Mother Nature, in her good moods, can impose serious wear and tear on even the most well-built structures. In her bad moods, her attacks can be severe and their impact on homes and buildings very damaging. While some destruction from disasters may be unavoidable, sometimes the simplest of measures, such as proper roof installation and maintenance, can save more costly repairs down the road.
Increasingly, we are coming to appreciate that Mother Nature bestows benefits as well, namely energy, and if we are smart enough to harness that energy, we can sustain our operations less expensively while making a positive environmental impact.
One Charlotte company, Cyclone Roofing, knows the importance of good building structure but also appreciates sustainability and environmental concerns at the same time. In that sense, they have it “covered.” With the resources and technologies of the Tecta America national team behind them, Cyclone Roofing is using initiative, innovation and forward thinking to offer new options for green building and roof maintenance.
Randy Winecoff says his career as a roofer happened “by default.” He had followed in his father’s footsteps in the trucking industry, but when he found himself out of work in 1975, he took a temporary job as a laborer on a metal roofing crew with Ray Roofing.
“I was surprised by how well the job fit me,” he remembers. The “temporary” position lasted 18 years; he quickly moved up the ranks from laborer to lead man, to foreman, to superintendent, to project manager, and finally, to senior project manager.
When he left Ray Roofing in 1989, it was to launch his own business, Aim Erectors. But after just a few short years, the tough market forced him to close down. After a short stint with another area company, Winecoff finally landed at Cyclone Roofing as operations manager over the metal roofing and canopy divisions. Within two years he was named vice president of operations and in 2004, he assumed his current role as president.
Cyclone Roofing’s innovative approach and high operating standards were among the attractions that drew Winecoff to the company in the first place.
“Cyclone has an excellent staff and they really hang their hat on quality and safety,” says Winecoff. “And these are traditions I’ve been proud to carry on.”
Founded in 1964 by Wayne Cook, Cyclone Roofing has had a long-standing history with the region and has established itself as a leader in the community. In 2000, Cyclone Roofing was bought by General Roofing, and opened a second location in Beckley, W.V. Of the decision to expand, Winecoff says it was a strategic decision to move into an “untapped market.”
The move also positioned Cyclone Roofing to cover its territory, which includes North and South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida.
Then, in 2005, Cyclone Roofing allied itself with Tecta America, one of the nation’s leading roofing contractors. “Becoming a Tecta America company has had a massive impact on our business,” Winecoff says. “The most notable being the availability of state-of-the-art technology. We’ve really been able to excel as a company as a result of the partnership.”
In addition to technology, Tecta America also provides a large amount of shared resources. With nearly 50 locations across the country and over 3,000 roofing professionals, Tecta America has harnessed the strengths and resources of the nation’s strongest roofing contractors under its own “roof.”
Because of the new opportunities that Tecta America brought to Cyclone Roofing, sales increased by nearly 30 percent in the four years since the acquisition.
“The goal of Tecta America is to provide the most comprehensive roofing program in the country to meet and exceed our customers’ needs,” boasts Winecoff. “We’re very proud to be aligned with them.”
Further benefits come from the employee-focused nature of Tecta America’s corporate offices.
“Corporate knows that it is the people out in the field who are making the company successful and corporate treats them accordingly,” Winecoff notes. This philosophy is shared by Cyclone Roofing, which, Winecoff says, operates like a family business.
Cyclone Roofing uses a variety of time-tested roofing systems and products that are tough enough to hold up to the abuse found in any environment, as well as those that require meticulous attention to achieve the desired aesthetic appeal.
Initially, Cyclone Roofing provided services to both the residential and commercial industry; today, it focuses mainly on the commercial sector. Its employees are experienced in all facets of the business including built-up roofing, modified bitumen, single ply roofs, tapered insulation systems, metal roofs, sheet metal, cool roof coatings, tile, and slate roofing.
Most service and repair projects begin with roof inspection using TectaTracker, an online program that provides the roof condition reports and forecast data that customers need to avoid potential problems. The reports allow customers to manage their roof assets and plan ahead. They include a detailed plan of what to repair now, how to manage the roof asset in the future, and what the costs will be in order to budget for future repairs.
Winecoff affirms that the downturn in the economy has caused an increase in repairs and maintenance projects.
“People are hesitant to make the investment in a new roof right now,” he comments. “So we are working with customers to sustain their current roof with low-cost maintenance and servicing. Our job isn’t simply to sell a roof; we are looking for the best solutions for our customers, which often times isn’t a new roof but simply repairs to their existing system.”
Repair services on roofs usually involve restoration, which is a cost-effective way to get the roof back to a manageable condition.
“Many roof systems do not need to be replaced, but can be restored,” Winecoff explains. “With many options available, we can provide services that will not only rejuvenate the roof system, but also provide, in some cases, additional warranty coverage.”
Cyclone Roofing advocates preventive maintenance to customers as well, to save them money. Winecoff explains that age and exposure to the elements invariably lead to roof deterioration and eventually roof failure. Implementing a preventive maintenance program to diagnose roof problems before they become major ones is critical to extending roof life.
“Roof maintenance is one of the most overlooked areas in the upkeep of a building,” he adds. “And neglecting a roof can seriously compromise the longevity of any system.”
Another impact of the downturn in the economy has been an increase in the number of contractors bidding on projects. “We used to see eight to 10 companies at an open bid, but now we are competing with 20 or 30,” Winecoff comments. “Many of the bids are now coming from residential contractors where there simply isn’t any work right now.”
“This is a tough economy to work in, but we are hopeful that by the end of the year people will be ready to think about future projects again,” he says optimistically.
It was about three years ago when Cyclone Roofing got serious about green roofing and sustainable business practices.
“We knew that if we wanted to continue to be a leader in the community, we had to step up and be proactive in our approach to what we were doing and learn how to integrate green practices into our business model,” says Winecoff.
“Fortunately,” Winecoff says, “people here in Charlotte are hungry for this kind of innovation and that makes the sale a lot easier for us.”
Cyclone Roofing was awarded the first green roof contract by the city of Charlotte. The project was to replace the 8,000-square-foot roof of Discovery Place in Center City. In addition to being green, the new roof was also to be used as a research project by the city to determine which vegetation was best suited for installation in future projects.
The project was underway during Charlotte’s big drought, which enabled Cyclone Roofing in planning for even the most severe conditions and choosing the best vegetation for varying weather conditions.
The green roof consisted of six specific areas of approximately 1,200 square feet of vegetation over a Siplast membrane, which incorporates a vector leak mapping system. The vector mapping system is used to track any possible leakage problems.
After successful completion of the Discovery Place project, and a wealth of knowledge attained through the experience, Cyclone Roofing was ready to undertake their next big green project, the roof of the Federal Reserve Bank.
The $1.87 million renovation was the first of its kind in Charlotte, since vegetation was planted on 48,000 square feet of the new roof. The cost of the project was over $300,000 more than traditional methods but it is projected to last 40 years longer, twice as long as other roofing systems.
Cyclone Roofing now has a two-year maintenance contract with the Bank, which involves weeding and watering the rooftop garden to help ensure plant vitality. Vegetation choices and climate will impact the maintenance level for a green roof; Winecoff notes choices were made to create a low-maintenance system for the Bank.
In addition to durability and life expectancy, green roofs are an attractive and energy-saving alternative to traditional rooftops. But while green roofs can cut energy costs, Winecoff says an additional benefit is reducing and cleaning stormwater runoff.
“New technology is making green designs an accessible alternative for many businesses,” Winecoff notes. “But there is still a lot of educating that needs to be done in the industry and in our own community.”
To do their part in the education process, and to further their commitment to both the environment and the community, Cyclone Roofing donated a solar rooftop system to the U.S. National Whitewater Center in April. The solar rooftop provides some of the energy needed for its operations plus it serves as a learning tool for visitors at the Center. For educational purposes, a monitoring system was installed that allows visitors to learn and observe the environmental impact that the system is having.
“My vision for this gift was to create a place where the public could learn firsthand about the technologies and benefits of solar energy and its environmental impact,” Winecoff says.
Unlike traditional solar systems which typically use large panels, thin films were used at the U.S. Whitewater Center. In contrast to PV panels, which only produce energy while the sun is at its peak, the thinner films are able to produce energy all day.
“Our hope is that this project helps the community learn about solar energy—how it works, and how it can be integrated into their lives,” Winecoff explains.
Winecoff suspects that sustainable energy will play a big role in the future of Cyclone Roofing.
“The most challenging part of our job is staying ahead of the curve, but if you don’t embrace these new technologies and green trends, you are going to get left behind,” Winecoff notes.
In terms of other goals for the future, Winecoff says he’d like to reach $20 million in revenues in the next couple years. Considering they already topped off last year at $14 million, they are well on their way.
“Moving forward, our plan is to continue to establish ourselves as leaders in the industry,” he adds. “And we’ll do this by continuing to focus on quality, safety and innovation.”