Metal Construction News

Metal Construction News

Posted 06/29/2011

The 2011 Top Metal Roofers Face the Same Economic Struggles the Rest of the Metal Construction Industry Battles

With the steady rhythm of a deadfall hammer, our economy staggers along. And the 2011 class of the Metal Construction News Top Metal Roofers reflects the uncertainty of the construction market and the surviving nature of our top metal roofing contractors.

Clearly, total installed square footage of roofing has declined in the last few years as projects dry up and competition for the remaining work has become fiercer. When we surveyed our Top Metal Roofers, we did find bright spots-new beats that portray a faster pace in some areas as well as indicate potential increases in market share.

The roofers on the 2011 MCN list of Top Metal Roofers are surviving because more than half of their business is coming from retrofit work. It doesn’t matter whether they work primarily in the residential or nonresidential arena, these contractors are looking for opportunity on existing buildings. Of course, that makes sense given the incidence of new construction has crawled to a slow pace as both company incomes and municipal tax revenues shrink. Add to that a tight capital market and investment in new construction-residential and nonresidential-has faltered.

The business for these players is moving in the right direction, though. About 75 percent of our surveyed roofers say 2011 is shaping up to be better than 2010, and a somewhat smaller group indicates they are experiencing significant (more than 20 percent) growth.

That growth-or lack of growth-seems to belie the changing nature of the projects themselves. We asked how much the average project size has increased or declined in the last two years, and our roofers seemed evenly split. About half reported an increase in average project size, while half a decline. Those that experienced increases, reported modest (less than 20 percent) increases. Those that experienced declines in average project size, reported significant (more than 20 percent) declines.

What we found interesting in our survey, though, was what roofers revealed when we asked about the challenges they face in business today. We offered seven choices: controlling costs, developing leads, closing sales, increased regulations, increased tax burdens, low-cost competitors, and other. With clear distinction, the group chose controlling costs and low-cost competitors as the biggest challenges they face. The remaining selections grouped closely together.

In an environment of drastically reduced sales, the ability to generate leads and close sales fell second to our business owners’ struggles to control their costs. And when they do see opportunity on the sales side, they’re facing competitors who are undercutting price, perhaps sacrificing a professional margin through lack of business acumen or discounting just to get the job.

Metal Construction News

The survey reflected some optimism about the last years in construction, though. We asked our Top Metal Roofers what product or technology changes had made the biggest difference in their business during the last years? Their answers? Electronic plan rooms. More sophisticated estimating software, cool roof technology, and rollformer equipment advancements.

Perhaps those technology changes will make our recovery from a tough economic climate easier and more profitable.

Top Metal Roofers

A-Lert Roof Systems,

A Division of Centurion Industries Inc.,


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