A good tool can mean incremental increases in efficiency that can add up to big money over time. A great tool can mean huge letaps in productivity. The best tools make you shudder at the thought of going back to the way things were before they were invented.

Roofing Contractorspoke with some contractors who shared their insights about the equipment and tools that make their lives easier and their companies more productive.

Dan Johnson is vice president of operations at Wayne’s Roofing, Inc., headquartered in Sumner, Wash. The company handles a lot of large commercial jobs, and crew members have come to count on the AccuTrac system from OMG Roofing Products. AccuTrac is an automated insulation attachment system that places the insulation plate in place as the laborer drives in the fastener without having to bend over.

“The AccuTrac tool provides many benefits,” Johnson noted. “The friendly ergonomics of this tool make it easy for field personnel to operate by allowing them to fasten insulation and membrane while in an upright position. Given the ease of installation and the ergo-friendly design, it lessens fatigue of our installers, making them more efficient for longer periods of time.”

And saving time means saving money. “There is no doubt that the AccuTrac system saves money in installation costs, making projects more profitable,” said Johnson. “By speeding up installation times, you reduce the amount of tie offs, trips to the job, and daily mobilizations — all of which save money and increase profitability.”

Jared Ewart is the general manager of Allied Roofing Co. in Santa Anna, Calif. His company specializes in commercial roofing and restoration, with built-up roofs, single ply and coatings making up the largest percentage of their work. Ewart has high praise for the mops and brushes from Kirby Fiberglass. “When it comes to built-up roofs, the Kirby fiberglass mop performs better than any other option out there,” he said. “They last a long time and work really well in the field. The workers like using them. Running a mop is tough work and that’s a lot of weight you’re pushing around in the field, so the easier it is to work with, the better it is.”

The company uses Kirby’s fiberglass brushes when applying their roof coating systems. “We use fiberglass brushes to apply acrylics and emulsions and embed the polyester into the base coat,” he said, “They are light and easy to work with and do a great job. They are the only effective option for the application of parapet walls. We don’t want to spray in those situations because we don’t want to take the chance of overspray. And the brushes are re-usable — you can just rinse them with water and re-use them, while with other brushes you’re basically throwing them away at the end of the day.”

Ron Ratliffe is vice president of purchasing at Baker Roofing Company in Raleigh, N.C. He points to BAK welders from Hapco Tools as the most indispensable tools his company uses. “We use both BAK RiOn hand-held and LarOn robotic welders for our TPO and PVC single-ply projects,” he said. “We consider both to be favorites.”

They have proven durable and efficient on the job and increased efficiency, noted Ratliffe. “Grouping labor costs, time savings, and efficiencies together, we improve our production as the LarOn robotic welder in particular has features that contribute to each of these: chain drive vs. belt drive; lifetime milled aluminum frame vs. an assembled frame; more analog features and fewer high-priced circuit boards that can fail under extreme conditions in the harsh environments encountered in roofing projects.”

Ratliffe noted that the tool performs well and the company who services it has been responsive as well. “The partnership that we have built with Hapco on the sales/service/repair on our welding equipment cannot be matched,” he said. “By eliminating downtown for replacing elements, filters, and other parts, we stay committed to our production schedules without having to wait for our equipment to be repaired or replaced.”

Larry Smith of Smitty’s Construction in Greenville, Ohio, credits the Rapid Roof Remover for more than doubling his productivity by greatly speeding up residential tear-offs. “That machine made me money on Day 1,” he said. “I’m surprised more people don’t have them. It works well on three layers, two layers, one layer. And I’ve never had a problem. It just keeps truckin’. It’s durable. You just can’t tear it up.”

The Rapid Roof Remover is easy to use and maintenance is minimal, noted Smith. “I just put a drop of oil on it,” he said. “The only other thing you have to do is clean the wheels off.”

Smith says the Rapid Roof Remover is his “favorite tool of all time — by far.” “I wish I had it years ago,” he said. “You can’t beat it and you can’t outwork it, that’s for sure.”

Lyster Contracting in Kalamazoo, Mich., does a variety of work, including roofing, siding, gutters, windows and doors. Nick Loll, a jobsite supervisor and salesman for the company, points to the Tapco 10-foot, 6-inch brake and accessories as his favorite tools.

“The combination of the stand, brake, sidewinder and cut-off tool make wrapping windows or doing custom brake work on homes easy,” he said.

The brake is easy to set up and use, and it helps increase efficiency, noted Loll. “The Tapco brake is a clean and smooth-working tool,” he said. “It cuts down on labor with the ease of use, and with the setup there is less wasted material. By saving time we are able to save money and be more efficient on each job we sell.”

Of course, tools don’t have to be made of iron and steel to be effective. Joe Graham, an estimator with Collis Roofing in Orlando, Fla., cites EagleView aerial measurement reports as the greatest tool in his arsenal. “It’s basically taken the place of my tape measure,” he said. “It saves us a lot of time on the roofs getting cooked in the summertime, and it gives us more time to talk to the customer. It changes the whole sales process for the better.”

The EagleView report itself is a great sales tool, noted Graham. “It brings the roof right down to the dining room table,” he said. “Every day we get customers who say we are the most detailed company out there.”

Salesmen at Collis use iPads to upload the program, show it to customers and draw right on it to note where vents will go, etc. “The customers see their house and know exactly how it will look. It brings them right into the process,” he said. “It’s been a great tool for us. Our sales have been up the last two years, and we continue to grow.”