The Commercial Roofing Market: My View at the Top of 2011

The years 2009 and 2010 were a strange time in our economy as a whole and in the construction industry specifically. Strange, yes. But not without opportunity, as shown by Duro-Last results: we closed out 2010 with a healthy sales increase over 2009.

There hasn’t been any real growth in roofing and construction as a whole in 2010. In the government segment, spending for roofing is up and the number of contractors pursuing public works projects is at an all-time high. However, not all contractors are willing or able to jump through the hoops that it takes to tackle government projects; public works jobs aren’t for everyone.

New construction, of course, is still largely in the tank. For owners and managers of existing facilities, financing can be difficult. Some are still afraid – after two years of recession – to invest in a new roof; they will keep patching what they’ve got.

With limited organic growth in roofing, the way that authorized Duro-Last contractors are growing or even keeping their volume of roofing going is by outshining local competitors that sell non-value-added products and services.

I’m in daily, close contact with roofers from all over. It’s common for me to hear that they are managing ok financially, although doing less volume with fewer people. The success that they are having comes from a couple of things.

First, they are staying close to their core competencies – the characteristics and tactics that made them successful in the first place. Although there’s not one industry that stands out with respect to roofing sales, it appears that the roofing market as a whole is predominantly smaller, retrofit projects that don’t require major financing or involve multiple decision makers. This niche is the sweet spot where many Duro-Last contractors have made their mark, and they are focusing their efforts on these opportunities.

Second, they are diligent about marketing and selling. They use marketing tools available to them from manufacturers, or are using their own tried-and-true methods.

I’m confident that the “strangeness” won’t last forever. In the meantime, contractors who stick to their business strengths and make good use of the extensive selling and marketing tools available to them will prevail.