There are so many new technological advances affecting the metal roofing industry; here’s highlighting a few that are increasing metal roofing companies productivity.
By Sharon Glorioso
Weather technological devices, using cell phone apps, the newest software, flying unmanned airplanes—drones—are just a few of the technological devices that are affecting the metal roofing industry. And, they sure are making a huge difference when it comes to metal roofers getting the job done more efficiently and effectively.
Productivity and efficiency is the lifeline of any metal roofing company. How it increases and continues to flow efficiently takes different kinds of measures from company to company.
Weather-Based Technologies Working For Roofers
Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, based in Dallas, Texas, has seen some enormous technological changes in the roofing industry, but none more dramatic than MetLoop, a company that has pioneered one of the most revolutionary breakthroughs in the roofing industry history, according to Aspenmark Roofing & Solar president and CEO Chris Zazo.
Zazo says that over the past two decades, MetLoop has made a significant difference compared to other advances in the industry. Aspenmark Roofing & Solar has been serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area with roofing maintenance and repairs since 2005.
MetLoop In A Nutshell
How MetLoop works includes working with manufacturers and suppliers. For example, many manufacturers and suppliers, particularly in the metal roofing industry, provide warranties that cover both the products and the workmanship. MetLoop can monitor all metal roof warranties for weather damage. By accurately knowing what happened during a severe storm and when, the manufacturer can make sure that inspections or repairs are carried out according to the terms of the warranty.
Both manufacturers and suppliers are often looking for ways to add value to their customers and increase retention. MetLoop can provide the details of homes that are likely in need of repair, and manufacturers and suppliers can pass this out in the form of sales leads. This is the best way to build customer loyalty, says Trevor Leeds of MetLoop.
On the contractor end, such as Aspenmark Roofing & Solar, MetLoop works with contractors who use their platform to gain a competitive advantage in their industry. By pre-populating MetLoop’s system with the addresses of contractors’ past customers, MetLoop can monitor each site and alert the contractor before and after a severe weather event. Not only is this tremendous customer service, but it gives contractors a touch point with past customers that they don’t currently have, which can lead to new relationships.
Furthermore, for storm chasing contractors, MetLoop can provide the most accurate and targeted weather information. Rather than wasting time driving around looking for the areas of greatest damage, MetLoop can show storm chasers the streets and houses that received the most damage. This saves time, greatly improves efficiency and is definitely a competitive edge.
According to Zazo, MetLoop’s advantage lies in re-purposing military-grade weather-precision technology for the civilian market, bringing an unprecedented 95 percent accuracy to weather forecasting for the roofing and construction industries.
“This is hands-down the most effective, innovative tool that has ever been developed for roofing contractors to help manage our business and provide an unmatched competitive advantage,” Zazo says. “For decades, we’ve struggled with storm chasers swooping in and cannibalizing our existing clientele, especially in a storm market like Dallas. We never had an effective way to monitor these top clients and get to them first following a storm. With MetLoop, we do.”
Thanks to MetLoop’s address-specific monitoring capability, a feature never before available in weather monitoring services, contractors know well in advance of their competitors when a hurricane, tornado or any weather disaster is going to hit a specific home or building.
MetLoop is the brainchild of Dave Carlson, who has a history of creating revolutionary services in the roofing industry. He was the co-founder of EagleView, a leading provider of aerial imagery that recently merged with Pictometry.
When Carlson left EagleView a few years ago, he set his sights on this new venture after detecting a flaw in current weather-forecasting technologies. He reeled in Trevor Leeds to help him perfect his concept: using military-trained, operational meteorologist forecasters to interpret weather data and produce highly-granular alerts and forecasts down to the individual home or building, 24/7.
“Leveraging MetLoop’s MetAlerts, we can now alert our clients before a storm hits, then contact our clients immediately after to address any roofing needs they might have,” Zazo says.
Detailed And Accurate Data
Recently, Dallas was hit by two severe hail storms within a week. But Zazo and Aspenmark knew early on it was coming through utilizing MetLoop’s precision technology.
“The MetLoop alerts provided us with detailed, accurate data on where the storm was going to hit,” Zazo said. “We were able to quickly get clients on our master list, allowing us to be the first contractors canvassing affected neighborhoods, finally beating storm chasers. We got to our clients before the storm chasers knew where the hail was coming from. They rely on traditional swath maps that are highly inaccurate and offer only a broad generalization of where hail has hit.”
Zazo believes MetLoop is a dream come true for his company. “Absolutely. This is by far the best way I’ve found to manage my book of business for preemptively identifying where the most severe weather will hit. It enables us to keep our staff and clients on alert. With military-like accuracy, we know right down to the rooftop level where the storm actually hits, allowing us to put our resources and forces to work right away, and in a more effective manner. It’s truly unprecedented.”
It Also Offers Safety
Services To Clients
Zazo also offers the MetLoop service to his clients. “It’s a differentiator,” he says. “We now have a compelling life-safety story that shows how much we care about our clients, their family and their properties. Consumers now can get the same monitoring we receive very inexpensively.”
Approximately 15 hours out from an impending storm anywhere in the world, MetLoop alerts metal roofing contractors and consumers in the affected area. As the storm nears, the MetAlerts pin down the precise path of the storm, enabling contractors to warn their customer base. MetLoop then issues a polygon, showing where the storm is predicated to hit.
“As soon as I saw what MetLoop was capable of doing, I knew it’d be a total game changer,” Zazo says. “This is something that’s never been done before and something this industry desperately needed.”
Along with AspenMark Roofing & Solar, CertainTeed also just recently partnered with MetLoop to provide credentialed metal roofing contractors the tools to monitor their client properties and hopefully build their metal roofing business at special discounted rates.
“Nothing like this has ever been available before to contractors,” said Jay Butch, director of contractor programs for CertainTeed Roofing. “This is a great tool for our credentialed contractors. It is a game-changing technology because it’s predictive vs. reactive. To me, that’s the biggest plus. It allows contractors to see what’s coming and know exactly where a storm is going to hit. It gives them a jump on the competition and gives them another critical touch point with their customers. It’s a win-win all the way around.”
“We’re thrilled to be aligned with CertainTeed,” said Trevor Leeds, chief global strategist for MetLoop. “It is one of the most dominant companies and manufacturers in the industry with rock-solid relationships with thousands of credentialed contractors. We’re proud to be associated with them and offer their contractors our unique platform. It brings tremendous added value to both MetLoop and CertainTeed.”
Acquisition In Response
To High Volume Production
This also comes on the heels of CertainTeed acquiring the Matterhorn metal roofing brand in response to the growing market demand for high-value metal roofing in both residential and commercial applications in recent years. The Matterhorn brand was acquired from metal roofing manufacturer Quality Edge, Inc.
“CertainTeed has seen the value of Matterhorn since the beginning,” said Scott Rasmussen, president of Quality Edge. “We’re honored that CertainTeed recognizes the quality and performance of Matterhorn and we’re excited to make Matterhorn available throughout North America.”
The alliance combines CertainTeed’s strong relationships with distributors, contractors and builders with Quality Edge’s long-standing expertise in painted metal building products.
“Our collective efforts in manufacturing, product development and marketing are expected to accelerate the acceptance of high value metal roofing products by residential and commercial customers looking for a metal solution,” said Tom Smith, president of CertainTeed Roofing.
Drones Making Metal Roofing Easier & Safer
Another way metal roofers are making their jobs more efficient to increase their production are by using unmanned aircraft—drones—to fly over roofs and help them inspect roofs, saving significant time it may take a roofer to manually go up there.
Luke Hansen, of White Castle Roofing, in Lincoln, Nebraska, began using drones about three years ago to speed up roof inspections and estimates. He states that it’s not only quicker, but it’s also safer for the roofing crew.
“Drones are insanely cool. We started to use drones about three years ago. We thought that they’d be really expensive; they aren’t,” Hansen said. “You can get an awesome drone for about $500 so we thought we’d make the investment.”
White Castle Roofing owns two drones. Both DJIs—the Phantom 2 and the Phantom 4. “You can get into the newer ones, more expensive ones; there are a lot of different kinds and they are fun to try out,” Hansen said.
“Roofing is extremely dangerous. Whether it’s huge steeples on a church, or just really tall buildings. At first, we started to use them because we thought they’d be a means where you don’t have to walk on a roof. They are extremely helpful and safer. The thing with drones though, is that you eventually crash them. You think that you are better maneuvering them than what you really are.”
Examples of how they have used them include: on high apartment complexes; many church steeples; inspections; and they have just flown the drones up to see what kind of problems and damage the roof may have, to get an initial idea of what all will need to be done. “They give you a great view of the roof, you can get super close and it’s a great alternative to going up there yourself and it’s a really fast way to see what kind of situation you are dealing with,” he says.
“There’s also a huge marketing aspect to using them, such as getting great marketing material. For example, you can send the drone up to get high-resolution photos of projects and video while the work is being done,” Hansen said. “And, once a project is completed, you can get really cool video and photography.”
White Castle Roofing still uses their drones from time to time, and Hansen says that they “assess the situation and if they don’t want to walk on the roof, it’s a great way to get super close. You can get perfect, crisp HD video, you can find out how many shingles are missing and it’s so much cheaper than renting a crane,” he said. “And, it’s so much faster vs. getting the crane in place and going up there.”
Although they don’t use drones as much as they have in the past in recent years, he said that it will be interesting to see the regulations once they take full affect. “Before we further invest in more drones, we are waiting it out to see what the state regulations are going to be like. Regardless, regulations are going to be strict when they are finalized. Even now, you need to register your drone with the FAA, you’ll need to take tests; there will be requirements. We’re waiting to see what the requirements are going to be before we get really serious in investing in newer equipment for it.”
Drones Soon To Be Regulated
Just recently, Anthony Tilton, lawyer with Trent Cotney, P.A., a firm dedicated to representing the construction industry, gave a seminar titled “The Use and Application of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (Drones) in the Roofing Industry,” at the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractor’s Association (FRSA) expo in Orlando, Florida.
In his seminar he addressed how everyday, more and more roofing contractors within the industry continue to choose unmanned aircraft systems to perform estimates, capture marketing images and inspect roofing surfaces.
“As this technology continues to expand, both the Federal and State governments will move to implement regulations and control over this rapidly evolving technology,” Tilton said.
“You have to take into consideration both the benefits of drone technology vs. the risks of liability,” he said.
Some of the benefits that Tilton discussed include:
• Safer and faster estimates;
• Management of customer expectations with real-time photographs and videos of installation;
• Imaging provides instantaneous estimates;
• Programs available to compute material needs;
• High-quality images indicate potential areas in need of repair;
• Marketing; and
• Accurate surveys of elevations and roof slope, etc.
Tilton stressed throughout the seminar that the laws are always changing and if you pursue to use drones, you should keep up with the laws and regulations, depending on the state you live in.
“As the technology becomes more and more prevalent, laws will become more important. Anything that we can do to keep roofers safe, the better,” Tilton says.
If you or your company has questions about drone regulation or the construction industry in general, feel free to contact Tilton at his Tallahassee, Florida, office at 850-213-1297 or email him at: email@example.com.
Hansen, with White Castle Roofing, said that although they do at times still use their drones to save time getting estimates, checking out damage and take some photography, Hansen also recently started up his own company, CompanyCam, to get even better photography and video.
New Photo App For Roofers
CompanyCam is an app that allows everyone in a company to take photos that stream back to the office instantly and are automatically organized by the address where the photo was taken. You can draw on the photos, write notes that stay attached to that photo, share hundreds of photos instantly and create branded galleries and photo reports for your company.
“A manager or owner can be in the office and still see everything that is happening across the company and a guy in the field can easily document what he is doing without the hassle of uploading, emailing or texting photos,” Hansen said. “It’s a huge time saver and allows faster production because you don’t have to go back to the office, download the photos and share them manually. You can share them instantaneously. It’s a great application and roofers love it.”
Additionally, CompanyCam works on an iPhone, Android and the Web.
According to Hansen, CompanyCam costs $12/month per mobile user (anyone that you grant access to the mobile app) and allows your company to take, store and share unlimited photos. Office users are free, but they do not have access to the mobile app. They do however have full access to all of the company’s photos on the web.
How can you learn more? “Every week we do live demos at your convenience,” Hansen said. You can schedule on here: https://calendly.com/companycam/demo
Hansen said that many metal roofing companies have joined and are using the app and find it very helpful.
“Everyone has a smart phone now. You want to document the process of your projects? It used to be a huge pain for us, with all of the memory cards and not having enough space, etc. Now, you can be out on a project, take a photo and you can draw on the photo. You can tag all of the photos, change out shingle colors, change the type of shingle, depict gutter damage and so on. It’s programmed with a GPS to locate the project, where the photo was taken, when it was taken so it’s clear what progress is being made. More than 100 roofing companies are using it. It is helpful for the whole construction industry, not just roofers as well,” Hansen said.
Old School Ways Still Working As Well
Northface Construction LLC, in Elk River, Minnesota, which does metal roofing projects, roof repairs and home remodeling hasn’t taken the plunge using drones quite yet, but they have found some newer software that has worked for them to increase their productivity.
“We don’t use drones as of now, but it is definitely something we have been looking into,” says Katie Swisher, with Northface Construction. “We do plan to implement the use of drones at some point.” Other things that Northface does to stay on top of production is use up-to-date software to manage their projects.
“We do several things to increase productivity. One of the things we have done is implement a software [Acculynx] that keeps track of prospects, leads and current jobs. It has made things much more efficient. We also have increased the amount of online marketing we do, especially on social media since that’s where trends are shifting. We are slowly beginning to use video marketing along with our images as well,” Swisher says. MR