Tough Questions

I spent Father’s Day in a less than optimal spot — visiting my dad in the local hospital.

My father is 87, and a fall down the stairs resulted in life-threatening injuries. As I headed to the intensive care unit that first night, I didn’t know what to expect. However, I did know what my father’s wishes were regarding his care.

My dad is an attorney, and he prides himself on his estate planning, which is guided by two principles: taking care of his family and not paying a penny more in taxes than he has to. My brother, my sister and I know the details and who to contact when he passes away. But when my mom passed away unexpectedly more than a decade ago, we realized we didn’t know what her wishes were regarding critical care or even her funeral.

We learned from those mistakes. Our family discussed not only dad’s estate plan but his preferences for a funeral service (less funeral home, more Irish wake) and his thoughts about being kept alive by artificial means (no). I have a durable power of attorney in my briefcase and a form designating me as his patient advocate.

I was able to concentrate on the most important thing: making sure my dad got the care he needed. With the help of some talented and dedicated health care professionals, he’s doing much better now; he’s in a rehab unit and back on his feet. Hopefully we won’t need to look at his estate plans for a long time to come.

I can’t imagine going through the experience without that preparation. I thought back on the article about exit and succession planning in our last issue by Angie Lewis titled “Leaving Your Business Legacy.” In it, she details the advice of business planning experts Kevin Kennedy and Joe Bazzano of Beacon Exit Planning, who spell out retirement strategies. They also stress the importance of contingency planning — preparing for an unexpected illness or death.

If you haven’t read that article yet, I strongly urge you to do so. You can also log on to view an on-demand webinar on the same subject sponsored by Atlas Roofing.

Contact your attorney and get advice specifically tailored for your situation. Then talk to your family members and ask some tough questions. Take it from me, these conversations are not easy, but asking tough questions now can make difficult times a lot easier.

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.

 

IRE and R&D

The conventional wisdom is that when the overall economy is strong, manufacturers feel more comfortable investing their resources in research and development of new products. I don’t have hard numbers to back that assertion up, but in my experience, at least anecdotally, it seems to be borne out. During the Great Recession years of the last decade, the number of new products coming to market seemed to decline. If the array of new products I saw at this year’s International Roofing Expo (IRE) in New Orleans is any indication, we could be in for a banner year.

The IRE makes it easy to keep tabs on new developments with its New Product Pavilion. The depth and breadth of offerings in that area was impressive, but I saw products being unveiled all over the show floor. Time will tell if they will turn out be a flash in the pan, a category-changing development, or something in between — but for the Roofing team, it was a very interesting show to cover, as there were a lot of excited responses when we asked, “What’s new?”

Innovative products on display included a pre-weathered fastener from Lakeside Construction Fasteners that matches aged Corten panels, so installation and repairs don’t leave bright silver dots on the rust-colored surface.

Carlisle showcased its Rapid Lock Technology, which uses a Velcro attachment system to secure the company’s EPDM and TPO membranes without using a bonding adhesive, doing away with temperature restrictions.

OMG Roofing Products unveiled its RhinoBond Hand Welder, which can be used to install the company’s induction welding fastening system in hard-to-reach areas, such as spaces below signs, pipes and rooftop equipment.

Georgia-Pacific showed off enhancements to DensDeck Prime that make the cover boards more resistant to water and increase their vertical pull strength.

Roof Sentry announced the launch of a solar-powered roof vent that provides moisture detection and data monitoring services. It can also remove moisture from low-slope roof systems.

On the residential side, new developments included GAF’s shingles with StainGuard Plus, which uses copper granules with time-release technology to fight algae growth.

Tie Down Engineering offered the Ergo Stripper, an ergonomically designed tool for removing shingles that improves leverage and eases strain on the back.

The Roof Umbrella rooftop canopy system is designed to be installed in less than 30 minutes on jobsites to prevent weather delays. It can be customized with the contractor’s logo.

These are just a few of the items that caught our eye at the IRE. We will be showcasing them in this issue and future issues of the magazine as part of our editorial mission to keep readers up to date on new products hitting the market. If you saw a new product you’d like us to be aware of, just email me at chris@roofingmagazine.com.

Working From Home

After more than three decades working in an office setting, I recently joined the ranks of the people working from home. The situation has its obvious advantages — my commute time has been cut down to less than a minute — but I must admit I’m still getting used to it.

There are a few problems I’ve encountered in my home office that I didn’t have to cope with before. The other day our cat, Boo, ran across my keyboard and renamed a file “;;;;////.” Luckily it jumped to the top of the folder I was working in, or I’d probably still be looking for it. I’ve gotten better at timing the delivery of a Kong toy stuffed with peanut butter to keep our dog, Josie, from barking during phone interviews, but it still sometimes happens, especially when packages are delivered on our block.

Working from home and working in an office have their challenges, but I realize how lucky I am. Every week I talk to people who work at the top of buildings large and small, making the roof of a commercial building or a home their temporary office. I’ve learned each jobsite has its own obstacles and its own set of risks. Each project also has its own rewards.

This issue puts the spotlight on hospitality and entertainment projects, and as a sports fan it was a thrill to cover stories about new construction projects including the PVC roof installation atop U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, and MB Arena in Chicago, the practice home of the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks, which sports a TPO roof and two garden roof systems.

This issue also explores the roof renovation that took place at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, known as “The Q.” The project was completed during the Cavaliers’ historic NBA World Championship run and while the Cleveland Indians were hosting the World Series right next door at Progressive Field.

Working from home has its small hurdles, but making sure the jobsite looks pristine when viewed from a blimp is not one of them.

That was the case in Cleveland, where crew members worked on their hands and knees to restore the roof under the giant LED sign at The Q before the World Series. It was also the case in Chicago, where Willie Hedrick of All American Exterior Solutions in Lake Zurich, Illinois, was proud to see his work on display during aerial views televised during the Stanley Cup playoffs. “When the Blackhawks went to the Stanley Cup championship and the blimp was hovering over the arena, I could see a couple of my projects on TV,” he noted. “It reminded me of all the time, effort, attention to detail, and collaborative hard work that it took to produce the final product.”

Remind me never to complain about my cat ever again.

Preserve, Protect and Defend

Our thoughts about government get intertwined with our images of the buildings that house its institutions. Architects know this, and in their designs, they often strive to evoke the key principles governments aspire to—permanence, stolidity, common-sense functionality, even grandeur. These buildings can touch our emotions. They can inspire us.

But no building lasts forever. When the time comes, talented individuals and enterprising companies have to step up and secure the integrity of these landmarks so they can survive to serve and inspire future generations.

The twin themes of this issue are government projects and historic renovation. Many of the projects you’ll see detailed on these pages would qualify in both categories, including three buildings that recently had iconic structures at their peaks meticulously restored. They include the copper pyramids on the North Carolina Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina; the Saskatchewan Legislative Dome in Regina, Saskatchewan; and the Bradford County Courthouse Dome in Towanda, Pennsylvania.

The contractors involved in these projects conveyed the sense of responsibility that comes with keeping these one-of-a-kind structures functioning. But as they talked about the challenges they faced on these projects, it was the love of their jobs that kept coming through.

“We’re using natural, traditional building materials of stone, wood, copper and other noble metals,” said Philip Hoad of Empire Restoration Inc. in Scarborough, Ontario, as we talked about the Saskatchewan Dome project. “That’s what drives me to love the industry and my job—because it’s permanent, sustainable and it’s for future generations.”

Mike Tenoever of Century Slate in Durham, North Carolina, echoed that message when he talked about his company’s work on the North Carolina Legislative Building. “Our guys do this every single day, day in and day out,” he said. “It’s repetition, practice and love of restoration. Taking something so amazing and restoring it to the beauty it originally had—we all get a kick out of that.”

“You put in a hard day’s work and you’re proud to go home and know that what you’ve done is going to last not only your lifetime, but probably your kids’ lifetime, and maybe even your grandkids’ lifetime,” said Bill Burge of Charles F. Evans Roofing Company Inc. in Elmira, New York, as he detailed his company’s work on the Bradford County Courthouse.

Each of the roofing professionals I spoke with about these projects had the conscious goal of making sure the systems they installed might last another century. “We try to think of these slate and metal projects in terms of 100 years—that’s why we named our company Century Slate,” said Tenoever.

“This is the one thing that makes Charles F. Evans Company special to me: the fact that what we do from an architectural sheet metal standpoint, from a slate, copper, tile roof standpoint—these roofs will last 100, 150 years, and it is artwork,” Burge said.

“At the end of the day, why do we go to cities?” Hoad asked me. “We go to cities to look at their beautiful old buildings. We don’t generally go to look at their skyscrapers. It’s the old building that gets our minds and hearts working. When you go to a city and look at these old buildings intermingled with new buildings—that’s what gives a city life.”

Snowstorm in the Gym

I was recently introduced to Mike Pickel, co-founder of Texas Traditions Roofing in Georgetown, Texas. We were busy preparing case studies for our education issue, so I asked him if he’d worked on any interesting school projects lately. He replied, “Well, I did just get a call about a snowstorm in the gym.”

It took a second to wrap my head around that statement. A snowstorm. In the gym. In July. In Texas.

Now, that got my attention. I must admit, that wasn’t at all what I was thinking about when I asked about projects for our education issue. Our case studies usually put the spotlight on marquee projects like the new basketball arena at Ole Miss or the new indoor football practice facility at Liberty University covered in this issue. We were also following stories about a metal roof on a new construction project in Texas, a large hot-mopped modified bitumen re-roofing project in New Jersey, and a solar installation on a school in North Carolina.

But a snowstorm in the gym—I had to hear more about that. Talking with Mike Pickel reminded me that trophy projects are one thing, but there are a lot of less glamorous but no less important tasks that can make up the typical day in the life of a roofing contractor.

Texas Traditions had helped out at Summit Christian Academy in Cedar Park, Texas, before, solving some tricky leaks in the mechanical wells over the classrooms that had puzzled other contractors for years. “They started saying we were miracle workers,” Pickel recalls. “I said, ‘No, we’re just roofers, ma’am.’ But they just loved us from that day forward.”

So, it was natural that school administrators called Texas Traditions when an unusual problem revealed itself in the gym. “They called us and said, ‘We’ve got a problem out here. We don’t know what’s going on. It looks like it’s snowing in the gym.’”

Pickel doubted it was a roof leak, but he went out and took a look. “It did look just like snow,” he says.

Luckily, Pickel had seen this once before. Years ago, he had a residential customer with the same problem—army ants. “Sure enough, army ants were up there just eating away at that iso, and it was falling down like snow through any crevices or cracks.”

Working with the private school to handle small problems is just part of the job, notes Pickel. So is helping administrators manage their budget to prepare for necessary re-roofing projects. “In some cases, we have to patch these roofs and nurse them along until they have the money for a roof replacement,” he says. “You do what you have to do to help a client. So, now we’re a pest control guy as well.”

Replacing a roof is something building owners might do just once in their lives, so explaining what’s involved is critical, notes Pickel. “You’ve got to educate the owner,” he says. “You’ve got to go out and craft a custom solution for each client. That’s what we tell our residential roof advisors all the time: Stop selling and listen to the client. That’s key for us. We excel at listening to the client and problem solving.”

Listen to clients and come up with a plan to meet their specific needs. That’s great advice no matter what line of work you’re in.

The Beer That Saved My Life

Did I ever tell you about the beer that saved my life?

One day, the freezer motor in my refrigerator started to make a horrendous shrieking sound. I opened the freezer door, grabbed a pound of frozen ground round, and threw it at the back wall of the freezer. The noise stopped. Problem solved.

Unfortunately, the shrieking episodes continued and became more and more frequent. When I began dating Patti, the lovely woman who later became my wife, she was not impressed. “What are you going to do about that?” she said, hooking a thumb at my musical freezer. “What do you mean?” I replied. “I’m just never going to thaw that ground round.”

I knew that wasn’t a good long-term answer, but a new refrigerator was just not in my budget. However, Patti did some research and found out that a new freezer motor was relatively inexpensive and easy to install.

After purchasing the motor, I pulled out the refrigerator to install it. The galley kitchen was tight, so I had to reach around the refrigerator blindly to unplug it. I removed the back panel of the freezer and took out the old motor without too much difficulty. It was thirsty work, and remembered I had some beer in the refrigerator that would still be cold. I opened the door to pull one out, and realized with alarm that the refrigerator light was on. The unit was still plugged in!

Suddenly I wasn’t very thirsty any more. I realized that I had unplugged the microwave instead of the refrigerator. I was lucky not to have been shocked. It probably wouldn’t have been fatal, but I guess it possibly might have been, and it makes a better story to tell it that way. In any event, after unplugging the unit, I was able to complete the repair. We thawed the ground round and cooked up some hamburgers that night to celebrate.

What does this have to do with roofing? Unfortunately, too much. Many building owners think of their roofs much like I thought of my refrigerator. It is the job of roofing professionals to educate them so they can avoid these common mistakes:

  • Out of sight, out of mind: Roofs are often overlooked by building owners unless a problem crops up. But that’s often too late. Routine maintenance can be the key to spotting minor problems before they become major ones. It can also be a necessary component of the warranty.
  • Using stopgap measures: If a problem does crop up, owners might try to repair it themselves and cause more harm than good. As the roof becomes a platform for not only HVAC equipment but solar arrays, cell towers and satellite dishes, damage to the roof becomes more and more likely.
  • Not consulting a professional: Roofs face potential damage from extreme weather, debris, foot traffic, and a host of other problems. To get the most out of their investment, building owners need expert advice. Planning ahead can make budgeting a future repair or roof replacement much easier.
  • If you are a roofing professional with clients who might not be getting the most out of their roofing assets, stop by and talk to them about the benefits of a roof inspection or a maintenance program. Invite them out for a beer to talk it over. Of course, drinking alcoholic beverages on the job is never advisable under any circumstances, but a beer after work never hurt anyone. Who knows, it just might save someone’s life.

    All in the Family

    Chris King

    Chris King

    As I attended the 2017 International Roofing Expo with the team at Roofing, I thought back to my first roofing trade show. I had covered plumbing and HVAC for six years, but I had just joined a roofing publication and was looking to make a good first impression. Just a few minutes into my time on the trade show floor, I found myself talking with a group that included an NRCA executive officer, a regional sales director for a national distributor, and a marketing manager with a major manufacturer. After I introduced myself, they asked if I had any experience covering roofing, and I was forced to admit that I was new to the industry.

    They could not have been more helpful. They all welcomed me warmly, asked about my previous experience, and told me how they entered the field. They all gave me their business cards and told me to feel free to call them any time if I had any questions.

    As the conversation began to break up, the distributor shook my hand. “Welcome to the roofing industry,” he said. “You see, people enter the roofing industry, but they never leave it. There’s something about it that keeps people hanging around. It’s like a family. You might see someone with a different color shirt at a different booth at the next trade show. People might move around, but they almost never leave the roofing industry—and when they do, they usually come back.”

    The roofing industry is amazingly close-knit, and it has been an honor to be a small part of it for the past 12 years. It has been inspiring to share stories about people, companies, products and services that have improved the lives of families and building owners. It has been a pleasure to document the improvements in an industry that continues to raise the bar on professionalism and safety.

    It’s rare in the business world to encounter genuine feel-good stories, but they are easy to find in the roofing industry. How about products that are better for the environment, provide a better value to the building owner, and a bigger profit margin for the installing contractor—a true win-win. In this issue, we share the story of a manufacturer and contractors who teamed up to help people in need and profile a contractor who makes philanthropic work the cornerstone of his company’s mission.

    When I was in college, I had no idea about the world of business-to-business publishing. I thought journalists just covered politics or sports. At that time, I never dreamed I’d cover the construction industry for 18 years, and that I’d hope to cover it for many more. As the reputations of politicians and athletes have declined over the last couple of decades, the reputation of roofing contractors has been elevated, one roof at a time. There is something so elemental, so important in the concept of the roof—what is the goal of working, after all, but to “put a roof over your head.”

    I know what an excellent job my predecessor, Christina Koch, has done here because I watched her do it. I’ll do my best to live up to her expectations. After all, she’s still in the family as editor in chief of retrofit. Like me, she’ll just be wearing a different color shirt.

    Life Choices

    I have a younger brother who makes choices I don’t always understand. I’m quite a bit older than he is, so I like to share my experiences in the hopes of guiding him toward more productive options. Meanwhile, I wondered why my parents weren’t doing more to steer their youngest child and, in a moment of exasperation, I asked them. My mom responded that she and my dad believe we need to figure our lives out on our own. If we ask for help, they are willing to give it but they don’t want to micromanage our lives and decisions.

    I started thinking about what she said in relation to my own life choices. I remember when I decided to double major in English and history in college, my dad asked: “What are you going to do with that? Teach?” I said: “No. I’m going to write.” I knew, based on the look on his face, he was certain I’d never find gainful employment but he never said another word about it—not even on graduation day when I didn’t have a job or a place to live.

    It was the roofing industry that gave me my first opportunity. After applying for a job I found online, I moved from my home state of Iowa to the Chicago suburbs to begin writing for Professional Roofing magazine in late 2000. Writing about roofing wasn’t exactly what I had in mind when I dreamt of my career but, here I am, almost 17 years later and couldn’t be more grateful to this industry for all it has given me.

    Unfortunately, at this point in my career, I’m faced with another life choice. Those of you who have worked directly with me probably have noticed I rarely return phone calls or emails the same week, much less the same day! During the past five years, I’ve not only edited Roofing but also have been editing retrofit, a nationally circulated trade publication that focuses on the renovation of existing commercial, industrial and institutional buildings. Within the past year, both magazines have grown so much (a fantastic problem) that I’ve been having trouble keeping up.

    To make matters worse, I never have time to think through new ideas or accomplish the aspirations on my list that I know would make the magazines better. I suddenly realized I was doing a disservice to these magazines and to you, the readers. (Not to mention, having recently gotten married, I’m trying to establish a better work-life balance than I had while I was building my career.)

    Therefore, this is my last issue as editor in chief of Roofing. I’m thrilled my successor is Christopher K. King, a well-known writer in this industry who previously served as editor of Roofing Contractor magazine and has been writing articles for Roofing since 2015. (Read his “Special Report”, page 58, about how a community came together at the prompting of a roofing contractor to help a deserving couple restore their home.) I know Chris will do an excellent job taking Roofing to the next level and giving it the undivided attention it deserves.

    Again, I’m so thankful for the opportunities the roofing industry has given me. Consequently, I’ve decided to dedicate my final issue to the wonderful people and initiatives that make this industry so special. Enjoy!

    Technology Love-Hate

    My husband is addicted to social media. Bart’s not posting; he’s just a voyeur, constantly ob- serving what others are doing and talking about. I don’t think he feels like he’s missing out on
    anything. Instead, I think during quiet moments, Facebook and Snapchat help him fill the silence. Apparently, Bart is not the only one. We just celebrated the holidays with our families and, at one point on Christmas, I looked up and saw my father, my two brothers and my husband with their noses buried in their phones. Meanwhile, my two- and six-year-old nieces were squealing with glee over gifts they had opened. I couldn’t help but wonder whether the men in my family were enjoying their moment or someone else’s.

    I know my family isn’t the only group of individuals addicted to social media, so this issue is packed full of selfie-worthy venues. If you’ve ever wanted to visit Banff, Alberta, Canada, the Moose Hotel & Suites, our “Cover Story” is Banff’s latest destination hotel. It was designed so visitors wouldn’t feel like they’re in any hotel room anywhere. Ted Darch, owner of Calgary, Alberta-based E.J. Darch Architect Ltd., designed the hotel to resemble a village with a courtyard in the middle. Visitors can experience the drama of the mountains surrounding Banff from nearly any vantage point within the hotel. (They’re already posting about it on TripAdvisor!) And when guests are outside, the hotel itself is photo-worthy with its bright red concrete tile roof. “Other roofing options were nice but they didn’t have the snap that the red tile does,” Darch said when he explained his choice to me. There are many more captivating hospitality and entertainment projects with beautiful, innovative roofs throughout the issue.

    A colleague once told me he thought I was afraid of technology. Maybe that’s true when it comes to social media (I rarely personally Facebook or Tweet and all my Pinterest boards are “secret”), but I definitely embrace technology that makes life and work easier. In “On My Mind”, Brian Schaible, operations general manager at Indianapolis-based Hoosier Contractors LLC, explains new technology that provided a more efficient way for him to order materials for different jobs. His building materials supplier offered Schaible an online program that connects with the software he already was using. Learn about Schaible’s experience and then read our “Online Exclusive” that explains more about the program.

    In every issue of Roofing, we provide interactive content. On page 8, we show you how to download a free app that will bring our magazine to life. In this issue, open the app with your smartphone or tablet over page 16 and watch the Washington, D.C.- based Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association’s short video about roof algae. In our digital edition, the video will automatically play when you land on page 16. Our Roofing team is pretty proud of this capability. We’d love to hear what you think!