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!

    Pride in Heritage

    My American-born father met my German-born mother while he was in the U.S. Army, stationed in Germany. My parents married, had me and moved to the U.S. to build their family. My dad worked a lot when I was young, so being the firstborn child of an immigrant mother in small-town Iowa often was—for lack of a better term—exhausting. I had to introduce her to everything American, when I was learning myself!

    For example, I had to explain extracurricular activities (there isn’t volleyball in Germany) and social events (prom was a doozy). I also learned quickly—thanks to endless teasing—to keep what made me “different” as much of a secret as possible from my friends. I hid the clothes my European grandparents sent because my classmates just weren’t wearing the same styles. I begged my mother to cook “American” foods—burgers and pizza only—when friends came for sleepovers. I never spoke about traditions my mother carried on in our household. Meanwhile, I always wondered why my peers—many of whom were of German descent themselves—didn’t have a clue about any of the customs my family practiced.

    Americans aren’t always good at appreciating and preserving their heritage, even when it comes to buildings. Building the most innovative, technologically modern structure almost always took precedence over preservation. The Great Recession seems to have changed that mindset by forcing building owners/facility managers to upgrade existing buildings rather than build new. In this issue of Roofing, we celebrate the historic buildings that tell the story of bygone eras and the existing buildings that have shaped our nation into what it is today. The issue’s articles underscore how contemporary roofing materials can help preserve these structures’ roofs (see “Tech Point”, for example) and artistry that made a particular roof the focal point of its community (see the other “Tech Point”).

    I’m happy to say as an adult I embrace my heritage and all the things my mother taught me. In fact, I’m bringing German influences into my own home. My husband Bart is half German, but, before he met me, he knew nothing about Germany. During our honeymoon, we spent some time in Germany, and, today, you can often find Bart using the few German words I’ve taught him in normal conversation (especially with my mother). In fact, he has embraced the culture so much that when he and his business partner discussed how to celebrate Oktoberfest at the bar they own, Bart suggested my mom prepare an authentic German meal for the bar’s patrons. The young me would’ve been mortified by this idea, but these days I’m proud to share a bit of Germany with my friends and neighbors (who predominately are of German heritage themselves). And I’m grateful my husband feels the same.

    Never Stop Learning

    This year as I watch my friends and family send their little ones off to school, I, too, am starting a new educational journey. I’m taking piano lessons. I’ve wanted to play since I was a child but never had the opportunity. My husband heard me talk about wanting to play a few times, so he suggested giving me lessons and a piano as a gift for our first wedding anniversary.

    I literally thought about it for a full day. I was completely touched that my husband wanted to help me accomplish a lifelong dream. However, did I really want to commit myself to something completely out of the ordinary? I learned to play the trumpet in middle school and played through high school, so I can read music—treble clef. I’ve never had to learn bass clef or how to make my left hand and right hand play different music at the same time. Could I do it? What if I’m the worst adult student my teacher has ever had?

    I came to the realization that the accomplishments of which I’m most proud pushed me out of my comfort zone. Plus, how could I possibly say no to my husband when his gesture was so sweet? I’ve had one lesson so far and the idea of being able to coordinate my hands still seems a little like being able to rub my stomach while patting my head. However, I’m excited about the future and am hoping I’ll be playing well by the holidays!

    Every issue of Roofing has an educational bent, but this issue may push you out of your comfort zone. For example, cool roofs have been a hot topic for many years. Conventional wisdom states cool roofs are not appropriate for northern climates. Kurt Shickman, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Global Cool Cities Alliance, will challenge that notion in “Cool Roofing”. He presents new evidence from several scientific studies that demonstrate cool roofs provide benefits to buildings in Climate Zones 4 through 8.

    Meanwhile, Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CSI, RRP, principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd., Barrington, Ill., and a member of Roofing’s editorial advisory board, shares his in-the-field experiences regularly. He notes in “From the Hutchinson Files” that code-mandated insulation thicknesses are forcing designers to take roof access door and clerestory sill details seriously. Hutch’s goal with his article is to give designers some confidence to create appropriate design and detailing solutions.

    These articles may challenge what you’ve always done but they’re worth considering and discussing. In fact, I’d really like to hear what you think about them. In return, I’ll keep you updated on whether I’m becoming the next Chopin!

    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!

    Trust in a Partner

    By day, my husband Bart is an ag lender, loaning money to farmers for land, equipment and livestock. By night, he co-owns a sports bar in the lake town in which we live. When we got engaged, he joked about the roles I would soon be playing in his business. I laughed then, but once we moved in together and were married, I more consistently heard about the stressors he was experiencing in the bar business. Obviously, I wanted to take some of this stress off of him and, consequently, have been helping publicize the bar’s events for the past 10 weeks.

    I’m no marketer, but I’ve been sharing knowledge from my career in magazines. I’ve started weekly meetings with the owners and managers, which has helped everyone’s communication. I’ve expanded the bar’s social media presence. And I’ve brought in one of my own trusted partners, a graphic designer who now is creating fliers, promos and coupons for the bar. At this point, I’m not sure whether my efforts truly are making a difference—though the bar has been packed the past few weekends—but I do know my husband is grateful to have me more involved.

    Relying on trusted partners also can have a positive effect on your roofing business. For example, Pete Mazzuca III, co-founder, executive vice president and sales manager for Cal-Vintage Roofing of Northern California, Sacramento, explains his partnership with Santa Rosa, Calif.-based Ygrene Energy Fund in “Business Sense”. Through the partnership, Mazzuca’s roofing company now can offer customers YgreneWorks PACE financing for energy-efficiency and resiliency upgrades, including roofing, on their homes or businesses. Ygrene considers the equity in the property, not the personal credit of the owner, unlocking finance doors for entire groups of customers. Consequently, the partnership with Ygrene Energy Fund has increased Mazzuca’s business by 20 percent.

    Trusting a partner’s expertise can ensure roofing projects meet a building owner’s needs while being cost-effective. In our “Cover Story”, Atlanta-based Diamond Roofing Co., which has its own sheet-metal shop, opted to partner with a supplier to source prefabricated edge metal for the roofing project at Gordon Hospital, Calhoun, Ga. The prefabricated edge metal had been formally tested to meet or exceed the FM 1-105 criterion required by hospital officials. In addition, by ordering the large volume of edge metal the hospital project needed, Diamond Roofing saved time and labor costs.

    Last but not least, Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CSI, RRP, principal of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd., Barrington, Ill., and a member of Roofing’s editorial advisory board, often regales us with stories from his in-the-field experiences. In “From the Hutchinson Files”, Hutch explains how to be a better partner when communicating and coordinating between trades—in this case, plumbing, steel and roof design during implementation of roof drains according to new energy code requirements. Because—as Hutch will tell you—it’s not enough to just be a partner and provide generic details; you should be the best partner you can be and really think through roof system design.

    Reid Ribble in Talks to Become New NRCA CEO

    I just returned from what easily could be described as the best International Roofing Expo in recent memory. Attendance at the 2016 IRE, held Feb. 17-19 in Orlando, Fla., was up, exhibitors were happy and conversations centered around very positive business conditions.

    The show’s energy was not lost on me, especially because I’ve written many editor’s columns since 2010 wondering whether it’s yet the year the construction industry returns to positivity after the housing crisis. Instead of searching for economists to support a rebound this year, every meeting I had at IRE assured me roofing—and construction in general—is on an upswing.

    This momentum was further underscored by an announcement made during the show by the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association: Reid Ribble, a U.S. Congressman for Wisconsin’s 8th District, currently is in negotiations to take over for William A. Good, CAE, NRCA’s CEO, who will retire Dec. 31, 2016. Good has faithfully served NRCA and the industry, and he has a very loyal following. I personally am grateful to Good and members of his staff—Ambika Puniani Bailey and Carl Good. They gave me my first job in publishing back in 2000 and were integral in making me the editor I am today. Therefore, I certainly don’t want to take away from what Good has done for roofing, but I can’t help but be excited about the possibilities his successor could bring.

    Ribble is a roofing contractor by trade. He joined his family’s business—Kaukauna, Wis.-based The Ribble Group—in 1975 and became its president in 1980. Ribble served as NRCA president in 2005-06 and NRCA senior vice president from 2004-05, as well as held a number of other leadership roles within the organization. He also was president of the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress’ Board of Trustees from 2008-10.

    Ribble was elected to Congress in 2010 and has been re-elected twice. It may be a bit difficult to see why I’m excited about a politician taking NRCA’s helm—especially when I would describe our country’s current presidential race as wackadoo. However, I can’t help but focus on the positive traits of (some) politicians and Ribble’s in particular: He obviously is a leader. He is dedicated to public service. He knows how to build a constituency. And, in January, when he announced he would resign from Congress, Ribble noted his commitment to his family. In addition, according to NRCA’s “RoofScoop” blog post, “In Congress, Ribble has earned the reputation of being honest and able to work with representatives from both sides of the aisle.”

    I hope he brings these traits to his new role with NRCA. I hope he surrounds himself with construction experts—even those he disagrees with—who will provide new levels of insight about the issues facing the construction industry as a whole: durability, energy efficiency, materials transparency, renewable energy, resilience and sustainability. I think Ribble has a wonderful opportunity to make the roofing industry the leading construction voice on these matters. After all, we know a roof is a building’s first line of defense. Shouldn’t roofing be the first industry called upon to assist in meeting the current and future needs of our buildings?

    Water Is Construction’s Worst Enemy

    I have a water phobia. When I was very young I fell into a pool and nearly drowned. Consequently, I never learned to swim out of sheer fear. Despite my attempts to avoid it, water continues to haunt me. (See an article I wrote about my Chicago condo’s construction defects for some background.) It’s ironic I now live along the nation’s southernmost glacial lake. I love the view from our home, but the lake’s recreational opportunities are lost on me.

    To further substantiate my negative feelings toward water, 2015 was an especially wet year for the Midwest. In mid-December, my Iowa town received 5 inches of rain in a day and a half. Our basement—where my office is located—flooded (for the second time since August). My husband bought the house (which he planned to make his lifelong bachelor pad) knowing the basement might leak during heavy-rain events. He never planned to have anything down there. Then I came along.

    As this issue was coming together—around the same time our basement was soaked—I read a line in “Tech Point” that really resonated with me: “… water is construction’s worst enemy, so when it goes where it shouldn’t, it’s causing damage—seen or unseen.” I shared that line, which was written by Armand T. Christopher Jr., AIA, with my husband. The next week we hired a basement waterproofing contractor to solve our ongoing water problems.

    Christopher’s story likely will resonate with you, as well. He and his team had recently installed a PVC roof system on a high-profile government building in central New Jersey. Six months after the install, a three-day nor’easter exposed numerous leaks in the building, which the client thought were coming from the new roof. The ensuing “detective work” Christopher’s team completed was tedious but uncovered the cause of the leaks and made Christopher and his colleagues heroes.

    Christopher points out a nice feature of the roof’s thermoplastic cap sheet is areas where water had pooled within the roof system were dried and resealed with heat-welded target patches. Thomas W. Hutchinson, AIA, FRCI, RRC, CSI, RRP, builds upon this idea in his “From the Hutchinson Files” article. Hutchinson notes today’s “new age” roofs may not require removing all system components during reroofing. Instead, it may be in the customer’s best interest to consider restoration; roof-cover removal, enhanced with additional insulation; using the existing roof membrane as a vapor retarder; or membrane removal before installation of a new roof cover.

    My husband and I seem to have found the best solution to our basement water problems. Although we’re not looking forward to the construction ahead, we are excited about all the things we can do with a dry basement. Right now, we’re envisioning a mini spa in which we can relax after a stressful workday—another welcome upgrade my husband never imagined for his “bachelor pad”.