Gettin’ in on at METALCON!

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If you work with metal, this show has something for you and your business /

METALCON International is traditionally a “must-attend” for many of the readers of Metal Roofing Magazine. We’re always happy to see you there and hear your thoughts on the show, the industry and even our magazine! (We’ll be in booth # 1543 this year at the Stephens Convention Center in Chicago, so please stop by.)

In mid-August, we caught up with a trio of regular attendees at METALCON to get their thoughts on the 2012 show, scheduled for October 9-11 in Chicago. (See METALCON International preview on Page 20.)

Don Hickman, Hickman Metal Roofing, Gainesville, Fla.

If there’s ever a good reason to miss METALCON, it’s because you’re too busy. Don Hickman says, like most years, it’ll be a last-minute decision. “I’ve been looking at flights and accommodations,” he says. “We’re still keeping an eye on our budget. Chicago’s easy enough to get to and I’ve never been there. We’re booked with work through November so it’s a time management issue, too. We’ve been pretty busy since Tropical Storm Debby blew through (in late June).”

Metalcon-Metro

Don Hickman (left) of Hickman Metal Roofing in Gainseville, Fla., chats with reps from Metro Roof Products at METALCON in Atlanta in 2011.

Hickman attends METALCON regularly, mainly because he’s looking for ways to keep his business strong … and making it stronger. “Last year, I was looking at roll forming equipment, but I think I’ve changed my mind,” he says. “We don’t do the volume to justify owning our own roll forming equipment.”

Currently, Hickman Metal Roofing purchases panels from Metal Sales Manufacturing Corporation, as the bulk of the metal business is standing seam. Hickman occasionally installs stone-coated metal shingle products from Metro Roof Products. “Everybody loves the Metro products, but it’s still a price point,” Hickman says. “It’s a specialty product.”

Hickman has a regular checklist of booths he will visit at METALCON. He has to visit Metal Sales, Metro, Triangle Fastener, Gerard, McElroy Metal, InterWrap, Velux Skylights and Malco Tools. “I like to check out the safety gear, too, so I’ll see Honeywell,” he says. “I like to get my hands on the products. It’s a lot different than seeing them on a website or in a magazine. I like to see the new things.”

Hickman says he has investigated solar products in the Solar Bay Pavilion, but hasn’t taken the plunge. “In Florida, you have to be licensed for solar, so I’d have to partner with someone who is licensed,” he says. “It’s not something I can do on my own.”

Another draw to METALCON for Hickman is learning. The seminars he seeks out focus on sales and marketing. “That’s the most interesting to me,” he says. “That’s an area I can always learn more to make my business grow.”

METALCON boasts 30 hours of education with a twist in Chicago in 2012. Courses this year will be three-hour sessions tailored to specific disciplines, as opposed to the traditional 90-minute track.  In addition to sales and marketing, popular topics of discussion include growing areas in metal construction — retrofit, insulated metal panels and cold-formed steel framing.

In addition to METALCON, Hickman generally hits the Florida Roofing Sheet Metal and Air Condition Contractors Association show in mid-summer, the NRCA show (International Roofing Expo) during the winter and the Builders Show in Orlando, usually in January. Hickman Metal Roofing exhibits at a minimum of three local shows a year. Hickman confesses he takes notes at shows he’s attending and isn’t ashamed at all to plagiarize ideas for his own booth.

“We’re added solar attic fans to our display,” he says. “I’ve also done some cutaways on our display so people can see how the roof goes together. We’re always paying attention.”

Lorin Miller, Miller Custom Exteriors, Fredericksburg, Ohio

Miller Custom Exteriors installs metal seamless siding, windows, doors and, of course, metal roofing. Lorin Miller says the bulk of the roofing work they do — probably 80 percent — is metal shake and slate facsimiles from Edco Products. Miller also purchases coil from Sheffield Metals and has a couple of local guys who run panels for his business.

Metalcon-Edco

Lorin miller (left) of Miller Custom Exteriors in Fredericksburg, Ohio, meets with reps from Edco Products at METALCON in Atlanta in 2011.

“That’s why this year at METALCON we’ll be looking at different types of roll formers,” Miller says. “We’re doing more and more standing seam and it’s very competitive. I think we’re to the point we’d be better off to roll our own panels.”

Miller says he recently took some time out of a vacation to visit the headquarters of New Tech Machinery in Denver. “I was really impressed with their operation,” he says. “They are on top of the manufacturing of their machines through the whole process.”

The New Tech Machinery booth will be one stop for Miller at METALCON. He says he also will make visits to the booths of Edco Products and Metro Roof Products. “I like to see what trends are developing at METALCON,” Miller says. “I’ll be looking to learn more about solar products that work with metal. METALCON is a great place to see new stuff.”

METALCON and the Remodeling Show are the two shows Miller regularly attends and gets the most out of. This year at METALCON, he’ll be looking for seminars on solar products as well as standing seam roofing applications. He likes the METALCON seminars because they always offer pertinent information.

“It’s about time I look at the list and figure out what I’m doing this year,” he says.

Mark Donlan, B&B Wholesale Metals, Palatka, Fla.

Mark Donlan does not sit still. It was a challenge to catch up with him to chat a few minutes about METALCON. Maybe that’s why his business has increased revenue a minimum of 12 percent each year since he bought it in 2007 — and we all know that the last five or six years have not been easy ones.

Metalcon-Fabral

Mark Donlan (center) of B&B Wholesale Metals in Palatka, Fla., discusses business with Fabral reps during METALCON in Atlanta in 2011.

“I’ll be in Chicago,” he says. “I have to get out and see what’s new, what’s innovative. And you always have to know what your competition is up to.”

B&B Wholesale is a regional metal roofing and siding products distributor in Northeast Florida. The number of suppliers Donlan distributes for is into double digits, so his visit to METALCON will be a busy one.

“Fabral is my largest supplier, they meet a lot of our commercial panel needs,” he says. “All the suppliers I work with have options that are a little different. Petersen, I like their aluminum products and ATAS has very good aluminum as well.”

Among the other METAL-CON exhibitors listed on the B&B Wholesale Metals website are DECRA, MBCI, McElroy Metal, Metal Sales, Metro Roof Products, SEMCO, Union Cor-rugating and Firestone Metal Products.

The quest for new and innovative products and ideas keeps Donlan on the road for a good chunk of the year. In addition to METALCON, he regularly hits the Home Builders Show, several AIA shows, FRSA and the International Roofing Expo.

“In this business, it’s about service and professionalism,” Donlan says. “You can make it about price, but that’s the easy way out and you won’t be doing it long. It’s pretty simple.”

Andy Anderson, Interstate Panel, Hamilton, N.J.

“The main reason I attend is to participate in the Ultra Seam meetings that are scheduled for the two days preceding the show.

“I am particularly interested in meeting with the New Tech people who will be introducing a new flush panel profile that will fit in their ‘Q’ series machines. We will be exploring the New Tech tapered machines capabilities with the hope of expanding our business into fuel storage tank renovation.

“I love architectural metal and METALCON is the event where ideas are formed and future designs take shape. I wouldn’t miss it for anything!”

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