The sense of promise and optimism that most in and around the roofing industry felt at the start of 2020 took a severe blow as the COVID-19 crisis enveloped the globe. While roofing contractors carve a new path forward with a renewed focus, they won’t do it on their own.
Manufacturers, suppliers and other industry stakeholders are updating their own business practices while learning to navigate through and beyond these unparalleled times. Yet their focus remains on providing the products and service solutions to the day-to-day problems roofing contractors encounter while trying to help their businesses grow.
Each year, Roofing Contractor editors compare notes and highlight the new products and services that could play an important role in the roofing industry going forward with our Editor’s Choice awards. The nominees are selected from products released within the past year. Assigning value to them may be up for debate, but there’s little doubt that these are the top tools and best services the industry has to offer roofing contractors of all sizes and specialties. Here are our Editor’s Choice honorees for 2020.
Timberline HDZ • GAF
After two years of development and testing, GAF has combined all the benefits of one of its top-selling shingles with its LayerLock technology. This process mechanically fuses the common bond in Timberline HDZ shingles to offer a new StrikeZone nailing area — a nearly two-inch zone that is 600% larger versus Timberline HD shingles. And they added the industry’s first “no-wind-limit” warranty.
Roofing contractors can now offer homeowners a GAF WindProven™ limited wind warranty, the first wind warranty for roofing shingles with no maximum wind speed limit, when installing GAF shingles with LayerLock technology and four qualifying GAF accessories.
The buzz created by the product unveil and live demonstrations in February on the show floor of the 2020 International Roofing Expo (IRE) in Dallas carried through the first quarter, making company officials very confident about GAF’s prospects not only in the post COVID-19 era, but in how they view product development going forward.
“The Timberline HDZ has been a huge success,” GAF President Jim Schnepper told RC in March. “When we thought about this, it was in response to help contractors with the labor-savings issue in roofing. What was amazing to me was how excellent of a product it was and there were a lot of side benefits — the weight of shingles, the speed that they could install this in. It was more than we ever thought when we started and I think you’ll see more iterations of this. We’re committed to making sure that this format continues on.”
WIP Grip • Carlisle Construction Materials LLC
Awarded New Best Residential Roofing Product at the IRE 2020, Carlisle’s WIP GRIP Premium Shingle Underlayment features a slip-resistant top film that improves roofers’ safety on wet and dry installations. Usually known for its innovation in the commercial roofing sector, Carlisle shows its range here with a product that’s a flexible, 55-mil-thick, rubberized asphalt, fiberglass-reinforced membrane. It can be used on critical roof areas such as eaves, ridges, valleys, dormers, and skylights; it may also be used as covering for the entire roof to prevent moisture or water entry.
Company officials celebrated the successful product launch by touting the hard work that went into taking a new product from one of Carlisle Construction Materials’ smaller divisions and turning it into one of the more popular products on show floor. This year’s Best New Product contest at the IRE was opened up to all show attendees, allowing them to vote on the most impactful products for the first time.
It was even more gratifying to see roofing contractors and other people in the roofing industry not only recognize the product, but take direct action to point it out.
“It tells me the attendees are really tuned into the product,” said Carlisle Marketing Communications Manager Jason Mortelliti. “It’s innovative, different and we were very proactive in promoting it.”
EdgeSeal • IKO
EdgeSeal is a double-sided, self-sealing adhesive starter roll designed to bond shingles to the roof deck at the roof’s most vulnerable area — its perimeter. It serves as an upgrade option for contractors, providing a higher-quality installation as well as the critical protection required to keep a roof secure during extreme weather events.
It’s compatible with all IKO shingle lines and designed for roof perimeter sealing installed at both the eave and rake edges. The double-sided adhesive bonds tight to both the drip edge and/or underlayment below and the first course of the laminate asphalt/fiberglass shingle above.
“Across North America, strong wind storms are becoming increasingly common, often inflicting the most severe damage on roof rake edges,” said Mark Okland, IKO’s product development manager, North America. “IKO created EdgeSeal in response to the need for better-performing roof systems. . . to provide homeowners added peace of mind when it comes to preventing blow-offs from high winds and helping ensure that the perimeter of the home’s roof is secure.”
Leister Unidrive 500 • Leister
The new UNIDRIVE 500 is an easy-to-operate, semi-automatic, hot-air welding machine that combines hand and automatic welding in one. With a single compact device, roofing contractors can weld two to three times faster than with traditional hand welding when working close to the edge or in tight areas.
Other features include a digital display that enables users to keep control and change drive direction from left to right, or vice versa, with ease. A specially-developed sensor ensures constant parameters, enabling roofers to achieve thorough and high-quality welds, even at low voltages.
Lock Jaw Ladder Grip
Named the Best New Tool and Equipment Product winner at the IRE 2020, the Lock Jaw Ladder Grip offers enhanced safety and peace of mind for roofing contractors on the jobsite. Its patented jaw mechanism locks and stabilizes ladders in place in seconds and is easy to use on either side of the ladder. The brainchild of contractors from Australia, this product has a global reputation that is now just entering North America.
“It’s been such a rush to see so many people respond to a new safety product,” said Craig Charlton, director of Australia-based Lock Jaw Ladder Grip company. “My father and I made this product for the everyday worker to stay safe, and to see many of them stopping by to tell us how they’re using it is really gratifying.”
With falls from heights again leading the way for reported fatalities and serious injuries on construction sites around the country, it should be no surprise that more than one ladder-safety device made this year’s list.
The Sten Step is an all-aluminum, heavy duty safety device eliminating the dangerous 2.5-inch offset on extension ladders. By bridging the offset with a Sten Step, a roofing contractor doesn’t have to focus on stepping over the change in plane when moving from the lower to the ladder’s fly section.
Lightweight at just over 4 pounds, it can travel anywhere and poses little risk to roofers moving around jobsites. Designed by Paul Stentiford, a state-certified general contractor in Florida for more than three decades, the revolutionary device works to eliminate workplace accidents. Stentiford said he thought of the idea after watching his father, also a long-time licensed contractor, nearly miss the offset from an extension ladder. He spent three years developing and testing the prototype, which now has two U.S. patents.
Werner Blue Armor Fall Protection Harness • Werner
Werner launched an upgrade to its Blue Armor Fall Protection Harness in late 2019 with a design for both enhanced safety and comfort. The main new addition is a patented relief handle for proven post-fall performance. In the event of a fall, these harnesses will help roofing contractors reach a gravity override position, which will then relieve pressure on their femoral arteries while awaiting rescue.
“We recognize the critical need for professionals wearing fall protection harnesses to either be able to self-rescue or put themselves in a safe position while the rescue occurs,” said Eric Miller, director of product management – fall protection for Werner. “Our new harnesses now can be manipulated in a post-fall condition.”
In the past, fall protection equipment was specifically designed to stop a fall from happening, but generally not equipped to perform in a post-fall situation with the safety of the roofer in mind. The result can be dangerous as suspension trauma for a fall victim can be overlooked in the potential chaos during a roof rescue.
Without having to rely on emergency first responders try to minimize physical injuries to themselves or the fall victim, roofers can now use the easy-to-grab, patented relief handle built into the harness for immediate use. While hanging in suspension, users simply use their thumb or four fingers to shift their weight into a safe post-fall position to relieve pressure on their femoral arteries. The new handle is a bright blue color clearly distinguishable for quick access.
The added benefit of the OSHA-compliant fall protection harness is the comfort and fit. New padding with a breathable compression material was added to the interior, and a back strap helps with support. The waist pad also now has enhanced compression comfort so roofers can remain comfortable while strapped in tightly.
The Catch-All 2.0 • Catch-All
Cleaning up jobsites is often a pet peeve of roofing contractors — and their customers. Don’t do it, and you risk losing them, says Heath Hicks, owner of AVCO Roofing Inc. Driven by in-the-field experience and frustration, Hicks and his experienced team at the Texas-based residential roofing contractor developed the Catch-All.
The multi-purpose shield keeps roofing debris off of the homeowner’s landscaping, gutters, lawn and driveways, which Hicks believes prevents callbacks and ensures greater customer satisfaction when it comes to jobsite cleanliness. At the same time, it offers a unique marketing opportunity that puts the customary company yard sign to shame. The Catch-All offers custom banners where roofing contractors can promote their logo, company slogan, contact information, and many other possible branding opportunities.
Equipter RB4000; RB2500 • Equipter
Cleaning the worksite has never been as much “fun” for roofing contractors than when they’re working with the Equipter RB4000. The motorized trash and debris lift offers crews jobsite versatility that goes beyond just managing jobsite cleanliness. Roofers are using it to move tools and materials across sites more efficiently and safely.
The RB4000’s utility has expanded from the roofing industry into restoration, general contracting, and rental equipment markets, which enthuses company officials at their new headquarters in rural Pennsylvania. This year also marked the latest product offering since it introduced the “Roofer’s Buggy” — the RB4000’s predecessor — in 2004.
The Equipter RB2500 is a smaller, but still mighty device. It can be driven on sidewalks, avoiding the need to drive on many freshly manicured lawns, and also fits into alleyways with its width less than 4.5 feet.
Restoration contractors can remove debris from the first or second story of a building after a natural disaster, and roofers can manage 8 to 10 square of roofing debris at a time with this new piece of equipment. The RB2500 has a lift of up to 7 feet and a standard catch span of 3.75 feet. Its lightweight aluminum container holds up to 2,500 pounds.
Despite the emerging markets, roofers remain dear to the company’s heart — and bottom line — in these changing times.
“Even the (roofing contractors) without (the Equipter) know that in order to compete today, they need to somehow assure the homeowner that they’re going to protect their flowers and shrubbery,” Equipter Founder Aaron Beiler told RC in December. “It’s much more that way now than it was 20 years ago.”
Trash Rocket • Rocket Equipment
Built by roofing contractors, for roofing contractors, the Trash Rocket is engineered to help crews become and stay more productive on the jobsite. Touted as a breakthrough roof debris disposal system, it can deploy in minutes, allows more flexibility than dumpsters with no chute supports, and can double as an exit in case of an emergency.
More than just a trash chute, the Trash Rocket has a telescopic design that extends over landscaping and other decorative elements on the exterior of a home or business. It can be mounted and towed to jobsites, parked and broken down quickly for heading to the next job. Designers were also big on durability, adding a poly-lined hopper that allows for traditional roofing debris or longer, heavier materials such as sheet metal flashing.
The device is made of heavy-duty, corrosion resistant aluminum, and a powder-coated steel trailer lift mechanism. A battery-powered hydraulic lift with integrated charger will help roofers reach up to nearly 40 feet, with ample clearance.
FallTech for Tools • FallTech
There’s a lot that goes into roofing, but one could argue that a good roofing contractor is only as good as their tools. Certainly without them, roofers are no longer as effective, efficient and safe as they could be. During the height of the 2019 roofing season, FallTech for Tools unveiled a complete dropped-object prevention system that’s designed to limit injuries and create better worksites. The system is ANSI 121-2018 and ISEA compliant and offers a range of solutions that feature tool attachments, tool tethers, premium self-fusing no-heat tool tape, speed clip attachment tethers, a wrist anchor attachment system, and hard hat tethers.
The comprehensive program is designed to accommodate the most commonly used tools in roofing and other construction trades, including tools with captive eyes, open and closed handle tools and open and closed handle tools with triggers — including impact hammers, wrenches, screw drivers, spud wrenches, and power tools.
“The driving force behind this program is the over 230 fatalities a year as a result of dropped objects and equipment in the U.S. alone, making it the third leading cause of death in the workplace. That is approximately two fatalities every three days,” said Scott Miller, FallTech’s vice president of sales. “Now we are introducing quality designed and tested solutions to help prevent injuries as a result of dropped objects while keeping others and their fellow workers safe, as well.”
SumoQuote • SumoQuote
Earlier this year, SumoQuote announced a new partnership with CompanyCam, the photo app for roofing contractors that stores and organizes galleries in the cloud to make their photos accessible from anywhere in real time.
Besides helping a contractor build premium quotes in minutes, SumoQuote offers additional sales tools like e-signing, callback reminders and a sales dashboard. These tools, combined with CompanyCam, give roofing contractors a significant advantage over their competition.
“Photos directly included in a quote are key to help a client understand their project and ultimately win more work,” said Ryan Shantz, founder of SumoQuote. “We are excited about this partnership because of the central role that photos play in building a quote.”
myABCsupply Online Tool • ABC Supply Co. Inc.
MyABCsupply is the latest offering in the company’s continued focus on information technology services and tools that connect ABC Supply with its customers. This easy-to-use tool gives ABC Supply customers 24/7 access to view the status of their orders and deliveries, including delivery photos.
Duro-Last Roof Pavers • Duro-Last
Duro-Last took another positive step in the direction of roof sustainability with the introduction of its Duro-Last Roof Pavers. The heavy-duty, interlocking protective system shields roofing membranes from damage caused by foot traffic and maintenance work. But it’s not just your typical roofing product thanks to its aesthetic qualities that can be used for versatile rooftop settings.
Available in tan, terra cotta and gray, Duro-Last Roof Pavers are 24-inch by 24-inch PVC pavers designed to protect a variety of roofing systems. These heavy-duty pavers feature half-inch thick top and bottom layers, interlocking tabs and channels for water flow.
Aside from aesthetics and functionality, the pavers are eco-friendly as they’re made of 100% recycled vinyl. Roofing contractors concerned about the environment or their environmentally-conscious building managers are essentially recycling their own roofing membranes as they are being replaced.
The pavers are compatible with new and existing Duro-Last roofing installations and are hail resistant.
Advanced Polyset RTA-1 • ICP Building Solutions Group
Environmental regulations in roofing are getting tougher and in response, ICP offers Polyset® RTA-1, the latest advancement of its world-renowned roof tile adhesive product.
“We know that change is coming and requirements to comply to these regulations will be pressing in the coming years,” said Mojee Cline, vice president, ICP BSG Research & Development. “The new Polyset RTA-1 contains a compliant, ultralow global warming potential blowing agent to help companies and contractors alike stay a step ahead.”
Polyset RTA-1 is a one-component polyurethane adhesive specifically designed to bond concrete and clay roofing tiles to approved underlayment on new construction and repair work. The new formulation offers improved performance, including faster application with improved bead control, giving many additional advantages over the use of traditional fastening methods such as mortar, nails, screws or other one-component adhesives.
Non-Halogenated ACFoam Roof Insulation • Atlas
Atlas grew its product lines and investment in technology across divisions in 2019 with the acquisition of ACH Foam Technologies. Atlas Polyiso Roof & Wall Insulation Division introduced its new non-halogenated ACFoam® roof insulation as a more sustainable insulation solution free of halogenated flame retardants that meets specifications to be Living Building Challenge “Red List Free.” It’s touted as a good fit for residential contractors seeking environmentally-friendly roofing insulation.
All seven of the Non-Hal products are available nationwide and received a Declare label from the International Living Future Institute. Atlas Non-Hal ACFoam products are also California Department of Public Health (CDPH) VOC emissions compliant and can help toward gaining LEED v4 credit requirements.