In the days following the tragedy, shortly before this issue went to press, we asked several people around the industry what kind of immediate impact the attacks had on business, as well as how the situation was affecting future planning.

Though most of us were not at Ground Zero on September 11, all of us are dealing with the effects. After the shock, sorrow, and anger, the first thought is usually: “How can I help?” Several industry associations, including the National Roofing Contractors Association and the Northeast Roofing Contractors Association, are making donations to the Red Cross and urging their members to do the same. In the days following the tragedy, shortly before this issue went to press, we asked several people around the industry what kind of immediate impact the attacks had on business, as well as how the situation was affecting future planning. Here are some of the responses.

Jim Hilyard, President, CertainTeed Roofing Products Group, Valley Forge, Pa. “The immediate impact on most of us was a myriad of mixed emotions, from fear of the unexpected to anger toward the attackers, to sorrow and sympathy for those who lost their lives in the airplanes, in the buildings and on the ground. All of us in the CertainTeed and Saint Gobain family wish to express our deepest condolences and prayers to each of the victims and their families…

“A number of our company’s manufacturing facilities are holding blood drives and taking up collections of money and food as well as construction and other supplies for the victims and the rescue workers. CertainTeed and its sister companies throughout North America have also made a $250,000 donation to the New York Times Foundation 9/11 Neediest Fund, to help the families of the firefighters, police officers and rescue workers who were killed in New York.

“Our experience during the Gulf War has given us enough of a perspective to make certain assumptions during times of world crisis. … We’re anticipating that the current state of economic uncertainty will lead to a softening in our industry in the fourth quarter and into the first six months of 2002. In these times, consumers tend to sit on the sidelines and postpone major investments, such as reroofing and remodeling, until the country’s economic situation as well as their own is more certain.”

Phil McKinney, President, Evans Service Co., Elmira, N.Y. “[The recent events] have affected us all in ways we are still to discover. The Evans Service Co. and subsidiary companies have not been affected very much. We lost a couple days of production while everyone was in shock. We had to make special arrangements the week of the attack to get paychecks to our associates around the country. We have had to reschedule some meetings with customers. Because we do a lot of traveling for our jobs, we will be affected by whatever is done at the airports. It is my thought that air travel will become much more expensive due to increased security measures and decreased passenger loads.

“It’s anyone’s guess how the business world will react to the tragedy. I’m sure there will be those who will think twice before spending money for capital investments. Some of our future jobs will probably be delayed while things are sorted out. But in the end, we will continue to do business and life will go on. We’ll all be different, hopefully better, because of the experiences. This should help us understand what is really important and get out priorities in order.”

Bill Collins, President and CEO, GAF Materials Corp., Wayne, N.J. “On behalf of the 4,000 GAFMC employees in 26 plants and hundreds of communities across America, we continue to hold in our prayers all the people affected directly and indirectly by the tragedy of terrorism. Evil has shown its face on our shores and that fact is now etched in our psyche for generations to come. As I write this letter, all members of the GAFMC family of employees are safe and out of danger. However, we know that much will be expected of us in the future and we have recommitted ourselves to servicing our customers, industry, and world. Our assumptions about the roofing industry's growth in 2002 have been adjusted downward somewhat, but we continue to be optimistic and are expanding our product and system offerings and capacity to be the ‘best and safest choice’ for the many owners and contractors who rely on us to be there for them. We are in this together now even more than ever. If we can help, let us know."

Mary B. Dodd, President, Dodd Roofing Inc., Tucker, Ga. “The terrorism acts … have deeply affected us all. Our deepest sympathy and love goes out to each and every family and friend that lost lives in this tragedy. It truly has been a wake-up call for everyone in the country that many lives and businesses can be taken in an instant. It has truly affected most of our businesses that already have been going through a sluggish economy… Prices like oil, gas, insurance, etc., continue to climb with no end in sight. This has caused [the cost of] roofing materials to steadily climb as well. People have slowed down their spending or have quit spending money. A lot of people have been laid of this year, and layoffs will continue.

“My company and my employees are planning to stand and work together, and hope for the best. It will take a while to jumpstart our economy, but I know we can do it as long as we stand together as a nation.”

John Worthington, Director of Sales and Marketing, Johns Manville, Denver “Johns Manville headquarters is located in downtown Denver, and most employees were just beginning to arrive at our offices as the news of the tragedy in New York was getting out, at about 7:00 a.m. local time. People congregated in conference rooms to watch in shock as the terrible events unfolded on television. At about 9:30 a.m., a building near ours, the tallest skyscraper in Denver, was evacuated when it was unclear if more airliners might be on suicide missions. At about that time, JM employees were told they could go home if they thought they would be more comfortable with their families. Some left right away, and within several hours, by 3:00 p.m. or so, the offices were virtually empty.

“We checked Tuesday morning with our operations in the NYC area and thankfully determined that all of our sales reps, tech reps and other employees were accounted for and had not been harmed. We had some New York area roofing contractor customers in town and they were very anxious to get home to their families. We also had a number of JM employees in town for training the week of September 10, and their returns to their homes were delayed. Most ended up driving rental cars home to places as far away as Mississippi and Los Angeles.

“The Denver community has had a tremendous outpouring of sympathy for the victims, a strong and visible resurgence of patriotism, and people generally appear to have developed a steely resolve to do what it will take to eradicate the future possibility of this kind of terrorism on American soil.

“For the time being, only critical air travel is authorized for JM employees. We have consequently canceled most meetings that required travel to or from Denver or other JM or customer locations. But we are hopeful that things can return to some semblance of normal soon.

“If the economy were slowing prior to September 11, as some contended, it seems likely that things will be even a bit tougher now due to reduced consumer confidence and spending. As we are preparing our business Operating Plan for next year, a big question in our minds is what level of new commercial and reroofing business opportunity will the economy support next year, and at what pricing.”

Heidi Ellsworth, President, HJE Marketing, Portland, Ore.

“Many of us in the roofing industry travel several thousand miles every year. We take the convenience of traveling across the country to a tradeshow or to visit a customer for granted, especially the fact that we will get home on time as planned. During the week of September 11, I talked to many roofing professional who at that critical time were, like myself, stranded away from home. Yet the separation from my family was nothing in comparison to the tragedy and soul-wrenching sorrow in New York and Washington. As I made calls checking on friends and family, it once again came clear to me that what we do every day in business is simply a way of promoting the health and well being of our families. As I stepped off the airplane, coming home a couple of days late, I hugged my family close and thought of all the families who would not be reunited. I then hugged them even harder.”

Roofers at Ground Zero

From the moment it happened, we all knew that we would remember where we were and what we were doing when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. And some of us would end up being closer than we wanted to be. About 30 employees from Conco Roofing, Brooklyn, N.Y., were on the roof of the 90 West building, a 25-story office building that is just one block away from the World Trade Center.

Constructed in 1907, 90 West was designed by famed architect Cass Gilbert. It is a designated historical landmark. Beginning in June 2000, Conco had been working on repairing and replacing the building’s 35,000-square-foot roof. “The roofing on this building featured a design typical of the time, with lots of window ledges, overhangs and angles,” says Si Belsky, president of Conco.

Conco reroofed the flat section of the roof with a two-ply Brai system from U.S. Intec, Wayne, N.J. To refinish the copper trim that had turned green with age, Cono used a custom-colored, premium-grade acrylic coating from Thermo Manufacturing Inc., Lindale, Texas. The coating matched the patina green color of the weathered copper. Before the attack, Conco roofing had planned on being finished with the job in the fall of 2001.

When the second hijacked plane hit the South Tower, the roof of 90 West was littered with debris. The first thought of the crew was that a propane tank inside the building had exploded. One worker was struck in the arm by what was thought to be a piece of the plane. (His injuries were not serious, and he has recovered.) When Belsky saw the reports of the terrorist attack, he radioed his crew and told them to get out of the building.

Once they had evacuated, the employees could see the South Tower, from which they were separated by only a parking lot. When it started to collapse about an hour later, the crew rushed for cover. “It was traumatic, thank God they made it out,” says Belsky. “There was fire (in 90 West). In spite of the chaos, the fire department did an excellent job.” Five floors of 90 West had fire, as well as parts of four other floors. When asked how his employees were recovering from the shock, Belsky answers, “There was so much pandemonium, so much horror … it just doesn’t register.”

The 90 West building itself remains structurally sound amidst the devastation, but it has large chunks torn out. Amazingly enough, the flat part of the roof survived in tact. The northwest corner parapet wall was ripped off, and a chunk of steel from the towers is embedded in the sidewalk, leaning up against the side of the building. Regarding the fact that this classic, landmark historical building is still standing, a local building inspector commented, in a New York kind of way, “This old mother is one tough cookie.”

Aside from the general cleanup going on, Conco will have to wait until the building owner and insurance adjusters have their say before repairs to 90 West can be made. Belsky estimates that it will take about 45 days before they can get back into the area. “It’s important to be able to seal the damaged buildings before winter. Time is the major concern,” he explains. “We’re getting some calls to do repairs, but the area is a crime scene. We can get passes through OEM (Office of Emergency Management). We escorted the NTSB and FBI into the building to see pieces of the plane.”

The immediate impact for Conco is that people had to be shifted around to other jobs. Belsky also nonchalantly remarks, “My truck is under the south tower.” And what will the future bring? According to Belsky: “We’re always busy. Business isn’t a concern. I am sure we’ll rebuild.”