWI’s executive director, the 10 teams of three inspected 3 million square feet of low and steep-slope roofing during the investigation. The teams’ findings will result in a report to help the industry better understand what causes roofs to perform or fail in severe hail events, leading to overall improvements in roof system durability. Learn how RICOWI mobilizes and studies roofs in “Special Report”.

There are many other stories within this issue about roof systems working along- side other building components to create durable, sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. Humans have a long history of innovating and evolving to meet the needs of their current situation. I have no doubt that in my lifetime our buildings will be built to withstand nearly any catastrophic event. Meanwhile, I’m happy to report we received 4 1/2 inches of rain in three hours last week and our basement remained bone dry. Thanks to innovations in basement waterproofing, I may start to enjoy storms just a bit again!

IRE Draws Largest Crowd Since 2000

Industry professionals full of energy and excitement filled the halls of the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans to take part in three days of education, networking and a bustling trade-show floor at the 2015 International Roofing Expo. Taking place from Feb. 24-26, the annual trade show and conference drew a total attendance of 9,337 roofing construction professionals.

The International Roofing Expo, which took place in New Orleans in February, drew 9,337 roofing construction professionals.

The International Roofing Expo, which took place in New Orleans in February, drew 9,337 roofing construction professionals.

“The trade show floor was the largest since the 2000 show,” says Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE show director. “Exhibitors enjoyed steady traffic as they introduced hundreds of new and innovative products to high-caliber decision-makers.”

Attendees represented all 50 states with the bulk of attendees from Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas. The largest number of international attendees came from Canada; Mexico; and Seoul, Korea.

First-time registrants made up 42 percent of all attendees. “We had an awesome first year at the IRE. There were a lot of great vendors, great products and great people,” notes Cody Taylor of SupplyHog. “This is an exciting time to be in the industry, and we look forward to coming back next year!”

“This was my seventh year attending and I feel the IRE continues to improve yearly,” adds Robert Andreu of Hunter Warfield. “The location, vendors and show management each exceeded my expectations.”

EXHIBIT HALL

The trade-show floor was comprised of 1,178 booths, a 13 percent increase compared to the 2014 show. New, value-added services and innovative ideas in roofing materials and related products were displayed on the show floor, including metal, shingles, coatings/sealants/adhesives, flashing, waterproofing, underlayment, modified bitumen, bitumen/asphalt, gutters/roof drains and fasteners.

Exhibitors were pleased with the number of leads and inquiries generated during the show. “The IRE is the most important show of the year for us to engage our customers in person and showcase our new products and technologies,” observes Karen Edwards of EagleView Technologies. “We expect to see a great return on investment.”

Of the 465 exhibiting companies, 87 companies were first-time exhibitors. “We have attended many construction trade shows in the past and by far the IRE has been the most productive in terms of high attendance, which has generated a great source of leads to grow future business,” says Eric Velliquette of Lakeside Construction Fasteners. “If you haven’t attended or exhibited at the IRE, you should!”

“Business is strong within the roofing industry,” notes Bill Good, executive vice president of the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association, the show’s official sponsor, which had an 800-square-foot booth at the event. “The enthusiasm was evident throughout the buying and selling activity on the show floor.”

EDUCATIONAL CONFERENCE

In addition to the show floor’s buying and selling activity, the show’s educational conference offered 44 educational sessions addressing a variety of industry issues. Educational tracks included technical and workplace-safety classes, as well as business-related sessions, including leadership/management, green building, legal/HR, money matters, sales/service and general business.

“I come to the IRE each year to reconnect with friends in the industry while getting the best roofing-specific education from an extensive list of seminars offered each morning,” states Rob Therrien of The Melanson Co. “Each afternoon, I visit the show floor to see the latest new innovations to come into our industry, from materials to safety, to help our team and our customers.”

“The IRE show is extremely valuable to our company because the seminars are packed full of useful information that we can apply immediately and improve our bottom line in 2015,” adds Steve Pike of White Stone 1998. “We are very busy with our business, but this is time well spent; with what we learned, we are positioned to become a market leader.”

SPECIAL EVENTS

On the show floor, attendees found new products and ideas at the Metal Marketplace that featured 70 booths; the Business & Technology Pavilion with 49 booths; and Exhibitor Product Clinics from OMG, Equipter and Tremco.

Education was available on the show floor through The Roofing Institute. Sponsored by Johns Manville, these condensed classes covered topics from business strategies and leadership to increasing profits and more.

At the Product Showcase, attendees were able to see, try and compare the latest products in the following categories: new, sustainable and Made in the USA. Based on innovation, productivity and cost-effectiveness, a panel of industry experts awarded Leister Technologies’ UNIROOF E 40 MM – 120V/15A as “Best New Product,” while Tie Down Engineering’s Roof Zone – RZ Guardrail was awarded “Best Sustainable Product.”

Attendees had the opportunity to find new products and meet new exhibitors by playing the Treasure Quest game. Wesley Stienecker of Nitro Roofing & Construction was the winner of $2,000 after his name was drawn from a pool of attendees who visited each of the 10 participating Treasure Quest sponsors.

Giving back to the New Orleans community, a pre-show Community Service Day took place on Feb. 23, where 50 attendees and exhibitors enthusiastically volunteered to help renovate the homes of two families in need.

The show’s opening day featured a motivating Keynote Address by Ken Schmidt, the former brand visionary at Harley-Davidson, who shared his expertise on brand-building, corporate positioning and customer relations.

Attendees and exhibitors networked while enjoying complimentary hors d’oeuvres and drinks at the opening night Welcome Party on Tuesday, Feb. 24, at Generations Hall.

The 2016 International Roofing Expo will be held Feb. 17-19 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Fla. Housing reservations can be made online beginning in May 2015 and online attendee registration will open in September. For more information, visit the expo’s website or call (800) 684-5761.

The Honest Roofing Industry

I attended the recent International Roofing Expo where I was reminded of what I love about the roofing industry. The people are so real! Manufacturers and contractors alike shared with me how their businesses are doing, the mistakes they made this past year, their plans for the coming years and how they really feel about where business is headed. I must say this was one of the most optimistic shows I have attended in quite awhile. (Read a post-show wrap-up about IRE in “New & Notable”.) Everyone I spoke to during the show was positive and full of energy for what’s to come—a welcome change from previous years when the construction industry struggled.

Gaining perspectives like these is a huge reason we structured the magazine as we have. Our tagline, “The Industry’s Voice”, is meant to clarify what types of articles you’ll find within the issue: Our authors are part of this industry and are willing to be honest with you—their peers—about their successes and failures in the hopes that you’ll learn from them just as you would if you were networking at IRE or another industry event.

For example, in “Business Sense” you’ll hear from Iain Fergusson, owner of Highland Roofing Co., Wilmington, N.C., who recently purchased the assets of his competitor, a 133-year-old roofing contracting company with almost 30 full-time roofers. Fergusson admits he made some mistakes during the merger but, he says, “You will learn way more from one mistake than you will from 10 good decisions.”

Meanwhile, Kaney O’Neill, who overcame a spinal-cord injury that ended her military career but launched her roofing profession, shares how she perseveres in a tough business climate. In “Business Sense”, O’Neill describes how she embraces lifelong learning for herself and her employees. “No matter where you are in business, you have to keep learning and growing to persevere,” she says.

O’Neill notes her military training has helped her stay “mission focused” and committed to excellence. Seeking employees with that sort of work ethic drew Chad Muth, president of Muth & Co. Roofing, Westerville, Ohio, to the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes program. The program, which is covered in “Special Report”, helps veterans, active service members and their spouses transition back into the workforce through nationwide hiring fairs and an online process. Muth successfully hired and has since promoted Grant Smith, a former Marine, and hopes to hire more veterans. “We’re hoping we can … showcase what we have to offer [veterans] for the long-term future,” Muth notes.

Helping prospective employees recognize there is a long-term future in roofing is one of many goals of The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress, a 501(c)3 organization that was established by the National Roofing Contractors Association, Rosemont, Ill. In “Education”, Alison L. LaValley, CAE, NRCA’s associate executive director of Member Services, highlights the partnerships, training initiatives, technical and educational programs, and awards the Alliance funds as part of its mission. According to Tom Saeli, CEO of Duro-Last Roofing Inc., Saginaw, Mich., everyone should consider supporting the Alliance: “The organization funds important scholarships, sponsors innovative research to advance the roofing industry and partners with members from all walks of the industry who really care about what the future holds. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?”