Residential Re-Roofing 2010: Selling metal’s value

There is a certain power that goes with being a roofing contractor — the power to determine repair or re-roof, the power to influence your clients and the power to specify a particular roof. Residential roofing contractors have the power to present countless roofing options to their homeowner clients based on materials, colors, durability, sustainability, costs, lifespan and other variables.

The trick with knowing your power and using it to build a strong company is having the ability to meet your clients’ expectations while offering value. Providing value to your clients by specifying a metal roof system is a winning situation for all involved — the client, your employees and your company.

Case in point, the Suppa residence in Warrenton, Va., and Todd Shaffer, general manager of Superior’s Rhino Roofing, Warrenton, Va. It is a tale of home-owners who were tired of repairing an old, damaged, failing roof and a roofing contractor who doesn’t specify metal roofing all the time but knew it was the right selection for this house.

The re-roofing project
Meet the Suppas. Their home was built during the 1970s and had a standing-seam metal roof. They loved the look of the metal roof on their stucco house, but the roof had begun to fail. They tried painting the roof, but the annual repairs were expensive and didn’t last. Then, they noticed a leak in a roof transition area, so they decided it was time to end the repetitive fixes and re-roof with Superior’s Rhino Roofing.

Shaffer and lead technician Michael Mehlfelt II offered the Suppas some options based on everyone’s desire to focus on the overall aesthetics of the house and their attempt to create an Italian vineyard style home. “This happened to be one of those projects where we said, ‘hey, we can do anything,’” Shaffer said.

Shaffer offered the Suppas a metal tile panel and an asphalt shingle. Speaking of the asphalt shingle, Shaffer explained, “The homeowners said they thought it made the house look horrid, so we quickly got rid of that option.”

The remaining option was Techo Tile from ATAS International Inc., Allentown, Pa. Shaffer came across this tile and thought it would highlight the design of the home and create that Italian vineyard look. Techo Tile is a metal panel with the look of a traditional Spanish tile, or a deep “S” configuration. The panel is installed vertically up the slope of the roof, with exposed fasteners. For this project, the previous roof was torn off and the deck was replaced as needed. This installation includes about 3,300 square feet of the 0.032-inch aluminum, stucco-embossed tile in a Mission Red color with a PVDF finish. The roofing distributor was Morris Ginsberg & Co. LLC, Lorton, Va.

The project took about four days, and Shaffer said he had no installation problems. “It was like putting together a puzzle, and it was really easy for our crew,” Shaffer noted.

Shawn Green, territory manager for ATAS, added, “By choosing Techo Tile, the homeowner gets this great Spanish tile look but with all the benefits of metal roofing, including its light weight, durability, sustainability and other attributes.” Which brings us back to value.

The roofing contractor
Meet Todd Shaffer. As the general manager of Superior’s Rhino Roofing, he runs a family-owned business that was founded in 1973. Shaffer admits he doesn’t work with metal too often, but he said he does offer it as an option when he knows it’s the right choice for the house and homeowner, like the Suppas. That is his way of bringing value to each client and focusing on their individual needs instead of focusing on his company or what his crew wants.

Getting some homeowners to select a metal roof could be a hard sell. Although metal roofing has gained market share, some neighborhoods don’t have metal roofs so homeowners aren’t used to the look. Also, metal roofs cost more than typical roofing materials, so home-owners have to be willing to invest in a quality, long-lasting product for their homes. To lower the cost and explain the value of metal roofing, Shaffer said he starts in one place — tax credit.

The 2009 Stimulus Package included a tax credit for homeowners who update their homes with energy-efficient materials, including a metal roof.  Homeowners installing qualified roofs may be eligible for a tax credit worth up to 30 percent of the materials cost, up to $1,500 per home.

The tax credit goes along with another term that Shaffer said homeowners are paying attention to — sustainability. Metal roofing’s role in the sustainable market is far reaching, from the metal with its recycled content and recyclability; to coatings that can reduce energy consumption of a building, improve solar reflectance and lower the urban heat island effect; and to its compatibility with renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaics.

These two topics can be a good starting point when discussing metal roofing with homeowners. They undoubtedly also will be interested in learning their metal roof will last longer than typical roof systems, up to three times as long (Ducker Worldwide LLC); that the metal roof might qualify in certain states for homeowners insurance deductions; and that metal roofs are tough, with many capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds up to 150 mph.

The connection
So why should you take advice from Shaffer? Because Superior’s Rhino Roofing is a business that opted out of the recession and, according to Shaffer, just had one of the best years the company has ever had. And from the look of the Suppa residence with the ATAS roof, he knows how to meet clients’ needs.

“It all comes down to the company that builds value,” Shaffer said, “If you’re not building value as far as how your clients can save in the short and long term, then you are done for.”

Kate Gawlik is a marketing consultant for ATAS International Inc., Allentown, Pa., She is based in Woodridge, Ill., and can be reached at

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