Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Tim Hart and Dan Ervin with Duro-Last. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.
Heidi Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to Roofing Road Trips. We are here again today to really look at what's been happening through COVID and also now in the new normal. And I am very excited to have some gentlemen here today who are part of a team that has really made a difference inside and outside of the roofing industry. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and I'm an RCS partner. And today we have Tim Hart, Vice-President with Duro-Last Roofing and Dan Ervin, Director of National Accounts for Duro-Last Roofing, here to talk about their very exciting PPE manufacturing program. So gentlemen, Tim and Dan, welcome to the podcast.
Tim Hart: Thank you, Heidi. It's a pleasure to be involved.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well, you know what? I have known Tim for a long time. We both serve on the Western States Board. We both are from Oregon and I've just recently been able to meet Dan and hearing some amazing things that you're doing, but I would love it if both of you would share with our listeners, a little bit about yourself, your history in roofing and kind of your current roles at Duro-Last. So Tim, why don't we start with you?
Tim Hart: Sure. Thank you, Heidi. It's a privilege to be involved with Roofers Coffee Shop on especially, this important subject. I started my career in Duro-Last, just about from day one when we started the company. I'm originally from Saginaw, Michigan, and I started with Duro-Last 38 years ago at our world headquarters in Saginaw and I worked in various different capacities, including our engineering department. I managed our in-house quality assurance lab, was a plant supervisor. And again, just worked in a very many different roles at our headquarters. And then in 1987, we opened up our first plant outside of Oregon, or excuse me, outside of Saginaw in Grants Pass, Oregon. So I relocated to Grants Pass to run that manufacturing facility, which covered 13 states, and I worked as a first a supervisor, then the plant manager and then the general manager. And then I was promoted to vice-president of the west. And as Heidi mentioned, served on several boards. I'm very proud to be affiliated with Western Roofing Contractor Association Advisory Council. It's a great industry and I very much enjoy being involved in it.
Heidi Ellsworth: Tim, I love serving on that board with you. You always have excellent ideas and we always have a really good time especially, it's just a great group of people. But Dan, tell us a little bit about you. Tell us about your history.
Dan Ervin: Yeah, thank you very much for having us here today. And you know, my history's almost at the other end of the spectrum from Tim as it relates to roofing. I'm not only new to Duro-Last in the last eight months. This is my entree into the roofing industry. I've spent my entire career in kind of sales and sales leadership roles in the real estate, mortgage and technology worlds. And from an entrepreneurial perspective of building a family business to selling that and working with us and some large international companies and everywhere in between. So I always looked at this as a very interesting business to me. I knew some people in it and when I was afforded the opportunity to become a part of Duro-Last and help the company grow out its national accounts group, I decided this is something I wanted to take a look at. So I'm very new, I'm learning a whole lot every day. And what I've been tasked to do is to take our national accounts group and see if we can grow this thing exponentially over the course of the next few years. So that's relationships with large companies in all different industries who have large numbers of locations across a dispersed geography and helping those companies really manage their inventory and keep them walking across the country. So I'm new and that's what I'm learning as I drink from the fire hose every day and excited to be here. And again, thanks for having us.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well, welcome to roofing. What a great company you're starting, to come into roofing, to be with Duro-Last, that's a great thing. Well, I've been familiar with Duro-Last for a long time. The very beginning of my career in roofing, I did some articles for Western Roofing Magazine with a contractor out of Oregon who was a huge Duro-Last installer. So I've followed the company for a long time and always so impressed, but really, I mean, during this COVID, you all have just shined, I mean, the what you did with quickly transitioning to be able to manufacture PPE, just kind of put everybody on their toes, it's just so cool. Dan, how did that idea develop and become a reality?
Dan Ervin: Well, obviously over the course of February and really into March as things started to really, really come to a head with COVID, you didn't have to look far to realize that there was beginning to be a heck of a lot of talk about severe shortages with PPE for frontline providers. We have some very, very entrepreneurial, very smart people in our organization, in our manufacturing group, in our R&D, in our product development team. And essentially it was just kind of a small group of people who came together and said, "What can we do? We are a custom fabricator. We are totally unique in that regard in the roofing space. And if we're truly a custom fabricator, then we should be able to step up as that and help out." And so the, the idea was, can we actually create a gown? One of the things that we'd heard there was just massive shortage in are these non-surgical, isolation gowns. So what we developed was a six mill, nontoxic, nonpermeable, isolation gown. We actually welded it right there at our facilities and pulled a bunch of people in it and prototyped it multiple times, literally over the course of a few days. [inaudible 00:06:56] is that our CEO, Tom Saeli is on the board of William Beaumont Hospital, which is, I believe the largest hospital system in Michigan. So he connected us with some of their folks who obviously showed tremendous need and a willingness to help us work through prototypes and get the right product in play. So literally within a matter of from a Saturday on one week to the Friday of the following week, we had begun delivering to William Beaumont Hospital, these gowns in the hundreds and thousands and within a couple of weeks, had begun manufacturing up to 3000 a day. And I think the medical world's not that much different than the roofing world in that it's a small community really, as big as it is. And once word got out, we started having our phones blow up from hospitals, both in Michigan and around the country, any type of care providers from senior centers, to hospice centers, and everywhere in between. So we've been now manufacturing these and shipping these for the last few months. And we also developed and began delivering masks as well. So those were the products and I'll go into it a little bit, but it was an incredible and continues to be an incredible team, to be a part of. You can see the passion and the ability for a group to be this nimble and come together on a real cross functional exercise like this involving all these different aspects of our company, to get to market and provide some support.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah, that's what I saw too. It just seemed like it was so fast and that was so inspirational. I think everybody needed a little bit of that. And the pride of this roofing company of really stepping forward or manufacture I should say. Dan, what was some of the feedback that you had from your frontline healthcare workers? What did they think of this? A roofing manufacturer coming in and heat welding and bringing in gowns. What were some of the reactions?
Dan Ervin: Pleasant surprise, and extraordinary appreciation. A PVC gown is definitely different than what these folks are used to. And what they found is that this is roofing membrane. These things are bulletproof compared to the typical kind of disposable gowns that have prevailed in the industry. So once they kind of got done raising their eyebrows, like, "What the heck is that thing?" And put them on, the feedback was that they felt safe. And you know as well as I do Heidi and man, it's all people are really, really concerned about, especially those folks who are right on the frontline every day and that was the prevailing feedback is these are safe, they're different, they take a little bit of adjusting to. They're not quite as breathable as you can imagine, as the typical gowns may have been, but at a time where safety's at a premium, they've worked well and again, the feedback has been very, very positive.
Heidi Ellsworth: Wow. Well, and we're going come back too, because there's a whole line that now you have and Duro-Last's has put together, that is pretty impressive. But before we go there, I just kind of want to bring to attention that Duro-Last has an amazingly strong history of safety. And I know Tim, and Tim, as you and I have talked about this, you've been working and partnering with Ocean Oregon for 32 years and kind of has taken that out national. Could you share a little bit of that history of just that commitment to safety that Duro-Last has and how you've been involved?
Tim Hart: Sure, absolutely. Heidi, it's a family-owned business, the safety of our employees and our contractors, has been a top priority from the inception of the company. After relocating to Oregon, I called OSHA and entered into their workplace consultation program, knowing that they see more than I see, and having another set of eyes on our operation, looking for anything that we could do to keep our employees safe, would make our operation a better place for our employees to work. That partnership continued throughout the entire time that I've been out west. And in 2000, we entered into what was at that time, the highest safety program, which was called the OSHA Sharps Recognition Program. We started again that in the year 2000, and we graduated in 2006, which at the time was, we reached the highest level, and that was the highest recognition program that the state had. And the basis behind that was if we could change the culture of the work environment, get everybody to embrace safety, live safety, promote safety, keep each other safe, that we would be just a world class organization. In 2014, we started the process of obtaining a federal program called OSHA VPP, which stands for Voluntary Protection Program. It's very tough to get this program. There's two levels, Star and Merit. We started in 2014 and in 2016, we received the VPP award and we're the first company in Oregon history to go directly to the star level the very first time. And again, that's a tribute of our employees and just how they embrace the safety culture. We now mentor other divisions of our company and other businesses and other hand roofing contractors in general, I've worked with several roofing contractors on their safety program and just recently our Iowa division, was the next plant to receive VPP Star and they received star their first time as well. And so, safety continues to be the cornerstone for our business, and it's embraced by everybody from the top all the way down. And then Heidi, when this pandemic started, PPE was in high demand. As Dan mentioned, we're a custom fabricated house. We always have been. Our philosophy is if you can draw it, we can make it. So I'm not surprised in the least bit that our employees quickly figured out how to make it, and that we stepped up to the challenges that our industry was facing and our families were facing.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I tell you what, it just all goes together, Tim and now I think a lot of people were taking really safety to the whole new level of protecting. First, you helping with the hospital and the frontline healthcare, but now really looking at, how do we incorporate this into roofing to protect our professionals on the roof, to protect all the people who are out there as essential workers. And that, I'm really excited to hear about that. So, Dan, why don't you talk to us a little bit about Safe Stuff. I love that name, first of all, and kind of how are you taking this whole concept of the great things you did in healthcare and now bringing it to the rooftop for our contractors?
Dan Ervin: Well, I will tell you, that was always on the brain of all the folks within Duro-Last, even when we started out creating really only the items for the medical community. It was, what are we going to create to keep contractors safe? Obviously, the contractors that are certified with us, we've been working with for years and years, of course, but our thought was, "Let's just open the playbook up on this. And if we can create some things, make them available just to support and keep our industry safe." And so we created several products in the safe stuff, PPE, a group that actually fell under a larger initiative, what we call our COVID response team. So a gentleman by the name of Brian Renier, who mans the East coast for us, really launched and led this team that has been... The products are a part of it, and I'll speak to them in a moment, but it's also providing information and services again, to keep contractors and their team safe. And a lot of that information is available on our website. So up to date, real time information. All the different criteria and guides that are out there from different safety organizations and things people need to be in the know with. As it relates to the product specifically, again, that's the thought is, "How can we keep our contractors, their equipment, the job sites they're on, the clients and building owners are working for and with, the employees of those companies, keep everything sanitized and safe?" So in no particular order, the products that comprise the Safe Stuff package are hand sanitizer. So it's 80% ethanol alcohol, delivering in a one gallon jug. And anybody who's been in need of hand sanitizer, frankly, I don't know anyone who has not, has found it's been very, very difficult to find. And so we've been able to acquire the raw goods and out of our coatings organization with Anvil, we've been able to create and package and deliver in one gallon jugs, hand sanitizer. Also, we have been able to get our hands on a good amount of caution tape and again, the idea with that is, what can our contractors do to set up their work sites and to keep them safe and keep all folks around them safe? So it's very high quality. It's four mill, it's three inches wide. It's indoor/outdoor, very, very durable, caution tape for any team anywhere in the country. And we also have created face covers. Call it a mask, call it a face cover. If you can imagine, it's kind of like an Under Armour type material. So great, great flexibility, great comfort, breath ability and it's something locals can get where they're washable and get them to quantities very easily from us. And then the last product I wanted to mention, which is frankly, something I've never seen before. And the response to it has been beyond anything we've imagined because of the uniqueness of the product. And that is sanitizing wipes. You say, "What do you mean? I got a can of those Clorox wipes sitting in my closet at home. What makes these unique?" Well, we all have that can of Clorox wipes sitting at home, but those are usually six or seven inches by six or seven inches, and it's hard to get a lot of coverage out of them before they just kind of crawl up on themselves or fall apart, or run out of cleaning agent, especially if you're out doing what our roofers do. So we created a wipe that actually comes in a bucket. And the reason it comes in a two gallon bucket or in the case of our larger wipes, a five gallon bucket, is because frankly the wipes are huge. The wipes in the five gallon bucket are made of up of 35% rayon, 65% fleece material. So these things are rugged and almost like our membrane, you just cannot tear these things. They are very, very sturdy. And they're 8 by 18 inches. So one single one of these wipes or towels is what I really call them, is one square foot of material. And the cleaning agent, there's over a gallon of our hand sanitizer that goes in and soaks these. So, when you think of, seeing it would be much easier, but when you see one of these, you realize that these things are kind of bulletproof. So, you need to clean all your tools or a whole ladder or the inside of the truck at the beginning and end of the day, you can go a long, long way. And the larger version of these come in a five pound bucket, or actually a five gallon bucket are actually 12 inches by 24 inches. So a two square foot of material per sheet, sanitizing wipes. So again, we just launched these products in the last couple of weeks. The initial feedback has been amazing. And again, this is, what's the services, what is the information and what are the products that we can provide to the roofing community to keep all of these folks safe, to keep their work sites sanitized and keep those safe that they're out doing business with and calling on every day.
Heidi Ellsworth: Wow. I love those towels. That is cool. I'm just kind of like, "Wow," because when you think about up on the rooftop and everything that you're doing, or in your trucks, or like you said, the ladders and the tools, I mean, to be able to have that secure safety feeling of knowing everything's been wiped down, it's easy to wipe down, it's handy. For roofing contractors, I mean, I can see that in the office, up on the roof, in the warehouse, in the trucks, they're going to have those everywhere.
Dan Ervin: Yeah. So, who was the first person who wanted to get some of these? My wife and her friends, our friends, everybody who sees one of these says, "I got to get my hands on some." But our focus out of the shoot is to make these available to the roofing community first and then we'll worry about the rest of the world after that on these ones.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. Yeah. You can tell, I know I got a little excited there too. I'm like, "Woo. I got to get in line. That's awesome." So as we're looking at this, and so you said you just launched it. So Tim, what kind of, I mean, I know you're working with the contractors every day. What are you hearing about all of these products from the contractors? What do they think?
Tim Hart: Well, Heidi, first off, there was almost a panic because there just wasn't availability of the PPE on the marketplace of the safe stuff. And as the states started to open up, the contractors needed to comply with the COVID requirements and those COVID requirements and required PPE for employees and for job site requirements and so forth. So in the beginning it was panic, where do I get these? Since we've introduced the Safe Stuff product, as Dan has mentioned, that the sanitary wipes are extremely popular, not only in our industry, but really outside the industry as well for cleaning and disinfecting equipment and so forth. I've seen several different contractors' programs where they're wiping down equipment after every break or twice a day after lunch. So we're really seeing a high demand for the safety stuff products. And as our CEO has said, "It's not a business that we planned on being in, but our ability to quickly mobilize with our team and with our equipment, was just not only the right thing to do, but it was instrumental in keeping our employees safe and everybody safe we come in contact with." So it was just, it was good to do.
Heidi Ellsworth: That, wow. That is so cool. And Dan, I mean, I know I love this, the fact that you are relatively new to roofing and you're right in the middle of kind of a revolution of new products and new way of thinking about things. I keep comparing from 9/11 we got TSA, from COVID, we're now having this. Really, this whole new push on regulations. What are you seeing in the roofing industry, as you're introducing this out?
Dan Ervin: I think right now, a lot of roofers are looking for clarity and guidance. There's so much information and frankly and unfortunately, there's so much misinformation, that I think it's hard to keep up at the end of the day when your focus is, you're an entrepreneurial, you're an independent company out there as all of our roofers are, and trying to make it through your day, go win business, go deliver upon the promises that you make. And now you've got this entirely new element that's going to bring you... It's going to require you to act to look out for your teams in ways that you just haven't had to necessarily up to this point, to be even more responsible in a business where safety and being responsible is already as critical as it is. So it's raised the stakes, but being new to the business, maybe it's been an advantage because I'm not stuck in any one way of doing things. I don't know enough in the business yet to be stuck in one way of doing things, but it just seems that our commitment to our roofers needs to be, what can we do to help you be successful in your business, keep you safe and maybe provide you some of the information we have as a national entity with feet on the street in so many markets, to information that we might be able to get, because we can focus on some of these other things, while you just focus on, building, maintaining and advancing your roofing business.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. That's awesome. That is great. So how can roofing contractors purchase Safe Stuff, Dan?
Dan Ervin: Yeah. So it's pretty easy. You just call our toll free number. The number's 800-248-0280, 800-248-0280. And again, one of the many unique things about Duro-Last is a human being actually answers the phone every time. And so whichever one of our people answers the phone and they're wonderful, just say, "Yeah, I'm calling to get my hands on some of this Safe Stuff PPE." And they will put into the hands of another live human voice who will take the orders. So there's information on our website as well, duro-last.com. It's duro-last.com. And if folks want to go straight to that part of our page, it's duro-last.com/safe stuff. But to order, the easiest fastest way is to call the toll free number, and we just take your right there. And we're shipping these products out of all of our plants around the country.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's amazing. That is so cool. And just for everyone listening too, you can also find all of this, because I know you may have been writing there, or repeating what Dan was saying. You can also find all of this in the directory, the Duro-Last directory on rooferscoffeeshop.com. Just go to the directory, look up Duro-Last, and we have actually received a lot of this information, all the flyers, the phone numbers, pictures of what it all looks like, all these five gallon buckets and hand sanitizer and everything else. We have that all on the directory too. So that way people, you can kind of find it wherever you're at. I just think this is going to be something that's going to become so mainstream and just going to be part of our normal life going forward. So I just have to say congratulations to both of you and to all of the wonderful people at Duro-Last for making this happen. Very cool.
Tim Hart: Thank you Heidi.
Dan Ervin: Thanks for all you do.
Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you. You know what, we're coming to the end of this podcast, but first, Tim, thank you so much as always just a pleasure. Thank you for taking your time out today.
Tim Hart: You bet. Thank you Heidi very much, it's a privilege.
Heidi Ellsworth: And Dan, you know what, we haven't met in person yet, but once we start traveling again, I'm really looking forward to spending some time and welcome again to the roofing industry. Once you're in, you never leave. So you're stuck with us now.
Dan Ervin: Yeah. I very much look forward to that as well. So thank you again so much for having us, truly.
Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you. And thank you everyone for listening. This Roofing Road Trips with Heidi is really... These podcasts are something that we want to bring information to you again, as part of our RLW, Read, Listen, Watch initiative so that you can get the information you want, the education you need, in the way you want, when you want. So be sure to visit Roofer's Coffee Shop on the RLW navigation and see all of the podcasts with Roofing Road Trips, Stories From the Roof, the Heidi and Vicki Show, and also be sure to subscribe to the podcast on your favorite listening channel so that you get these new podcasts coming out every week. We appreciate you listening today and for being a part of Roofer's Coffee Shop. Have a great day.
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