Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Brad Van Dam and Eric Younkin from MTL Holdings.You can read the interview below or watch the YouTube video.
Karen Edwards: ... hello, everyone, and welcome back. I'm Karen Edwards, and we are coming to you live from Dallas, Texas, the 2023 IRE Show. And we are on RoofersCoffeeShop sound stage. And our day's almost over, but we have Brad and Eric here from MTL Holdings. So guys, thank you so much for being here. I'd like you to introduce yourself, and tell us what you do there.
Brad Van Dam: Thank you. So I'm Brad Van Dam, I'm the VP of Sales for Metal-Era and MTL Holdings. I have been at Metal-Era and MTL for roughly 11 years now, and I also currently serve as the president of SPRI, the Single-Ply Roofing Industry.
Karen Edwards: Oh, nice.
Brad Van Dam: So very connected, and it's been an awesome 11 years in this industry.
Karen Edwards: Wonderful. Eric?
Eric Younkin: Yeah. My name is Eric Younkin. I'm the vice president of products and engineered services at MTL. I joined the MTL family two years ago after spending my prior 19 years throughout the roofing industry.
Karen Edwards: Well, welcome. It's so nice to have you here. Boy, what a day this has been. We're wrapping up the first day of the show, and we're like, "Oh, [inaudible 00:01:05] country, a little tired." But what is going on? Have you been busy?
Brad Van Dam: Yeah, so interesting story. This is our first time back at IRE. We have not hosted a booth here in over 20 years, I'm being told.
Karen Edwards: Whoa.
Brad Van Dam: And so this is our first time back, and we've got a large booth, booth number 4421, and it's roughly a 10 by 30 booth... 31? 4431?
Eric Younkin: 4421.
Brad Van Dam: 4421. Yes. Good, I got it right. So we have a 10 by 30 booth, and we're showing all three of our family brands. So MTL Holdings is the parent company of Metal-Era, Hickman Edge Systems, which we acquired in 2021, and then we just purchased in September of 2022, Citadel Architectural Products, which is a laminated architectural panel company. So three different brands, all under one family, and it's been a great experience coming back to IRE for us.
Karen Edwards: Wow, that's amazing that you guys are here. I'm glad you're here.
Brad Van Dam: Yeah.
Karen Edwards: I'm like, "Everybody knows Metal-Era."
Brad Van Dam: Yeah. Right.
Karen Edwards: Don't they? But you haven't even been exhibiting, so it's glad to have you back.
Brad Van Dam: Thanks.
Karen Edwards: So Eric, what does that mean that the brands that you have and the recent acquisition of Citadel, what does that mean for the contractor?
Eric Younkin: Oh, for the contractor means several things. First of all, you have the ability to have local resources that you can go out and obtain the roof edge that you need, and through that, we have some services with our RTSs that we could talk about with the new technology. But really, when we bring in Citadel, it's our first attempt of getting off the roof edge, and giving our contractors the opportunity to provide wall solutions that are going to be integrated into our edge metal, with both color alignment, and also continuous look that the architects really prefer.
Brad Van Dam: Yeah, we were really excited about Citadel. It has a great brand history. It was founded in 1992. It's a division of a large manufacturer of wood products. So they began laminating different types of components within or between two pieces of metal. And it really kind of carved out a niche in the ACM or MCM market as having essentially a complete package. So a roofer or a contractor that does wall systems tied into the building envelope can actually buy the extrusions and a tested system that goes along with high impact resistance, they can adapt in the field, and they can install it. And once we acquired it, we now are able to start down the path of aligning colors, so they can get a wall system that matches an edge system, ties into a great building envelope. So it was really exciting for us. Great history, great company, good people, and now we've had the ability to bring it into the family, and take it to the next level. So we're excited to help them grow and get on that path again.
Karen Edwards: That's fantastic.
Brad Van Dam: Yeah.
Karen Edwards: And I know you guys are innovators, you're always looking for ways to help contractors succeed. And one of the tools that I think is really cool came out probably a year ago maybe, is your Falcon-
Eric Younkin: Yeah, the Falcon is really a technology. It's a tool in an app that's created solely by MTL. It's proprietary, it's kind of state-of-the-art, there's nothing else like that in the marketplace. And really what it's designed to do is help our field technical people get up on the roof, and measure more efficiently, and more accurately. So this tool measures down to thousandths of an inch and 10th of a degree. So the accuracy is extreme, and they're able to capture this live, and as they are on the roof, they can actually submit that information down to get the information quoted back to them very quickly. So what that does for the contractors, there's no wait time. And the other thing is our RTSes, they're experts in what they do, and they take on all the responsibility for their measurements. So as a contractor, if you mismeasure a radius and a coping, they have to go back and do that on their dime, we take full responsibility for that. So why let your roofing contractor go do that when we can do that for you?
Karen Edwards: Yeah.
Eric Younkin: So that's really what the design of the tool is. It's been a big investment. It's been in the works for three years. And we're very excited, we have a demo live right now over at the booth. We have some of our RTSes, we have, I believe, nine throughout the country. So we can service any market, at any time, to provide that service to our contractors.
Brad Van Dam: And Eric's point, a contractor typically would not have enough roofs in a year to have one person measure, and that be just their job. In our case, we're able to measure a couple of hundred roofs with one person, multiple people, to back up those people. And so contractors really [inaudible 00:05:39] or an area where we have a tech, or even outside of it where we need to travel one to, get the benefit of not having to deploy their labor, which is their precious resource, to go do something that really is something we can do for multiple folks. And so it really does leverage that labor part.
We've got some great contractor partners who have seen that value, and they say, "Wow, this is a great way for us to redeploy the labor that we have, 'cause this is an area where you can measure it for us, you'll take the responsibility." Now, the labor that we have can actually do the installation, do project managing, and focus on the quality. So it's been great to see. I mean, we've really enjoyed it. When I started 11 years ago, we had one person doing field measurement, and as Eric spoke today, there's a whole fleet of them out there-
Karen Edwards: So you get anywhere in the country?
Brad Van Dam: Yeah, I mean, we just had one fly out to New Mexico. I know that we've measured jobs in Oregon, and we're talking about our now three facilities, they're mostly coming in the middle of the country to get both directions. But our RTSes are strategically placed to cover more area.
Karen Edwards: I love seeing new technology emerge in the industry that just helps us be better, more accurate, and save labor.
Brad Van Dam: Yeah, if you don't have anything in development for how to save labor now, it's not going to get any better that we can see, and I think the market has really struggled with that. So from our perspective, we manufacture a component that's an expense for most contractors. It's not a profit center, we don't go out and market it to other folks. In our case, it's all we do. And so we focus on it, we try to make it better, make it faster, make it easier for people to use these parts. And it's a lot like the transition from when contractors used to manufacture the roof on the roof. They pump it up on there, and they'd mop it out, and ultimately they would do multiple layers, and it was a hot day, and they were using hot tar. And so now, they've got [inaudible 00:07:33], it's placed on the roof, it's manufactured in a manufacturing facility with quality standards, and it's assembled on the roof, or it's attached on the roof.
And now, this is very similar to that, and so we see that transition from manufacturing the roof on the roof to assembling it on the roof, it's really to try to use our labor more wisely. In our facility, we use robotics. About 65% of what we produce is produced robotically, and quite frankly, through the pandemic, through all the shortages that have occurred, it'd be very difficult for us to have produced as much as we have into the market without having that automation, and as you put it, new technology to be faster and better. I think it's really helped us give our people a better opportunity to grow and advance. We've seen folks that started as welders become process engineers, started on a press break, move into customer service, or into takeoffs, or estimating. And it's just been awesome to watch. I guess that's what we're here to do, is just keep growing and getting better, and we think we're on a decent path with that.
Karen Edwards: You mentioned demos in your booth that there was a demo happening?
Brad Van Dam: Yeah.
Eric Younkin: Yes.
Karen Edwards: Are you doing that throughout the show?
Eric Younkin: Yeah, so if you just stop by the booth, our RTS team is there. We have the Falcon tool and app all moving... They'll sit there, walk you through it, show you exactly what it does. You can see the accuracy when you measure the angle. It's a 90 degree angle. No, it's not, it's 90.4 degrees. So like I said, the accuracy's unbelievable. And you'll get to see what it does, the beautiful thing is, they can take that information, and instead of writing it down on a pad of paper and going home, they could actually, in the app, create a roadmap for the roofing contractor, so we could say, "These pieces go on that roof section." And we can mark them.
So again, we're providing all those benefits to the contractor. Our RTS team, they are sheet metal experts. They did this for a living. They ran jobs. They know what it takes. So they're treating every job that they measure like they're the project manager for them. So it's a great service, and the app and the tool just gives them the tools they need to take it to the next level. Stop by, it's continuously going on, so anytime you stop by, we'll give you an individual tour of the tool.
Brad Van Dam: Yeah, they're all wearing high-vis shirts, so you can't miss them. [inaudible 00:09:58] they're free to give those away if they've got some extras left, and they do. So I'd love to see more people at the booth taking advantage of the demo. But the ones that have happened today, it's been great, the feedback's been good. It's really nice after 20 years to be back at IRE, so we're enjoying it.
Karen Edwards: Yeah, yeah. This is the best. I mean, everybody's happy, everybody wants to see, feel touched, look at, there's just some things you just need to do in-person.
Eric Younkin: Amen to that.
Brad Van Dam: Just like eating great barbecue the other night, that was awesome. So we're enjoying that as well.
Karen Edwards: Awesome. So if you are coming out to IRE, it's booth 4421.
Brad Van Dam: Yes, it is. I got that right.
Karen Edwards: So stop by and visit. Say hi to Brad, say hi to Eric, meet the RTS team, and check out what they have to offer. So this is it, we're wrapping up for day one. It's been fantastic. Thank you for coming over. Thank you for sharing. If you can't make it out to the show, please visit their directory on Roofers Coffee Shop, because all that information is in there. Contact information, videos, podcasts, you guys have been to podcasts, so listen to those.
Eric Younkin: You've got to stop by, make sure Brad does his [inaudible 00:11:04].
Brad Van Dam: Yeah.
Karen Edwards: Oh, what?
Brad Van Dam: I do not.
Karen Edwards: So are you going to do it for us?
Brad Van Dam: No, no, no, I don't that.
Eric Younkin: Yes, he has to.
Brad Van Dam: I have no idea.
Eric Younkin: Yes, he does.
Brad Van Dam: What are you talking about? No idea. He's teasing.
Karen Edwards: Are you sure?
Brad Van Dam: I'm sure. I'm positive. [inaudible 00:11:18]
Karen Edwards: All right, well, then I'm going to come over to the booth tomorrow-
Brad Van Dam: Yeah.
Karen Edwards: And find out what that is.
Brad Van Dam: Yeah, awesome.
Karen Edwards: But anyway, thanks for watching, everybody. Be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, ring that bell so you're notified when we go live. And we'll be coming to you tomorrow from the student competition right before, you'll hear from Heidi and I. That's a great thing to attend. Even if you can't stay, just stop by, support the students, and then we'll continue our live broadcasting tomorrow. Have a good night, everyone. Thanks for watching.
About Metal-Era, Inc.
Celebrating over 40 years of unequaled service in the industry, Metal-Era provides a wide selection of engineered roof edge systems designed to meet the roofing industry’s strictest standards. Metal-Era has made a significant investment in their manufacturing with dynamic robotic production and high volume to standardize products and improve efficiencies – equating to consistently higher performing products that ship fast to their customers, supplementing labor with pre-fabrication. Metal-Era employees and its nationwide network of experienced representatives and distributors are committed to providing superior products and personalized service. For more information about Metal-Era, visit www.metalera.com.
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