Roofing in paradise is not always a day at the beach. Hawaii has a demanding climate filled with humidity, wind and perpetual sunshine that can wear down roofing materials and crews. Oh, and almost everything must be shipped in from thousands of miles away.
Since 1972, Tory’s Roofing and Waterproofing Inc. of Pearl City, Hawaii, has been dealing with these challenges while building a reputation for honesty and quality. It’s important to Michael Tory, son of founder Louis Tory Jr., and his two brothers, Brandon and Bryan. After all, they work on a Pacific island where news travels fast, especially bad news.
“Hawaii is such a small community,” said Michael Tory, vice president of Tory’s Roofing. “We want to bring up the quality of roofing in Hawaii. Our goal is not to become the largest. Our goal is to make sure it’s done right the first time.”
Sun, Surf and WindThe pristine beaches and emerald waters of the six Hawaiian Islands have beckoned visitors for over a thousand years. Modern hotels, resorts and residential communities have sprung up to accommodate the influx, but the same sun, surf and wind that draws vacationers also wreaks havoc on the roofs. Tory’s Roofing embraces the challenges of roofing high-rise hotels and single-story houses with equal vigor.
That attention has paid off with large projects for hotels, the most recent a roof replacement at the Sheraton Waikiki. The 55,200-square-foot job included tearing off two BURs and a lightweight insulating concrete substrate on a 31-story building. All of the removed material was sent via two hydraulic hoists to a lower roof deck and then taken by wheelbarrow to the debris chute. The entire project occurred while the hotel was occupied and prevailing trade winds up to 30 mph hampered work. While rain is a daily occurrence in some spots, wind is often a bigger issue.
“Instead of raining out, we would ‘wind out,’” said Tory. “Everything had to be weighted down, shrink wrapped or tied to the roof.”
After digging down to the original concrete deck with jackhammers, the crew attached 1/4-inch Securock cover board using Insta-Stik adhesive on both layers, and then added EPS insulation from Pacific Allied Products, one of the few construction products to actually be manufactured on Hawaii (perhaps because EPS is also used for surf boards). The insulation was tapered to a 1/8-inch slope and covered with two layers of Polyglass SA peel-and-stick modified bitumen membrane and topped with a Polyglass SA fire-rated, mineral surfaced cap sheet. New copper edge metal was installed, and two-ply Polyglass base flashing was used at all penetrations, walls and curbs. Penetrations, counter flashing, curb units, and perimeter flashing were coated with a Hydro-Stop acrylic coating, polyester reinforcement and two finish coats. The entire project comes with a single-source, 20-year NDL warranty on material and labor.
Standing Up to the HeatIt was the third Sheraton that the company has reroofed, including historic Sheraton Moana Surf Rider Hotel, which dates to 1901. Tory’s Roofing protected the historic entrance with CertainTeed shingles. Many of the company’s recent projects reflect the growing usage of self-adhered MBs among Tory’s customers. Michael still swears by four plies of hot mopped BUR - he still has seven kettles in his yard - but he sees more roofing jobs moving away from the heat.
“We’re still doing torch, it’s just what fits the project the best. It just depends on the job, but we’re getting away from hot mops,” he said. Tory is satisfied with the performance of the latest peel-and-stick membranes and can offer the same warranties as the BURs he grew up with. In addition, complaints about the smell of cooking asphalt, especially from those on the vacation of a lifetime, is a big factor to consider, and the cost of a keg of asphalt has nearly doubled to about $35. While he still works with architects and designers who insist that smell means a quality roof, Tory is converting more customers to the new breed of asphalt-based membranes.
“When we get involved, we try to change it whenever possible,” he said. “I can give them the same warranty. Most of them will be OK with that.”
Tory’s Roofing also installs TPO and PVC membranes in an effort to stay busy (new construction accounts for 20 percent of revenues). The company, which has a general contractors license, even performs waterproofing, kitchen renovations and builds lanais. Residential roofing plays a significant part of the business. Tory’s Roofing will only install asphalt shingles with algae-resistant granules to combat stains that thrive in humid climates.
To keep all those employees focused and up to speed on new products, training is essential. Manufacturers are brought in to conduct seminars, although it’s probably fairly easy to convince someone to visit Hawaii. Michael Tory stays involved by serving as former president of the Hawaiian Roofing Contractors Association (HRCA) and board member of the Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA).
Safety takes up a significant amount of the training curriculum. Each year the HRCA hosts a three-hour fall protection workshop that is mandatory for employees. Tory’s Roofing is also the first in Hawaii to qualify for the Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) through OSHA. The program recognizes small employers who operate an exemplary safety and health management system.
The results are lower workers’ compensation rates and an experience modification factor at an all-time low. The safety message is further reinforced during company dinners where whole families learn about the importance of safety. When a wife reminds her husband to tie off before he leaves for work, the culture of safety is evident, and if the message doesn’t sink in, Tory fires employees after three safety warnings.
“We act like OSHA to our own employees,” he explained.
ARM ProAnother way to keep busy is a maintenance program the company launched a few years ago. All Roof Maintenance (ARM) Pro is being promoted to property managers as a cost-effective way to manage roofing assets. After getting a pressure wash and patching leaks, the roof is recoated and given a warranty, even if Tory didn’t install the original roof.
“Most roofers won’t guarantee somebody else’s work, but we will. This will take care of any leaks up front,” said Tory. “Every roof is different. A roof might not even qualify at all.”
The company will offer warranties against leaks from one to 10 years. The annual fee includes two inspections a year with written reports, but the most important part of the program is peace of mind. With crews that can waterproof the entire building envelope, Tory is willing to take on projects where leaks from other trades would send other roofing contractors running. Still, there’s a dose of reality when the job is done.
“We tell our customers not to get caught up in the warranty,” he said. The reward for a company that stands behinds its work is that it is often the only bidder when it comes time to replace the roof, Tory noted. “We’ve already got our foot in the door.”
There are hundreds of roofing contractors in Hawaii who keep the competition as hot as the afternoon sun, but Tory’s Roofing is thriving - the company was voted the “Best Roofing Contractor” three years in a row by the readers of the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper. Through a mixture of reputation, repairs and versatility, Tory’s Roofing has come up with its own potent concoction to thrive in paradise.