THE INDUSTRIAL INSIDER Podcast S2E4: Roofing It To Success
Featuring Elite Roofing Contractors Limited President Howard Glowinsky
JG: Hello, I am Jonathan Gorenstein, and welcome to the Industrial Insider. My guest today will be talking about roofing. As you know, it’s a hot topic Considering the recent storms we’ve had and property damages, it’s always a topic of discussion. Did you know roofs and parking lots are a huge factor for people looking to buy and lease properties? Roofs can collapse a deal at any point.
My guest today is Howard Glowinsky, president of Elite Roofing. Welcome to the podcast, Howard.
HG: Thank you Jon, good to see you again.
JG: Thank you, you as well. Why don’t we start off with a little bit about what types of services you offer, and then we’ll go from there.
HG: Okay, our space is with the commercial industrial market, so we deal with landlords, property managers, contractors, and project managers, both with new projects and replacement of roofs with expire. So whether it’s someone with 20 of the expected life of a roof and a single layer roof will have to get replaced. We do service installation work and repairs as well, and due diligence for brokerage communities and for others.
JG: So for example, a client ties up a building, under contract during due diligence, they will call you and you essentially assess the roof and give them your report.
HG: As you mentioned earlier, roofs and parking lots are a big factor in industrial buildings. It has been said by many that those are major considerations. So people want to know what the roof is like. Sometimes they will get an opinion from an engineering firm and a lot of times they will mention the roof doesn’t need to be replaced or that it can be phased out or that it can last a few years with some maintenance. So that is where we come in to bring some creative solutions to the table. To help people get deals done and move forward, and do what they have to do, whether it’s a mortgage company on their back, whatever they need to do.
JG: So you have focused on investors, users, and potentially tenants looking to go into a building. Because if the tenant is looking to lease space and the roof is not in good condition, they want to be aware of that type of condition before they actually take possession of this place, right?
HG: For sure. Imagine you are a food processing company and you have people on these different industries and you have some product inside, you get damage on the product, it’s a shooting match with the landlord, and tenants do not want to go down that road. If they then have to choose between two buildings, not that there are not too many choices today with the vacancy rates at sub 1%. But when they have choices, they would rather choose one with the roof in serviceable condition rather than one that is at the end of its life.
JG: Perfect, so let’s jump into some of the challenges that you have on a day-to-day basis. Do you want to talk about some of the things, or some of the walls, that you’re run into on a daily basis currently? Like supply chain costs, labor? Maybe some of those are points that you should talk about.
HG: Sure, so I’d say the first thing is there is a lot of pent-up demand. So we are seeing a lot of new construction in the industrial market as you know, you just mentioned it. The vacancy rates are so low, but a lot of projects got delayed during Covid, and they are just getting out of the ground and up to the roof level, so a lot of things are coming together all at once. I know you did some work up in Addison Hall and that complex, we just are just in the process of finishing two buildings up there, 100,000 sf each. There are a number of other projects that are just coming on board all at the same time. So issue number one, pent up demand.
There are supply chain issues in our industry. We had a call about a week and a half ago with Johns Manville “JM and their regional director for Canada. She was telling us the big issue with their issues with the big warehouses from Amazon, Prologis etc. They just draw so much material out of the system and it is hard to supply and over time, like in the last 10 years, the thickness of insulation has only increased. They keep reassessing the way they measure Rvalues.
They used to measure it when it came out of the assembly line when the board was still hot and it got a certain reading and they went to a reading over six months, and then to a reading over five years, so, when they go to a reading over five years, it actually changes more from one month, at the time of production to six months, than over five years.
But anyway, they had to keep applying more insulation to get the same Rvalue, plus you need many multiple layers of insulation, so the board feet counts are just going up and up in the bigger warehouses, drawing more supplies out of the system. It’s more and more difficult.
In the United States, they are waiting up to a year or more to get materials, they book jobs within a year in advance, it’s crazy.
JG: So how do developers manage that process, or even how do you manage that process when you need to book things a year out? Like, do you know what your sales are going to be in a year from now? Isn’t that nearly impossible?
HG: It’s not only roofing, it’s everything, so they have to deal with the same things like steel. To understand steel, they have to be organized, but new construction is only one part of the problem.
If you look at the market for roof replacement, let’s say someone has a building and they are getting a tenant or they are getting a mortgage refinance, or whatever it is on the building, or getting some financing or leverage on the building to get some money out and do something else with it, the mortgage company puts a hold back on the mortgage until you get a roof done. If you are stuck and you can’t get materials, that’s a problem.
JG: Right, and that just creates more issues if you don’t take care of those types of things.
HG: Yeah, it delays the whole thing. You are buying a building, you want to do the roof before you move in; the tenant moves in; Sometimes these decisions are taken off the table. You don’t have the luxury or freedom of making those decisions anymore.
JG: I want to put you on the spot with this question. I don’t know, it’s more of a selfish question for being a broker in the business. We are constantly being asked, how much does a roof cost? And, obviously costs have changed dramatically over the last 24 months. What do you suggest that brokers use or a ballpark number that people should use for roofs these days?
HG: Again, you have to know what the roof is, if it’s a food processing facility with penetrations all over the place, it’s quite different than if it’s a warehouse that has a couple of rooftop units in the office and otherwise just heaters and roof drains. But if it is a wide open, single-level building with heights that are a foot or lower and not four foot high and elaborate things, I would say you are carrying something in the $12.00 range and it can go up from there.
If it’s multi-layered, or single layered, two layers is more expensive, if they are upgrading insulation, again, that would be a different story.
JG: And then do you have any recommendations in terms of the actual roof? A lot of times we hear about rubber roofs or gravel roofs. Would you consider one better than the other? Or do you stick to one, or do you pick a roof based on the current situation of your client?
HG: A very good question. In terms of the types of membranes that are our go to solutions, our company has been around for over sixty years. Started with my grandfather and my father is still active in the business. You know, I guess having the experience of seeing what works over time, over a long time.
I’ve been doing this already for close to 30 years, so I am seeing roofs that we did before that are coming up for replacement and you see which ones last and which ones don’t last, and I think you have to look at every situation and assess. Some buildings have access issues, you can’t do a blackline roof, you have to go for a membrane, forget about getting gravel in there and forget about setting up to do certain things. Others, they have an issue with flames, flame sensitivity, you can’t use an open flame. Again, you are looking for different membrane solutions, rather than a typical roof.
Four-ply roofs with gravel are still the best system, it absorbs the UV rays of the sun well and we find it to be the optimal system. Some of the other membranes we find that they don’t have the lifespan. We look at lifecycle costs and other things and we find that they have about 15 years of life, so you know, you start looking at 15 years versus 20 to 25 years in a roof and it makes a difference if you are going for the long term as many clients are. It’s not just a general contractor that is building a building or a Home Depot location with a warranty of five years and the budget for replacement
s comes from a different pocket than the budget for the new construction.
JG: What would you recommend on how to minimize the stress from a client with regards to their roof? What do you suggest? Maintenance program? A roofer to take a look at it every twelve months? What is the typical program that you feel would really help clients manage and take the stress of managing a roof over time?
HG: If you are managing a roof over time I think it is important to look at a roof as an asset, no different from how you look at your car, or how you look at the dentist – you have to get periodic maintenance. Especially if your needs are sensitive with what happens inside the building.
You can’t have any water come in, or you have sensitive materials that are stored in there, or your roof is over 10 years of age. Once your roof has reached 10 years of age, then you should start doing more regular annual maintenance. If you have overgrown trees or other factors that lead to organic growth and issues with roof drains, they have to be maintained. If you don’t do that, you are just looking for trouble. You are going to have high water levels, you are going to have leaks in places that should never leak. Small problems and much larger problems later on.
We recommend infrared scans for assessing the roof. We just did one last Sunday night on a commercial property. The client felt that he had to replace the roof and at this time we are not getting there, the infrared scan told us different. We use the tools that we have, we make assessments and we use infrared scans when we can.
We recommend infrared scans for assessing the roof. We just did one last week, Sunday night in a commercial property. He felt that he had to replace the roof and at this time we are not getting there. We use the tools that we have and we make assessments and we use the infrared scans when we can.
JG: How long have you been using infrared scans in the roofing business? Is it relatively new technology?
HG: We did a blog article on infrared scans with Brian from Iris Maintenance Solutions. The technology comes from Sweden. It came out in the sixties, but they have been perfecting it. Certainly for the last 20 years, it’s a great tool to have and to pull out in certain situations. We had a building were able to go in and assess the building with an infrared scan and it came up that it had an area that was leaking and needed some repairs. We saved them from getting more expensive repairs and eventually a roof replacement that would happen years earlier than necessary.
JG: Well, I want to say thank you for Joining me on the Industrial Insider, Howard. If you have any questions feel free to reach out to me directly, my number is 416-471-0904 or shoot me an email at Jonathan@Lennard.com and thanks again for tuning in to the Industrial Insider. Have a great day.