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Roofing Road Trips Podcast: Abby Feinstein

Roofing Roadtrip with Abby Feinstein
February 19, 2020

By Lauren White, RCS Reporter.

Learn more from one of the initiators of the low-slope labor study to improve efficiency, optimize crew and project management, and increase estimating accuracy. 

While Abby Feinstein, Product Manager for Commercial Roofing at CertainTeed, is newer to the roofing industry, she brings with her a set of unique skills that proved beneficial in the execution of “Factors Impacting Low-Slope Roofing Costs: A National Labor Study.”  In her podcast, Abby talks with Heidi Ellsworth, RoofersCoffeeShop® partner, about her work in the roofing industry and the labor study she was integral in organizing and facilitating.

According to Abby, she’s been “dabbling in roofing unintentionally for some time.”  And now that she’s in roofing, she never wants to get out. After graduating college, Abby spent seven years co-developing the first curved building integrated solar roofing tile.  She then spent the majority of her career in solar and energy efficiency startups. And now, Abby has been working with CertainTeed for four years.  

Once Abby started working with CertainTeed, she focused on identifying industry trends and understanding them.  As she started digging, she discovered, “...within the bituminous or modified bitumen sector, products that are self-adhered were thriving and growing, and products that were applied in, I would say more traditional methods of either mopping hot asphalt or cold adhesive or even torch, were either growing at a much lower rate or flat.”

She felt there was a push for CertainTeed’s self-adhered line, which she wanted to understand better.  She started asking contractors why they liked it so much and how fast it could be applied. Without getting a clear answer, Abby realized that there wasn’t a known answer.  “I’m not coming from roofing, but I have spent some time in both sales and marketing and in today’s world, people aren’t looking for slogans, they’re looking for data,” Abby shares.

This is when her research began.  She sought out to identify, “...how much time does it take to put down a self-adhered roof system versus the other types of products that we’re selling.  If we’re going to market it that way, let’s know what we’re talking about.”

Abby worked with a third party, Trinity | ERD, a building envelope consulting firm that does work all over the country.  Their recommendation was to look outside of CertainTeed, making it an industry study, not just a brand study. Abby explains, “If you look outside of the CertainTeed lens in low slope roofing, single-ply is the predominant roof covering at this time so while CertainTeed doesn’t sell a single-ply, we should certainly include observing jobs that go down with those products because it’s going to give it more context.” 

Over the course of the study, Trinity tracked 45 low-slope roof installations, which provided enough data to establish a national average.  Abby reveals that all of the projects were a similar height and size, with crews that had a similar experience level, and the roofs were all a steel deck with insulation.  These similarities made the data from the jobs more comparable since all of the factors were nearly equal.

The observations were tabulated into a spreadsheet with a data point for each application task (i.e. base flashing, drain, field) for each roof system.  In order to provide the data in a more digestible, apples-to-apples comparison, they applied the time data to a sample project. According to Abby, “Trinity spec’d what they felt was an average 500-square roof with X amount of drains, X amount of pipes, etc., to essentially simulate what we would have seen had the same roofing crew installed multiple roof systems on the same exact roof.”

Based on the data, there were three main takeaways.  First, compared to other systems, two-ply self-adhered bitumen systems were the quickest to go down.  The second takeaway is that tools that are not maintained, such as dull drill bits, uncharged batteries, and equipment that wasn’t tuned up, impact how quickly a system can be put down.  And lastly, “if you don’t have crews that are working well together, that are trained, optimizing their productive time, both of those things are going to dramatically impact whatever products you’re putting down,” Abby summarizes.

Her biggest advice, based on the information gathered in the study is, “...there is not one system that’s going to work for every roof.”  It’s important to understand the type of building, the climate, and the client’s desires, before deciding which roof system to apply. Further, knowing how efficient your crew is at putting down different systems is important for productivity and profitability.  

CertainTeed is dedicated to providing roof systems and products that can be applied quickly and that yield extended rooftop performance.  This national labor study provides commercial roofing contractors with information to assist them in making informed product decisions, improve efficiency, and make accurate estimates.  The data allows contractors to find solutions to, “Provide the types of roofs that are going to protect.

Listen to the podcast to hear more from Abby about the labor study.  Check out the RoofersCoffeeShop® podcast page for even more.  



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