Metal Roofing Hall of Fame 2007: Herb Englert

Herb Englert was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pa., the son of a siding applicator for Crown Aluminum.

Herb also worked for Crown as vice president of sales before leaving in 1966 to found Englert, Inc. While a handful of companies sold portable roll forming machinery or the materials, Englert pioneered the concept of a total system, selling materials, equipment, accessories and support materials including color cards and literature and equipment service to independent gutter contractors.

In the mid-1980s, Englert took the same successful concept and applied it to the metal roofing industry, selling portable roll-forming machinery and materials, accessories and hardware to roofing contractors and installers. He developed a total package of value-added support including certified technicians providing on-site service and maintenance, machine training, marketing support, product testing and engineering expertise and support.

When he died seven years ago, Herb Englert left a legacy of growth and accomplishment, leading his company into its place as one of the largest gutter and metal roofing companies in the U.S.

(The following answers were provided by Debbie Tripod, president of Englert and the daughter of Herb Englert.)

Q. How did he get involved in the metal roofing industry?

“My father was already firmly involved in portable roll forming for the residential and commercial gutter markets when he turned his attention to steel. His first focus was on the residential market. He asked his mill suppliers how much steel was being used in the residential marketplace and heard ‘none.’ He saw that as an opportunity to explore a new market through metal roofing with portable roll formers. He quickly realized the real market was on the commercial side.”

Q. How has the industry changed since he first became involved?

“It is far more sophisticated in some ways and not as sophisticated as you might expect in others. For example, there is a sophisticated network of portable roll forming fabricators and installers who are making millions of dollars on mega projects all across the country. Portable roll forming machinery is much more sophisticated today, producing a perfect product, precisely and consistently, with every cut. Coating technology is state of the art meeting LEED and Energy Star standards. On the other hand, you can buy a fairly advanced portable roll forming machine for just a little bit more than what you paid for the fairly primitive unit my father was selling in the 1980s. And there’s no comparison. Metalman roll forming machines are computerized to deliver a precisely cut product more quickly and with no waste. Drive rollers are far more advanced. The equipment can produce a panel as sophisticated as any in-plant manufacturing machine.”

Q. How has Englert, Inc., changed through the years?

“Just physically, it has grown from the small construction trailer where my father started his business, to a modern manufacturing and sales operation that encompasses a large headquarters facility and 10 branch offices around the country. Operationally, there is no comparison. So much is computerized including manufacturing, distribution and sales. However, we still have some accessory products that require skilled labor. I’m also proud that two of the first 10 employees my father hired in the 1960s are still with us today.”

Q. What contributions did your dad and has Englert made to the industry?

“I think my father was clearly one of the pioneers in portable roll forming. He was the first to introduce a full program for contractors including selling materials, equipment, accessories and support materials for both metal roofing and gutter products. He built his own paint line and standardized the concept of providing relatively low runs for custom colors.
“Today, his legacy continues. Englert was the first company to embrace the new UltraCool coatings as a standard paint system for all of its metal roofing products. An Englert metal roof is on the world’s only Platinum certified LEED residential and the largest commercial photovoltaic structure in the Pacific Northwest. Today, we are collaborating with the inventors of state of the art photovoltaic laminate systems and solar thermal systems to create integrated roofing systems to save energy and natural resources.”

Q. What does the future look like for our industry?

“Each year the percentage of metal roofing continues to grow as a segment of the total roofing products industry. My father would have enjoyed what’s happening to metal in the 21st Century. He would have seen the opportunity inherent in the acceptance of sustainability and green products by government, the design community and the construction industry —  metal as a naturally green product —  incredibly recyclable, eminently reusable and innately adaptable for use in conservation. He would have had his ear to the ground for the next major development in product and machine technology and he would have capitalized on it for his company and his customers. Hopefully, we are following that legacy today.”

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