Drone history runs deeper than you might think, dating back to the early 1900s. But, what does the future hold for drones in commercial coatings? I talk with Tom Walker, founder and CEO of DroneUP, a commercial drone services provider to discuss. The multitude of potential applications is truly amazing.
Here is a playlist of some of my Ecodur test videos. I’ve always been impressed with the results. I have more in the works, but I’m always looking for more ideas. If you would like to recommend a test, please leave a comment, email, or tweet me.
Tar and gravel roofing is historically one of the most difficult substrates for coating. This project, using Castagra’s Ecodur was a lot of hard work, but the end result is a great-looking, long-lasting, cool roof.
I’m a big believer in using physical representations to showcase your products. I’ve always found it easier to explain the benefits of a roof coating system using sample boards. With Ecodur, I like to have clients beat, hammer, scratch, and generally abuse my samples to help them see how strong the product really is. Now that I am working with other contractors and helping them get started with the Ecodur roofing system, I needed a bunch of sample boards. So, I set out to make more boards than I have before. Making them is time consuming and there are costs involved, but I definitely believe they are worth it.
For these samples, I wanted to demonstrate how well both acrylic and silicone adhere to Ecodur as well as having some with pull tape embedded and some of the product alone. I always start my sample boards with SBS self adhered cap sheet on plywood. The peel and stick is a lot easier than torching and represents the most common substrate in my area.
Every company has a culture. Top performing companies have
winning cultures that encourage quality, respect, accountability and more.
These values help to create an environment where clients feel confident in the
value of the services or products delivered. However, culture is an
often-overlooked aspect of the trades. So, let me ask you this. Why would
anyone want to start work with you and your company? More importantly, why
would they want to continue working with you and your company?
If the answer is, “They need a job, and I’ve got work”,
prepare yourself to be constantly hiring and training new employees. Companies
with weak cultures will have retention issues. Because they do nothing to
create loyalty, their employees are easily poached. Because they are constantly
training new employees on the basics, they never develop skilled labor and
struggle to meet client quality demands.
On the other hand, if you intentionally create an
environment where your employees feel appreciated, and trust that you are doing
everything to look out for them and their best interests, you may look forward
to great longevity with your employees as they continue to grow and bring more
value to your company.
A common myth is that working in the trades is naturally
stressful. Wrong! Hard work is normal, but bad managers create the undue stress
that is exceedingly common in tradespeople. Have you ever noticed that the
bosses who yell the most, explain the least? I was on a job site a while back
where another trade was also doing work. As I set up for my day, I noticed two
of the guys arrive. They waited around for about 45 minutes until their boss
finally arrived. He then berated them for at least 15 minutes for being lazy
good-for-nothings for having not started working before his arrival. Their
explanation that they did not know what he wanted them to do and were unable to
get a hold of their boss fell on deaf ears.
The following day, the guys again arrived before their boss.
Fearful of being humiliated in front of everyone on the job site again, they
found work to busy themselves. On this day, their boss was an hour late and
again upset with his crew. Calling them names and yelling, he said that they
were idiots and if they knew anything, they would have known that what they
were doing for the past hour was a waste of time.
Luckily, my portion of the project was a small one, and I
was soon off to a different project. However, the few days I spent on the same
site with the yelling boss were very uncomfortable, even though I didn’t have
to work with him. I could only imagine how little his employees cared about the
quality of their work given the circumstances.
While this was an extreme example, there are plenty of
things managers in the trades may do to create a negative work culture that are
not as obvious. Employees will thrive in consistency. Mixed signals and chaos
create uncertainty. Organization and planning create clarity. Creating a
positive company culture is intentional and begins with a plan. Laborers and
office staff alike prefer to have clear expectations and a good idea of what
success looks like. Feedback is vital in creating trust with employees. And, it goes both ways. You should encourage
your employees to voice their opinions. They are your eyes and ears in the
field. As Andy Stanley said, “Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be
surrounded by people who have nothing to say.”
Another key step in planning for productive company culture
is investing in your employees. Ensuring they have the proper training and
tools will not only increase productivity but will make employees feel secure.
When a company invests in its people, it fosters a feeling of being a valued
human resource rather than a disposable asset. As they develop more
capabilities, they increase their efficiency. Rewarding those skills with
promotions and raises is a bargain for the employer. Happy, efficient, and
loyal employees with well-developed skill sets will be able to increase your profits.
Advancing your employees careers will always be more cost-effective than
constantly hiring, re-hiring, re-training, and dealing with the lower quality
work of unskilled labor.
A final morale killing trap to consider: Many companies
treat their office staff and labor very differently. I have seen signs on
restrooms that read “office staff only”. As someone who has spent a lot of time
in the office and on the roof, I get it. Roofing can be dirty work. Perhaps a
better sign would read “It is everyone’s responsibility to keep restrooms
clean”. I don’t like the implication that one group of employees is better or
more valuable than another. The entire team is responsible for quality and
leaving your customers with a positive impression.
That brings me to benefits. There exists in the trades a
giant chasm between the benefits offered to office staff and those offered to
field staff. Do tradespeople not also have families to care for? If they’re not
worth investing in, is your company worth their skills, efforts, and loyalty? I
recently spoke with a manager at a struggling roofing company who explained
that his retention issues stem from tradespeople being willing to leave for 50
cents more per hour. If that were the case, the answer would be simple: offer 51
cents more per hour. When I asked if they were truly willing to reset their
benefits for 50 cents, he explained that they do not offer benefits of any
kind. Aha! I think I found part of the real problem.
As a side note, keep in mind that your company should not be
shouldering the cost of benefits. Your clients should be. When you create an
atmosphere of quality work, you do not compete on price and your clients
happily pay enough to cover your overhead and provide healthy profits.
Creating a true team culture can benefit your labor and your
office staff. I recommend that sales staff and installers have joint training
and lunches. They can learn from each other. Field staff can teach sales what
techniques work in the real world and ensure that they know what they need to
create accurate quotes. Sales staff can benefit field staff by sharing customer
service techniques. After all, they often end up interacting directly with the
client more than anyone else.
A well-integrated team working toward common goals that
benefit them all will work well together, to the benefit of the client, your
company, and you.
Coatings manufacturers mean well, but don’t always make
recommendations that are practical in the real world. Some of the processes
they prescribe are great on paper, written by engineers in a laboratory. One
glaring example of this is adhesion testing. Most manufacturers recommend
pre-cleaning, pressure washing, and drying before setting the test, waiting 3-7
days, and performing adhesion testing.
While this is a good process for preparing a whole project
for most coatings, it is beyond impractical for simply determining if a
substrate is a good candidate for a particular roof coating. Coatings
contractors need to know a lot during the bidding process. Is the substrate
harboring moisture? Is there remedial work that needs to be done before a
project can be coated? Will the proposed coating adhere to the substrate
Moisture meters and proper project walks can determine the
first two questions, but how do you determine the latter in a real-world
situation? First off, here are two things I absolutely do not want to do: (A)
pressure wash a project that has not been sold yet, and (B) find out after the
job is sold that the product will not adhere properly. What would you tell the
client in that scenario?
My method for adhesion testing is simple and requires only a
few items that are easily carried with you while you perform your roof walk.
Here is a list:
Small wire brush
Can of compressed air or light brush for dust
6” long by 2” wide strip of polyester seam tape
Small sample of the product to be tested
The process is simple: Scrub an oversized section with the
wire brush, and blow or brush the dust away. Apply enough product to imbed ½
the length of the strip (for silicone 15 mils is good). Using the brush, make
sure there are no air pockets. This step is important. Air pockets can give you
a false reading. Apply a thin layer of product over the test strip.
If this is a fast cure product or accelerators are
available, my test strips will be ready to check before I have finished
measuring and walking the roof. Otherwise, I will schedule to come back in a
couple days. The honest truth for most products is that they will either pass
or fail the next morning. Allowing 7 days to achieve full cure typically does
not alter these results.
This method will not work in greasy or severely soiled areas, but is good for the majority of projects you may be bidding. It is also not intended to be a substitute to ASTM testing for evaluating coating properties. However, it will be a quick and easy way for you to ensure that a coating adheres to the prospective substrate.
majority of the product separates from the substrate with little to no resistance.
You will notice that very few of the granules were disturbed.
Good: A majority
of the product remains on the substrate, with some granule disturbance.
Better: About 50%
of the product remains, while there is significant substrate damage.
Best: The product
clearly out performed the substrate, leaving a bare spot where the test was
Note: These methods are non-scientific and not intended to
be a substitute for common sense.
Most of us know the manufacturers recommended mil thickness for specific coatings we may be using. But, do you actually know how to make sure you are on spec? A silicone manufacturer, for example, may require 24 dry mils for a 10 year warranty. If this is a 96% solids silicone, you will only need to apply 25 wet mils to cure to 24. If the silicone is solvent based and 80% solids, you will need to apply at 29 wet mils.
Manufacturers spec sheets will give you theoretical coverage rates, but do not account for age and other conditions of the substrate. Old, weathered TPO may require more product for the same mil thickness than newer metal. This is where your wet film mil gauge becomes a very useful tool.
The good news is, they are very cheap and easy to use. Common gauges are shaped either like a credit card or a hexagon and consist of various depth notches on each side. Many paint stores and coatings manufacturers offer them for free. Each notch represents a different mil thickness (each mil is 1/1000″). To use, set the gauge gently into the coating on a flat section of the project.
Now, lift straight up without dragging and look to see which notches have product on them. For example, let’s say that your 24 mil notch has some silicone on it, but 26 is dry. Your true reading is going to be about 25 mils.
So, why does any of this matter? For NDL’s and other manufacturers warranties, you must achieve the minimal thickness or they may reject the protection. Alternatively, applying too thickly will cost your project margins and potentially cause product shortages. Being a few mils over will likely not cause a problem, but your coverage rates will be way off if you apply with excessive thickness. Some products also will not cure properly if applied too thick.
Measuring your mils during application takes only a few moments and can ensure that you and your crew are staying on track.
A quick check with each new bucket can ensure proper coverage and consistent results.
We have had many prospective clients ask, “Why should we hire a consultant?”. And, I totally understand the question. After all, consultants are just money suckers who have never worked in the industries the consult to, right? Not so with Coo Roo Co.
The top reasons to hire a consultant:
To save money! Knowing the actual needs of your project prevents you being sold more than you need. Understanding a reasonable budget from the onset can help you eliminate outliers, and ensure you are only getting bids on products that will meet your needs. A consultant can help with realistic costing so you know what to expect before your first contractor bid. Also, having realistic expectations can help you to negotiate from a better informed position.
To save time! Roofing bids can be complicated and convoluted. Did you know acrylic coatings have over a dozen different distinctions? A consultant who speaks the language can quickly help you to compare bids and organize effectively. I can’t tell you how many times a client has been a procurement agent, property manager, or IT specialist and found themselves so buried in the work of weeding through contractor bids, that their actual work has struggled. A consultant can efficiently take that burden off your plate.
To prevent headaches! Chances are, you are not a project manager. Keeping your contractor on schedule and budget can seem like a full time job during your project. A consultant can help to manage the day to day, or even become the point person for your project, always ensuring your best interests.
Here, we will examine some of the services offered by Coo Roo Co and examine how we can assist on your project.
3rd party inspection / recommendations:
We are not bidding your roofing project. We have no reason to steer you toward a more expensive product than you need. Our consultants can help to identify the needs of your organization and match them with the appropriate solution. Planning to sell the building in 5 years? A 7 to 10 year product may be best, saving you money and ensuring the roof will still look great to potential buyers. However, if you plan to keep the building indefinitely, you may be throwing good money after bad going with a lesser solution. Often, higher quality products can save you a lot of money over time.
Estimate / proposal review:
Roofing estimates / proposals are full of jargon. Are you comparing apples to apples? It can be hard to tell. Even estimators in the same company will often use different verbiage. Because we understand the vernacular, we can assist in making accurate comparisons.
Assistance with contractor selection:
We are happy to meet with contractors, walk the roof with them, and interview. Our detailed and easy to follow reports work like a digest of all we learn.
We know the costs. We can help by giving you realistic costs. Knowing what to expect is key to any negotiation, and can save you thousands. In my own career, I have had clients “negotiate” by asking for a 66% discount and telling me they “know” it is all just profit. Contractors are generally willing to budge some if your requests are realistic. Sometimes, a contractor will be happy to offer a percentage off in exchange for some flexibility in scheduling. Sometimes, you can save a lot by hiring certain subs yourself. Understanding these areas before you reach a negotiating table can save money.
With our combined decades of experience, we have become quite good at project management. Especially if your project requires multiple trades, a neutral point person can be a great assistance. Even smaller projects can spin out of control if not planned correctly.
As with project planning, overseeing a project can be a lot of work. We are happy to assist remotely, or go “hands on” with your project.
Overall, we are here to help you gain control over your project.