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Rudy Gutierrez - Choosing Products that Perform - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Rudy Gutierrez - Choosing Products that Perform - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
March 13, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Rudy Gutierrez from Shell Roofing Solutions. You can read the transcript below or listen to the podcast.

Intro: Welcome to Roofing Road Trips, the podcast that takes you on a thrilling journey across the world of roofing. From fascinating interviews with roofing experts to on the road adventures, we'll uncover the stories, innovations and challenges that shape the rooftops over our heads. So fasten your seat belts and join us as we embark on this exciting roofing road trip.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to another Roofing Road Trips from Roofers Coffee Shop. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and I have the great pleasure of being here today with one of my very long-term friends in roofing. And that is Rudy Gutierrez with Shell Roofing Solutions. Hello, Rudy.

Rudy Gutierrez: Good afternoon, and thank you for having me.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: This is just making my day. I am just so happy.

Rudy Gutierrez: Awesome.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Our conversations have been going on for a very long time, and so on this Roofing Road Trip, I'm really hoping to pick your brain a little bit about performance and performance products because you are well known for that.

Rudy Gutierrez: Thank you. Absolutely. I'm ready.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So, okay, before we get started, a couple of things. First of all, I want to say that this Roofing Road Trips is being sponsored by USG and they are just an amazing company, and they are very much about performance. So Rudy, they said, "Let's talk to Rudy." And I said, "Oh yeah." This is going to be great. So Rudy, why don't we start out with an introduction. If you could introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your company.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yes. Well, first, thank you for having me. I'm certainly honored to be with you today, talk about products and performance. My name is Rudy Gutierrez and I'm president and CEO of Shell Roofing Solutions in California. We are a commercial roofing company. We service all of California, primarily in the area of specialty with regards to food processing, cold storage, aerospace, all the difficult stuff, and certainly areas where we have to use only the highest quality products.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And Rudy, just talk a little bit about, I mean, you had a vision. We worked together, so for everyone who's out there, Rudy and I worked together at Carlisle Construction Materials, and I learned so much from Rudy during that time, and we love to talk sales and marketing, but you had a vision for a roofing company. And so when you left Carlisle, tell us a little bit about starting Shell and that vision.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah. So as you said, we really enjoyed our careers at Carlisle. Fantastic company. Honed our skills. We got to push the limits on marketing and sales, and we created some great product literature. So you were always open to my crazy ideas and vice versa.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Loved them.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah. So before we started Shell Roofing, I wrote out a business plan and it had to be a plan that fit a shifting market in the sense that energy was going to be the go-to-market strategy. So the business plan was written around an energy efficiency company using roofing as our product and all the disciplines of roofing, whether it be our values, efficiencies, everything applied. And so we developed Shell Roofing Solutions, solutions being a... We want it to be more of a company where our clients come in and just tell us, this is what my building should be doing or tell me how to be more efficient at my building. And then we could design around that. And although it would lead the client from waterproofing the building all the way up to energy efficiency and then ultimately developing the specifications, writing up the specifications, I should say, for a solar ready roofing system and leave them ready for the next phase, which would be creating their own energy.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, that is so cool. And tell everybody what year this was that you did this.

Rudy Gutierrez: Okay. So I got this crazy idea of quitting my job in 2008 at the peak of the recession.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yes.

Rudy Gutierrez: Listen, if it was going to work, it was going to work then. That way it would be easier when the market was stable. And so yeah, the market responded well, our clients knew what we were talking about. It wasn't foreign to them. They knew that they could use that asset, the roof, to save money and then leverage that against the investment. And then using that platform to generate your own power, which is leading into solar.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And long before, I mean, really pretty far before anybody was really talking about it, you put this out into the market and in a perfect place in Southern California.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah, absolutely. We have plenty of sun. So it made it a lot easier to go in and sell a cool roof when the temperatures internally could be up to 125 degrees, and you could come in and lower that temperature substantially by about 20 degrees minimum. That changes everything. And it did. It does for our clients.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I love that. And so today your mission is very similar. Maybe talk about how has that changed since 2008 or not?

Rudy Gutierrez: So, we've evolved and we've added additional product lines to our services. We have a full division of repair and maintenance, which I love by the way. I love repair and maintenance. Maintaining that roof to extend the life cycle of the roof, that's been a great way to keep our clients close to us, keep them focused on our company. It allows us to be first when it's time to replace that roof or restore that roof, and it allows us to bring high quality products to our clients.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, that is so good. So let's talk about that. Let's talk about that a little bit, Rudy. What does it mean to sell performance?

Rudy Gutierrez: So, you have to be open to talking about a life cycle. So yes, you can get a product that will perform for 10 years, maybe 15 years max or you can get more long-term products with long-term warranties and really sell the value of a one investment versus two investments over a period of a life cycle. So sometimes when you spend the least amount of money, it's actually long term, it costs you way more money. It costs you money to maintain, it costs you money to repair and ultimately you're replacing two systems within could be that one warranted long-term period with good performance systems.

So we've made it a strategy that we don't even offer a system that's less than 20, 25 years. It doesn't work in our strategy. And only bringing to the table, bringing manufacturers that will guarantee that product and our labor all the way through. That's our strategy.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And I love that because it's not just about selling performance, it's really only offering performance products and systems.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yes.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So, when you're really thinking about that, I mean, I love the longevity, the strength, the versatility, all of that. And you obviously have the amazing reputation with your customers. They know the installation is going to be high performance. But why should contractors focus on products that deliver that for their customers? I mean, there's a lot of contractors out there. Let's be really honest. There's going to be a lot of contractors listening to this, Rudy, who say, "It's too hard," "It's too expensive," "They won't buy it if we only offer these performance products." How have you overcome that?

Rudy Gutierrez: For my colleagues out in the industry, obviously your strategy is your strategy. Own it, do well with it. My strategy is long-term performance, long-term warranties, partnering with the right manufacturers that have tested products. The reason why we opt to go in this direction is because more often than not, you're the one tied to that product, meaning by name. Your brand is tied to that product. And if it fails, you'll be the first phone call. And most likely you're the one that's going to get the reputation in your territory. That's one of the reasons why we select the manufacturers that we select. We talk to them, we educate ourselves on the performance of the product. I love technical, so I am a geek that way. I read technical. So once I look at technical data sheets, I educate myself on a long term warranty, how they work, where it can be incorporated. For me, it's an easier sell to go sell a long term approach than more of a short term.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And you mentioned this earlier, and this is I think the perfect time to, I want to make sure to bring this in, but you mentioned service and maintenance. And so, when you sell a long-term performance system, obviously with a high performance installation and then you offer the service of maintenance, talk a little bit more about that because those two really go together.

Rudy Gutierrez: Absolutely. It's recommended by all the manufacturers that offer warranties. They give you a second document that they recommend all the different steps to maintaining the lifecycle of that roof and that warranty. So, we incorporated that into our product, our maintenance and repair or just maintenance and it's been a very easy fit. We maintain that relationship with that client beyond the roof, the new construction or the re-roof, we maintain that way beyond that. It's a flexible agreement that we offer. There is cost behind it, but the cost is minimal compared to replacing the roof or repairing the roof.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right. Yeah, no, I love it. It's the model I'm seeing of all the successful contractors out there across the board. But I think for contractors who are already out there, most of them have made their choices on manufacturers and products within the systems that they offer. There are obviously up and coming companies, roofing companies out there who are doing commercial work, maybe moving from residential to commercial. And so I would love for you to share your process. You already said you read all the technical documents and I love that. But what's your process for selecting those performance products and manufacturers that you work with for the products that you offer to your customers?

Rudy Gutierrez: That's an excellent question. It really is, what is the best fit for that building and what does the building require you to do? Right? That'll guide you into selecting the right products. If you're working, for instance, we just did a surgery wing at a hospital where there's a lot of traffic underneath. It's sensitive to noise. So we selected the manufacturer that would support the specification to install a roofing system that reduced the noise level, reduced any type of odor. And all of those things were taken in account. We wrote a specification around a pretty good system, long-term warranty and delivered that to the representative with the values behind that, the long-term warranty, the energy efficiency, noise reduction. Even our loading plans were different than a typical building. So meeting with the owner ahead of time, paying attention, taking your time, writing the right proposal for that building.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right. Yeah. And so before we kind of leave that, talk a little bit about the importance of that relationship. So you're picking the right products for the right job, but you also have really picked the relationships and the manufacturers that are going to deliver for you. Talk about the importance of that relationship and how you choose those. How do you choose those relationships?

Rudy Gutierrez: That's actually, obviously, you got to have the right people behind you. Manufacturers, distribution, that support your company from the product line, spec level, all the way to loading and delivering material. There's a partnership there. I call them channel partners. But they are part of your company. And so the way we select is, it goes without saying, the service expectation must be there, backing of materials must be there, but it really is the relationship. That you can take that representative of that organization you bring to the table, you can take them to the presentation of the proposal and it feels like they're your team member.

So we decide on who and what to bring to the table based on our relationships that we... When we go to IRE, we talk to all these young talented people and we encourage our young talent at our company to start to develop those relationships that'll be important to them in the future. I have my own relationships. My partner has his own relationships. And he does business with the people that he feels most comfortable bringing to the table. And so do I.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, and you want to know, you want to work with people who have your back and who are going to have the same ethics, the same way of doing business. All of that is so important.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yes. And take care of our client as well as we would take care of them as well.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. And it's funny, we have, we do, well, Rudy, you already know this, but we do the exact same thing. We're bringing our young professionals to the shows. They're building their relationships. At this last IRE, just a little side note, but I think this is fun. At the last IRE, they're like, "We've kind of scheduled our own dinners. Are you cool with that?" And I'm like, "Yes."

Rudy Gutierrez: Of course.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Of course.

Rudy Gutierrez: That's evolution.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's the way it should be. I think that's great.

So I would love to talk, I mentioned USG at the very beginning. I'd like to talk a little bit about cover board because you were part of our coffee chat where we had a great conversation on this a couple months ago. But I'd just love some of your thoughts and what you're seeing when you, obviously we're talking about these performance systems. You're talking about solar arrays going on top of it. I mean, there's just a lot of things that are changing in the industry that just is requiring such high performance. Not to mention the weather, which you've had quite a handful in Southern California lately. But how can roof cover boards, really, how are you using them to extend the longevity of the roofing system? Kind of going back to that performance, that longevity is so important. How does the cover boards really factor into that?

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah, excellent. So from a new construction perspective, a cover board would protect your installation. As you mentioned, there's a lot more going on our rooftops than many years ago. From the mechanical to now solar on top of the roof, a good cover board would absolutely extend the lifecycle of that insulation board. Compression, crushing it, compromising the integrity of the facers. All that is important.

On the re-roofing side, it actually protects the underneath. If you're overlaying an existing roof, it's great protection from the existing roof and your brand new membrane roof. It offers great protection.

And then from a code perspective, it's a fire rated material. So in California market, most large scale big box or industrial space is built with plywood decking. So it's a great fire barrier. It meets the building code.

And then it comes down to the handling of the material. Our team, it's easier to handle and we pay attention to what our team is saying to us as well. I don't handle the material, but my team members do. It's so important.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. That is so true. And I want to kind of go back because one of the things that we're seeing with a lot of these new buildings, and especially in California, is codes, not just for fire, but for insulation and for energy. And so it seems to me that that cover board with these... The fire code has always been there, and maybe not always, Rudy, but for a while. But with these requirements for the amount of insulation on a roof, it seems to me like the cover board is more important than ever just because of what you said. Can you talk just a little bit? I mean, we were going from maybe this much to, and people can't see my hands, but to a lot of insulation.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah. In a typical installation where the building is a climate controlled facility, so it would require you to install R 30, so double layers of ISO or you can use EPS as well. But the cover board is really for what you're going, additionally, what you're going to do on your building. It will protect the solar installation. It'll protect the installation, the facers. It creates a better puncture resistance for the membrane to have a solid surface in lieu of a surface that could allow. It's less resistant. So that's really what it's doing. It's extending that lifecycle for foot traffic to additional applications that are going to be done on your top of your roof.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It is, it's so important. And so, when you're looking at the USG products, you're looking at USG as a manufacturer and I'm just going to put them out there because they do so much. And we already talked about the importance of relationships, the importance of product performance. How has your relationship with USG really helped your business? And even more importantly, how has it helped your customers?

Rudy Gutierrez: So, from our business side, the representation in our market is solid. The product distribution agreements that they have with our distributors that we use is exceptional because the product is readily available. Very few times that we've waited on any type of product. And certainly the communication with the representation has been excellent. They take care of our estimators, they provide any technical information that's needed. They partner well with the manufacturers that we use for membrane. So it's been a very, for us, it's a great relationship because we know the representation.

From an application part, it's really been our technicians driving it for us. They prefer the product for the handling purposes. It's lighter, it's easier to... It's just a faster application for us. And we pay attention to our technicians. As I mentioned, I don't get to install roofs anymore. Actually, you'd never want me to install your roof. Not me personally. But my technicians, yes. So yeah, the ease of application, handling materials has been important.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's awesome. And when it comes to your customers, when you're really looking at your customers, when, I mean, you need to put, and I always find this interesting. So you have all these different parts of this amazing performance roofing system at the end, and they all have warranties, right? So I think sometimes people might think, I mean obviously you have your installation, your contractor warranty that you work with your customers, but then you have to take all these warranties of the different parts of this. And so how does that help with something like cover board to be able to share the warranties, the performance, those kinds of things with your customer?

Rudy Gutierrez: That's an excellent question. We select manufacturers that have the cover boards in there in their specifications. So it's only one warranty, and it's typically the lead manufacturer, which would be the membrane manufacturer, that will do the warranty on the entire assembly. We don't take on projects that don't require warranties. It's not a good fit for us. All the products are guaranteed by a manufacturer. That's how we sell it. That's how we deliver to our clients. If they want to go a different route, I don't discourage them from doing it, but I would encourage them to look at long-term warranties rather than just a roofer's warranty or no warranty at all.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I think that is, and that, again, talking about relationships, that's the relationship you have with your customers. You're able to help them make the best decisions for their building.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yes. Obviously, it's important that we select the right client base. We are not everybody's fit. We are looked at as a solutions company, and that's really what we want is we want a long-term relationship with our clients. We want to see them through the next phase. When that reroof comes back around, in a 20 year cycle, I want to be reroofing it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right, and taking care of it in the middle, making sure everything's there.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So, I know we kind of touched on this at the beginning, but I just want to dive a little bit deeper into the customer relationships and the sales process. So really as you're looking at it, working with your customers, like you said, you're not a fit for everyone, so you pick your clientele. I love that. I feel so strongly about that too. And you also then really look at building relationship of a conversation and solutions. So in some ways, Rudy, and I don't know if everybody's going to think this, but in some ways it kind of takes the saleing out because a consultation or a conversation. And then talk a little bit about that. Are you really selling or are you consulting? How does that all work.

Rudy Gutierrez: It's definitely a sale, obviously, because there's an exchange of a contract and money. So it's definitely a sale. It's always a sale. But we come across as roofing professional, and I have a lot of friends in the roofing consultant area, and a lot of respect for that profession as well. So we are roofing professionals. Our clients certainly look at us for solutions. So a sale, the easiest way to closing a deal is finding out everything that the customer needs and then summarizing those leads in a way that leads you to close the deal. And so it's always a sale. Yes, you're there as a roofing professional, you are consulting among their needs and then summarizing them, putting the costs behind that and then closing the deal.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love that. I love that. And that's so true because it's, what do they call it, the consultative sale. It all kind of goes together as you're going through there and the really being able to point. And so as you're looking at some of your customers and they're looking at other systems, how much of that starts tying back together? And I really want to kind of bring this back to that whole product life cycle, the longevity of the roof that. Because we know in the roofing industry, we all talk. But it's the same thing with building owners, facility managers, your reputation that you talked about. So how does that work as people are sharing that information between them on that level?

Rudy Gutierrez: So, it's important that, first, when you create an opportunity for sale, is that you highlight all the values that you're bringing behind that solution. So much so that it's hard for that client to say, "You know what? I'm going to look in this direction. You're a little high. I want to look in this direction." And sometimes you're the one that to say, "I appreciate the opportunity, but you're probably better off going in that direction." You have to lose one to gain a client sometimes. And our clients, some of the clients that we have, we've lost a few and we've gained a lot because they realize that what we're bringing to the table is a real solution for that particular building and the sale behind them. All of the values behind that made sense long term.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love that. We learned this together a little bit back in Carlisle days, and I'm just listening to you and I'm going, yeah, yeah, yeah. I love this. So, okay. You mentioned IRE little bit earlier, and I just want to come back to that on you shared what you look for in manufacturers, what you're looking for in products. But what is some advice that you would give to other contractors or up and coming contractors on when they're at IRE and they're walking around and they're building those relationships, they're meeting people. I mean, sometimes Rudy, it's hard to even step in and say, "I'm interested." It is kind of intimidating. What's some of your recommendations on how they can start building those strong manufacturer relationships?

Rudy Gutierrez: So I would say that before you go, develop a plan. What are your expectations? What do you want to see? And go do those things. But be open and take the opportunity to step in to those boots that you would typically just walk by, but step in and learn a little bit. Like this past IRE, my strategy was to learn more about different technologies being integrated into the roofing industry. So I made it a point to stop in to many different vendors that had different technologies and that are going to be important in our very near future. And then those technologies that are still a little bit further out, but there are coming around into our industry. So be open. We all started this way. We all learned about a product here or there. And then next thing you know that product is part of your product mix and it makes sense.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: To kind of bring a little bit closer to home, let's talk about building that relationship with your local manufacturer's rep and how important that is. Finding them, picking up the phone, inviting them to your office, kind of walk through that.

Rudy Gutierrez: It is one of the very important parts of our strategy is to have a great relationship with manufacturers reps. They are key to your strategy when you go and meet with your clients and as a support to what you're going to sell to your client. So they become part of your team members. And so we have an open door policy, we encourage all representatives to come through and talk to us, educate us. That's how we get educated. We're so busy turning the wheel and trying to get the next sale that we lose sight of learning, product advances, maybe changes in the market. And most of these reps, they get such great information from their employers that they offer high value. So I encourage, open the door to your reps. There's a wealth of information, that they'll team up with you to sell that project.

A project will dictate how many people you're going to take to the table. If you're selling a project at a million dollars, you're probably going to take a small or a group, each representing phases of that project and the manufacturer's rep will probably be included. The distribution representative will be included. And that's the key. You have to build those relationships.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. And I've seen so many manufacturers reps that are able to come in and help with training with your company, to help training with your sales team, to be able to really understand the architectural side of it. Yeah. And then to be able to have such a strong relationship that, okay, we're going to go on these jobs together, we're going to go on these sales calls together. It just kind of comes all the way back around. And I'm saying manufacturers, representatives from the actual manufacturers, but also we have to be familiar out there with the independent reps too, because they bring that same kind of knowledge. So reaching out and finding them, figuring out, building those relationships, along with the shows, will do everything.

So Rudy, this is, as always, just awesome. Any last thoughts on the whole looking at performance products and selling performance? I would just love kind of a little wrap up, your last thoughts.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah. Well, first, thank you for just asking me to participate. I'm always honored to work with you and have been for so many years. Our strategy is to sell long-term performing systems. So we identify the right product mix, identify the right representation, right distributor, we team up together, we hit the market and we sell the high values behind it. So I encourage my friends of the roofing industry, open your doors, learn as much as you can. Upsell. Upselling, I love doing that part.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, yeah.

Rudy Gutierrez: And obviously, enjoy our industry. We work in the most amazing industry, which is the roofing industry.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. I love it. I couldn't think of a better way to end this podcast, Rudy. Thank you so much for being on Roofing Road Trips.

Rudy Gutierrez: Yeah. This is cool.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: This is awesome. I love it. Great conversation, as always. A special thank you out to USG.

Rudy Gutierrez: Absolutely.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love this topic. I love being able to spend this time with Rudy. So Rudy, once again, thank you so much.

Rudy Gutierrez: Thank you very much.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank you. And thank you all for listening. Wow. Great nuggets. Take it home. Have everybody else listen to it. And please, visit the USG directory on Roofers Coffee Shop. And also visit the Shell Roofing Solutions directory on Roofers Coffee Shop. They're part of the R Club, and you can see all the great things that they're doing out there. And be sure to listen to all of our podcasts under the RLW navigation, under Roofing Road Trips or on your favorite podcast channel. Be sure to subscribe and set those notifications so you don't miss a single episode. We'll be seeing you next time on Roofing Road Trips.

Outro: If you've enjoyed the ride, don't forget to hit that subscribe button and join us on every roofing adventure. Make sure to visit rooferscoffeeshop.com to learn more. Thanks for tuning in, and we'll catch you on the next Roofing Road Trip.

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