Rolling on the River
When Roofing Contractor asked Bennett Hutchison III what he liked best about the new home he and his wife, Gayle, were constructing in Atlanta, he answered without hesitation, “The river … it’s just so peaceful.”
When Roofing Contractor asked Bennett Hutchison III what he liked best about the new home he and his wife, Gayle, were constructing in Atlanta, he answered without hesitation, “The river … it’s just so peaceful.” The river is the Chattahoochee River that runs from northeastern Georgia through Metropolitan Atlanta and strikes much of the border between Alabama and Georgia on its way to the Gulf of Mexico, passing through the panhandle of Florida.
The Chattahoochee was anything but peaceful on Sept. 21, 2009. That was the day that the river crested at close to 30 feet, destroying the original Hutchison home constructed on its picturesque bank. A combination of decades of rapid growth in the counties north of Atlanta coupled with 24 hours of torrential rains and other factors conspired to yield what the U.S. Geological Survey described as a “500-year flood.”
Hutchison is president of Tip Top Roofers Inc., Smyrna, Ga. It would take another feature article to chronicle his accomplishments in the roofing industry that include running Tip Top Roofers since taking over from his father 30 years ago. Hutchison has served in key positions of several state and local roofing industry associations, as well as the National Roofing Contractors Association, of which he is a past president.
Tip Top Roofers was founded by Hutchison’s grandfather, Bennett Hutchison Sr., in 1923 as a residential roofing concern. The second generation was led by Hutchison’s father, Bennett Hutchison Jr., uncle Guy Hutchison, and their partner, William F. “Scoop” Scupine. The trio guided the enterprise into the commercial arena and grew sales to $3 million per year. Hutchison III and his associates grew the firm into a preeminent commercial firm that boasts marquee roofing projects such as the headquarters for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and the Georgia State Capitol Building. Tip Top Roofers was ahead of the curve when it established a separate repair division back in 1982. Today, Tip Top Roofers Service Corporation serves as a completely separate enterprise and is the focus of Hutchison’s future business growth plans.
We cannot really introduce you to Bennett Hutchison without telling you about some of his other pursuits. Hutchison is a big game hunter, and the Tip Top Roofers offices are full of an impressive array of trophies, most notably the “Big Four” of the Antelope species (actually only three so far - number four will be sought next year in Zambia). It is no wonder that Bennett and Gayle chose to move from the suburbs to live in the (typically) peaceful and natural surroundings of this riverside estate. Here they can enjoy the amenities of city life while sheltered from city noise in a place where their neighbors include hawks, ducks and mountain trout. The decision to rebuild was almost instantaneous.
Rebuilding on the Site
The couple struck a deal that has Gayle keeping an eye on the business while Bennett sees to the construction of the new home that is being built 50 feet back from the river as required by the prevailing code. The old home was built only a few feet from the bank, a practice which was not uncommon at the time of the original construction.
Hutchison tapped his good friend, Jim Chisolm, to perform the design work and architect Michael Glass to put plans for the new home into place. The home, necessarily built on concrete pilings high above the river bank, fits in perfectly with its surroundings. Despite being located only a few miles from downtown Atlanta, the home is situated at the end of a cul-de-sac and is surrounded by a canopy of old-growth trees. The river views are unspoiled by anything manmade. The exterior appointments include heavy cedar shakes and natural and cultured stone with stucco trim. With the green metal roof the structure will virtually melt into its natural surroundings upon completion.
Making great use of the elevation of the structure, the home will feature a sizable garage area on the ground level as well as a generous patio/deck. There are expansive river views from the main rooms on the two upper levels. Rooms on both levels feature broad doors that will open fully to decks creating a fusion of the interior with nature.
As with any home, none of the interior features will last without a great roof overhead. The Hutchisons’ choice was a structural standing-seam Pac Clad 24 GA galvanized, pre-finished metal roof in Forest Green. Mid-States Asphalt Quik-Stick HT, designed primarily for metal and tile roofs, was chosen to provide the primary layer of waterproofing protection. No surprise that Tip Top Roofers was chosen as the roofing contractor on this project.
C.A. Cobb, a 38-year Tip-Top veteran, is the sheet metal superintendent, and he took a personal interest in this project. Randy “Bubba” Russell was lead foreman/crew chief on the job. Around 30 percent of Tip Top’s business volume is in metal roofing and roofing-related sheet metal work, so this was not a stretch for the experienced team.
Tip Top is equipped with a Schlebach Quadro roll-forming system so the choice was made to roll the panels on the jobsite. The Quadro system is marketed in North America by MetalForming, Inc. of Peachtree City, Georgia. MetalForming furnishes a wide variety of sheet metal forming equipment and specializes in computer-operated folding, shearing, and roll-forming equipment. Tip Top employs several other MetalForming machines in their sheet metal operations. Prior to construction, Hutchison and MetalForming’s owner, Geoff Stone, got together to discuss the project. Stone offered to make this a demonstration project of his newest roll-forming system - the Schlebach Quadro Cinco with its computer-integrated roof manufacturing (CIRM) system. The two agreed and invited Roofing Contractor to the site to see how it all came together.
Computer-integrated manufacturing is not new, and has been used in other industries for four decades. CIRM is, however, new to jobsite fabrication of metal roofing panels. The idea of CIRM is to take a roof plan and convert it to a 3-D digitized roof plan in TopView software. The as-built dimensions of the roof are fed into the computer and the machine produces the panels notched, trimmed, and cut to the precise dimension for installation.
To break all this down for us, Dale Kroskey, vice president of product development for MetalForming, oversaw the demonstration project. He was joined by Joe Lilly, owner of SpecWise, exclusive provider of TopView software. Stone was there to answer questions and provide color commentary for the entire process. No pressure, but we do not think this homeowner is going to accept any sub-par work.
State-of-the-Art Roll Forming
The Quadro Cinco complete with the CIRM capability is trailer-mounted. It begins with a decoiler system followed by the computer-automated notching system. The computer is mounted on the outboard side of the trailer and features touch-screen technology and a rugged casing designed for worksite applications. The plan data is fed into the computer from the host computer by way of a common flash drive and USB port.
Next comes the conventional roll-forming system (the Quadro is not really “conventional,” but that is another story). For this project, a 13/4-inch structural standing seam panel was formed. At the end of the system there is a finishing station that consists of a shear mounted on a swivel base and a computerized display station. The display tells the system operator where to dial in the angle for the panel being formed. The software tells the computer the exact dimensions of the panel, where to notch the panel, and at what angle to cut the panel.
The demonstration began with the forming of the panels for a small hip section on the rear of the home. The roof design on the front of the home is relatively simple with only a couple of valleys. The roof on the rear of the home features multiple valleys running in multiple directions with hips and is just generally “cut up.” This kind of detail is where CIRM will prove the most valuable. The more complex and labor intensive the project, the more the system will save in labor and wasted material.
With the roof plan loaded into the TopView software, the crew measured the as-built dimensions and fed them into the system. When finished panels went to the roof the only preparation for them was done on the ground, and that was forming the hem on the leading edge of the panels. The panels were otherwise ready, cut to the exact length and angle as required on the roof deck.
For a fairly complex set of moving parts, the resulting product sounds very simple. It is, but it takes some training to operate both the TopView software and the CIRM system. Both firms offer complete training packages and online support. MetalForming will soon offer their CIRM users direct links from the machine in the field to the support team in the company headquarters in Peachtree City, Ga.
When all was said and done the demonstration project went well. According to Hutchison the primary challenge on this construction project is the elevation. All the construction, not just the roof, is above ground. He personally sees to it that there is 100 percent fall protection for all workers on the project.
The CIRM system performed as advertised. Hutchison and the Tip Top team was pleased overall and as part of the demonstration learned a thing or two about the ins and outs of CIRM. Hutchison commented that CIRM is like any computer-operated system: “Garbage in, garbage out.” He learned that it is vital to get all the flashings and locking strips in and locked into place before making the final measurements and to “measure twice - cut once.” With the proper measurements the panels all just fall into place without having to make cuts and adjustments on the roof. That saves time and increases the safety factor on the roof.
Hutchison says the CIRM is “the wave of the future,” and the software “makes it possible to radically reduce your labor.” Even though this was a very small project by Tip Top Roofers’ standards, he could see how the CIRM would greatly enhance labor savings and reduce waste on a large-scale commercial metal roofing project.
Geoff Stone is likewise convinced that the CIRM system is very much the future of jobsite metal forming. His firm continues to invest significant R&D time and dollars into the system which, as he says, is just beginning. The CIRM system in its present stage has been on the market just over a year but enhancements are already on the way. These enhancements will be easily added to existing CIRM units by way of software upgrades and an emerging system that will utilize laser technology to measure as-built dimensions on site that will load directly into the TopView software - all without getting on a ladder.
Now that the roof is complete, the remaining construction on the Hutchison’s project may proceed unabated. Within a few months’ time the noise of power lifts, drills, and saws will subside. And finally the Hutchisons, the hawks, the ducks, and the mountain trout will all be reunited in their peaceful riverside estate.
Tip Top Roofers installs a structural standing-seam metal roof using state-of-the-art roll forming techniques. In this video, MetalForming’s Geoff Stone explains the Computer-Integrated Roof Manufacturing System (CIRM) that fabricates the panels for the roof.
For more information about Tip Top Roofers, visit www.tiptoproofers.com. For more information about MetalForming, visit www.metalforming-usa.com. For more information about TopView Software, visit www.topviewsoftware.com.