Contractors are always looking for an edge, and when they find a product that helps them do the job better, faster or more efficiently, they usually embrace it. Roofing Contractor asked some contractors to share their insights on the tools that have helped their companies increase productivity.
Jason Berry is president of E3 Roofing, which specializes in providing national storm recovery assistance. He says the most important tool his company uses isn’t made of steel or rubber: it’s the EagleView Report by EagleView Technologies.
“EagleView invented the concept of measuring from the sky and developed its proprietary software, which provides detailed measurements that offer the highest accuracy and precision available,” Berry said. “With EagleView’s system, roofing contractors can significantly improve roof measurement accuracy which dramatically reduces cost and time while increasing profitability.”
Berry said EagleView Reports are the tool E3 Roofing, headquartered in Kansas City, Kan., depends on to deliver accurate loss summary estimates as the company works with insurance providers to expedite a customer’s repair process.
“No matter the size, 15 squares to 5,000 squares, we always pull an EagleView Report,” Berry said. “We have been with the company since the beginning, and it is the accuracy of their reports and our ability to promote that accuracy with our E3 national team that keeps accelerating our sales. The repeatable accuracy of their system combined with our repeatable process allows us to almost eliminate material shortages or overages from every installation.”
New computer technology is also helping contractors who install metal roofing systems. Teal Brothers Roofing in Sidney, Mont., does a lot of metal work, and Dexter Teal credits the Schlebach Quadro Cinco with greatly increasing production and installation efficiency on metal projects. Teal purchased the machine last summer from MetalForming as soon as it was available.
“We have machine No. 1,” he said. “The first one they delivered. The reason we made the investment was we needed to increase productivity on the job. The Quadro Cinco gave us the ability to cut angles, and the notching feature saves us a lot of time. The whole point was to make our process more efficient.”
The Computer Integrated Metal Roof Manufacturing (CRIM) System and TopView software make entering the data easy, noted Teal, which is especially helpful with oddly shaped roof sections with difficult angles. “On an average roof project, we have seven people on the roof - and two are cutting and notching. It replaces the task of two people, and it cuts down on waste. It’s also a good thing for our labor force. It’s attractive to younger people coming up in the business that want that type of challenge.”
Some tools are great because they stand the test of time. The most notable tool used by Kearns Brothers Inc. for the past decade has been the Hitachi Roofing Nail Gun. Shawn Dunnigan, vice president of Kearns Brothers in Dearborn, Mich., cited durability and low maintenance as reasons the company uses the Hitachi nail gun each day on the job. “With proper cleaning and lubrication they take care of themselves,” said Dunnigan. “From a durability standpoint, I have seen the tool slide off a roof and impact the ground. The roofer retrieved the tool and took it right back on the roof and started using it to install.”
Dunnigan, who has over 30 years of experience in the roofing industry, said the recoil on the Hitachi tool “is the best in the industry.”
“The recoil is the ability of the gun to set a nail and then reset the driver and shoot another nail,” he said. “The faster the recoil the more valuable the tool is to the roofer and the company.”
The nail gun is competitively priced and easy to service. “We can repair the tools ourselves and the parts are readily available around town,” Dunnigan said. “This cuts the downtime a tool will experience when it does need repair.”
Jeremiah Omer, President of Yorkstate Roofing Company Inc. in Buffalo, N.Y., credits the Roof Cutter from Garlock Equipment with speeding up installations by making it easier to tear off the existing roof.
“The cutter cuts in squares of 2-by-2 and can cut an area of 100 square feet every 3 to 5 minutes,” Omer said. “You can easily cut a 3,000- to 5,000-square-foot area in an hour. This then allows for quick removal with other equipment, such as a Rhino and Roof Carts.”
Omer said with 10 workers and the right equipment “you can tear off and lay back up water-tight anywhere between 20- to 100-square, depending on the system.”
Kelly Lea, Director of Operations for K Post Company in Dallas, said one of the most important tools his company uses is the SkyTrak forklift.
“We use it to load roofs and move and organize materials,” Lea said. “We currently have nine SkyTraks that vary from a reach of 36 feet, 42 feet and 54 feet. These are basically extendable forklifts that have a clear height reach.”
K Post Company can run up to 30 projects at any given time, and they use the SkyTrak lifts to move debris from roof surfaces, unload supplier trucks and stock material to each roof surface.
“We even use this equipment in our sheet metal and waterproofing operation by utilizing a safety basket for employees to work on side of buildings,” Lea said. “The use of this equipment is so important to us we are in the process of adding two more units to our fleet. We utilize a number of different pieces of specialty equipment and tools, but the SkyTrak is one piece of equipment we use on the vast majority of all our jobs.”
Dave Matson is the second-generation owner of Matson’s Roofing and Remodeling in Washington Courthouse, Ohio. He’s been in the roofing industry 16 years, and the tool that has helped him increase productivity the most is the Rapid Roof Remover. It’s an American-made lightweight pneumatic tool that removes shingles with a 30–inch blade. It was invented by Duke Willis.
“A year and a half ago a big storm went through here, and Duke was asking roofers to try out his product,” said Matson. “He dropped by the jobsite and said we could use one for the day. By the time that day was over we’d bought two of them.”
Matson said the product greatly increases the productivity of his residential crews. “One guy on the roof with that machine can replace three guys with shovels,” he said, noting he also uses the unit to remove flooring. “It’s durable,” he said. “The best way to use it is to abuse it. I’ve never even needed to have it serviced.”
Tools that increase worker safety are always a great investment, said George Riddiford, President of Riddiford Roofing in Arlington Heights, Ill. He said the new AES Raptor Fall Protection System is an easy means for ensuring fall protection.
“Great equipment,” Riddiford said of the Raptor. “Hondas and trays make life easier for the men to move materials and debris around the roof areas.”
Riddiford also said the Comet Tracker GPS-based wireless business solution software is the way to go to track worker’s time. “Scan in and scan out on the jobsite,” he said. “It is fair to the workers and fair to the company.”
Lawrence J. Tansey, vice president of Tans Quality Roofing Inc. in Chicago, said Milwaukee and Makita tools are two of his favorite brands, but he still has a preference for day-to-day operations.
“My favorite tools are my computer and BlackBerry phone,” Tansey said. “It keeps me connected to our customers, employees, suppliers and contacts.”