Roofing contractors are essential workers whether in the commercial or residential market, but there’s little they can do to expand their business with COVID-19 health concerns and supply-line issues that aren’t expected to get much better before 2022. Enter a new opportunity for roofers looking to get into the roof coatings niche.

RC recently caught up with Dan Quinonez, executive director of the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA), and Chadwick Collins, RCMA technical director, to explore how the coatings market can help shape the roofing industry’s future in both the short- and long-term.

RC: How would you describe the state of the roof coatings market today?

RCMA: Like most of the roofing industry, the coating market has recovered well from the COVID-19 pandemic. Roof coatings is a strong sector of the roofing industry right now, and demand is high. Building owners and managers are realizing that roof coatings are a cost-effective and energy efficient way to extend the life of a roof. Industry surveys have shown that roof coatings systems are a key component in a roofing contractor’s portfolio.

RC: How are your members positioned as we try to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic?

RCMA: The pandemic shifted our priorities and allowed us to focus on items that had been deemed “lower priority” in the past. As we emerge from COVID-19, it’s a balancing act to continue focusing on these new priorities while also pivoting back to activities that were not possible or not allowed during the pandemic.

Stress in this sector also multiplies the complexity of the path forward. Issues from before the pandemic like the labor shortage have been exacerbated, and we also have new, post-pandemic problems to consider like materials shortages.

RC: How has the widespread supply-chain disruption affecting the construction industry impacted the coatings world?

RCMA: Supply chain impacts for roof coatings are similar to other sectors of the market. Raw materials sourcing is a concern, as well as logistics for sourcing and fulfilling orders.

RC: Can you touch on the top issues your members are concerned about?

RCMA: Supply chain is top-of-mind. If production costs increase, there is worry about these costs being passed on to the contractor. This is not ideal for all parties.

Regulatory instability is also on our radar. There is proposed regulatory action on multiple fronts that can drastically change what have been otherwise stable areas for the industry. Some of these regulations are also impacting the supply chain, which exacerbates the other issues we are facing.

RC: The RCMA is continuing its focus on training. Can you talk about your program(s) and goals?

RCMA: The RCMA is developing a three-lesson technical course to educate roofing professionals on roof coating technology and best practices. This is slated to launch in early 2022. Our overall goal is to provide a training program focused on the current state of the roof coatings industry that is affordable, impactful, and effective.

RC: How important is the push for a federal infrastructure program to the roof coatings market?

RCMA: We expect the infrastructure plan to be a boon for the overall construction industry, which trickles back to the roof coatings sector as well. As infrastructure discussions continue to include a focus on energy efficiency, this is an ideal time for roof coatings to be positioned as an energy efficient option for roofs.

RC: It appears that the industry continues to push the envelope on creating “greener” alternatives in a quest for a circular economy. Can you explain how the coatings manufacturers are contributing to this conversation?

RCMA: While much of the green initiatives are looking at new products and products being installed on new buildings, roof coatings allow for a greener option for existing buildings. This extends a roof’s life cycle instead of necessitating a full roof replacement while greener products continue to be developed.

RC: What are you proudest of from your organization (members) and industry as a whole while enduring these uncertain times?

RCMA: We are proud that RCMA is in a stronger position than we previously were. The pandemic has allowed us to engage our members in new ways and to greater degrees, which has resulted in more active participation and more cohesive action at the direction of our members.