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RLW with IB Roof Systems - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

RLW with IB Roof Systems
October 20, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Jon Belnap of IB Roof Systems. You can read the interview below, watch the webinar or listen to the podcast.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to this month's RLW - Read Listen Watch from RoofersCoffeeShop®. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and I am so happy to have all of you on today to learn more about risk management. And I have to tell you, this is a hot topic because we all want to mitigate and control risk. So we asked our friends from IB Roof Systems, Jon Belnap, to join us today to really talk about how you best can help to reduce the risk on the roof and really be aware of all of the pitfalls that can happen when things aren't done correctly. So let's start with a little bit of housekeeping. This is being recorded and it will be available online within the next 24 hours.

So please share it with your friends, family, other roofing professionals and definitely within your company. This is great information and can be watched on YouTube, listened to on your favorite podcast channel, or you can read about it or watch it or read it all on rooferscoffeeshop.com. So let's get started. We will be having the chat open and we would love to have your questions and thoughts as we go. So first of all, before we get too started, let's start with introductions. So Jon, I am so happy to have you here on the show today. Can you please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about IB Roof Systems?

Jon Belnap: Yeah, thank you Heidi. Thanks for having me. I'm glad to be here. And let me extend that same warm welcome to your audience. It's a privilege to be here with you on RoofersCoffeeShop®. While I'm introducing myself, I would like to learn a little bit more about the audience. So if they could just drop in the chat where they're from and maybe if they're a contractor or consultant or an owner. And then probably the best way for me to get to know these people or maybe drop your favorite football team and I'll really know where you're coming from at that point.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it.

Jon Belnap: So yeah, while you're doing that, I'm Jon Belnap. I'm the director of specified sales for IB Roof Systems. I cover the western half of the United States. I started out in the roofing industry about 30 years ago as a laborer on a roofing crew. I can still remember one of the first things that my foreman did is he gave me a bucket of plastic cement and a roll of fabric and he said, "Put your hand in that goop and just go smear that on the roof over there." So that was my introduction to roofing. Since then I've held most positions in the roofing industry.

I was a journeyman, a foreman, an estimator, a project manager. I eventually became a licensed roofing contractor. After that, I continued my journey and became a technical manager for a major roofing manufacturer. And then I kind of finalized most of that with about 15 years as a registered roof consultant in the consulting industry. I've been with IB Roof System for about a year and just a little blurb about IB Roof Systems. They've been around for nearly 50 years and it's come to be known as a trusted name for high quality PVC roof membrane. So keep us in mind for future roofing projects. Let's look at some of the responses in the chat here. What are we seeing here?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, we have a lot going on. So first of all, Jon, thank you. I am really excited and as you have everybody going in the chat with their favorite... I saw the Bears there a couple. So I'm going to put mine out there for the 49ers, but we are going to be taking questions, comments, thoughts as we go through this. So both John and I'll be watching the chat, so please feel free if you have comments or you have questions, we're going to take those throughout the entire RLW for the full hour. So Jon, shall we start with a poll question while people are also filling in the chat?

Jon Belnap: Yeah, yeah, let's go ahead.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Okay. So we are interested, and this is actually, I'm giving full credit to Jon. He would love to know how long everybody has been in the roofing industry. So what you'll see is the poll should be up right now, and if you can just put in how long you've been in the industry, that would be great and we're going to give it a little bit longer. We've got some great answers coming in on the poll. So awesome. It looks like it's right across the board. We do, we have some long-term, 30 years, but you can see we have about five years or less is definitely leading, followed by 20 year veterans, 10 year veterans and then 30 year veterans are about the same. So we have Jon, a nice wide range.

Jon Belnap: We do, we do. And a wide range of football lovers here as well, and a few basketball lovers I've seen in there.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And I love it. Rich Carroll just came in with 39 years. Rich, you are amazing. We have a lot of great folks in here, so thank you so much. So let's get started on our discussion and we're going to start out with what is risk mitigation or management? Sorry, what is risk management? John, I'd love for you to just kind of give us the big overview.

Jon Belnap: Yeah. So just kind of an overall summary. And we have a few bullet points there that we'll talk about, but it really is the process of identifying, assessing and controlling risks that might be a risk to your company's capital and earnings. We're all in business to make a living here, and so anything that could take away from that, we want to try to identify that, assess it and put procedures in place that can help eliminate that so that we can keep more of that hard-earned money that we make. And so let's talk about these bullet points. The first step in this whole process is really to identify the risks that could affect your company or could affect your projects.

And in doing that, we have to start out by identifying the parties that are part of these projects because each of these parties have potential to contribute or not contribute to the overall risk. So when we're talking about our roofing projects, we're always going to have an owner involved and they can contribute or not contribute. A lot of times we're going to have a designer, a consultant or an architect designing this process. They're going to have some kind of contribution. And then of course there's the installer, right? There's the installer and they're going to have a large part of that contribution. And we always have a product manufacturer. So each of these parties contribute in some way or maybe take away from the project in some way. So we start by identifying that.

And once we know those parties, then we go into the next bullet point there, which is assessing the risks. We wanted to look at each of these participants and find out what they are doing or are not doing that might lead to failure. And so in doing that process, I would start with the owner and say, okay, what can the owner do or not do? What can the designer do or maybe not do that might lead to failure? Then we've got to ask that question about the other parties, the contractor, the manufacturer as well. Once we've done that and made a list of these potential impacts on our project, once those are identified, we need to implement steps to reduce those risks. Sometimes we can do that by avoiding the risk entirely. We can say, we've evaluated this project, the potential risk is too high, we're going to avoid that project.

We're not going to bid on that project. We just know that this is shaping up to be a bad project for us. We're not going to bid. So you can do that, but really, like I said before, we're in business to do work, get paid for work. So avoiding risk is really not a good solution for most of these situations. So then we look at minimizing the effects of loss. So for these risks that we're going to choose to take on, these different projects, we've got to shift our focus into minimizing both the frequency of risk and the severity of risk. And we're going to talk a lot more about that as we go forward in this conversation today, is how can we minimize the frequency of loss and also minimize the cost, the severity of that.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. There are a lot of strategies to that, what you're just talking about, how can you minimize and what are the efficiencies. So let's talk a little bit about the strategies for risk management and what you've experienced.

Jon Belnap: And as we're doing that, if the viewers could just drop in the chat for this, do you have a dedicated risk management department or somebody that's in charge of reviewing your risk? What does that look like for each of you? I'm just curious to see what that looks like. Some it may be a couple of people, some it may be just defaults to one person. I'm just kind of curious to see what that looks like at your companies. While you're doing that, I'm going to go ahead and jump into the first strategy, and that's avoidance, steering clear of activities that are higher risk. Again, we talked about that for just a minute. We really don't have the choice to it. We can't avoid every project or we're out of business. So that's not really the top priority. Retention of repair funds, this is one that applies more to owners, but there's applications that work for designers and for contractors as well.

And it's really the idea of setting aside funds to cover a loss that we might have. This might be setting aside money to cover your deductible, should there be a loss that occurs, maybe setting a couple of those aside to cover multiple deductibles throughout the year. For an owner, an example of this would be to set aside money. Maybe they don't have enough to replace a roof, but they know they're going to have roof leaks throughout the year. An owner can set aside funds and be prepared to fix that roof and also be setting aside funds to replace that roof as soon as it's no longer repairable. So this idea is just to set aside extra funds outside of your normal budgets and your normal operating expenses to cover potential problems that you might run into. Spreading and diversification, this one, I think the best example that I give of this really comes to... it's the idea of not putting all of your eggs in the same basket.

So as an owner, maybe you're the building manager for a large university and you've decided that you're always going to put on one type of roof all the way across the entire campus. But what happens if that one type of roof has a failure, has a problem, now your entire portfolio has a problem. But if you were to diversify your roofing types and selection of the university, if one of those tends to fail, you're not going to lose the entire campus full of roofs. So the same thing applies in your choices as a contractor and putting roofs on. Maybe if you diversify that portfolio a little bit, you're not going to have a complete failure of everything that's been put on out there. The fourth one here is transfer of contracts and insurance. This is pretty much a no-brainer. I mean, everybody that's in business needs to have their insurance policies in place just so that they can transfer when a problem does come up, we can rely on those insurance policies to help get us through that hard time.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, there's a lot that goes on with all of this, Jon. I mean, when you think about just how your risk, and Craig, so nice to have you on here. Craig Rainey is saying they have a designated safety department that reviews upcoming projects to help identify safety risks and put together a safety plan for each project. So it's across the board, whether it's materials safety or everything. So, we're interested for everybody to let us know, have you ever been involved in an insurance claim or a lawsuit? So if you can go ahead and answer that poll, we are very interested to hear what you all have to say on that. So Jon, to Craig's note, while everybody's answering this poll on the safety part of it, that's huge, right, on the risk.

Jon Belnap: Absolutely right. And we have workers' compensation policies that can be put in place and help with that, but certainly identifying safety hazards is a huge part, especially for the contractors.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And so, it looks like 75% or 77% of our audience has had an insurance claim or a lawsuit. So everyone is very aware of this, but we have a lucky 21% who have not. So hopefully by watching this, you won't be in the future either. And actually that just jumped up to 27%. So you've got a nice combination here, Jon. So let's talk a little bit... Let's watch a video here actually, if you can walk us through this video.

Jon Belnap: So, I mean, if you're seeing this video, you're seeing a situation that you don't want to have happen on one of your roofs. This is a roof that's billowing in the wind. It's actually on a day that isn't terribly windy either. This is not a very big wind that's causing that to happen. It was a large wind that actually caused the initial event to happen, but this is a day or two later where it's still wind came back up and is causing that to billow. But if you've ever been involved with these and a large percentage of the audience has that, you know it can basically take over your life. The constant, the thoughts and the worry about what's going to happen. You've got attorneys involved and insurance involved, and are they going to pay and who's going to pay it can really consume a lot of your time.

It's not just your financial resources that this is consuming, but it's also your time and your other resources that it can take away from you being able to pursue other work and do other things that you need to be doing. So it really becomes a big deal. And so anything we can do to prevent these types of situations from happening upfront is all the better for all the parties involved. And it's been my experience that typically when these things happen, the net typically gets cast around everybody that's involved. So it might have been a design error, but because you as a contractor was on the job and the material, the supplier was on the job, that net often gets cast around everybody that was involved on the project.

So just to run through these bullet points, we're going to talk about each of these in a lot more detail on some of the next slides. But just to summarize, these are the areas that failures occur. These are the parties that are involved in constructing a project, and they're also the areas that the failures are going to happen. So it can be a failure that's from materials that are defective or used improperly, design errors, defective construction work. And sometimes this one gets overlooked, but a lot of times these failures are a result of improper constraints put on us by the owners. And then one that we can design for, we can install for and do as much as we can, but if that F5, F4 tornado hits our building, there's not much we can do about that one.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And Jon, I would love you to address this photo too. We looked at the video, but this photo on this slide is quite disturbing.

Jon Belnap: Yeah. And I think that a lot of us have seen these type of photos where you have a collapse, the weight of the water, the live loads and the dead loads exceeds the capacity of the structure to handle that, and you end up with a collapse. In many cases that can be due to design. It can be that maybe during a re-roof project, the drainage has been changed, right? There could be a drain that's been covered up or the size has been altered. And then a lot of times it can even be actions by the owner after the fact where they're not keeping their roof drains clean. So it could be any number of things that cause these to happen, but that's one of the worst things we can have is to have these buildings collapse. It not only ruins the roof and the contents, but there's often life casualties that can happen in these situations.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, it really is critical to be aware of that when you're looking at three key milestones for successful project really to help mitigate that risk. Let's talk a little bit about that.

Jon Belnap: Yeah, let's look at these, and again, you're going to kind of hear this repeating theme, but the parties that go into developing these projects, we've got designers, installers and manufacturers. So it's key that each of those parties contribute in the way that they need to contribute to get these projects to go right. So let's start off and talk just a little bit about proper roof design. A well-designed roof is tailored specific for a building and its environment, right? It's going to consider several factors including things like code, climate, architectural style. It's also going to include things about budget constraints and long-term maintenance. Those are all things that these designers are considering as they're putting these project designs together. So it's very important that as an owner, they select and engage experienced and knowledgeable roof designers. Whether it's an architect, an engineer or roof consultant, these firms that they select should have some kind of an in-house written quality assurance plan. So if they can engage experienced knowledgeable designers that have an in-house quality assurance plan that will help mitigate and prevent some of these future design or these designs from going awry.

Very similar when it comes to proper roof installation. It doesn't matter how well the roof is designed, if it's not installed properly, it's going to fail. In order for that roof to function as intended, it needs to be installed properly. So skilled workmanship during installation, it's going to ensure that the water can remain watertight. It's going to be durable. It's going to withstand the winds and the hailstorms, and it's going to be able to withstand the test of time if it's installed properly. So some of the key activities that need to happen during this stage is the owner needs to hire a contractor that's knowledgeable, experienced and has a track record of successful installations.

That's the first step. The next step is they need to provide them with detailed contract documents and installation guidelines that meet the design specs. So we need quality contractors following a quality design. And then another key activity that can happen during this phase is proper supervision. And this can happen on all levels. The owner can have a quality assurance person. The contractor should have their own quality control people, and then often the designers or the consultants will have quality control people there that can help watch this activity go on during the installation phase. Of course, all of that doesn't matter if we don't have a quality roofing product because the quality of the roofing materials will directly impact the long-term performance of the roof. How long that roof is going to last, a big part of that happens because of the quality of the products. So choosing and selecting high quality products, will use products that resist wear weathering damage, and will help reduce the likelihood of a premature failure. So we got to have a good amount of effort put into selecting products that have withstood the test of time.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, a couple of the questions that I have on this for you, Jon, but one I just want to address first is Joey, thank you for your comment about safety checks. I think that's a big part of this and making sure the installation's correct. But Jill Tackett, thank you, Jill, for being on makes a great point about preventative maintenance and having, even after the roof goes on, making sure that you're up on that roof all the time checking it out so that those owners can't do something that may cause that huge failure. And Solom also agreed if it's out of mind, who knows what someone's going to be doing up there. And I guess that was kind of my question to you, Jon, is as contractors out here, as they're looking at this, talk a little bit about their role once they've been selected or as they're talking to the building owners or facility managers about doing the work. What's your advice on how they can be involved with that proper design and really have good feedback for the owners to make sure that all of these pieces are coming together?

Jon Belnap: So that's really what the biggest takeaway from this whole thing should be at the end of this is the importance of collaborating and communicating with the other relevant parties. When we all get together and put our heads together and communicate and collaborate, we can work all this stuff out before it ever becomes a problem. So educating one another, being willing to listen to one another, that's what makes these projects a failure or a success. It really comes down to that communication, this comment about preventative maintenance. I mean, it's huge and whatever we can do as a contractor or designers or even a manufacturer to educate owners about the importance of doing that, right? Because these what we call small maintenance things, they're what develop into big costly repairs and failures later on. Certainly an important part to keep in mind.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, really important. And so as you have been breaking this down, let's talk a little bit about the manufacturer's responsibilities and where it can contribute to risk or not, talk about that.

Jon Belnap: So, we're going to start with manufacturers, and we're going to go through each of these parties. But one thing that happens quite a bit that I've seen is manufacturers, sometimes their reps come in and oversell the merits of their product. They might come in and say, "This product can do X." But we really find out that it can only do Y. Accurate representation of these products, it helps establish realistic expectations for the customer. If the end user is expecting this roof to last for 50 years, but it only lasts for five, the owner ends up disappointed, and that's when disputes happen. So another good example of that would be when we get into talking about ignoring fundamental weaknesses. If you know a product doesn't do well in ponding water yet the rep is saying, "Oh, it's going to do fine in ponding water." They're overselling the merits of that product and ignoring those fundamental differences.

So if we know a product doesn't do well in ponding water, number one, we should get rid of ponding water. But if we can't for some reason we have to deal with that, let's not use a product that is known not to do well in ponding water. Same thing with compatibility issues. If we know a product is not great in being in contact with another product, let's make sure we're not putting those together and just ignoring those fundamental differences. And so sometimes the manufacturer will contribute to this risk by over exaggerating or overselling the merits of their product and ignoring some of those fundamental weaknesses. The third one there is failing to provide appropriate recommendations. And in this one, I'm not talking about whether they recommend that they have insulation or a cover board or that. I'm talking about manufacturers not providing enough information to the contractors when it comes to how to use those products, right?

Sometimes I've seen data sheets that just do not have enough information about how to properly install those products. So manufacturers really need to make sure that they're providing plenty of appropriate recommendations in their own installation literature. Make sure they're spelling out their limitations of their products, compatibility issues, what really needs to happen to properly install those things. So manufacturers, in some instances can do a much better job at providing detailed and specific recommendations for the use of their own products. In the same line of failing to provide something. I was just at a conference this last week where we had a group of consultants present and we had a group of contractors present. And we were discussing this idea of failing to enforce recommendations. Manufacturers publish written recommendations for just about every product.

Sometimes they're not as thorough as they ought to be, but other times they're very thorough. And what some of these consultants were expressing as a difficult point for them is when the manufacturer comes in and says, "Yeah, we know our literature says we can't roof over something wet, but this isn't too wet, so go ahead and go over it." And in that instance, you have a manufacturer that's failing to enforce their own recommendations. Those type of things contribute to failures in the future. These instructions that have been published, written and published by manufacturers have been written and published that way for a reason. So when you get a field guy or a salesman that says, "Oh yeah, I know it's written that way, but we really don't have to do that." It ends up causing problems later on for the project team.
Now, this one might be written kind of funny. You might read this one and say, emphasizing new products that have been tested. You go, "Well, we want those to be tested." Of course, we want those to be tested. But oftentimes these products have not been tested with the test of time. These have been tested in a laboratory environment, and that's all that these manufacturers have before they initially release some of this, is to just do these laboratory tests. But as we've seen throughout roofing history, sometimes these laboratory tests don't tell the full story. These products get released, they've been tested in a laboratory environment, and then we find out four or five, nine years later, we have some major failures.

So the way that the manufacturer sometimes contributes to the problem is they push some of their new products rather than relying on some of their time tested products. And I know we're all trying to improve and to make innovation and try to move things forward, but we don't want to do that at the risk of causing problems for ourselves or our clients. So we just need to use caution as we're embracing new technologies and using those that are just brand new out on the market. So those are some of the ways that manufacturers can contribute to the success of a project. But these are also things that contractors, designers and owners can look out for when you're dealing with the manufacturers. These are ways that we can look and keep in a system of checks and balances.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And to that point, Jon, really, as contractors are using this list, which is a great list to check with their reps or their salespeople, but what is some of your advice for pushing back? I mean, if they need to say, "You're really overselling the merits of this." Or, "I don't see that." How do they get that information? What's some of your recommendations?

Jon Belnap: Yeah, really the best thing I can do is just be curious. Just ask a lot of questions. If something doesn't sound right or smell right, it might not be right. So push back, ask those questions and tell you're satisfied. Of course, the other thing you can do is consult with some of your peers in the industry. You might be able to find a good resource with another contractor or a friend you have somewhere else. But push back, ask the hard questions, ask the difficult questions. Ask them to show you the track records and to provide that information for you. But also, I highly recommend consult with your trusted peers in the industry.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I would add to that. It really is the peers, but go to your associations. I mean, I know that the associations on Western States, MRCA, Florida, NRCA. NRCA are doing all kinds of research and testing too. So it's a great place if you have a question, if something's not smelling a hundred percent right, I like how you said that. It's a great place to kind of do a little Google and talk to your associations and see what other contractors and what's being found out. So great advice.

Jon Belnap: Absolutely. When you're at these networking events, talk and collaborate with your peers and the leaders of these organizations.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, there's a lot of information. We're a tight little group we all know. So, okay, let's look at actually some of those failures, and you could walk us through this on video.

Jon Belnap: Yeah, so I mean, we're moving on to talk about workmanship errors. And so here's just a quick little video of a seam being probed and finding a void in that seam, which is a workmanship problem. And I think we have one more.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: One more. There you go.

Jon Belnap: I'm sure most people on this call will be familiar with this, but this is a test cut just to verify the quality of a seam that has been previously welded. So as you watch here, you can see that process of doing some quality control or quality assurance on a welded seam. What do you think? Drop in the chat. Good or bad? Pass or fail.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Okay.

Jon Belnap: Any responses on the pass or fail?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Bad.

Jon Belnap: Bad, bad fell. Yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So, let's talk a little bit about some of those workmanship errors and what to watch out for.
Jon Belnap: Yeah, so again, here's another party of the roofing project, right? We talked about the manufacturers potential contributions. Now let's talk a little bit about what happens sometimes from a workmanship perspective. The three we're going to talk about is there's often an ignorance of consequences. Somebody doesn't know what they're doing affects the overall quality. Often, and this is a big one that I really can't stress enough, is having proper supervision. And then a focus on quality rather than production and we'll talk more about that too. But when it comes to an ignorance of consequences, often these workmanship errors, they're the result of not understanding the impact of your work on the overall quality of the project.

It's a situation where the installer himself may not really know what it means to not get that seam weld to quite properly or not properly clean and prepare the work that they're doing. They may not just completely understand how that impacts the quality of the project. So one of the things that we can do there is really provide a lot of comprehensive training and education to the workers regarding the consequences. Sometimes they may not understand that that one little void can cost thousands of dollars of damage, and not just in terms of to the building, but also to the contents inside, and sometimes even business interruption, right? Sometimes these leaks can actually stop at business from working, which is a whole nother expense that becomes part of that claim at times. So really emphasizing the importance of attention to detail and adhering to best practices is a way to help keep our workers so that they understand some of these consequences or supervision or lack of supervision. Look, I get it, we're all human. I've worked on the roof as well for many years. We might not understand the impact of our quality of our work. We might be having a bad day. Some days we might just not care. It might be too hot outside, it might be too cold outside, it might be too wet, and maybe we just want to get home for the day, right? I've been there, we've been there. Sometimes we might even be using subcontract labor. That's a big thing now. We might not really know the level of expertise of some of our subcontract labor. Some of them are really great and some may not be as good, but the solution to any of these situations is to provide proper supervision. By having a robust supervision and quality control program in place, we can help catch these things before they ever get to become a problem for a failure down the road. Assigning experienced supervisors to oversee the work, make sure they're checking it at various stages.

This all requires regular site inspections to ensure that the work's being carried out and what are they inspecting for? Really, they're trying to make sure that the work's being done according to the design specifications. We want to make sure that we're doing this the way it was designed, but then also we want to make sure that we're doing it the way that the manufacturer needs it to be done for warranty purposes and such. So again, this is a great way, encourage open communication between the workers and supervisors and have them promptly address any of these concerns or issues, rather than waiting until it becomes a much bigger problem later on. For me, I'd rather catch that there was a problem with welding on day one, then catch there was a problem with welding on day 17, right? Because then I don't have to go back and fix 17 days of improper welding.

I can start getting it right from day one on. All right, so this topic, the third one here, focus on production rather than quality, we're out here to make a living and to make money off these projects. So we have to have some focus on production. We're competing, we're bidding with our lowest costs, trying to get these jobs and win these jobs. So I get where production is a very, very important to this, right? We can't go out there and lose money, but we can also do things that help our workers focus on quality. And I saw this a lot when I was a registered roof observer doing full-time observations. I got the chance to see the mindset of various foreman that were on my jobs. Sometimes that mindset was focused on production and sometimes their mindset was focused on quality. Sometimes we had the perfect balance of having a foreman that he was mindful of production, but he was also very mindful of having quality. Sometimes I would find out that these mindsets really originated from the company culture. This would usually be driven down from above to these guys.

It could be a situation where their superintendent or their project manager was only focusing on production, telling them, "Hey guys, I need this many squares done today. If you don't get this many squares, we're losing money. You're losing money and you're not going to have a job." Sometimes I found that to be the case. These guys were incentivized only on production. If you get this much done, we're going to give you this bonus. "If you can meet this all the way through the project, we're going to give you these bonuses." But there's a way that we can incentivize both production but also incentivize on quality. We can implement performance metrics that have quality indicators, not just production targets. And so getting that right balance, we can deliver the production that you need, but also do that with quality in mind.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And we have a note here about probe your steams daily, and really what you were saying about inspections, one of the things that I know having worked for major roofing manufacturers is that manufacturers send out their tech reps to do inspections and to help crews with workmanship on the roof. Maybe talk a little bit about that of how that can really help in this education of the crews and also supervision.

Jon Belnap: So that's a very critical point, and I'm glad you bring that up because most manufacturers are going to offer you some type of an educational program way before you ever set foot on the first job. Take them up on that, bring them into your shop, go down to the local hall, wherever you want to have that training class. Take advantage of those regularly. You need to do them now, but you need to have a commitment to do those regularly because your staff changes. Products change, things change. So just doing it once and being done is not enough. You need to be doing that regularly.

Getting that education and that training done at regular intervals, especially as you have turnover and new crew starting. But also involving them as you know, Heidi, to involve these guys on the job as these jobs are going. Get them out there at job start to make sure that that job gets started off the right way. Get them out there at regular intervals to see that, have them come back, whatever is most appropriate for that job. It might be every week, it might be every month, just depending on the project, but inviting them back and having them provide updated reports and inspections will help keep those projects on target.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And catch things all the way through. I love your thing, it's better to know day one than day 14. So I know a lot of the tech reps out there will come out at the beginning to just start the job, come out halfway through, come out at the end and do the inspection. That really gives you that opportunity for the last two slides talking about for the manufacturer and the contractor to be working together to make sure, that installation.

Jon Belnap: Yeah, agree. That's very well tying those two first together. Yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, it does. And then we move on to the design community, roofing consultants, architects, engineers, whoever may be doing that. There can be some problems that way too. So let's talk about that.

Jon Belnap: Absolutely. This, I don't know, it may be the biggest category of problems. It might originate here, I don't know. But one of my favorite stories or conversations happened when I walked into an architect's office a number of years ago, and he was very open and candid, but he proceeded to tell me that he knew very little about roofing. He said, "I have a great vision for what I want my building to be able to do and what I want it to look like." But he said, "I know very little about keeping it watertight." He also said that the roofing industry is developing so fast that it's a moving target for him that he can't keep up with all of the changes and the products and the developments, and it was a hard thing for him to do. He further reinforced his lack of knowledge by saying, "Look, when I was in school to become an architect, we had very little education focused on roofing."

I think he said that it was like one or two hours of his entire four to five years of education was actually spent learning about roofs. That's changing, if you look at some of the developments in the industry now. There's I think 38 universities now that have a much more robust program for the architects and engineers to take so that we can solve some of this problem through education, right? These guys can come out of school knowing a lot more about roof design, but right now, that still hasn't caught up. We still have a lot of guys coming out of these schools that don't have a lot of experience with this. And so he knew that he was lacking in that area, and he wanted to rely on some roof consultants and some other people to help him put that piece together. But you really need to ensure that the design team consists of experienced architects, engineers, consultants, that have a deep understanding of roofing materials and the products.

And one thing you can do there is just help encourage some of these guys to continue with continuing education. Just like we talked about, having more education and redoing that education at regular intervals for the roofing contractors and for the workers, these designers need to have the same thing. They need to be continually developing their professional skills as these standards evolve. Codes change, products change, they need to be on top of that as they continue to practice in this area. Changing environments, so as I mentioned, just barely codes get updated regularly. A lot of times that has to do with this code hasn't been working because we've seen failures in this way. Back in 2000, they added a lot to the code about perimeter edge metal. There've been a lot of failures through the hurricanes up until that moment where edge metals were blowing off.

Well, in 2000 roughly, they added this ANSI/SPRI ES-1 that we to code to help secure edges better. But what if you're a designer that hasn't kept up on that? You're still using a spec from 1997 or 1994. It has updated to the latest codes. So as our environments change, trying to anticipate some of the future changes and weather patterns, sometimes we're looking at some of these hurricanes now that are larger and more fierce than they've ever been. Some of the health storms I've seen recently are bigger health storms and more fierce than what has ever been. So keeping up with that, anticipating future changes and patterns is something that designers need to be thinking about proactively to help design roofs that can adapt to maybe an increase in rainfall, temperature fluctuations or higher wind loads. And then updating their specifications regularly.

And as contractors and manufacturers, we can sometimes help educate them on some of that, "Hey, this spec might be a little bit outdated. Maybe get some help with that." The third area that I see most failures coming from in the design community is when they have to integrate with their other consultants. So architects often will hire a mechanical engineer to design their mechanical systems. They'll hire an electrical engineer to design the electrical systems, plumbing engineer for that, and then they'll have facade consultants that are helping tie all these systems together. A lot of times these design errors and omissions occur between these professionals, that there can be a lack of communication and coordination between consultants. The plumbing engineer says, "Run this plumbing pipe up through the roof." But sometimes there's a disconnect on how that gets flashed. The plumbing engineer might even provide a detail on how to flash that that looks nothing like what the roofing products are going to be on that roof.

Happens all the time with the mechanical guys. They put this curb on the roof and they show a flashing that might be from a built up roof, but the architect is specifying a single-ply roof. So sometimes there's a big disconnect between each of these consultants that the architect has held. We just need to encourage a lot more interdisciplinary collaboration between these guys to identify these conflicts before it comes out to the design and is out being bid. There's also a lot of technology that these guys can use with BIM and some of the software that helps coordinate that. If some of these architects and consultants would adopt some of this new technology that would help watch out and check for some of these errors. But that's some of the ways that designers can contribute to a successful project, is their collaboration, their communication, and of course their own education.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And really for the roofing contractors, again, this is one of those things where if they have the specs ahead of time, if they've worked with their manufacturer, they can speak up to the design community and say, "Hey, here's the documentation. This is really what needs to happen." Working together with their manufacturers to make sure that you don't have mismatched systems up on a roof, that would not work out very well at all.

Jon Belnap: And there's a very formal process for that, Heidi, through the process of sending in RFIs, right?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right.

Jon Belnap: There's a mechanism for these guys to send in RFIs and to question those, and don't be afraid to question that, right? There's no bad question when it comes to getting these designs right.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, because it's your risk, you can't afford not to say something.

Jon Belnap: Right.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Exactly. So we also have the owner, which I think is... this really ties it all together. Is that owner who's hired the architect, who's hired the consultant, who's decided spec the manufacturer or someone else has, and who has hired the contractor. They really hold a lot of responsibility too.

Jon Belnap: They really do. And if there's one party that I want to lump most responsibility on that sometimes ends up taking the least responsibility. It can often be the owners that so much of the contracts are written to protect them and to help them and maybe put a lot of the responsibility and liability on other parties. But they make a lot of the early decisions that affect a lot of the outcomes later on. And one of those is the first one on our list here is having adequate funding, right? Sometimes an owner wants to build the Taj Mahal, but only has the budget for something much, much less. And so providing sufficient funding ensures that the project has the necessary resources like quality materials, right? If they don't have the right funding, sometimes one area that we try to value engineer is to a material that may not be as high quality.

Another place that if there's really, really tight funding, these owners want to get the lowest cost labor, the installer, right? They try to cut it everywhere. They might also select a design professional that has the lowest price rather than the best qualifications. So having adequate funding upfront is really important to having what we need to cover all the aspects of a roofing project. This next one is another area that really can be detrimental is having a reasonable schedule or an unreasonable schedule. It happens here. I'm in Las Vegas, and it happens here regularly where a casino wants to be open by this date because being open is money for them, right? If they're not open by such and such date, that's costing them money. So they come back to the contractor, the general contractor who puts it on the roofer and says, "I need you done by this date." Well, sometimes as we get rushed, these rush schedules can lead to mistakes and compromise the quality of the workmanship.

So having an owner that gives you a reasonable amount of time to consider weather conditions and the complexity of the design and the availability of materials. If they take all that into account and give us a reasonable schedule, we're in a better position to complete the project without problems. Quality design professional is the next one on the list. And this one I touched on already, but sometimes when the budget is being crunched, an owner might select an architect for reasons other than their expertise. And when they start selecting an architect, an engineer or a consultant that is just cheap or low cost and maybe not qualified to do the type of roof that they want and doesn't have the experience doing that, sometimes they really get what they pay for. So owners need to select quality design professionals based on their experience with the type of roof that they're after.

The next point here is owners and selecting trusted, tested and proven products. Sometimes you'll have an owner that wants to become the technical authority over what they want specified on their product. They'll say, "Oh, hey, I had this manufacturer's rep in here. He told me that this product is the best thing since sliced bread. I want to use this." And that might even be overriding his own professional advice that he's getting from his consultants and his contractors. His contractors and consultants might be saying, "No, this is not the right thing for this." But sometimes these owners take that onus on themselves and say, "No, this is what I want you to use and specify and use here." And it may not be a time-tested proven product. So owners really need to do their part here to collaborate with the project team, research high quality products, and only use stuff that really has withstood the test of time.

And I know this one hits home with a lot of our audience here, is using qualified bidders. All contractors are not the same, right? There's differences in qualifications. There's some that are more reputable than others. And so when you're competing against contractors that may not be of the same qualities yourself, that's a difficult thing to compete against. And there's things that owners can do when they develop their bid criteria to set a higher standard for just having qualified bidders on the project. I get that there's some situations in public works that you may be a little bit more trapped into selecting low bid just based on bid. But most of the time there's even things in those situations that owners can put in place to help make sure they're getting a higher qualified bidder.

And then I think that one of the viewer's comments before we had was about lack of maintenance. There was preventative maintenance that needs to happen. This is crucial for the longevity of any roof. Neglecting maintenance is going to lead to minor issues, which will escalate into major problems. And that will ultimately affect the functionality of the roof and its lifespan. So this is one of those areas that owners really can do a lot to extend the life of their roof. If they'll just implement a proactive approach, engage the roofing contractors in a program of regular maintenance and inspection, that's going to help extend the life of these roofs.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: When I really look at this, and I go back to Jill's comment about preventative maintenance, it is so important, and that should be part of the initial proposal for ongoing long-term preventive maintenance to reduce everyone's risk across the board. But I did want to bring up, Jon, on this slide just real quickly, the importance of really looking at certifications too. I think when we're talking about quality design professionals, you should be looking at IBEC. And for building envelope consultants who have been certified and who know what they're doing, roof observers, roof consultants. And then also we have to note on pro certification from NRCA. I mean, to have pro certified installers on the roof is so important, and IB Roof has done so much in that area to help get more installers certified. So I mean, those are the kinds of things that owners should be looking for and that contractors should be talking about that they have.

Jon Belnap: That's a great point, and I'm glad you brought that up because it really does make a difference. And those are things that can be written into a specification by a designer. They can write in that they want pro certified contractors only. They want manufacturer certified contractors. There's things that they can ride into those specs that help set you apart from others.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And mitigate risk.

Jon Belnap: Yeah, that solves the potential for failures, which is really the point of this conversation.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It all goes together. It really does. Okay, so let's get one more poll in here. So we're just curious, after hearing all of this and talking about everyone. We're curious on what you think is which category generates the most? Roof failures, roofing failures, the design element, the installation, manufacturing or the owner. Wow.

Jon Belnap: I'm interested to see this one. Yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. We'll give this just a few more minutes here, or not minutes, another minute to get everybody in on what they think is where the problem is for roof failures. And everybody's going to find this... In fact, I'm going to show this one. I think everyone's going to find this very, very interesting. So if everybody can get their final contributions in on this poll, your answers. Okay, we're going to end poll and we're going to share the results here. Craig, you crack me up. So as you can see here, everyone on the call, which I'm saying is mostly contractors, you're saying it's installation. So I think a lot of what you've talked about today, Jon, really hits the spot of working with your manufacturers, making sure that you have the support and the pro certification, everything that you need to really have the best installation. And then next is design, and finally manufacturing. So no one is blaming the owner.

Jon Belnap: I'm surprised there wasn't a little bit of owner.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I know.

Jon Belnap: Owner contribution, yeah. Interesting though, yeah. And I don't know that there's really any definitive data that says that one category is bigger than the other. But definitely those top two are the top two, design and installation are definitely always the top two when it comes up.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So, thank you everybody for those polls. We truly appreciate it. And we are going to finish up with an overview on how contractors can get help with risk management. So let's talk. We've talked a little bit about this, but let's talk a lot more about this. And also, we're getting to the end of our presentation. So if you have any questions, now's the time. Please get them into the chat. So Jon, where can people get help.

Jon Belnap: And you're right, we've kind of been talking through this as we've gone through today. But in the final moments here, just to kind of summarize where you can get help. A big one, continuous education and training. Contractors can stay updated with the latest roofing technologies, the latest installation methods. And they can participate in these training programs and certification programs offered by manufacturers, by the NRCA. That's really going to be probably one of the best drivers to preventing future failures, is proper education and training for the people. Another place you can get a lot of help is what we talked about too, networking and through industry organizations, actively participating in IBEC and Western States. And these different options that we have out there is these forums looking at the research initiatives that they're doing. Collaborating with these guys will help foster knowledge sharing and develop the best practices for everybody. So that's a great place to get help and support is networking and through the different industries.

If you need more help than that, there's always consulting with experts. And when I'm talking experts here, I'm not just talking about what might be considered roofing experts or these trade organizations. But this would be specifically talking with your attorney and your insurance people, consulting with your legal support. Making sure that you're adequately insured, making sure that your contracts are written in a way that really provide you the most protection possible. So consulting with experts is another way that contractors can get a lot of help in this area. And then just to conclude, collaboration and communication is really what's key for the success of these projects. And that's between these four parties, between the owner, the designer, the contractor and that's where collaboration needs to happen, manufacturers included in that. If we can communicate openly, honestly, and effectively with each other, we're not going to end up with a roof like the one that was blowing in the wind there. It's just not going to happen. That's the biggest thing, is just working together as a team to make sure that that doesn't happen.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And Jon, I'm going to add one more bullet point here, RoofersCoffeeShop®. I do have to say there is so much great information on RoofersCoffeeShop®, continuing education classes, manufacturers who you can get ahold of, experts in the industry who share their wisdom as influencers. So I would say definitely checking out your online resources constantly and working through that. And I do have to give a final plug for the associations because you said something there that just really piqued me or my interest in that you cannot just become a member, but get involved... if I can talk. Get involved on the technical committees, get involved on the research committees, be a board member of your regional associations and your national and state. I know that there are some great trainings coming out from North Texas right now. Every association out there is doing this. So there is many ways to help mitigate your risk, and a lot of it comes from our community.

Jon Belnap: Very good. And I did, in preparing for this, I looked back through some of the presentations that have been on RoofersCoffeeShop®. There's a lot of great content there, so I would echo that as well. Yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Thank you. And I do want to say I don't see any questions in here, so if anybody has any other questions, but I would highly recommend that you go to the IB Roof Systems directory on RoofersCoffeeShop®. You can get straight to their website. You can also get a lot of information on this. Jon's been doing some great presentations, and we're going to have more and more out there on risk mitigation and really how to work with that design community. I think that's such a hot... that's been a hot topic, I think for 30 years. How to work with consultants, how to work with architects, how to work owners better and all of that is being covered. So Jon, thank you. What a great presentation. I learned a lot. And I want to just say thank you so much for taking your time and being here today to share your wisdom.

Jon Belnap: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It was great. And I want to thank all of you also for being on this RLW and watching. Be sure if you are interested in the technologies that Jon was talking about, tomorrow morning we will have our Coffee Conversations brought to you by A Hundred Panels, which is going to feature BIM and Revit. So exactly what we were just talking a little bit about today, so you can learn more then. That's at 7:00 AM Pacific tomorrow morning. You can also find, like I said, podcast information, great things on sustainability from IB Roof Systems, all on their directory on RoofersCoffeeShop®. And please join us next month for our next RLW, always the last Wednesday of the month at 11:00 AM Pacific. So we will be seeing you all next time. And be sure to catch this and share it on demand on your favorite podcast channels and on our YouTube's channels. Be sure to subscribe and get those notifications. Have a great day. We'll be seeing you next month on RLW from RoofersCoffeeShop®.

 



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