Gutter innovator

Most gutter installers are motivated by volume, cranking out jobs to make money in a low-margin industry. Sal Cangialosi of New York is motivated by leading the pack through innovation.  
When he got out of the U.S. Navy in 1970, Cangialosi was looking for something to do. After a little investigating, he got a Guttermaker roll former and got into the gutter business. At the time, he says he was one of four businessmen operating a gutter machine on Long Island. Now, there are more than 400. “Seamless 5-inch gutters were the new thing then,” he says. “Most people had the 4-inch galvanized gutters before that.”
In an effort to stay ahead of a growing group of competitors, Cangialosi expanded his business by adding a 6-inch seamless machine. The plan was working, he was enjoying his success, but still, he wasn’t satisfied. “We did well, we were going along, but it was getting tougher,” he says. “I thought, something’s gotta happen here. Competition was getting fierce, the under-sellers were killing the business, people out there working for nothing. It’s too easy to get into the gutter business. You get a hammer and a truck and you’re ready to go.”
That was about six years ago. Cangialosi wanted to be armed with a better product, something no one else had seen. The best way to do that is to come up with one yourself. The most basic gutter protection of the time was the screen, although hoods and filters were out there as well. Cangialosi designed the Gutter Tunnel — a patented dual filtration system, constructed of two aluminum debris filters. One filter is on top of the gutter and the other is inside, catching any debris, but allowing water to reach the bottom of the gutter where it flows to the downspout. “The key is the lower part,” Cangialosi says. “It eliminates the need for cleaning gutters and strains everything out to prevent a clogged downspout.”
The Gutter Tunnel is marketed and sold through Englert, a supplier of goods and services to the metal roofing and gutter industries. The Gutter Tunnel can be installed in new or existing 5-inch gutters, without interfering with the roof. “It’s still the only dual filtration system out there,” Cangialosi says.
“We’ve got a lot of gutter dealers who do very well,” says Kevin Corcoran, vice president of business development at Englert. “We have gutter installers and we’ve got entrepreneurs who choose to get into the gutter business. Sal is an entrepreneur. He’s an innovator. He looks for solutions to problems. When everyone else was out there with 5-inch K-style gutters, he was one of the first ones to offer a 6-inch gutter. He’s not out there going toe-to-toe with the commodity guys.”
A couple years ago, Cangialosi felt the need to further separate himself from the competition. He wanted to come up with the better gutter that would have America beating a path to his door. “If there’s anything America likes, it’s something new,” Cangialosi says. “So I came up with a combination gutter. It looks like a 5-inch gutter, but has the capabilities of a 6-inch gutter.”
Thus was born the RainPro. Also marketed and sold through Englert, it features a 3-3/8-inch outlet and leader system, which is larger than conventional 5-inch gutters. Cangialosi says today’s homes feature larger and steeper slopes, as well as more valleys, requiring a gutter capable of handling larger amounts of rainwater. “We’ve had very, very good results with it,” Cangialosi says. “It costs a little more, but it lasts longer and it works better. Basically, it’s a new design, a fresh look. When you’re out there giving estimates and 14 other guys have the same product, you better come up with something new.”
Versatility is an integral part of Cangialosi’s innovations. The Gutter Tunnel can be used with virtually any 5-inch K-style gutter and the RainPro can be installed with any roofing system — metal, slate, tile, or asphalt. In fact, Cangialosi currently is working on a 6-inch RainPro for commercial use.
“I’m not the kind to just go with the pack,” he says. “I want to get ahead. If you want to do well in business, it’s like anything else, you’ve got to be the first one out there. Like Pampers, after they came out with their disposable diapers, it went crazy. Everybody came out with a disposable diaper, but you’ve got to be the first.”
Like diapers, there’s money in gutters. For innovators like Cangialosi, the opportunity lies in discovering the next big thing. “I like coming up with new stuff, it’s satisfying, especially when you know it’s all over the country,” he says.

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