The State Of The Industry: 2015 Looks Bright

Most involved in the metal roofing industry are optimistic about the year ahead.

The metal roofing industry had a positive year in 2014 over 2013 and most professionals in the metal roofing trade are optimistic about 2015 as well.

Additionally, the construction industry in general saw growing demand in 2014 as contractors hired more employees and added new equipment. According to survey results by the Associated General Contractors of America, most contractors saw either growing demand or remained stable in every market this year. The survey, conducted as part of Optimism Returns: The 2014 Construction Industry Hiring and Business Outlook, provided a generally upbeat outlook for 2014, even as firms worried about growing labor shortages, rising costs and the impact of new regulations and federal budget cutting.

Mike Petersen, CEO of Petersen Aluminum, based in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, says that he feels good about construction activity in 2015. “All the indicators are pointing toward increased business activity, and we’re ready for it. The Architectural Billings Index published by the AIA is most encouraging,” he said.

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Photo courtesy of Petersen Aluminum.

Outlook For 2015
Metal Roofing Magazine recently sent out an informal survey, which asked roofers, roofing contractors, suppliers, associations and manufacturers what their outlook for 2015 is and what they estimate business to be like, as well as how their companies performed in 2014.

While 2014 wasn’t quite over at the time of the survey, the majority of the respondents reported that, based on where they would finish for the year, 2014 was “better than most of the past five years” regarding their gross sales.

According to the poll’s sample, 46.2 percent of the respondents said that they expect their firm’s contract volume will “moderately increase” in 2015; with 12.8 percent stating that their business will “significantly increase” in 2015; 30.8 percent said that it will “stay about the same.”

According to Petersen, they are seeing plenty of positive indicators in the market. “Everyone is busy, and business is good. And, people are telling us they expect the same or increased revenue in 2015. It’s looking good for a healthy 2015,” he said.

Education Is Still Key
This is great news for the industry and many say that education has been key to the industry gaining popularity and more and more of the general population is gaining knowledge about metal roofing and its benefits than they were last year.
According to Tony Newman, national director of sales with Englert, Inc., based in Perth Amboy, New Jersey, the metal roofing industry has been doing better in general over the last five years. Englert Inc. has added new positions and a new department to its operations and it now offers more sophisticated products for the consumers as demand has increased.

“The Metal Roofing Alliance has done a great job with their efforts on educating about the benefits. Metal roofing is more attractive to homeowners. As people know more about it, they see the benefits of the quality products, the greener aspects and the more sophisticated options,” Newman said. “People aren’t flipping houses anymore; they are choosing to stay where they are. They want value in their homes and you get that with a metal roof.”

Bill Hippard, executive director of the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA), agrees that education is crucial and continues to be.

“Our plan is to continue to find new and innovative ways to educate consumers and contractors on the many benefits of residential metal roofing. For example, at the end of 2014, the MRA launched a new “My New Metal Roof” tool on our website, www.metalroofing.com. This new feature lets homeowners see exactly what their home will look like with a metal roof from a variety of different manufacturers in one place. Consumers can upload home photos and place various metal roofing styles and colors on them right online,” Hippard said.

“In addition to helping homeowners see what their home could look like, this tool is a tremendous asset for our contractors. Homeowners will no longer have to guess or imagine what their home would look like with a metal roof. This tool immediately shows them what it will look like.”

Kristin Peregoy, marketing manager with New Tech Machinery, based in Denver, Colorado, also gives credit to education playing an important role throughout the industry. “I think the industry associations, such as the MCA [Metal Construction Association] and the NRCA [National Roofing Contractors Association], are making great strides to educate consumers about the benefits of metal roofing and I think that effort trickles down to everyone in the industry. I really just hope to see the positive momentum in the industry continue after the last few years of slower growth.”

Butler Manufacturing’s Rodger Russ, North American sales manager of roofing, says that education on updated energy codes are a big factor as well. “The NRCA has been very instrumental in educating on energy codes and that is key,” he said.

Most Cos. Hiring In 2015
Or Staying The Same
Additionally, according to the survey, 33.3 percent of the respondents said that they will be hiring additional personnel in 2015 and 59 percent claim to be retaining the same number of employees, compared to 7.7 percent estimating of possibly downsizing their personnel.

As mentioned earlier, Englert, Inc. already expanded their operations in 2014, developing a new department and hired new positions in 2014.

Union Corrugating in Fayetteville, North Carolina, has seen an increase in metal roofing over the past five years and is currently in the process of expanding their Dayton, Ohio, facility due to increased demand, says Union Corrugating CEO Keith Medick. A challenge for them now is the need to find quality labor.

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Photo courtesy of IMETCO.

Optimistic About
Future Projects
Forty-one percent of the respondents said that they are currently working project to project, and they are optimistic; and 23 percent said they are currently working on a project and expect to stay busy all year.

Approximately 18 percent of the companies said that they have contracts that will keep them busy for the next six months and 8 percent of the firms already have contracts that will keep them busy throughout 2015.

For example, Joe Mellott, vice president and general manager of Innovative Metal Company, Inc. (IMETCO) says they feel great about construction activity nationwide in 2015. “IMETCO is optimistic about 2015 and have strong forward commitments to back up our optimism.”

Quality Edge, based in Walker, Michigan, just launched their metal roofing product in November 2014 and Monica Pritchard, vice president of sales and marketing, says so far they have had plenty of work and expect demand to keep moving forward. “We had a great year in 2014 and we expect the trend to continue,” she said.

State-To-State Popularity
Out of the respondents, 93 percent were U.S.-based companies and 44 percent said that they are “cautiously optimistic” about the construction activity in their state for 2015, where an additional 10 percent are “very optimistic,” compared to 2.6 percent being “very pessimistic.”

According to the MRA, residential metal roofing is very popular in Florida, Texas, California and New England. It is also popular in the Southeast and Western mountain states.

“Although rural areas continue to see metal roofing increases, the real trend is metal moving into more suburban and urban areas. Architects love metal roofing. In cities where green building is growing and government regulations demand eco-friendly, environmentally sound products, metal is an easy choice,” Hippard said.

According to Jason Thorton, vice president of sales and marketing at Union Corrugating, for them, it is very dependent on the region. “The Southeast continues to be our strongest area, but we are seeing other regions catch up as the popularity increases,” he says.

“Most of the mid-Atlantic region has been strong but some areas in the South have been softer due to compensation against storm events in the prior year. We have seen pretty steady business in the Northeast and North Central regions. And I would say the majority of roofers expect 2015 to improve over 2014.”

Petersen Aluminum is seeing reasonable levels of demand across all their markets and they expect that to continue into 2015, Petersen said.

According to Tom Diamond, P.E., metal product manager of The Garland Co., they see the majority of their metal roofing projects in the Southeast and Northwest. “We remain optimistic that sales will increase throughout the country as the industry begins to place more value in long-term solutions that will decrease the overall cost of ownership of their facilities. Metal roofing is an ideal fit for that mindset,” Diamond said.

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Photo courtesy of Petersen Aluminum.

Where Growth Is Expected
When asked where the respondents expected to see growth in their companies’ contract volume in 2015, when compared to 2014, the majority said residential housing. In a close second came commercial building. Other areas of growth included institutional building, agricultural building and industrial building respectively.

Petersen says that they expect to see growth in contract volume over 2014 in all of the categories. As far as a decline, they said that the recent collapse in energy prices may lead to less activity in energy concentrated areas.

New Tech Machinery expects to see an increase in some of their sales, and they too said time will tell what 2015 will bring. “If single and multi-family residential building continues to grow as predicted, then we expect to see an increase in gutter machine sales as a result,” said New Tech Machinery’s sales manager Tom Laird. “We do not anticipate any declines in the industry for 2015. According to reports, government spending may continue to be slow so this may be an area of concern but we still plan on having a solid 2015.”

IMETCO is seeing growth in institutional building [medical and educational] and industrial [manufacturing]. “IMETCO firmly believes that manufacturing is on the upswing in the United States,” Mellot said. Furthermore, while IMETCO does not believe there will be a decline per se, they do believe that commercial will remain relatively tight and “specifically multi-function commercial space is in market excess and we will see little building in the next several years,” Mellot said.

Spread The Knowledge
According to MRA’s Hippard, in order for the metal roofing industry to continue to grow, consumers need to know about the product.

“Homeowners need to have a clear idea of what differentiates metal roofing from other materials. Differentiation will feed demand by upper-end and upper-middle class homeowners, market segments that are the primary target markets for metal roofing,” Hippard said.

“Selling the value of metal roofing and discussing the many benefits and life cycle costs of metal roofing are critical in making the sale. Longevity continues to be one of the top reasons consumers report choosing metal roofing for their homes. When configured and installed properly, metal roofing can last as long as 50 years or more, requiring very little maintenance while remaining beautiful.”

Steve Dubeansky, former owner of Dubeansky Roofing Inc., recently retired after working in the metal roofing business for 31 years. “I am biased, but I do feel metal roofing will continue to become more of a player in the roofing market.

There are a lot of options out there that weren’t available before. Commercially, the engineers have discovered how to install longer continuous panels, minimizing or eliminating transverse seams. As far as residential, there are different profiles, colors and textures and most lay people can’t see the difference between metal and asphalt shingles,” Dubeansky said.

Additionally, Hippard says that it isn’t just the dependability that people love about metal roofing. “It’s the low life cycle cost. Few homeowners realize until after the fact that metal roofing can actually cost as little as or less than asphalt roofing. Since asphalt roofing needs to be replaced two- to four-times as often as metal roofing, you really need to multiply not only the initial cost of the asphalt roofing materials, but also the cost of asphalt roof repairs and re-installation.
Diamond, with The Garland Co., says that customers especially are being exposed to options in metal that they have not had in the past. “They are excited, which gets roofers and the rest of the industry excited,” he said.

“Assuring that our customers understand the true value of a high-performance roof system, designed properly with sound building science concepts, installed by a highly skilled contractor, and support of a full-service manufacturer allows them to see the value in a quality standing seam system. It is not only the high-performance product that brings success, but also the service that comes with it.” MR

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