The Scoop on Single-Ply
Single-ply continues to gain market share in the roofing industry and new players are joining the game. We talked to some of the major manufacturers of single-ply systems to see what has been happening and what’s on tap for 2001, in terms of products, marketing and prices.
40 Years for CarlisleCarlisle-SynTec, Carlisle, Pa., is entering into its 40th year of existence, having warranted more than 200,000 roofing installations and sold more than 8 billion square feet of membrane. The company offers Sure-Seal™ EPDM and Sure-Weld™ TPO roofing systems. A recent introduction, fleece-backed membranes are now available to protect against wind- and traffic-related abuse.
Another innovation from Carlisle came as a response to requests from built-up and modified roofing contractors. The company’s Hot Mopped™ system combines the redundancy of hot asphalt with EPDM. The special fleece-backed membrane is set into a layer of hot asphalt (asphaltic base sheets can be incorporated if required) for securement to lightweight decks. The EPDM membrane performs like a cap sheet but remains impervious to UV rays and stays flexible for the life of the roof.
Carlisle-SynTec points to its wider 8- and 10-foot seamless TPO membranes that are also making a hit in the single-ply market place. The sheets are manufactured with a thicker top ply over the scrim surface and carry Energy Star ratings. Wider sheets equate to direct-installation labor and material savings, while the thicker top ply lends itself to durability and a smooth, monolithic welding surface. Carlisle-SynTec believes that Energy Star ratings for high reflectivity plus a membrane containing no plasticizers or chlorine will allow contractors to use the Sure-Weld TPO product when faced with environmentally sensitive concerns.
Incentives at Duro-LastDuro-Last, Saginaw, Mich., has been offering a white thermoplastic roofing system since 1978. In addition to the membrane, the company offers a complete line of fully warranted edge details due to be expanded in 2001. Duro-Last also offers wide sheets, with a reduced number of fasteners, which still meet FM standards.
Duro-Last sells directly to contractors, and 2001 will bring enhanced services and incentive-based loyalty programs with rewards for certain levels of sales and quality. “Customer service is important,” says John Van Tuyle, national sales manager. “Many manufacturers offer white single ply, so we have to set ourselves apart.” The company is aiming for a 20 percent increase in sales, so the goal is to bring more contractors into the program. “When we find a contractor, we offer a great deal of marketing support, lead generation, and endless amounts of training, both on the roof and in-house,” adds Ray Maczik, director of marketing communications. “It’s in our best interest.”
Duro-Last is also expanding its sales staff around the country and at corporate, according to Steve Ruth, director of sales. “We are looking forward to a great year,” says Maczik, “Our contractors have a good backlog of work.”
FiberTite Expands its MarketOne of the oldest companies in the business, Seaman Corp.’s FiberTite, Wooster, Ohio, has been in the market for over 20 years. The product is an EIP alloy reinforced with knitted polyester fabric. Custom rolls can be prefabricated up to 20 feet wide and 100 feet long.
In 2001, “FiberTite will be marketing more aggressively to owners and contractors in the Midwest and Northeast,” says Nick Kesslering, a sales manager for FiberTite. “We will be actively signing up people and rep firms to promote the product.” Also on the contractor side, FiberTite works on partnerships with contractors and plans to increase this activity. “We offer training, sales, marketing and leads — all aspects of partnering.”
As for the market in general, “Single-ply continues to take market share and we are optimistic that this growth will continue,” says Kesslering. “Price competition is significant, so there won’t be a very big increase. One difference for us is that we sell in the upper niche. We don’t compete with TPOs, which are less expensive. We won’t be raising prices, but we are very optimistic for an excellent year in 2001.
GAF Jumps InAfter two years of being in the business of TPO and PVC, GAF Materials Corp., Wayne, N.J., is putting the finishing touches on its TPO plant in Mt. Vernon, Ind. As of press time, the company was getting ready to launch Everguard™ TPO2 Plus, made with a different polymer formulation than some other manufacturers are using.
“We are obviously not the first in the market,” says Dave Bailey, business director, Specialty Products. “But we think we have the product enhancements to turn heads. We are spending $20 million on new, state-of-the-art equipment, and are determined to be a major competitor.” GAF plans broad visibility for its new product through advertising, promotion at the National Roofing Contractors Association convention this month and new brochures and literature.
“As industry capacity increases, prices will continue to slide,” continues Bailey. “TPO is a growing part of the single-ply market. It has the best features of EPDM and PVC – long term weatherability and heat-weldable seams. It’s now at a price equal to the installed (not just the membrane) cost of EPDM.” Bailey believes that TPO is a rising star and in four to five years it will be the dominant product in the industry. GAF plans to be there.
IB Holds the LineIB Roof Systems, Eugene, Ore., offers CPA single-ply membrane. In 1999, the company introduced ChemGuard 50- and 80-mil membranes specifically formulated for resistance to animal fats and oils found on restaurant roofs and many industrial buildings.
IB’s marketing approach is to teach contractors to effectively market themselves. As for IB’s product, “We are competitive when reroofing over an existing system, especially if it is an asphalt roof system,” says Bob Nelson, national sales manager. “In this situation we would promote the ‘wind ballast’ system. Our basic roofing system is a mechanically attached roll-good system. This installation method is always the most economical single-ply wind-rated system when going over a steel or wood deck.”
IB has no plans to raise prices this year. “We are looking to expand into new market areas and use that growth to expand revenue rather than use product pricing.” As for the industry as a whole, Nelson observes, “The demand for thermoplastic roofing membranes is going to continue to rise throughout the year. All major thermoset, BUR and modified manufacturers have introduced their version of a thermoplastic membrane into the industry. It is this action on the part of these traditional “anti” thermoplastic manufacturers that is validating the whole thermoplastic industry.”
Johns Manville Pushes TPOThere is a lot coming from Johns Manville Roofing Systems, Denver, in terms of single-ply, but it couldn’t be discussed at press time. We got some hints though.
JM offers UltraGuard PVC, EPDM and TPO. “TPO will play a greater roll and we are offering a more extensive product line for TPO,” says Joe Stassi, market manager. “TPO has a future, properly formulated. We are evaluating the new formulations available.”
The company’s marketing focus is to become a full systems product company in 2001. “We want to be known for single ply, not just BUR,” says Stassi. “The single-ply market shows double digit growth in thermoplastics. Pricing is a real issue. Excess capacity and downward price pressure is the trend. It’s very competitive.”
StaFast Adds TPOStaFast Roofing Systems, Reynoldsburg, Ohio, offers EPDM, and in 1999, added TPO and TPA (PVC) to its product line.
In terms of marketing, according to Chuck Matthews, marketing director, StaFast offers comprehensive warranty plans, prompt performance on warranty obligations, excellent technical support and friendly, responsive customer service. “Our belief is that the low-slope roofing market will always respond positively to a supplier who can offer a competitively priced membrane along with a broad line of high-quality, well-packaged installation accessories, delivered complete and on time.”
When asked about the market in general, Matthews responds, “We believe single-ply systems will continue their steady growth in market share because of labor-saving installation methods and unique product properties that result in exceptional weatherability and resistance to ozone and UV radiation.” As far as pricing is concerned, Matthews believes that is has stabilized for the most part, “However, we must be aware of the ongoing volatile nature of the crude oil market and the direct bearing this has on the costs to our industry, including ingredients, transportation and packaging.”
Stevens Introduces New Product LinesStevens Roofing Systems, Holyoke, Mass., offers two single-ply membranes, Stevens Hypalon® and now in its 10th year, Stevens EP™ TPO.
Taking advantage of continued growth in the market, Stevens introduced two new TPO product lines in 2000. The first is Stevens EP-B, a TPO specifically designed for ballasted applications. The second is Stevens EP-Fleece, a reinforced TPO with a fleece backing. “Stevens now offers a full range of TPO membranes for all major attachment options,” explains Tom Gallivan, marketing manager.
Stevens also recently announced its ability to manufacture custom-length rolls as a labor saving feature for the contractor. Custom-length rolls up to 300 feet in 6-inch increments are available in standard widths up to 76.5 inches. “We have always had the ability to customize the membrane thickness to meet specific design specifications and we can also prefabricate in our factory panelized roll widths up to 18 feet 9 inches,” adds Gallivan.
As far as marketing to the contractor is concerned, Stevens recently introduced a CAD program that allows its contractors to create professional proposals and drawings in easy-to-use format. The program will also enable contractors to develop proprietary databases to help them both manage building owner properties and enhance their customer ties. As for building owners and specifiers, “We continue to emphasize the energy efficiency and environmental friendliness of Stevens products.
With TPO gaining market share and new manufacturers joining the game, Gallivan concludes, “Stevens is using product and systems innovation to stay ahead of the game."
What’s Old is New Again at VersicoVersico, Akron, Ohio, offers Versigard EPDM and Versiweld Premier TPO. The TPO is available in highly reflective white or gray in 0.045 and 0.060-inch thick reinforced sheets.
What’s new this year isn’t with the membranes. “We are re-introducing a pre-engineered metal retrofit system that can be used with either membrane on aging metal buildings,” says Mike McAuley, national sales and marketing manager. In terms of marketing, “We offer a digital library for all specs, literature, etc. We put it all on a CD and it will be available in the middle of the first quarter of 2001.”
“Single-ply is competitive, in both new construction and retrofit,” says McAuley. “It is the most economical system.”