ATAS International Inc., Allentown, Pa., celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2003. Jacobus P. Bus, an immigrant from the Netherlands, started the company in 1963. He was a siding and trim installer and began designing and manufacturing his own trims and accessories. Over time, he sold those trims to other contractors. Jack operated his company out of the basement of his home in Rochester, N.Y.
In 1972, Aluminum Trim and Shapes, as the company was known, moved its manufacturing facility to a 12,000-square-foot building. The company expanded into the production of light-gauge commercial panels and residential siding. At this time, the company changed its corporate structure and became known as ATAS Aluminum Corp.
With the addition of more profiles, colors and metals, ATAS quickly outgrew the manufacturing facility in Rochester and decided to relocate to Allentown, Pa. In 1985, the company dedicated a new 104,000-square-foot building. In 1995, the company again changed its name. It is now known as ATAS International Inc. in order to convey the message that its capabilities are not limited to the production of aluminum products - ATAS manufactures products of steel, copper and zinc as well. The name change also reflects growth overseas and involvement with international trade.
The Allentown plant added a 30,000-square-foot building in 1999, which includes offices, training rooms and expanded production areas. The company's residential division, Accel Roofing Products, was also created in 1999 in order to educate the homeowner and light commercial/residential contractor on the benefits of metal roofing. Finally, the company has expanded its service to the South and West by opening manufacturing facilities in Mesa, Ariz., and Maryville, Tenn.
When asked why he believes that ATAS is a successful company, second-generation owner Dick Bus replies, "We have good employees and we are in a growth industry." In addition, "We have shown the ability to adjust to change in the marketplace - we're not doing the same thing we were doing 40 years ago." His message to contractors who are considering doing business with the company is that ATAS provides them with quality products and stresses person-to-person relationships. "I don't believe that computers are taking over everything," says Bus.
What do contractors who actually use ATAS roofing products have to say? Holland Roofing is one such company. In business installing commercial roof systems since 1986, the company is headquartered in the Greater Cincinnati area and services clients throughout the Midwest and Southeast. When the company began, it had 10 employees with revenues of $1.8 million its first year. Today, with 11 affiliate offices that employ over 300 people, the company has revenues in excess of $40 million.
Ken Hunt, vice president of sales, says that while the company uses systems from several different manufacturers, both metal roofing as well as single-ply flat roofing, "We do a lot with ATAS," he says. "Their products are good and their turnaround time from order to delivery is second to none, which helps us on our fast-track projects." Hunt also praises ATAS for its wide variety of offerings and highly recommends its products. "Customer support is very good," he adds. "They will jump through hoops if need be, more so than any other vendor I deal with."
BrandingTo commemorate it 40th Anniversary, ATAS created the Master of Metal, a character derived from a player in society during the Renaissance period, known as the master builder. The master builder had diverse talents and often obtained the role of the architect and contractor on projects. By using the Master of Metal image, ATAS hopes to draw the parallel that just as the master builder developed and mastered art forms, so has the company done with metal products.
Streamlining the ProcessWe spoke to Robert Baskin, ATAS' general manager, outside national sales, for his impression of the overall metal roofing industry. Baskin characterizes the residential market as being in a "pre-emergent phase." He explains, "The challenge here is finding contractors who want to market metal roofing and break away from the pack, differentiate themselves from their competitors, and make better margins by selling an investment-grade product. ATAS is very optimistic that this market will yield dynamic growth in 2004."
As for the commercial sector, Baskin says that the traditional commercial products are caught in a downward spiral of low price, low quality and low service. "This is really a shame because there is a lot of hard work that takes place for a commercial project to run smoothly," he says. "ATAS aims to avoid this spiral with a focus on quality and product diversity."
Baskin highlights a few key areas on which ATAS is focused for 2004. First, he notes that the sales process in the architectural metal building products industry is extremely cumbersome. "Building owners, architects, distributors, contractors and manufacturers must all coordinate their activities and interests for a project to flow smoothly," Baskin explains. "In 2004, ATAS will aim to differentiate itself from the industry by becoming easier to do business with. We will continue to play a leadership role and drive a cohesive and supportive effort between all the constituents we serve."
To accomplish this task, ATAS will host a series of customer advisory council meetings that include architects, contractors and distributors. One meeting will be held at each of the company's plants - in Mesa, Ariz.; Allentown, Pa.; and Maryville, Tenn. "The sales process is very convoluted," Baskin continues. "It involves architects, general contractors, subcontractors, distributors, manufacturers and building owners - everyone has different interests. We have to figure out how to streamline the process." ATAS plans to bring in members from the different groups and have roundtable discussions on various aspects of the industry, including marketing, customer service, shipping and production. "We will ask questions, document what is said, and use the information to shape our strategy," says Baskin.
The goal is to ask customers what they want and gauge their overall consensus on the industry - not just ATAS. Baskin says ATAS hopes to find out if it is hard to get information from manufacturers, if any manufacturer in particular is easy to get information from, and who provides the best information.
Also on tap for 2004, ATAS will further its commitment to green building by launching Inpirewall, which is, according to Baskin, "a simplistic, yet innovative solar, fresh air, pre heating system that allows a building owner to qualify for LEED credits and dramatically reduce heating costs." As far as roofing contractors are concerned, Baskin points out that metal roofing is a sustainable product and ATAS offers cool roof colors. He notes that the company participated in the GreenBuild show in fall 2003. "There was a lot of enthusiasm," says Baskin. "Green is a lot more prominent. Architects are interested in LEED."
When asked how ATAS helps its contractors succeed and what it offers them in the way of marketing materials, training and support, Baskin points to a recent conference call with the sales staff in which he outlined the value the company brings to its contractors. "We try to save the contractor money by educating them and helping them through the process, both installation and sales," he says. "We also do a lot of prospecting to bring leads."
According to Baskin, metal roofing affords contractors the opportunity to differentiate themselves and make greater profits. ATAS offers training on how to grow a metal roofing business. As for technical support, contractors can receive help with take-offs, engineering, code compliance, submittals and field measurements, as well as receive detail suggestions and review, and job site visits. Overall, Baskin emphasizes the value that the company brings to contractors. "ATAS is innovative. The push this year is to be receptive to the marketplace, and be easy to do business with."
ResidentialJoe Armbruster is general manager of Accel Roofing Products, ATAS' residential division. He contends that the residential market for metal is strong and is continuing to grow and increase market share due to public awareness that metal is a viable alternative to asphalt shingles. He notes that ATAS is a founding member of the Metal Roofing Alliance, which has launched an advertising campaign to educate consumers. The MRA's Web site also matches contractors and homeowners. "It's a huge tool," says Armbruster. "The MRA had over 1 million hits on its Web site last year, resulting in more than 25,000 consumer leads."
Armbruster points to the huge selection that Accel offers for the residential market, with eight profiles. "Our premier product is the Advanta shingle," he says. "It is a facsimile of the traditional three-tab shingle and is installed like a three-tab. We also have two different styles of tile - terra cotta and European." Armbruster explains that most customers' decisions are based on geography. For example, Michigan leans toward Advanta, while the East Coast - and Florida in particular - likes Dutch Seam. Southern California prefers the stone-coated Granutile product.
"We are extraordinarily proactive in making sure contractors and distributors are trained properly in product knowledge and installation techniques," says Armbruster. ATAS has a training program every month in the first two quarters. Contractors are given product information, sales techniques and installation training. The company can also provide training onsite on an as-needed basis.
In addition, ATAS offers a sales-specific program, which has the goal of better training sales people to present products to a homeowner. "A homeowner has different concerns than a commercial building owner - they want to know about the warranty, aesthetics and performance," says Armbruster. The number one concern among homeowners is performance, because they are in the midst of replacing, and may already have replaced, their roof. "They are looking for something better in terms of wind uplift, energy efficiency, etc.," he says. "Then they are interested in what it is going to look like."
ATAS has available a Rooftop Designer CD that allows the contractor to take digital photos of homes and show what it will look like with the several different products. "It is a very powerful tool," says Armbruster. ATAS contractors can purchase a marketing kit with product samples, manuals, the rooftop designer CD, and portfolio of before and after photos on CD.
"Our overall message to contractors is: Metal continues to grow," says Armbruster. "I don't see anything to make it slow. A lot of consumers are looking for better ways to reroof their homes. This growth cannot be overlooked."
Sidebar: ProductsATAS offers many products for both the commercial and residential metal roofing, as well as wall products, ceiling systems and accessories.
2-inch field lock structural standing seam is a strong double-locked, mechanically seamed panel. It is available in smooth and embossed texture and comes in 29 standard ATAS colors with premium Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 finish. Stiffening ribs are optional.
2 3/8-inch structural standing seam panel is a field-seamed panel that provides extra strength and extra height. It is installed with concealed clips and fasteners and a mechanical seamer in a tri-fold lock-in application. It is available in smooth and embossed texture in 29 standard ATAS colors with premium Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 finish. Stiffening ribs are optional.
Monarch Series Batten Seam is a continuous batten-style panel with an integral batten and seam. It is installed over open framing or on a solid substrate with concealed fasteners and can span up to 5 feet 0 inches on center. The panel is available in smooth and stucco-embossed textures. Stiffening ribs and seam sealant are optional. Typical applications include roof planes with a minimum roof pitch of 2:12, mansards, fascias, and equipment screens.
Dutch Seam is a continuous standing seam panel with an integral seam. It can be installed over open framing or on a solid substrate and allow for expansion and contraction. It can span up to 5 feet 0 inches on center. The panel is available in smooth and stucco-embossed textures. Stiffening ribs are optional. It can be tapered. Typical applications include roof planes with a minimum roof pitch of 2:12, mansards, fascias, and equipment screens.
1-inch double-locked traditional architectural seam is a seam double locked panel, mechanically seamed in the field. It is installed with a concealed clip and fastener system. This panel is available in smooth and embossed textures in 29 standard ATAS colors with premium Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 finish. Stiffening ribs are optional.
PC Systems Panel is a continuous standing seam panel with snap-on seam, available in batten and standing seam forms. The panel is installed over a solid substrate only. The seam is installed over clips and fasteners, creating a concealed fastening system. PC is designed for tapered and curved applications including roof planes with a minimum roof pitch of 3:12, mansards, fascias and equipment screens.
Advanta shingle is a simulated dimensional shingle, it is installed from eave to ridge with concealed fasteners. The shingle has prepunched direct fastening points, with a four-way interlock for weathertightness. It is lightweight, allowing installation over an existing roof. The shingle has an embossed texture with a premium finish. Typical applications are roofs on either commercial or residential buildings with a minimum pitch of 3:12, walls and mansards.
The Bermuda Panel or Rumba Shake is installed from eave to ridge with concealed fasteners and clips. It is lightweight, allowing installation over an existing roof. The shingle has a smooth texture with a premium finish. Typical applications are roofs on either commercial, or residential buildings with a minimum pitch of 4:12. It is also suitable for walls and mansards.
CastleTop is a diamond-shaped flat metal tile. It is easy to install from eave to ridge with concealed fasteners. In some cases, the shingles may be applied directly over the existing roof. Different colors may be combined to create interesting patterns. This shingle may be used for commercial or residential roof applications with a recommended slope of 3:12. It is also suitable for walls and mansards.
PermaShake panels simulate the look of wood-grained shingles. It is installed from eave to ridge with concealed fasteners. Panel should be staggered for a natural appearance. The interlocking modules are fastened with an anchor clip and lock system. Typical applications are commercial and residential roofing with a recommended minimum pitch of 4:12. It is also suitable for mansards.
Standing Seam Shingles feature a four-way interlock to ensure weathertightness. These panels are installed with concealed fasteners from ridge to eave, over solid substrate. Seams are staggered. Standing Seam Shingles have a smooth finish. Typical applications for are mansards, entryways, and commercial and residential roofs with a minimum recommended slope of 4:12.
Granutile is a simulated modular low tile panel with a granular surface. The panel is installed ridge to eave. The panel is coated with crushed stone chips with an acrylic over-glaze. It is a panel that can be used for re-roofing or for new construction over a batten system. It is lightweight, allowing installation over an existing roof. Typical applications are commercial and residential roofing with a recommended minimum pitch of 3:12, and mansards.
ScanRoof is a modern, lightweight metal roof panel that simulates a tile roof. The panel is installed horizontally, from eave to ridge, on an open frame system, or solid deck. It has a 2-inch integral Z-purlin allowing for airflow between the panel and substrate, and may span up to 48 inches on center. It is lightweight, allowing installation over an existing roof. The panel has a smooth texture. Typical applications are commercial and residential roofing with a recommended minimum pitch of 3:12. It is also suitable for mansards.
Techo Tile is a metal panel with a deep configuration in the form of an "S" or Spanish tile. The panel is installed vertically up the slope of the roof, with exposed fasteners on either an open-frame substrate or solid underlayment. The panel may span up to 28 inches on center. It is lightweight, allowing installation over an existing roof and is available in either glazed or traditional, depending on material. Typical applications are commercial and residential roofing with a recommended minimum pitch of 3:12, and mansards.