WAYNE, N.J. - Since the official announcement of the merger of GAF Materials Corp. and Elk Corp. in late February, the management team at GAF-ELK has been working to develop strategies and implement best practices from both companies.
At a press conference at the International Roofing Expo in March, President and Chief Executive Officer Bob Tafaro indicated that the GAF and Elk brands would remain separate through the end of 2007 and would continue to support commitments to distributors and contractors with essentially the same products, services, warranties and programs until the end of this year. He indicated that the company plans to unify the sales team, product line, and certified contractor initiatives service.
In May, Chief Marketing Officer Dave Harrison provided an update on the process, noting that the company would make announcements on unification plans in mid-July and implement them at year’s end. “In 2008, we’ll utilize GAF-ELK as a unified brand name - the individual brands are trusted by the contractor and consumer. Most importantly we’ll still be focused on helping the best contractors in North America build their business by distinguishing themselves as the best and safest choice for consumers. We remain absolutely committed to our pledge to help distributors and contractors build their business and avoid hassles. Our investment in customer-focused initiatives will demonstrate an even greater commitment to providing the best support and educational programs in the industry.”
Harrison indicated that the two companies have complementary strengths and one key similarity - “We really do focus on the customer.” Harrison recalled the themes of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great in describing the changes being implemented after the merger. “The first focus is making sure we have the right people on the bus,” he said. “While GAF-ELK people know they might be doing different things a year from now, the people know that they are on the bus - and that they are the right people.”
“In Good To Great, the second step is confronting the brutal facts,” Harrison continued. “We’re gathering input now. I’ve met personally with 600 contractors and distributors at the local level, and by June I’ll have met with more than 1,200. There are a lot of details to consider. It’s not just a question of money; our decisions affect the families of GAF-ELK employees and the contractors and distributors that support our brands. I take that quite personally. It’s the reason I’m traveling as much as I am right now. Our commitment is that we’ll let contractors and distributors know by mid-July what to expect and why, and roll these initiatives out at the end of the year. With that much notice, if a contractor does not think we’re still a great fit, they’ll have time to look for plan B. And, if we do our jobs right, they won’t want a plan B.”