Bedside Manner

About a decade ago I had to find a new doctor. While researching doctors on the internet, I stumbled onto to a bunch of articles about the decision-making process of patients. Surveys asked patients which traits they looked for in a doctor and which factor was most important when choosing their physician. As I remember it, the answers varied quite a bit; some looked for certain areas of expertise, while others stressed an affiliation with a local hospital. Referrals from a trusted source were the most important criterion for some people, while others pointed to compatibility with their insurance carrier as the key factor.

While the reasons for initially choosing a doctor were all over the map, there was one overwhelming reason patients gave for staying with their doctors: their ability to communicate with them, encourage them, and explain a diagnosis or treatment options — otherwise known as their “bedside manner.”

I thought of those surveys as I spoke to the contractors who worked on the health care projects profiled in this issue. In many ways the dynamic was similar to that of doctor and patient. Whether it was a new construction project or a roof replacement, the owners of the health care facility needed an expert opinion. For the contractors profiled in this issue, technical competence, quality workmanship and experience were all extremely important. But all of these contractors also stressed the importance of communication — with the building owner, the manufacturer’s rep, the facility manager, their own crews and members of other trades. Throughout the job, they discussed what was necessary to eliminate or minimize disruptions for all involved — including patients, visitors and guests.

For Jason Carruth of Advanced Roofing, the task was especially tough, as his re-roofing project at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne, Florida, placed his crews right above the main entrance of a busy hospital — and its neonatal intensive care unit. When asked why the project was a success despite its challenges, Carruth replied, “The communication between the manufacturer’s rep, the owners and ourselves was excellent. Pre-planning is everything. When the key players on a job are all on the same page, that’s when a project ends up being successful.”

A good bedside manner keeps patients coming back to their doctors. It can lead to more business for roofing contractors as well.

A Little Piece of the Planet

There was an old TV commercial for one of the Big Box stores that really hit me. It was an ad selling garden tools and mulch, and at the end of the commercial, the tagline was something like this: “It’s not just your yard. It’s your own little piece of the planet.”

That’s how I remember it, anyway. And that’s weird for several reasons, including the fact that I almost never watch commercials (that’s what the remote control is for), and I’m certainly not a huge fan of yard work. I am, however, ridiculously attached to the small scrap of grass behind our house that is our backyard.

When the weather cooperates, our yard makes our house seem ten times bigger. The backyard provides more usable space, a place to relax and a little touch of Mother Nature. It’s a literal breath of fresh air.

I was reminded of how much I miss our backyard during the winter while working on this issue, which spotlights green roofs. I can understand the desire to increase usable space, but vegetative systems can bring so much more to the rooftop than aesthetics. They can help minimize storm water runoff, expand the natural habitat for birds and other wildlife, and help roofs perform more efficiently over a longer lifespan. From The Wharf in D.C. to a Manhattan skyscraper to home on an island in the state of Washington, the green roofs profiled in this issue are getting attention for all the right reasons.

When it comes to providing a haven for the birds and the bees, green roofs are the stars of the show, but every roof has the potential to last longer, conserve energy and help the planet. The industry is taking a leading role in educating the public and government on the benefits of long-lasting, high-performing roofs. In this issue, Tom Hutchinson, Louisa Hart and Marcin Pazera explore the importance of designing and installing thermally efficient products and systems — and documenting their performance.

The roof is the most crucial part of the building envelope, and roof performance is a critical component of a building’s energy footprint. In this industry, durability and sustainability have become the watchwords. And that’s important because when you pull up Google Earth on your computer, what do you see? Roofs.

It’s not just your roof. It’s your own little piece of the planet.

Back to the Future

As the calendar flips to mark the start of a new year, it is traditionally a good time to take a step back and contemplate the future. This often means focusing on setting goals — both for yourself and for your business. 

That topic must have been top of mind for many of the authors who contributed to this issue, as the articles can serve as a road map when planning for the year ahead. 

This issue is chock full of great business management advice, beginning with personnel. In her column, business consultant Diane Helbig urges business owners to think of their business like a football team, making sure the right people are in the right positions. 

Once the lineup is set, the team needs systems in place to guarantee success. Caroline Trautman points out that proper record-keeping procedures can be the key to prevailing in a dispute, and she offers tips on procedures to safeguard your company. 

Success also hinges on finding new business, so marketing is always essential. Heidi J. Ellsworth and Karen L. Edwards detail the importance of developing an overall marketing plan — and outline ways to get started. 

Others tackled the task of identifying potential problems facing the industry. Jared Blum believes Congress and extreme weather will pose the biggest challenges to the roofing industry in 2019. Tom Hutchinson looks at roof failures in new construction using metal studs, while Justin Koscher points to more robust building codes as a valuable tool to protect communities from severe weather events — and help them bounce back. Trent Cotney explores the jobsite of the future — which is already here, in the form of high-tech tools including geofencing, building information modeling (BIM) and smart contracts. The same technology that helps people count their steps can now help companies determine who is on the jobsite, record their work, calculate their pay and automatically trigger the next task to be performed. It’s a Brave New World. 

There will be lots of new technology to explore at this year’s International Roofing Expo in Nashville, and I hope to see you there. It’s a great place to network and hone the strategies you are working on to help improve your business. 

There might not be any products there to help me with my annual goal to lose some weight, but at least I have Josie the Wonder Dog to make sure I get around the block a few times every day.

Here’s wishing that 2019 brings you much happiness and success. 

How ’Bout That, Sports Fans!

Late autumn can be the most beautiful time of the year. It is also a great time to be a sports fan. College and pro football are in full swing, the baseball season culminates in the World Series, and basketball and hockey get underway. There are a lot of great sporting events to get lost in during the fall, which is a good thing, because it’s also election season, and there is nothing more depressing than campaign commercials.

But sports can be more than just a distraction from a brutal TV news cycle. Growing up, I thought of sports as a parallel educational track that taught me just as much as — if not more than — my formal schooling. Whether you are paying attention or not, you absorb a lot of life lessons on the athletic field.

You learn that hard work pays off. You learn the value of teamwork. You learn that you can do your absolute best and still lose. You learn that crazy, unexpected things happen. You learn that people get hurt. You learn that authority figures can be wrong — that coaches, umpires and referees make mistakes. You learn what nepotism is. You learn that last year’s bitter rival can be this year’s teammate — and not such a bad person, after all. You learn that every once in a while, David really does beat Goliath.

There’s a reason people use a lot of sports metaphors. It’s especially common in the business world, where the relationship between individual achievement and group success plays out every minute of every day.

I remember once consoling a co-worker who was passed up for a promotion she thought she deserved, which went instead to the boss’s son. I didn’t tell her that this was a lesson I learned at age 10, when I realized the coach’s son was going to start at second base, and I had to find another position. At age 13, I learned that the rule about missing football practice meant missing that week’s game somehow did not apply to our star running back. At age 36, I learned that the last-place men’s league softball team can beat the undefeated first-place team in the first round of the playoffs. I also learned that cheap champagne can give you a wicked hangover.

So, as fall turns to winter, root for your favorite team and savor every victory. Remember, as someone once said, life is the ultimate team sport. Now, dust yourself off and get back in there.

The Power of Vacations

My dad keeps telling me that kids today don’t work very hard. By kids he means me — and I’m 57. It seems every time I turn around, though, I see an article that offers the opposite conclusion: Americans work too hard. They work longer hours and take less vacation time than their counterparts in other countries. By some accounts, the majority of American workers don’t even use all of the time off they are entitled to take. The sad part is, most workers do so because they want to be more productive. But working too long and too hard makes us less productive, not more. Vacation time is not only beneficial for personal health and well-being. Vacations also increase productivity.

Human bodies and brains have their limitations. We need some downtime to stay healthy and focused. It’s also during periods of rest and relaxation that some of the greatest discoveries have been made.

Whether it’s Newton resting by an apple tree or Watson and Crick taking a break by the seaside, it seems every scientific breakthrough I read about in high school came about when someone was goofing off. The notion of an epiphany — a flash of insight that solves a troubling problem — often seems to coincide with a break from work.

The “eureka” moment is said to derive its name from the story of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes, who came up with a method of solving a tricky problem after he slid into a nice hot bath. The story goes that he was trying to figure out how to measure the volume of irregularly shaped objects. Stumped, he took a break at the local bath house, where he suddenly realized that he could make the determination by the amount of water an object displaced. He then ran through the streets screaming “eureka,” which apparently means either “I found it!” or “I forgot my clothes!”

As I worked on this issue of the magazine, which focuses on education projects, I thought of the long summer breaks we had as students, which I now know are frenzied periods of construction for the roofing industry. I also spent a week in northern Michigan, where I hiked some beautiful trails with my wife, Patti, and Josie the Wonder Dog.

I can’t claim that I had any great insights into the nature of physics or science — or even better ways to produce Roofing magazine — but I did manage to locate some dog-friendly craft breweries and take in some glorious views of lake Michigan. Here’s hoping it makes me more productive.

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.”