We decided to follow up with Mike McClintock, Elk’s marketing director, to see how Prestique Grande was faring among contractors. Involved with the development of Prestique Grande since its inception, McLintock explains that Elk had been considering several new products, and would put test products on homes next to the old products, including Prestique Plus. Prestique Plus proved to be the best-looking product.
“Instead of different designs, we decided we should just make the Prestique product bigger,” says McClintock. “The trend in residential roofing seems to be going toward bigger roofs, with steep slopes and more roof area showing. We took photos of homes and enlarged them to show different sizes. Then we had contractors, sales people and customers review them to see what they liked better. They all liked the larger-sized shingles. This settled it, as far as the ‘look’ of the new product was concerned.”
On the technical side, McClintock says that it seemed that an 8 to 8 1/4-inch exposure was optimal, but Elk wasn’t sure it could run the new product on the standard line. “That’s when we developed VersaShield (the interply head-lap) to eliminate the full head-lap that would normally be required. We developed a unique manufacturing process to accommodate this, and created a product that looked good. It is efficient to produce, ship, store and use.” The shingle itself is run on the same line as the other products. Currently, the VersaShield interply is applied separately, but this will soon change.
Prestique Grande was officially introduced in February and is currently available in 15 states — the entire Midwest including Michigan and Ohio, from Canada to Mexico and west to Colorado. Feedback is excellent so far, according to McClintock, and Elk has been getting good response from contractors at trade shows. Sales people are currently working on getting the product into distribution channels, which takes time. And overall, "There have been no problems in terms of application and appearance," says McClintock.
To get some feedback from contractors using the product out in the field, we first spoke to Brian Acord of Acord Roofing, a residential roofing company in Kansas City, Mo. So far, the company has done about 30 jobs with Prestique Grande. "It’s easy to install and the guys all like it," says Acord. "It’s not much different than installing a standard laminate, just flip up the head." As for what his customers think about the product: "It sells itself," he explains. "People want an alternative to the standard look. They like the big exposure."
Acord advises other contractors to use the product. "I’d put it on my house if I hadn’t just reroofed it," he says. "It’s kind of hard to explain to people what it looks like, they don’t understand, and they can’t tell from photos what you mean by a ‘larger exposure,’ or bigger pattern. I give potential customers an address of a house I have done in Prestique Grande and nine out of 10 call back and say they want it after driving by and taking a look."
Mike Heiland of Heiland Roofing in Wichita, Kan., agrees. His company does mostly residential work — all of it steep slope — and recently completed its first job with Prestique Grande on a 40-square upscale residential roof. Heiland had introduced the product to the customer at a home show and they liked the look.
As for using the new product, "It is easy to install," says Heiland. "It had a nice dimensional look, looked like wood, laid out nicely, and the customer was pleased." He explains that installing Prestique Grande is actually very similar to a regular laminate, and over all, "It gives more coverage, uses less material and lays well."
When asked what he would tell other contractors considering use of Prestique Grande, Heiland says, "Give it a chance, it’s a great product." According to Heiland, Elk products as a whole are his company’s best sellers. "They are the best looking, the granules give it a different shade," he says. "The shingles have a good thickness and wind resistance. I have never had anything blow off." Given that tornadoes are not an uncommon occurrence in Heiland’s area of the country, that sounds like a ringing endorsement to us!