Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Mike Lowery from James King Roofing and Will Williams from Duro-Last Roofing. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.
Megan Ellsworth: Welcome to Stories from the Roof, from rooferscoffeeshop.com, where we tell the stories of roofing professionals from around the globe.
Hello, everyone, my name is Megan Ellsworth, here at rooferscoffeeshop.com, and I'm back again with a Story from the Roof podcast. Super excited to have Mike Lowery and Will Williams here. Hi, gentleman, how are you doing?
Will Williams: Doing well, Megan.
Mike Lowery: Good, yourself?
Megan Ellsworth: Doing good. Excited to learn about y'all's journeys in the roofing industry, and hear about this great project that you worked on in Seattle. So let's dive right in and have each of you just kind of introduce yourselves a little bit. So, Mike, why don't you introduce yourself?
Mike Lowery: Yeah, Mike Lowery with James King Roofing, vice president over here and been in the industry about 18 years doing [inaudible] roofing [inaudible].
Megan Ellsworth: That's great. So, Mike, how did you get into roofing?
Mike Lowery: Oh, a long while ago. After I got out of the Marine Corps, I knew I wanted to be in the trades, had a young on on the way, so it was just kind of a natural thing. Found a position in roofing, and there it went. Once I got on the roof, I [inaudible] to stop. Loved it ever since.
Megan Ellsworth: Awesome. Will, how did you get into roofing?
Will Williams: Yeah, my name is Will Williams, and I am the independent manufacturers representative for Duro-Last Roofing, and owner of a independent manufactures representative firm called Edge to Edge, building envelope solutions.
Yeah, this is I think my 32nd year in the roofing industry in some form or fashion. I worked in Alaska during the summers, while I was going to college, and in order to get out of the cannery, I got into the construction side of things, and raised my hand, and they were doing some roofing projects, and so I got an opportunity to install some roofing up in Alaska, some sheet metal.
Megan Ellsworth: How?
Will Williams: And then when I graduated from college, ironically, I got an opportunity to work for a contractor in the sales and estimating side of things, and then opened my own business, ran my own contracting business for a while, and I've been the sales rep for the last 14 years.
Megan Ellsworth: Great. So, Mike, who taught you about roofing?
Mike Lowery: Luckily I was surrounded by a lot of quality foremen when I came up. But I took to roofing really quick. Quick learner, like I said, I was always good with my hands. But really a lot of credit, I would say, that Tim Gardner, who's the old vice CEO or Snyder Roofing, he put a lot of business straight to me, he put a lot of time into me, kind of believed in me, mentored me. And then my partner and owner, James, came with me.
At the same time, Kyle [inaudible], he put a lot into me and really goes a lot into, I took a lot from a service mentality. It's customer service mentality. I was always great with it, really promoted it, and knew that's how business should be pushed, so I just, it fell right into [inaudible]. I was really fortunate to have a lot of really good mentors.
Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Will, who taught you about roofing? Any mentors?
Will Williams: Oh, yeah, I've been fortunate to be around so many people, this many years in the business. I learned a lot from just some old veterans in the business, and some people that were really willing to share there knowledge with me, and I just kind of ate that stuff up. I wanted to know as much as I could from the instillation side, to the technical side. And so, just been super fortunate, especially over the last 14 years, where I've been engaged with people like Mike, and Kyle, and a lot of consulting mentors in the business as well.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. We'll just go right into the next question with you, Will. What is the best thing you've ever done for your business, or career?
Will Williams: Oh boy, you know for me personally, I've been heavily engaged in associations in our industry. I'm a former president of the IIBEC chapter. I've been on the board of the Roofing Contractor's Association. I've been a board member for a Building Owner Manager's Association. So I would say being engaged in our associations has given me the opportunity to give back to our industry, but also build some really great relationships, and then just some of the education that I've gained from being involved, and immersed in that, has been invaluable.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, that's great. I love the associations, especially the Washington one is so great, and the [inaudible] show that they put on every year is so well done. Mike, what's the best thing that you've done for your business, or career?
Mike Lowery: I would say invest in people around me. I was always really strong on investing, kind of building family, the team that was around me, the guys that I kind of came up with. In doing that, really we built our business on that. We kind of got to hand pick all the quality roofers, and guys that I've known for a long time to come work with us, because I invested in them. Guys like Brett [inaudible], that are foremen, or lead guys, to guys like our superintendent, Big T, who, I've been around roofing with him for many years. Or our senior estimator, Charles Avery, who I've been around 18 years, just passing by between different companies, or on the roof at the same time, what have you. But it built a family to where it's big trust. So me investing in them, they invest in me.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, that's probably one of my favorite things about roofing, honestly, is just the comradery, and the family style relationships that you build in this industry, they're so great, they last forever. They're friendships for life. So that's really cool.
Mike Lowery: They do. You go through a lot, you spend a lot of time together with each other, out on the roof, and see a lot of different views, go through a lot. So it's great, it's one of the biggest things in roofing I'm all about.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. So, before we get into the project, I have one last question for you guys. In one word, or a small sentence, describe the most important trait you think an employee or coworker should have.
Mike Lowery: Yeah, I couldn't really give one word. But it'd be integrity, loyalty, and work ethic. And then those are the things that our company was built on, starting all the was back from James King [inaudible] that, taking over a company that was a difficult time. And [inaudible] have loyal [inaudible] and [inaudible] able to build back the strong company at Snyder Roofing, which kind of carried the same values as James King, helped to kind of carry that legacy on for James King, Kyle and myself, all everyone here.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Yeah, love those words. Will, what are some important traits for employee or coworker?
Will Williams: Yeah, for me I think it's a tie between willingness and consistency. For me, there's no shortcuts. I believe that if you just keep showing up every day, and you're willing to grow, those characteristics will pay dividends, emotionally and professionally.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, well said. Well said. So you two worked together on the Met Park building in Seattle. What was the scope of that job like? And how did that job kind of come together?
Mike Lowery: Will, do you want to start that off? Kind of put together the bidding process?
Will Williams: Yeah, I'll start it off, because I have the easy part. We, here in Washington, at Duro-Last, do a lot of consultant-driven projects. And James King Roofing, and Duro-Last have worked together quite well together, so there was a project that we had worked on in the past, and worked with a company by the name of Evolution Architecture, and they trusted both of our companies, and felt like our system, with James King, could be a good solution for this particular type of re-roofing project. There was some challenges on this job, being a tall building in downtown Seattle with limited access, and some design criteria. So we worked with Evolution Architecture on the system that we all thought would work well, and there were some height restrictions with some davits, window-washing equipment, that we had to find a solution for, with some tapered insulation. I think Mike can get into the scope of getting this thing waterproof while they're tearing off, and our Pacific Northwest conditions.
But it was a re-roof project on a 20 story building in downtown Seattle, and those buildings are know as the twin toasters, Met Park East and Met Park West, because if you drive by Seattle, you're going to see those buildings off the freeway, every time you go through Seattle. So kind of turn it over to Mike, in terms of some of the challenges they had, because they had the difficult part.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, Mike, what was the scope of that job like?
Mike Lowery: Well, like Will was saying, we're right off I-5 corridor, so you can see it, driving through Seattle. So a little bit more hight winds. We were in winter time conditions, so having to tear off that little [inaudible] just maneuver through downtown. So [inaudible] materials hand-packed up through elevators, up to the roof, then tear off in our Pacific Northwest conditions. So it's tear off, install vapor barrier right away, make sure you're water tight, and then work through all these great details. You'd have Will at Evolution Architecture, there was several challenging details there that luckily we all got to come together on, really work out a nice finished product on.
But definitely, again those challenges of having rain delays, or having snow delays, successful to completing a project like that, in smaller portions, taking it up, putting it back down, in the winter with no leaks is a pretty big thing, so it makes it difficult.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, especially when the building is being compared to a giant toaster.
Mike Lowery: Yeah.
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So you guys chose the gray Duro-Last 60 mil membrane for this job. What makes this product the right product for this building?
Will Williams: The 60 mil Duro-Last is a great product. Gray still has some reflectivity components, but it's also something that doesn't have as much glare, or impose some of that reflectivity, like white membrane would, to the surrounding buildings. Met Park is surrounded by some other high rises, and the city of Seattle has grown with a lot of buildings recently, and so they wanted a membrane that wasn't as reflective as reflective white. And the Duro-Last gray membrane just fit that profile well.
Duro-Last has some great [inaudible] on top and bottom, with a heavy reinforcement, and it's got great weldability, and it's just a good performing product for this type of application.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Mike, how was it, putting the product up there, and putting it on? I'm sure you had a big part, obviously, choosing that product as well.
Mike Lowery: Yeah, yeah. Well one, that gray, I think is just aesthetically pleasing. Will, you said not as harsh on the eyes, I really like the look of how it came out. Getting those roles to the roof were definitely a joy, to say the least, I think. Some of the guys had some choice words at times, but it was successful. We went through a good bidding process, were able to, with the management team, Evolution and Will, were able to walk the property, walk the building, find clear access points, have full understanding what our capabilities were there, so that we could pull off a successful project.
So it made it easier, having all those components in place, and having everyone organized, rather than not, and you just having to fight all the ends and odds, as maybe tenants being disruptive, not wanting this, and kind of having some pushback, where everybody was really on board, and everything was well-understood ahead of time. So it made it much easier.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Awesome. So because the building is surrounded by high rises, and it has rounded corners, it's a giant toaster, how did that come into play when you were estimating this job? What were you kind of thinking about when you were estimating it?
Mike Lowery: Yeah, again, high winds, being a high rise right next to I-5, so securing material [inaudible], knowing that we're coming into winter time, and starting a winter time project, so making sure materials get secured. Dry, loading the right amounts and the right time and downloading at the right time. And then having the right details. There was some components that, like a 12 gauge aluminum metal coping that was kind of interfaced into the whole siding. It was a really odd design, so the thought came up with just actually integrating that whole interior panel and coping in, so that there was less risk of dropping any coping, or any parts and pieces, taking this thing off.
So we ended up putting a cover board on, securing it, and then wrapping up [inaudible] wall, using CLAD metal as a clip, to fasten over the top of it, so we didn't have to have anything over the edge, and then pull the coping over, using that CLAD metal.
So the whole wall and the whole roofing system was all one, integrated in. So it turned out really nice, really good detail came out of it with low risk.
Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Well if you see the pictures online of the building now, it looks so good. There was a couple articles that have been written about it, so you guys are basically famous. And congratulations on a job well done. It looks great, looks better than a giant toaster.
Mike Lowery: Good, good, good. Thank you.
Megan Ellsworth: Great job. So yeah, thanks for sharing all those logistics, I'm sure that was a really big undertaking of a job. So kind of going off of that, when you think about your job, what makes you smile?
Mike Lowery: Yeah, it's the people around me. And seeing finished products, you get to enjoy things like this. This is a really cool opportunity, and getting to see our client's faces at the end of a successful project, and knowing that they entrusted a project with us, a large investment of theirs, and they get a good, quality product at the end. And you get to come in every day to a [inaudible], work with people like Will every day, which makes these a lot easier.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Will, what makes you smile?
Will Williams: Yeah, ditto. Just the opportunity to be of service, I think. We're in a service business, and we provide a service, which I think is pretty important. And that's the first thing. And just the ability to get to work with people that we truly, genuinely appreciate, who are on the same page. Mike is out there to be of service, and to provide great performing with systems, and we're just lucky to partner with their company.
Mike Lowery: Yeah, I think Will kind of hit the nail on the head right there. We're a service business, and I think often times, that gets forgotten. We really all promote that, so it's do work, [inaudible] being very service-minded as we are as well. That's what you get, you get a lot of joy out of that.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Yeah, finding the right people that share the same values. Well, thank you both so much for chatting with me today, I have one last question, and that is; how long have you been following Roofers Coffee Shop, and what's your favorite thing about RCS?
Mike Lowery: I've known about Roofers Coffee Shop for a long time, but just recently started listening to the podcast, and it's definitely something I'll keep up. I like it, it's a lot of good information, good quality speakers on there that you could just pull little bits out of. So I think the podcast is [inaudible] well. Something that I can just listen to on the road, and get some good information out of.
Megan Ellsworth: Yay, and now you're on one. You've made it. Will, how about you?
Will Williams: Yeah, it's been quite a while now, a contractor turned me on to it, and I just love the service that it provides to our industry. The information, the education, just the overall support you all have, putting us on the map. The roofing industry sometimes gets a bad rap, but it's just been really good to me and my family over the years, so I just appreciate what you guys do.
Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome. Well we love to be of service to the people who are of service to everyone else, so I'm glad to be here. And this has been great. Thank you both so much for a great conversation. I hope to see the building in person one day, but for now the pictures will have to do.
Mike Lowery: Well thank you, Megan, for having us.
Megan Ellsworth: Yes, yes, thank you. All right, and for everyone out there listening, thanks for listening. We'll be back with more stories from the roof this month, and all the months to come. Thanks for listening to Stories from the Roof, from rooferscoffeeshop.com. Make sure to subscribe and leave a review.
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