How to Get into Commercial Roofing

By Karen L. Edwards 08-18-2020
QUICK SHARE
Tag Icon

If you're a residential roofing contractor thinking about expanding into the commercial sector, you're not alone. Plenty of roofing contractors start their companies with a focus on the residential market and then make the decision to expand into commercial roofing. Adding a commercial division can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn't have to be if you take it one step at a time.

The first step is to listen to what people in the industry have to say about what makes commercial roofing different. Consider talking to commercial contractors in your network or browsing resources online, such as these interviews with GAF Master Select Contractors who share their experiences in this space, to get an idea of what to expect.

For example, Bo Byers of the Oklahoma-based Byers Company explains that commercial roofing differs "not just in shape and size, but also in how the whole business cycle works." This can create changes in cash flow that a potential commercial roofer should be prepared for.

Similarly, Ty Smith of Smith & Ramirez Roofing in El Paso, Texas, adds that "one commercial job could be the equivalent to 20 residential roofs or more." Knowing about these types of differences upfront can help you create a business plan that accounts for them.

Do Your Homework

Along with researching the industry, you'll, of course, want to learn about the techniques behind commercial roofing. As with any new endeavor, you can begin with online research.

For starters, GAF has a playlist of Roofing it Right videos that cover a range of roofing techniques, which can be especially useful for professionals looking for an introduction to commercial concepts.

Start with an Easy-to-Learn System

You might also want to consider narrowing your focus to a specific area of commercial roofing. For instance, roof coatings are gaining popularity as a way to extend the life of a structurally sound roofing system without tearing off the existing roof.

Installing roof coatings is relatively easy and doesn't require expensive equipment such as robotic welders or roofing kettles, making it a great specialty for starting out as a commercial contractor. In fact, most systems can be spray-applied or installed using a roller. Michelle Carlin, GAF Senior Product Manager for coatings, recommends water-based acrylic coatings as a great way to get started because they "require minimal investment in personal protective equipment, and [are] really easy to use and clean up."

Take Advantage of Free Hands-On Training

There's nothing like watching someone perform an installation and then having the chance to do it yourself before getting on your customers' roofs. Training programs like those offered by the GAF Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence (CARE) let you do just that. Practical training gives you hands-on opportunities to learn both time-tested and innovative installation techniques from industry veterans.

If it's just not feasible for you to attend an in-person training, you can turn those rainy days into learning days and watch the recorded training webinars online.

Attend Industry Trade Shows

Roofing industry trade shows are an excellent place to learn more about commercial roofing techniques, products, and equipment. The largest industry show with the most learning opportunities is the International Roofing Expo, which takes place in February of each year.

If attending the international show is out of reach, seek out your local roofing contractor association. They often host smaller regional trade shows that feature educational classes as well as an expo hall where you can talk to vendors and see roofing products firsthand. You'll be able to meet and talk to other contractors, which can help you learn about the challenges and opportunities of the commercial side of the business.

Expanding into a new business can be a daunting endeavor, but taking the time to learn as much as you can about your industry is one of the best ways to set yourself up for success.


Don't miss another GAF RoofViews post!
LATEST UPDATES
Whether you're buying or selling a home, it's worth glancing at the roof warranty. For sellers, informing prospective buyers that the home's roof comes with a transferable warranty can boost the home's value. For buyers, knowing that the home's roof not only looks great but has a warranty might also provide some peace of mind.
Just in case you needed telling, you should definitely take note if you detect a strong attic smell in your home! Firstly, in many cases, the unpleasant smells might begin infiltrating other areas of your residence. Secondly, and potentially much more serious, pervasive bad odors can be warning signs of other deeper issues. Whatever the cause (and there are many possibilities), when you detect a foul odor, it may be time to take a serious look at improving your attic ventilation. Below we'll take a look at some of the common causes of bad attic odors - and how having efficient, well-maintained attic ventilation can help prevent them.
Do-it-yourself home improvements continue to gain popularity, with more homeowners choosing to do the work themselves as the proliferation of how-to videos on YouTube makes it easier than ever. But not every project should be DIY - especially when it comes to your roof. If you are thinking about a DIY roof replacement, here is what you need to know.
If you suspect that you have a leak in your roof, acting swiftly to repair it helps avoid further damage to your home and possessions. But: does homeowners insurance cover roof leaks and potentially remove some of the financial worries you may have? Below are the steps to take to protect your roof and your finances in the event of a leak.
A roof drip edge is a roofing material (a type of roof flashing) that diverts water away from (you guessed it!) your roof's edge or fascia. And, as a bonus, not only does it help keep your home dry, but it also helps guard against pests. So, even if you've heard the term before or think it's self-explanatory, there are good reasons to ask, "What is a roof drip edge and what exactly are the reasons I might need one for my home?"
In 1994, GAF's manufacturing plant in Shafter, California opened with a 19-year-old Ruben as an Operator on the original starting crew. While he only planned on staying for five years, Ruben remained on the Shafter team, holding various roles from Operator to Process End Leader to Shift Supervisor. He then took on more responsibility as Production Shift Lead for about five years. After his time on the line, Ruben then was granted an Electrical Apprenticeship, shifting the trajectory of his roles. He held positions as the Electrician Onsite, Electrical Team Lead, and Electrical Controls Specialist - a role he held for about seven years. He then was promoted to Senior Controls Specialist, until he most recently was selected as the Manager for GAF's new Incubation Center. In this role, he supports the hands-on installation, troubleshooting, and technology evaluation to accelerate innovation across GAF.
This blog contains information created by a variety of sources, including internal and third party writers. The opinions and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of GAF. The content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to constitute financial, accounting, tax or legal advice. GAF does not guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the information. In no event shall GAF be held responsible or liable for errors or omissions in the content or for the results, damages or losses caused by or in connection with the use of or reliance on the content.

Interested in sharing or republishing our content? We kindly ask you to adhere to our guidelines.