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Chris Heuttig - Meet us at the RCMA Summer Meeting! - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

June 26, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Chris Huettig, Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA) president. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast. 

Intro/Outro: Welcome to Roofing Road Trips with Heidi. Explore the roofing industry through the eyes of a long-term professional within the trade. Listen for insights, interviews, and exciting news in the roofing industry today.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to another Roofing Road Trips from Roofers Coffee Shop. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and I'm here today to talk about a really cool event that happens every summer, and that is the Roof Coatings Manufacturer's Association summer meeting. So let me say that again. The RCMA summer meeting is all about coatings. So we invited our friend Chris Heuttig from KARNAK, who is the President of RCMA to come talk to us about it today. Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Heuttig: Thank you, Heidi, for having me today. Appreciate it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, you know what? Congratulations on being President of RCMA. What a great group.

Chris Heuttig: It is. It's a wonderful group, one of the oldest associations in the roofing industry. We're really proud of our focus and what we do for the roof coating industry.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Okay. So I'm ready to dive in and talk more about all of that, but let's first have you introduce yourself. Tell us a little bit about your role with RCMA and with KARNAK.

Chris Heuttig: Okay, great. Thank you. Chris Heuttig, I've been with in the coatings industry with KARNAK for over 24 years. Been in the roofing industry for 29. My involvement in RCMA has been the past 10 years. It's a wonderful organization. It's nice to have all the minds together who care about preserving, and restoring, and extending the service life of roofs out there and have a real focus on coatings. And that's really our purpose is help advance and promote the coatings industry in roofing.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, and it's so important because the growth of coatings has been absolutely amazing. In fact, let's talk about that. What have you seen in the last 10 years with the growth of roof coatings?

Chris Heuttig: Well, when I started getting into roof coatings many years ago, 24 years ago, really the focus was still on black coatings and silver coatings. So over the past 10 years, just the growth that we have seen in the restoration and coating of single ply membranes has really just blown my mind. We are doing things today and have technologies, and chemistries from our great raw material manufacturers that we didn't have in the past, that were able to help that segment of the business extend and provide more services for contractors to expand their business.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I agree. When you look at what's happened with roof coatings from, so I'm about 30 years Chris, in the industry too, and when you look back that it would just really wasn't even a topic, and now it's just such an amazing solution. I'd love for you to talk a little bit too about the growth that came really through Covid. I mean, coatings were still available and a lot of contractors needed to do restoration and now have really turned towards that 100%.

Chris Heuttig: Yeah. Covid was obviously a bad time for the world in general, but for roof coatings, it really helped blossom our business. During that time when roofing contractors who were just focused on re-roofing or new roofing, were looking at materials and having shortages and having a hard time, they obviously needed to keep their businesses flourishing and going. They didn't want to have to have layoffs and shut things down. So they looked at alternatives. Well, some of those alternatives, one of them was roof coating. We were always there, and unfortunately with the supply chain issues, they really didn't affect the coatings industry.

So we were able to bring contractors that had never done coatings before to give us a look and understand how they can fit that into their business. And then fast-forward a couple years, they're still doing it. They're still maintaining coatings as part of their business, which is great, because the coatings industry has kind of thought of one, we extend their service lives of roofs, but also it's a part of the business that is a little resilient to the economy. It's great for extending the life of roofs for that purpose, but also when a building owner has a viable candidate for a roof coating but doesn't have the money for a new roof, they may think they need a new roof, but after some evaluation, they understand that a coating can benefit their situation, and those contractors are able to take that and add it to their portfolio of offerings for building owners to really expand their business, and to be more resilient in good times and when the economy slows down.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And with really, you're seeing the liquid applied membranes that are also just growing along with, I mean, there's just so many different types of restoration coatings. There's liquid applied membranes, which I know kind of interchangeable kind of go back and forth, but it is really interesting to see how far the roof coatings have come. And the part I love about the summer meeting, 'cause I've been to a couple now, is I love sitting there and listening to the vendors, to the chemistry, to the manufacturers, to really, they're talking about what's that next big innovation? Talk a little bit about how much great things from the industry comes from that summer meeting?

Chris Heuttig: The summer meeting is great because it's really a collaboration of really the best minds in the roof coating industry. We have speakers talking about the building envelope. We have the president of IBEC who's going to be talking. So we kind of get that outside high level. And then we also have contractors. We have a contractor panel. That is one of my favorite parts of the summer meeting. It was a hit last year when we had it. Shameless plug for you. But it really was, well, 'cause when you think about it, we're all here to provide our customer, which is the roofing contractor, quality products to expand their business, and do great things for their building owner clients roofs. So it's really the heart of why we're all there.

So having those contractors tell their stories of how they've incorporated coatings, how they've used coatings, and how they just expand the application of those and their best practices to share with all of us is really just eyeopening. And it's just really the part that, it's the mic drop of the meeting. I always, I say. And then further, when we hear about that, we also have some of the technical aspects where we have some great raw material manufacturers there offering their insights on what product advances they're working on to help us as coating manufacturers and the contractors. So there's lots of technology and the technology going into coatings today is coming at such a fast rate faster than it was 15, 20 years ago.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: You bring such a great combination of professions, companies to this, and it is, you're right, it's like the greatest minds all coming together to really bring the highest performance to the industry. But I do want to go back real quick and talk about that contractor's panel because I just feel so honored. Honestly, this will be our third one. So we did one before Covid. We had a contractor panel and then last year we had our contractor panel. And I didn't make it because of an airplane situation, but the panel still, and you helped everybody made it happen. It was a great panel.

So I have to tell you, Chris, I have three confirmed. I'm working on the fourth, and there are some big players in the industry that I'm really excited. I can tell you, one is Rudy Gutierrez with Shell Roofing Solutions out of LA, has committed.

Chris Heuttig: Oh, wonderful.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And they do huge amounts. So really excited about the contractor panel again this year and being there.

Chris Heuttig: Great.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So good. You mentioned we're going to have, obviously the president of IBEC there. Who else? Who are some of the other speakers?

Chris Heuttig: Other speakers? We're going to have John Kinney from Cotney Consulting. We always like the legal aspect of what's going on. There's always changes. And besides raw materials moving fast, the building codes, and changes, and legal things are always happening fast as well. So we're happy to have him.

And then we have our raw material suppliers. We got some great ones from Dow Chemical from BASF, and we also have some people speaking about some of the things in the industry, leak detection systems. One of the big things with coatings is the roof needs to be a candidate for a coating restoration. So we want to make sure things are dry and if there are leaks that those things are taken care of first before a coating system would go on. So it's great to see and hear about some of the technology that can help qualify roofs for coatings.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I love it. I do really like those. Dow and BASF. I love those presentations because I kind of feel like, ooh, I'm at the very beginning of something that's coming. And so yeah, that is really cool. One of the things that I know you'll be talking about at summer meeting and that we actually have had a couple special RLWs on, we've done a lot on the site, we've given away a bunch of trainings, but let's talk about the RCMA training program. So cool what happened there. Can you kind of talk about it and where it's at?

Chris Heuttig: But what we call the virtual training program that is available on RCMA's website was really born a few years ago and it was something that went with my own company, we saw coming, and it's important for the roofing industry. I mean, this is important to RCMA because it's helping to elevate the roof coating industry. There are unfortunately, some contractors that have tried coatings 20 years ago, and as we mentioned earlier, the coatings 20 years ago were very different. Many times the instructions were, "Clean the roof and put two coats of this on." And you got different results. I mean, it's crazy. So really, we all know the best application is going to be when really the thought is put into it, and it's a thoughtful application, which starts with qualifying a roof, understanding where coatings can be applied and where they can't. This training program addresses that.

We kind of put it into three categories. One is evaluating and preparing roof surfaces for coatings. Then there's roof coating technologies. So now that you qualified a roof, what's out there? What are the differences between the coating chemistries? Why do I want to use one or the other? If there is three white coatings out there, what are those differences in that?

And then lastly, the roof coating application itself. The best practices, what are the tools I need? What are the cleaning methods? How do I clean? And the people involved and their roles in that I think are very important. So it's really from qualifying to putting that coating down. The training program is a wonderful tool, and because it's presented by RCMA, it's not tied to any of the manufacturers. We've all contributed and added our pieces as members, but it really comes from an unbiased foundation to just elevate the coatings industry.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I love them. Actually, we've been working with contractors on through, like you said, it's everyone. So Will Lorenz with General Coatings has been giving away trainings and we've been hearing from the contractors, these are great because sometimes you just want to give them a little taste and see what they think. And we've been seeing it across the industry. I know talking to you guys, the response has been great. What have you been hearing, Chris?

Chris Heuttig: I've heard the same thing. It allows someone to go online, so a contractor can purchase the virtual training program, show it to their group there on their own time, and really broaden their horizon. It gets kind of rid of all the preconceived notions. I've heard, it's just been eyeopening for some of the questions that we present in there, and the information learned, maybe some manufacturers took for granted, or the roof coating industry took for granted that someone would understand this. I know myself, when we talk about coatings, a lot of times coating manufacturers are very proud of the products they present and they talk about them and they kind of glance over where the proper applications are. What qualifies a roof and how to do that? So I think asking those questions and reminding those coating contractors, "Put on your contractor hat," I always say, when you walk on a roof. You know you need to make sure no matter what the roof is, is it dry? Is it sound? Is it secure? Those things that kind of get them thinking that it ties into roofing and then just understanding the various chemistries of the product that goes into that, and I think it presents them ideas and thoughts so that if they do have questions, when they do have that coating application, they're going to know what right ones to ask the manufacturer that's providing the coatings that they're going to be using.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That kind of training, especially today with the labor shortage and really trying to train and do things special. The culture of roofing companies, that kind of training is invaluable, and I think it does help, ask the right questions, understand what's going on. We'll have information about that and talking about it at the summer meeting, right?

Chris Heuttig: We'll talk about it at the summer meeting, but I mean, if contractors hear this and they want to just go ahead and check it out, they can go to roofcoatings.org. That's the RCMA's website. There's a virtual training tab at the very top there that they can go there and actually sign up. There's also a lot of information there that they may not know about if they go into the professionals tab. There's information about coatings, the benefits of coatings, things like that. So if they're having some conversations with some of their building owner clients, they may find some useful information there that they can print out or even email to those clients to get them kind of thinking about, here's what we are going to be discussing when we mention roof coatings.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, it's great year round 24/7. It's all right there. You can do it anytime you want and get all that information. Okay. I do want to go back. I have a couple other questions for you, but before we step off of the summer meeting, this is open to everyone, and contractors, in fact, I talked to some contractors yesterday, Chris, who were like, "We want to go, how do we go?" So I'm sending him to the page and helping them to get signed up. But this is for anybody in the industry, right? You don't have to be an RCMA member?

Chris Heuttig: Correct. The RCMA summer meeting is really for anybody who wants to attend. Again, they can go to roofcoatings.org and sign up. There's a tab there for the summer meeting that actually gives the agenda. It's a two-day meeting we're having, it's July 27th and 28th. It's a Thursday and Friday in Cleveland, Ohio. So it's a city that a lot of people can drive to. It's also a city that you can fly into very easily as well, and a great place to come for the summertime.

But it's two full days. It's packed a lot of information, and as I mentioned earlier, from the raw material manufacturers like a Univar, ABASF to the contractors who are talking from experience. So for a contractor that may be sitting on the fence or hasn't had a lot of experience with coatings there's a contractor panel with some very seasoned people that you're going to be bringing to the table. Anything is on, anything that's out there, ask the questions. And even after those contractor panels, there's always those little sidebars and some networking time after that, they're welcome to go and talk to the contractor, go and talk to other manufacturers who are part of RCMA and people you see there.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I was going to say, the networking is off the charts. I love it. I think it's so great, and there's some fun evening dinners and some nice great chances for networking. So a great event.

So, okay, there is some new leadership with RCMA yourself, obviously as president, although not that new, but yet as president. But we also, I know we've had some changes just recently. Can you tell us about that?

Chris Heuttig: Sure, sure. Every two years, RCMA changes our board of directors and our leadership team. So I was fortunate enough to be elected president that the cycle just started, but we got some other wonderful people from major manufacturers in the industry from like Josh Pool, from Trimco. Chris Ferrell is from EPS, one of our raw material suppliers. And our board of directors and our team is not just made up of manufacturers themselves. We also associate members, and these are the people that provide the ancillary or other services to RCMA, like the raw materials manufacturers as part of it. So it's a great group and mix of people from companies all over. We're all really excited because as a group, this is going to be our first meeting together and leading the charge as we go into the future.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It's so great. It's so great. Okay. We talked a little bit about this already, but let's just recap again because I think it's important. How can contractors get more involved with RCMA? Get those trainings, get the information, sign up for the summer meeting? I know we've already said this, but I always want everybody going away with something that they can get involved.

Chris Heuttig: Absolutely. If you want to know more about the RCMA go to roofcoatings.org and there's tabs there. The first tab on the left is going to be the summer meeting. Sign up, check it out, come see what we're about. I think if you want to expand your business, roof coatings are a great way to go. It really ties into the maintenance side of roofing, which all roofs need maintenance and from maintenance to restoration with coatings, put you in a great position not only to take care of your clients, but also to get in the spot to get that next reroof. When that time comes, if that's something you're really more comfortable with or have more experience with.

Also on that website, you're going to find a tab for the virtual training. Virtual training can be purchased. You can bring it in-house, have it for your people. When you have new hires come and go, you're able to show them that the training and go through it with them. It's a great educational experience that's easy to get that your clients and your office people, workers out there can take it any time, 24/7.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So I do have to put a little teaser in here to everyone who's listening to this that actually we're the coffee shop's going to have a special announcement at our RCMA. I think this podcast is coming out pretty soon. But just I want to say, Chris, we are going to be working very closely with RCMA and on a new venture. I'm very excited about it, and we're going to be announcing that in July. So I don't want to totally give it away, but I want to say thank you because we're so excited to be working even closer on roof coatings.

Chris Heuttig: Well, Heidi, as president of RCMA, and also as KARNAK and manufacturer of it, we thank you for the work you've done for not only roofing, but the other things you're doing for the coatings industry to help elevate us all. We thank you very much for that.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, so stay tuned, everybody. Chris and I will be, you'll be hearing it all over, but you heard it first right here on Chris's Roofing Road Trip podcast. So Chris, thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for everything you do for the industry, and I'm really excited about the summer meetings. It's going to be great.

Chris Heuttig: It's going to be a wonderful time too, Heidi. Thank you so much.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I know. Thank you. Enjoy. Everybody. Thank you so much for listening to this excellent podcast. Please get involved with the RCMA, consider coming to the summer meeting. It's going to be great. So educational. You can find all the information on the RCMA directory on Roofers Coffee Shop, and you can hear all of our podcasts under the read, list, and watch navigation podcast and Roofing Road Trips, or on your favorite channel. Be sure to subscribe and get those notifications. We will be seeing you next time on Roofing Road Trips.

Intro/Outro: Make sure to subscribe to our channel and leave a review. Thanks for listening. This has been Roofing Road Trips with Heidi from the rooferscoffeeshop.com.

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