This report is a recap of the many things we observed during the NRCA convention in San Francisco.

The 114th annual convention of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) was held February 14 through 17, 2001, in San Francisco. NRCA is one of the oldest trade associations in the construction industry, and has as its members the crème de la crème of the roofing business. In other words, this is the annual meeting of the roofing industry in this country.

As always, Roofing Contractor was there to keep you up on all the latest happenings in the industry, as well as on the latest in new materials, systems, business solutions, trends and equipment. This report is just a random recap of the many things we observed during convention in San Francisco.

Speaking of San Francisco, some of the most memorable events took place away from the convention floor. Convention attendees managed to make the rounds of Chinatown along with visits to many other notable SF establishments. We heard many reports of side trips to Pebble Beach, and saw several cases of wine from trips to Napa Valley rotating around the carousels as convention goers arrived in their homeports. Yours truly enjoyed several pleasant dining experiences that were more about great company than about great food. You people know who you are. Thanks for the memories. But we did go there to work. And we did.

NRCA Awards

NRCA crowned a number of its members “for excellence in the roofing industry” with the “2001 Gold Circle Awards.” The many entrants and honorees are too numerous to mention here, but the top awards went to Chadwick Technology Pty. Ltd. of Forestville, New South Wales, and Utah Tile & Roofing, Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah, for “Innovative Solutions.” Chadwick was cited for the Expo Railway Station job, and Utah for its work on the Utah State Governor’s Mansion Exterior Restoration project.

In the category of “Workmanship,” the award went to L.E. Schwartz & Son Inc., Macon, Ga., for its work on the Mercer University Administration Building Roof Restoration. I had the pleasure of speaking with Melvin and Steve Kruger briefly about this project, which they describe as one of the most challenging their firm has ever run up against. The “generations” of the L.E. Schwartz & Son Inc. firm appeared on the November 1999 “Millennium Issue” of Roofing Contractor.

The “Service to the Community” award went to Cross Country Distributing Inc. of Louisville, Ky., for numerous civic and charitable initiatives. The “Service to the Industry” award was taken by Jenkins Slate Roofing Services, Grove City, Pa. for its publication, “The Slate Roof Bible” by Joseph Jenkins.

At the annual banquet, the highest award presented by the NRCA, the J.A. Piper award, was presented to NRCA executive vice president, William Good. The J.A. Piper award is presented every year at the annual convention to recognize roofing industry professionals who have “devoted constant, outstanding service to the association and roofing industry.” Bill started his career with the NRCA in 1973, taking leave in 1985 to form a video production firm. He returned in 1987 to accept the chief staff position with NRCA that he fills today. We witnessed an example of his dedication as he addressed a group of contractors at a GAF-sponsored breakfast that started at 6:00 a.m.

Manufacturers in the Spotlight

Speaking of GAF, the company announced numerous new products and initiatives, most notably the roll-out of its new TPO brand, “EverGuard TPO2Plus,” which boasts wider sheets and greater puncture resistance than non-reinforced membranes, but is price-competitive. You are sure to hear more about that in the near future. GAF also announced “C.A.R.E.,” the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence Ltd., a new, not-for-profit organization dedicated to expert education and training for individuals involved in marketing, purchasing, specifying or installing roofing systems. It is financially supported by GAF, and will offer a variety of educational workshops in key cities across North America as well as at a facility in Port Arthur, Texas. Roofing Contractor has committed to deliver a complete report on this intriguing new program in a coming issue.

Another manufacturer coming out with a new spin on things is Johns-Manville. The company introduced our old friend, Larry Glass, as the person in charge of implementation for its new e-business solution. Manville, working with leading construction industry software and e-business providers, is introducing the first of what promises to be a line of business solutions for its contractor and distributor partners. In the new system, called ConnexUs, channel partners will be able to place orders and track them. Considerable information searching capabilities are built in, including specifications and Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). Your JM rep can tell you more.

While we are on the subject of major roofing manufacturers, Carlisle and EcoStar announced that a deal had been struck for Carlisle to acquire EcoStar, manufacturer of a high-end composite roofing slate manufactured primarily from post-consumer components. The deal is expected to be completed in the near future following the due diligence process, and will add yet another dimension to the growing Carlisle product line. Carlisle, by the way, had one of the most interesting booths in the trade show. It had a live hail test working with 2-inch balls of ice being fired at a piece of Carlisle FleeceBack EPDM attached to a piece of fiberboard insulation. Jim Kootz, P.E., and Vickie Crenshaw of Jim D. Koontz & Associates, Inc., roof engineers, conducted the demo. Fascinating, loud and outrageous. The membrane held up quite well, too.

Dow announced more approvals for installation of its Styrofoam over steel deck. Honeywell was showing off a new hot-air welder by NTE. This unique device uses LP to generate the heat, which is forced “flameless” by electric blower. This will produce sufficient heat to weld Honeywell’s modified coal-tar product, as well as its SBS modified-asphalt membrane. Honeywell is on the move with its products and promotions. Keep an eye out as the company works to increase its market presence.

Elk showed off its combination roof vent – high-profile hip and ridge product. This unique offering is not offered nationwide, but I hope they go for it. The look is striking, and the idea that it vents as well seems to make a lot of sense. There were several roof vent ideas floating around, including the new shingle-over vent by Headrick Building Products (see Roofing Contractor, February 2001, p. 40), a new shingle-over roll ridge vent by Gibraltar Construction Products. If you don’t recognize that name, get used to it. Gibraltar is the firm that has been quietly putting together a powerhouse of smaller firms to bring a significant product line to our industry, including Southeastern Metals, Leigh Products, Milcor, and around twenty others. GAF also introduced its new “Cobra” low-profile shingle-over roll vent that can be installed with a pneumatic roof nail gun.

New equipment included a new “ergonomically correct” tear-off spade from our good friend and editorial advisor John Jackson of E.L. Hilts & Company, Hickory, N.C. This spade might change the look of your tool crib over the coming months. Check it out. We saw a “rack and pinion” elevator by Champion Elevators Inc. Not new in the world, but it is in the world of roofing in this country. Track sections can be erected on site to heights not previously achieved with lifts you can carry in the back of a pick-up truck (unless you are towing them). Speaking of towable hoists, A.G. Zalal of North American Bocker was showing a “sliding” device that allows the operator to load materials on the ground, then when the carriage reaches the top, the platform slides over and onto the roof. Safer and easier.

Way too numerous to list, many manufacturers of energy saving solutions were on hand at the trade show touting new-age reflective coatings and waterproofing solutions. Roofing Contractor is on the record recommending all roofing contractors look into these systems as a way of increasing their bottom line. It seems the product offerings are expanding along with the possibilities of an emerging market for coating and re-coating.

Other Random Stuff

We welcomed a new member to the Roofing Contractor staff. Publisher Jill Nash announced the arrival of Marcia Wright as our West Coast Sales Manager. Marcia, who hails from San Francisco, will handle advertising sales and key account management duties in the western territory.

We had the opportunity to meet with tons of great folks, way too numerous to mention here. They included George Smith of Factory Mutual Research Corp, who gave us insights from the insurance industry perspective. We had an interesting discussion of the contractor and consultant “approval” programs that are still in the formation stage. Expect to read more about this in the relatively near future (no specifics on the date – we tried to drag that out of him, but it wouldn’t drag).

Chris Seidel and Phil McKinney gave us the news on the workings of the National Roofing Foundation’s Alliance for Progress. Roofing Contractor will report on the Alliance later this year. Its training programs (commentary here) have the potential of solving many of the long-term labor issues we contend with daily in this industry.

While in San Francisco, Roofing Contractor had the pleasure of presenting our “Supply Chain Survey” to a group of roofing distributors from across the country. The full report of the survey by Dave Harrison, senior vice president of marketing for GAF, can be found in our February 2001 issue (p. 56).

Of note were the many, many comments we received about the report in our January 2001 issue (p. 78) by Shawn Holiday on the New Jersey Schools proprietary spec controversy. All the comments were positive, with most saying such things either go on where they live, or are being investigated where they live. Shawn said this would be a series, and it seems the next installment will be forthcoming sooner rather than later.

The 2001 NRCA convention was memorable to say the least. While it was certainly a positive experience, there was a noticeable dearth of roofing contractors in the trade show for more than half of the hours it was open and available. By 4:00 p.m. Friday the show was, for all intents and purposes, over. It was “open” until 6:00 p.m. Friday evening, and three hours on Saturday. We would hope for the NRCA and the industry that San Antonio will produce a more significant attendance. After all, this is the premiere event of our industry, and while it may not be essential to attend every year, industry professionals should make the effort to attend as often as is practical. The education you will receive is invaluable; but the fellowship is irreplaceable.