National Business Development Manager
Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc.
The supply chain issues impacting the roofing industry following the COVID-19 pandemic have eased and though record inflation still persists, it has started to slow.
While economic uncertainty is rarely good news for roofers, there is an opportunity for contractors looking to capitalize on perceived fears of stalled capital expenditures by focusing on coatings.
RC asked several leaders in the roof coatings space about the state of the coatings market, the opportunities for roofing contractors, and what their companies are planning for the future. Here’s what Kyle Stavish, National Business Development Manager with Mule-Hide Products Co. Inc., had to say.
RC: How would you describe the state of the roof coatings market today?
KS: Sales of roof coatings continue to grow significantly faster than other roofing products and silicone coatings continue to lead the way by a wide margin. More and more building owners recognize that roof restoration is a smart investment in their properties and good for the environment.
And insurance companies are becoming more open to approving a roof restoration. They have a better understanding of and greater confidence in coatings. So, when responding to storm damage or reviewing a policy for renewal, they’re asking whether the roof can be coated rather than replaced.
RC: How does your company or key product fit into that discussion?
KS: Our coating business continues to grow year-over-year and – reflecting industry-wide trends – it continues to grow faster than other roofing products. We are well-stocked and have the inventory to meet that increasing demand.
We offer a range of coatings types to meet any need, including silicone and acrylic. All of them deliver industry-leading performance and durability and are backed by warranties that are on par with those offered by other industry leaders.
RC: Are you still feeling any impacts of the materials shortage? What lessons were learned?
KS: Thankfully, we rode that wave and are well-stocked. Coatings continue to grow in market share, and we are fully prepared to meet that demand. The industry will still undergo some stabilization in the back half of this year. Supply and demand are in the process of coming back into balance.
RC: What are the chief misconceptions about coatings in the roofing market today?
KS: Many contractors consider coatings as new roofing systems, like TPO, EPDM, PVC and modified bitumen. They are not new roofing systems. [Coatings] are restoration products. They will bring an aging, but still-sound, roof to near-new condition, extending its life, sprucing up its appearance, providing a fresh warranty, and potentially enhancing its energy efficiency.
They are not “miracles in a bucket” that will magically breathe new life into a roofing system that is unsound or has unsolved underlying issues. The only way to overcome this misconception is for manufacturers to provide effective contractor training. That is a big emphasis for us.
RC: What other challenges do you foresee impacting the coatings market in the next year?
KS: There is a big need for contractor training. We’ve seen a surge of interest in training from contractors who did a project or two over the past few years when supplies of other roofing products were limited.
They had a good experience and now want coatings to be a regular part of their businesses. They want to be trained and approach coatings with the same professionalism they have in every other area of their businesses.
RC: What is the message to contractors not in the coatings market?
KS: What are you waiting for? That particularly applies to those who have built their businesses around the insurance industry. In the past, insurance companies would either deny a claim or insist that the roof be torn off and replaced. Coatings have now entered the conversation. Insurance companies are recognizing that coatings chemistry has evolved and that fluid-applied systems are durable, flexible and dependable while also costing much less and causing far less disruption than replacing a roof. As a result, coatings will continue to gain prominence in negotiated and insurance work.
RC: How are you contributing to the sustainability/resiliency conversation in roofing?
KS: We continue to prioritize sustainability and providing products that are durable, high-performance and environmentally friendly.
A big emphasis industry-wide continues to be developing silicone coatings that are nearly VOC-free. The industry spent several years seeking alternatives to parachlorobenzotrifluoride (PCBTF), which has been the solvent of choice in coatings for more than 20 years. That research did not produce the necessary solutions. Manufacturers continue to put pressure on chemical companies to find or invent an alternative.
A big environmental advancement has occurred in Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) insulation. All SPF products being developed now feature more environmentally friendly hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agents, rather than the previous hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blowing agents. Coatings and SPF are used together, so this is a signal that we as an industry are not only moving away from VOCs, but continuing to innovate away from products that are environmentally unsustainable or are not renewable.
RC: What are you proudest of about your organization in 2023?
KS: The last several years have been volatile in our industry. I am most proud of how our team has delivered industry-leading customer service to help our contractors navigate that turbulence and succeed.
RC: What are your biggest concerns looking ahead?
KS: The roofing industry needs to attract a new generation of competent professionals, including contractors, manufacturers representatives and distributor salespeople. We continue to construct new buildings and rehab old ones, and we need to ensure there are people around who can service those roofs in the future. We need energetic, driven, capable individuals to join the industry and take on that role.