October 12, 2022 at 11:02 a.m.

Editor’s note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Sean Fraker and Kelly Linhares-Nelson of Sika Liquid Applied Membranes.You can read the interview below, watch the webinar, or listen to the podcast. 

Heidi Ellsworth:
Hello, everyone, and welcome to this month’s RLW, Read Listen Watch. This is a webinar that will help educate however you want to listen to get it, whether you’re listening to it on a podcast, watching it live right now, watching it on demand, or reading all the articles that’ll come from this, so welcome. My name is Heidi Ellsworth, and this is with RoofersCoffeeShop. We are very, very excited about this topic today. I tell you what, roof recover, roof restoration, reroof, it is the question of the day, and we have the expert from Sika here today to help us really navigate and talk about this important topic for all of you.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Before we get started, a few housekeeping items. First, we are being recorded, and this RLW will be available on demand within the next 24 hours. Please share it with everyone you know and let them know that it’s going to be available. We also will be taking questions throughout this RLW, so please get in the chat. Megan Ellsworth is behind the scenes, and she is watching the chat. She’s also going to ask you some questions. So please be sure to use it, very easy, and it will help keep us all interactive and answer your questions as we go. So let’s get started.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Today, as I said, we’re going to be talking about Roof Recovers, Helping with Material Shortages. We all know there’s been a lot of material shortages and everyone has needed to get very creative and really understand what’s best for their customers, the building owners. We’re going to talk about that today. We have Sean Fraker with Sika Liquid Applied Membranes here. Welcome, Sean.

Sean Fraker:
Welcome. Thanks, Heidi. I appreciate the opportunity.

Heidi Ellsworth:
We are so happy to have you. Before we get started, I would love it if you would share a little bit about yourself and Sika and what you do there.

Sean Fraker:
Sure. I mean, from a roofing perspective, I actually started when I was 14 years old,-

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Sean Fraker:
… carrying bundles of shingles up to the rooftop through school and through high school and then all the way through college. A little bit of time away, but back in the industry with Sika since 2008, very beginning of 2009. 2017, took over the management of this group, specifically Liquid Applied Membranes, that we classify as waterproofing and roofing systems. So, bachelor’s degree from the great State University of New York at Buffalo, the SUNY system, and most recently have left the State of Florida and moved back to the State of Ohio where I’m originally from.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. Congratulations. That’s quite the move.

Sean Fraker:
Yes, it is.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes, it is. Well, good. Well, like I started this out with, there is just so much happening out there with material shortages. Contractors are trying to figure out how to take care of their customers. There’s this question of recover versus reroof. Sean, can you just share the overall environment, what’s going on, and what is that recover versus reroof?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. I mean, many of us in the marketplace, it’s a bit of a moving target, unfortunately. Nobody seems to have a really, really good handle on it. We’ve gone from some raw material shortages, quite honestly, in the liquid world, but obviously in the single-ply world, insulation, everybody has been impacted by the ISO shortages. And most recently, I think cover boards are now out into 2023. So the big question comes up, well, what do we do? We know we need to replace or we have the budget to replace, but we can’t get the materials. And if we don’t do it now, we’re either going to cause further damage to the building or we might lose the financing.

Sean Fraker:
So one of the solutions that we at Sika basically have put a big push on, especially now going into 2023, is this recover philosophy. What can we do with the liquids that we manufacture that we have in our stock and in our inventory that we can regularly produce, keep in stock, and supply the industry to recover PVC, TPO, modified bitumens, gravel-surfaced asphalt roofs, metal roofs? What can we do with the products that we have in the marketplace?

Sean Fraker:
So that’s our big push. Looking at some of the bullet points here, environmentally, there are some advantages to it. I mean, you’re not tearing off a roof. You’re not filling up a landfill. In some of the old roofs in some of the big cities, we still have asbestos issues, so can we encapsulate it? There’s advantage to the environment for that as well. Technically, we have green products or low-VOC products, however you want to refer to them, that are good for the environment as well. And these are high performance systems which we’ll talk a little bit more in the upcoming slides.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Excellent. And how do you see it? We talk about material shortages and that was part of our title, but there’s also this huge labor shortage and just being to get the most productivity out of the labor. How do you see that with the recover versus reroof?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. Well, that’s a good point. Again, we’ve taken an approach. Sika’s products in general are all single-component products. So, not poking fun at the labor that we have out there, but the skilled tradesmen from the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, the guys that knew how to put down a four-ply system, that know how to properly weld the system, that pool keeps getting smaller and smaller and smaller. So from a productivity standpoint, what’s the big thing that Sika can do or manufacturers can do? Let’s make the products simpler to use.

Sean Fraker:
The products that we’re going to be talking about today, specific to Sika, are literally, open the bucket and start using it, whether you’re spraying it, whether you’re rolling it or brushing it, however you’re applying it. They’re single-component. You don’t necessarily need… Well, in one, you don’t mix it at all. You just open the bucket and go. But again, we’ll talk a little bit more about that in detail in a couple of slides coming up here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Excellent. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the different types of Sika liquid-applied membranes that are out there, the systems, to give a little context.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. So we’ve got premium products and then we’ve got the other product, all high performance. Sika is a very, very conservative company. One of the things we want to go to the market with are to make sure that they’re the best of the best and still competitive in the market. So starting at the top of our line would be our polyurethane line. These are all single-component, moisture triggered cured urethanes.

Sean Fraker:
Now, a lot of us in the marketplace that have been around for a while know that there’s urethanes. There’s two-component systems. There’s single-component systems that are moisture-cured. This one is moisture triggered cured, which means that there’s no mixing and that it’s… Basically, when I say moisture triggered cured, when you open the bucket, the atmospheric moisture causes a chemical reaction to start curing the product. The biggest advantage of that is… Well, it’s really two advantages. Number one, you open the bucket and go.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
Number two, in a lot of climates, if it’s moist or if it’s raining, this product will really… It’ll cure underwater, so it can rain on it upon application and not have any effect on the performance or the curing of the product. So it’s a big difference in the urethane family. Again, five basic colors. They can be custom colored. Also, in the family, we’ve got… Where we separate between RoofPro and RoofCoat. So polyurethanes are in RoofPro, but we also have polyurethanes in RoofCoat. So they can also be a coating. In the RoofPro world, they’re 100% reinforced. So it’s a full system.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Okay.

Sean Fraker:
It’s a standalone roofing system or it’s a standalone recover system, completely reinforced, up to 25-year labor and material warranties, whereas the coatings portion of it are RoofCoat and polyurethane. Again, they’re locally reinforced or non-reinforced systems, where you would roll them or spray them onto a metal roof, an old mod bit, a PVC, a TPO. They’re meant to extend the life of the existing system or provide to get the UV resistance to an aging roof. If the current roof is really in stable condition, and again, we’ll talk about that here in another slide, why not put just a coating on it?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right.

Sean Fraker:
And again, in the silicone family and the acrylic family, again, high performance. The acrylics are a Type I silicone or a Type I acrylic, which means that they’re good for cold-weather climates. They pass the cold mandrel bend testing. And in the silicone family, they’re 97, 98% solid. So high performance, high solid silicones. But they’re coatings. They’re locally reinforced. So those are what we offer. That’s the world that we play in.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Excellent. Okay. Well, let’s talk a little bit about the recover again, and what makes a roof a good candidate for recover?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. We’ve seen several things this year. Number one, material shortages, where the owners have come to us and said, “Okay. What can I do?” It’s obvious that we need to replace this or we need to do something to recover it. It’s in good shape. It’s not leaking. So let’s determine whether or not, is the substrate that’s currently there 25, 30 years old, and is it suitable to recover? Can what we’re going to put on top of it actually stick to it for a long-term solution?

Sean Fraker:
The other thing to consider here too is, is we’ve had several customers lately that are so warranty-driven that they’ve put on a 20-year system. They’ve come to the end of their warranty life. They want to make sure that they are still covered under a warranty. They can’t get the materials to replace it with a single-ply or a mod bit or something like that. So if they recover it, once it’s determined to be a suitable substrate, can they put a coating on it and get another warranty? The answer is yes, through Sika. So that’s really the two markets that are driving this.

Sean Fraker:
The other thing is, is that we talk about candidates for recovery. One of the most important things is to talk to either a roof consultant that’s knowledgeable in it or a manufacturer that has representatives that are trained and that are trusted in the industry. So go up as an owner or as a contractor that you have an owner that you’re working with, take a company like Sika up on the roof with you and walk it, and let’s point things out. Let’s make it black and white. Let’s talk about what can be done, what should be done, and what shouldn’t be done.

Sean Fraker:
Sika, again, being a very conservative company, will be one of the first to walk the roof with you and say, “This isn’t a good idea,” and tell you why it’s not a good idea. Let the owner make an informed decision. Let the contractor make an informed decision as to what you can and what you can’t do. There could be situations where you go, “Look, we can put this coating on it, but really this substrate is not suitable. The best you’re going to buy yourself is to get yourself through the winter. Do you really want to spend this money to get you through this season, versus should we tear it off and should we replace it? What can we do to get you through until you can get the raw materials or you can get the single-ply membrane or whatever to replace it?”

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
So, again, from an inspection standpoint, when we walk the roof, we’re always, always going to encourage an IR scan. So if there’s insulation under the roofing substrate, let’s make sure it’s dry. Let’s identify any places that are wet. And we go by the industry standard rule. If there’s more than 20% of the roof that’s wet, you should really tear it off and replace it. Now, you can cut it out. You can replace it with like-in-kind, so little patches of ISO and cover board. There’s small amounts of that material out there that you can get your hands on. It’s getting better every day.

Sean Fraker:
But let’s replace like-in-kind in those patch areas and then let’s put a system over it, whether it’s a fully reinforced RoofPro system or where it’s just locally reinforced RoofCoat, and then we’ll determine what level of warranty you want and what’s involved in putting it in.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I mean…

Sean Fraker:
Go ahead.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh, no. I was going to say that makes a lot of sense, because those inspections… And I like how you say doing it with your manufacturer or with a roof consultant who’s been… I mean, I think double eyes, everybody seeing that is important.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah, absolutely. We’ve got a lot of contractors across the United States that we regularly walk the roof. They’re seasoned professionals. They’ve been doing it for 25, 50 years. These guys know what they’re doing. But there’s been so many technological advancements in coatings in general, in resins, in liquid resins, in the United States and around the world that it’s very difficult for somebody to keep up, even a manufacturer, to keep up with what’s going on in the world.

Sean Fraker:
So to walk a roof together with a trusted manufacturer, like Sika, to get the answers of what can be done is always a good idea, not only from an educational standpoint or for a possible future project, but to make sure you’re giving your owner, your customer the right product.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right. Well, and one of the things too, Sean, that I think is interesting after you have this inspection completed is also including that manufacturer in the discussions of how do you establish goals with the owners and how do you establish goals for the roof. So talk a little bit about that.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. Nine times out of 10, usually the contractor, when they bring us in, or if we bring a contractor in, a lot of that’s already been done. But if we have the opportunity to really talk with the customer and find out what they truly want, there’s some basic questions. Is this a strip mall and it’s getting ready to be sold and you’re just trying to get by for a couple of years until the building is sold, or is this a long-term owner? Is it a hotel chain? Is it a semiconductor plant that’s going to be there a long time?

Sean Fraker:
The budget is hopefully determined by asking those types of questions based on how much they want to spend. And my team in general, if an owner or even a contractor comes to us and said, “Look, they’ve got 50 cents a foot that they can spend on the job,” we all know that it’s going to be the basic of basics that they’re going to put down on this roof, but we want to be very honest with the owner and say, “Just so you understand, what you’re getting here is something very, very temporary, and you’re going to be in this position again within a year or two depending on the environment you live in.”

Sean Fraker:
So we want to have those budget talks right out of the beginning to help them determine what they should be spending, and maybe they need to bring in their CFO so that they can talk about return on investment, the longevity, so that they understand that, “Look, we know this is costly today, but over the life of this that you’re going to get out of this 20-, 25-, even 30-year system, the cost of this on an annualized basis is much, much smaller.”

Sean Fraker:
The other thing too in recovering is, depending on, it’s a tough one to say, municipality you’re in, you might be able to consider this as more of a maintenance expense as a coating versus a tear-off and a replacement, which is a capital investment. So it means different things in different regions of the country, different cities, different parts of the city, and it also means a great deal to the owner about how this item’s going to be expensed and how they can pay for it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Well, and I think when you’re talking about those goals, there’s also… Budget, definitely, it’s number one, but I like how you… The use basis, but then there’s also energy efficiency. I mean, there’s so much happening right now with environmental and sustainability. That could make a difference too.

Sean Fraker:
Right. Several of our products have got full EPDs, so cradle to grave, which is a big thing. But sustainability… Another thing that’s in coatings too, it’s a good point you bring up, is that coatings can be recoated. I mean, I know you can reroof, but remember, a coating adds very, very little weight to the roof. So if the roof is in good shape, you’ve got a good substrate to apply to an existing roof system there, you’re adding… Even with a fully reinforced system of liquids, you’re adding less than a pound of weight per square foot, whereas a full roofing system built up can add a lot more weight to that if you’re going to do it. So I agree with you.

Sean Fraker:
The other thing specific to Sika is, is that the RoofPro product line, from a sustainability standpoint, it’s a renewable warranty. Let’s just say you put a 20-year system down. At the end of 20 years, us, the original contractor, the owner would go up, walk the roof, determine, is it in good shape? 99% of the time, it’s in perfect shape, unless there had been an act of God or an accident by a maintenance person that’s been on the roof and damaged the roof. You fix those areas, but really, with our coating systems, a simple power washing, a very quick prime.

Sean Fraker:
And then in the RoofPro line, another additional 30, 40 milk top coat reinforcement, and the waterproofing layer is still there. So let’s just rejuvenate and keep it up. The other thing to note too on sustainability is, is the thing with putting a white roof over an old, aged black roof.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right.

Sean Fraker:
There’s the heat island effect. It’s still exists. It’s still out there. Or if you’re in California, you have to pass the values that are out there for the white roof. So we have a lot of bright white coatings. We have a very lot of bright gray coatings that all meet those specifications to help you get that lead requirement that’s out there.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And really, that leads right into, what are some of those benefits of recovery?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. I mean, again, as I stated before, no tear-off, so you’ve got that labor savings right there. Everybody knows that the labor to tear off a building, not only is it extremely cumbersome and dirty work, but it’s expensive. It’s a large portion of the job, then you’ve got to get it off the roof.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
Once you get it off the roof, you have to get it in a dumpster. Once it gets in the dumpster, you have to pay the dump fees. There’s not many people anymore that have big fields and lands behind their contractor facilities where a lot of that can be dumped and recycled into something at some time. So the cost of tear-off is very expensive, especially if it’s an old roof that you still have contaminants in it, like asbestos or something like that. So the cost of disposal, it’s no secret, as many of us drive around the United States to see the giant mountains of waste. Even though they’re covered up with grass now and flowers and they look nice, we all know what’s under there.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
We’ve had a great deal of success with some school systems this year who flat-out have refused to tear off and replace a roof because they don’t want to dispose of the roof. They want to remain environmentally friendly and known to the district that they’re in that the school system made a logical choice to recover versus replace.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That makes a lot of sense too because… And I love the fact that you brought up that school example, because this is being driven a lot by consumers, building owners, schools, tenants, who are like, “We…” They pride themselves on where they live and what they’re doing. So being able to share these kind of benefits for the environment, I think, is huge. And then you have the economics behind it.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. Absolutely. Less labor economics, less equipment. I mean, literally recovering… If you compare this to a complete tear-off where you’ve got power equipment, you’ve got the dumpster, you’ve got a large amount of flying debris in the air, the labor to move all of that stuff off, whereas in the majority of the recovers, I mean big recovers, you’re going to be either pumping it or you’re going to be going out of 55-gallon barrels, but a lot of the work that we do is out of a five-gallon can with a brush and a roller.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right.

Sean Fraker:
I mean, it’s very, very simple to do. It’s very, very simple to get up to the roof, especially in confined spaces, areas like New York City, where everything is this far apart.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
So getting big rolls of material up and recovering disposal is very, very difficult. And as far as the equipment, as I said, I mean, it’s a roller cage with a roller extension stick on it and a half-inch nap roller and a brush to do… And then maybe some rags and some different solvents to clean things up. Very, very simple operation.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And that’s so important for the labor shortage and productivity, like we already talked about. So let’s talk a little bit about another thing that building owners are very concerned about and always want to discuss, and that is warranties.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. Warranties are… I’m never afraid to say, “Mr. Customer, please don’t forget. I am a manufacturer. I wrote the warranty to protect me.”

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
It says nice things and it is good for the consumer, but I always strongly encourage, please, please, please read the warranty, because even though you’re doing a recover and you think you’re getting a 30-year NDL warranty, there are stipulations that are in that language of that warranty that you need to be very, very careful. I’m not knocking the competition. I’m not knocking the performance of their product. But again, warranties are written by manufacturers, so don’t be sold on the warranty. You don’t need everything that you think you’re getting.

Sean Fraker:
So I always encourage people, “Send me the copy of the warranty that you think you’re getting.” I have no problem having our legal staff or even myself go through it and highlight things and say, “Make sure you understand everything that’s required to get this warranty,” because 90% of the time, the warranties, one, aren’t even exercised. So don’t be sold by a warranty. As an owner, as a contractor, do your customer a favor. Install a product that you know is trusted, that you know where it’s made and who made it, who stands behind it, and what the warranty language says.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And I think it feels like this is another area too, where contractors should definitely work with their manufacturer’s reps to really understand those warranties also so that they aren’t caught off guard in visiting with their customers.

Sean Fraker:
Yup. Yeah. Sika will be very, very honest and upfront with their contractors from a standpoint of, if the project isn’t meant to be warranted or isn’t meant to be done, we’ll tell you. You can buy the product. We don’t recommend you buy the product and apply it in this fashion. It’s always at your discretion to purchase it, but it won’t have a warranty. We won’t give you a warranty on the application that you’re doing. Again, honesty and integrity. We want to be… There’s plenty of work out there for all of us, so let’s do the customer a favor.

Sean Fraker:
The work is not going to end by putting a product on that isn’t going to perform or isn’t meant to do just to create more work in the future. That’s one school of thought. There’s a lot of work out there for all of us to get. Building a backlog of work hasn’t been a problem in the last two years, and I don’t foresee it being a problem the next several coming.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Several, yeah. Yeah. There’s a lot of built-up, backed-up demand back there.

Sean Fraker:
There certainly is.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So as roofing contractors are talking to building owners, what are some of the questions that they might expect to get when discussing the difference between recover and reroof?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. Again, I would strongly… Now, granted, there’s a lot of contractors out there that are extremely educated, and Sika puts a lot of faith in several of them being able to answer the questions. But number one, if the owner is going to offer you the opportunity to meet and sit down as to why recover versus replace or why use a coating versus a membrane, ask Sika to come in. We’ll bring the membrane guys with us, we’ll bring the coating guys with us, and we’ll all talk in a room and decide what’s best for the owner and letting him make a very informed decision.

Sean Fraker:
But some of the questions we’re getting is, “How do I take care of it? What do I have to do?” Most coatings, if they’re applied right, very simple, light-duty power washing on a regular basis by the maintenance department is more than enough to take care of the roof, an occasional walkthrough. There’s no reason that anybody that’s on my team at Sika would refuse to go back and talk to an owner again with the contractor and go up and walk the roof every couple of years, just to get the opportunity to go back up and identify and say, “Hey, it looks like something flew through the air during last month’s storm and it punctured the bottom of this flashing at the bottom of the HVAC unit. You need to pay attention with this, or call Sika and let us walk with your maintenance guys.”

Sean Fraker:
So those are the things about taking care of it. I mean, taking care of a coated roof, very similar to a lot of the single-plys. I mean, a very simple Simple Green or a TSP wash or even a clean water wash is usually all that the roof needs. There’s no heavy-duty scrubbing involved. Identifying problem areas. If you see something that doesn’t look right, take a picture, call us, have your maintenance guy do a FaceTime video with one of our tech guys or myself or one of the salespeople and say, “Hey, I’m seeing this. What is this? Do you know what this is, and why is it doing this?” There’s not an answer. We’re going to send somebody out to take a look at it.

Sean Fraker:
How many times can you recover? Again, that’s a bit of a jurisdiction or the city that you live in. Some of them might say you can recover once or twice. Some of them recognize a fully reinforced coating system as a maintenance item. Some say, “Wait a minute. You’re really putting a whole brand-new roof down. You can do that once. Okay.” So we need to understand what the local jurisdictions have got to say. Most contractors are very educated in that. If not, it’s a very simple phone call for us to find out from the local building code enforcement group what are the rules of engagement in your city and town.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Ah. So do contractors need to be approved applicators?

Sean Fraker:
With us, with Sika in general, the answer, in general, is yes. Now, I will tell you, again, we divide that in families. So our rules on RoofPro, because of the responsibilities in the total, encompassing warranty that we give with RoofPro, the fully reinforced systems that are involving the design professional, the contractor, the building owner, our tech service guys, this is a… It’s a handoff.

Sean Fraker:
It’s from the date of issue of writing specification all the way through the close of the job, the inspection on it. Yes, the contractors need to be approved. They’re trained by us. They go through classroom training. They go through hands-on training. We’ve witnessed many of their jobs and applications, regardless of their level. We’re going to have one of our technicians out there at least one time per the job, if not multiple times, depending on the size of the job and the experience, past experience, of the contractor.

Sean Fraker:
In the RoofCoat family, I’m not downplaying this, but RoofCoat, it’s a coating. If you can open the bucket and determine that you can read the side of the label and it says, “Put it down this thick,” and you know how to measure that, you don’t necessarily need to be approved. We would like to know that you’re doing the job. And depending on the level of warranty that you want for RoofCoat jobs, we might require you to show us examples of what you’ve done in the past and/or go through some basic training. But the average coating job, not necessarily approved. RoofPro, 100% yes. RoofCoat, there are always exceptions to the rule, so not necessarily.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And if you are an approved applicator or thinking about becoming an improved applicator, that is a great selling point also to talk about to building owners.

Sean Fraker:
Absolutely. Absolutely. As a matter of fact, many of the jobs that we go on, a lot of the contractors are asked to provide a letter from the manufacturer that says they are an approved applicator of the Sikalastic RoofPro system.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Okay. So you talked about… You touched on this a little bit before, but just coatings overall and definitely the Sika line of LAM. What about different colors?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. I mean, within the RoofPro line, we have the ability to make custom colors, and several of our brochures in the website tell you, gives you quite a palette of custom colors. We offer it in five, maybe six standard colors that we regularly produce. Those are whites and grays, light grays, dark grays. There’s a tan color. So those are the standard colors that are out there. But if somebody… For instance, the market in Florida, there’s a lot of buildings that are… The roof is part of an architectural feature. Whether or not you can see it from the street or it’s going to be used as a terrace or a patio, custom colors appeal to the local ownership.

Sean Fraker:
Now, there’s minimums to how much you order in the RoofPro line. It’s a 600-gallon minimum because of the way that urethane is made. It’s not a big deal. But if you’ve got 500 square feet, 600-gallon order of a custom color isn’t going to make economic sense. However, if you’re just coating a roof in the RoofCoat line, an acrylic or a silicone has a 60-gallon minimum. So it’s not very much. It’s 12 buckets of material. And the color range is very, very broad. Some colors, like red, it’s a little bit more expensive. Red, for some reason, the pigment that goes into making red or anything in the red family is very expensive. So there’s a little bit of a differential.

Sean Fraker:
Some of the other custom colors, there’s a small upcharge, but not much typically. It has very little impact. So with colors, I would say, if it’s an architectural feature of the building or you’re trying to get California-compliant with the reflectivity or you’re in New York City and you want to… the heat island effect, so you want a white roof, white’s readily available, but white is, literally, in sunny states like Florida or on sunny days even in New York City, it’s blinding.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
So there’s different reasons. And the other thing too, different colors. Sorry to go on, but different colors.

Heidi Ellsworth:
No, please.

Sean Fraker:
Traffic pass. A lot of folks have put down a white roof and then they put down dark gray traffic pass for the HVAC guys or the maintenance guys when they go up on a roof that says, “Stay on this path.” Can you put it in stripes? Can you put non-skid surfacing? Absolutely. You can do all of that with liquids.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Nice. Yeah. And that is important. And I’m just going to go back just a little bit, but on these building owner questions, I’m sure there’s going to be… And this is one that we didn’t have down here, but I just know, they’re asking a lot about energy efficiency, and that goes back to that, how many times can you recover? But the energy efficiency of those white roofs, that’s really important right now for… And like you said, in some places, it’s code.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. It has been in quite some time. I mean, to get the cool roof rating, it’s predominantly white, but even our pearl gray color in the RoofPro and in the silicone and in the acrylic is highly, highly reflective. So you’re right. I mean, the color, the cool roof rating, the ENERGY STAR rating that used to be. That’s been out of the market for quite some time. So yes, it does have quite an impact on the building’s efficiency.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. It makes a big difference to what they’re doing.

Sean Fraker:
Yup.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So let’s talk just a little bit. I think there’s a lot of people out there who probably have a question about this, of really what is the Sika Liquid Applied Membrane story. How did it start in kind of that bigger picture?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. Well, as many of you know, Sika is very aggressive on being a complete building envelope company. So in 2008, one of the things that intrigued them was the technology that a company called Liquid Plastics had. It was being manufactured at that time in the United States and in Europe. But the technology in the RoofPro line, for several of you that are out there on this call might remember it as Decothane. It’s now called Sikalastic RoofPro, but a very, very popular product in Europe that’s been manufactured in the United States since… I want to say ’02 or ’03. Might even been earlier than that. It’s manufactured in Marion, Ohio. That’s the urethane product line.

Sean Fraker:
So that product line, when Sika acquired the company in 2009, was put into our Refurbishment, Ceiling, and Bonding group. And in 2017, because of the demand and the efforts to have a focused sales force, we broke it off in 2017, and I was asked to take over that group. And since then, we’ve built the team up. We’ve got a dedicated technical group, a dedicated sales group. We have several independent reps. We also have the full Sika Sarnafil Group that we’re now a part of. So there’s now all those salespeople that are very well-versed in single-ply that also have the ability to talk about the Liquid Applied group as well.

Sean Fraker:
So, again, that’s RoofPro and, again, as I expressed before, then we have the RoofCoat line. So in ’17, we started to break off with the product group and we knew that we wanted a silicone and we wanted an acrylic as well, and those three product groups are where our families lie. Are there other technologies out there? Yes. So we’re a good solution for, I would say, 99% of what we run across. There are some times when we’re not the best solution, and we’ll be the first one to tell you that, “This isn’t a good application for this product. You should go look at another type of product that has some characteristic that we don’t have.”

Sean Fraker:
Now, on that thought, Sika is a global company. So one of the initiatives that Kelly Linhares-Nelson and I have taken with our global group is, is we now have a liaison in Switzerland. We’ve had him, but we’re working hand-to-hand on a month-to-month basis. And what we’re doing at the end of October, we’re having our technical groups, the folks from Switzerland, a couple of folks from the UK, Kelly and myself, and several of our salespeople are getting together at our trial and testing facility down in Sealy, Texas, and we’re bringing in products from around the world to find out, what’s unique about this product? What are we missing? What do we need here in the United States that we can bring out that will help us not only compete, but also offer a wider liquid line in the United States?

Sean Fraker:
There are some things that we know will work, some things we’re taking a look at, just because we’re very curious, and several products that have got a very high interest rate from Kelly and I that I think we’ll probably be bringing into our mix here in the very near future, in 2023.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Mm-hmm. Exciting. Wow. So can you expand just a little bit more? I love how you were talking about the different parts that you also have, your membranes and liquid-applied, and you say you’re cross-selling, but you’re also cross-supporting. Can you talk a little bit more about that?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. With us moving from… Sika is broken up into several target markets, what we call them. The liquid-applied is part of a business unit. So one of the target markets that we have is roofing. In the roofing target market, it’s now made up of the Sarnafil brand, which is a high performance PVC membrane that many of you know. It’s been around for a very, very… As a matter of fact, they’re celebrating 60 years currently. Then we have the LAM line, which is our line that Kelly and I represent, and that’s got a 40-year history globally, but here in the United States and as a separate business unit since 2017, but manufactured here for many, many years in Marion, Ohio.

Sean Fraker:
And then we most recently have the American Hydrotech line. Many of you know American Hydrotech as a hot-applied product with the melters that they do. So we’re going to have a big focus in 2023 in this overall, what do we do at the top of the roof? What can we do for you at the terrace level, at waterproofing level? What can we do for you on all parts of the building that might be covering up occupied space or even unoccupied space that you want to protect? What are you doing in green roofs? What are you doing in blue roofs?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
So we’re bringing the entire group together. All of the salespeople have started to become trained. Several of the salespeople are now actively selling in the marketplace, all three systems. So the group is aligning itself that way, and you’ll see a lot more in 2023.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And that makes a lot of sense because you’re really… You’re starting to have all the solutions across the board.

Sean Fraker:
Correct.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And I know we’re talking about recover versus reroof, but I also want to talk just a tad bit, and this may be off, just forgive me, but I want to talk just a little bit about new construction, because with the material shortages, which this is all about, that’s hit new construction too. So what are you seeing there?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. From a liquid-applied standpoint, when we started the business unit and broke it out separately, we started to pull history and started to look at things. The majority of what we did was tear-off and recovery. So the original roof system was on, or the original terrace system was already on, but the waterproofing had failed.

Sean Fraker:
So we did a lot of replacement. The average size job was 35 to 45 squares. We did a lot of them. It’s not very big footprint, but we did a lot of them. In the last three years, we have steadily watched the climb of the size of these jobs, new construction and reroofs. Now we’re averaging, when you put everything together, to about 65 to 70 squares. But in ’21 and ’22, we did 10, a dozen jobs in excess of 1,000 squares, so very, very large footprints, and most recently have been invited with liquids to do things in excess of 10,000 squares.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Sean Fraker:
I mean, very, very, very large projects. Brand-new insulated metal roofs, very brand-new insulated concrete substrates, wood decks. We’re getting pulled into many, many areas, and we’re capable of doing all. We’ve got an interface or a primer compatible with all the substrates.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I find that really interesting. So from the architectural community, from the building owner community, you’re seeing it, liquid-applied membranes, being specked because a lot of people just think that that is changing, that that’s changing, that you’re using a lot more right out of the bat.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. It’s a good point, Heidi. The main point of this is, is that the well-rounded manufacturer that can alt… multiple solutions. These aren’t standalone solutions. For instance, our liquids can be used as flashing on our PVC, can be used with American Hydrotech, and vice versa. So there are a lot of combo systems out there that you can do. You do a roof with a mod bit and do all… I mean, the number one failure area on a roof is typically at the transition areas, the upstands, things that need to be sealed differently or a boot put on them. Those are the things where it takes a skilled craftsman to install them correctly. Those are where the mistakes typically happen.

Sean Fraker:
With a liquid, very easy to apply. Do a flashing, do an upstand, self-terminating, no additional clampering. Follow the instructions, prep the substrate, put the primer on, reinforce the liquid, walk away.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Makes sense. Makes sense. So another follow-up question on this, on your story, but what are your… As you’re seeing these trends and it’s starting to shift to larger and larger jobs with liquid-applied membranes, and what are you hearing back from… Or what are you seeing as trends with your roofing contractors, your approved applicators, and some of the trends that they’re seeing, some of the feedback they’re getting on this combination? Membrane, liquid-applied. Where are they going with all this, and especially during the material shortages?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. I mean, we’re seeing less and less of the guys that say, “I’m a single-ply guy. I’ve always been a single-ply guy.”

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
We’re starting to see, “Hey, what’s going on? What is a liquid? I’ll be a single-ply guy, but I need to get my crew trained in liquids.” And it’s funny because I remember when I first started out, it was like, “I’m a hot guy. We do three-ply. We do four-ply, but we work with kettles. Hey, what’s the single-ply?” So it’s a transition. Now we’re seeing, “I’m a single-ply guy. What’s this about liquids?” So I think the number one thing that people should understand…

Sean Fraker:
It’s just like every other technology. There’s always something going on in the development of a product, whether it’s the new, latest and greatest toothpaste on the market or whether it’s a roofing product. There are guys that are very talented that are saying, “This product’s great, but how do we make it better? How do we make it more cost-effective? How do we make it easier to use? How do we make it more UV-stable? What can we do to make this product simple?” So staying educated in the market, doing things like this, sitting on on these presentations, going to trade shows, believe it or not, I mean, they’re big educational purposes.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right. Right. And that’s really where you find how to use all these different types of products, like we started at the beginning, the different types of coatings, but also when and where and how to bring it all together.

Sean Fraker:
Yup.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Excellent. Any last thoughts on the Sika Liquid Applied Membrane story or overall?

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. No. Overall, I think the only thing we really didn’t hit on is, is that there’s still a trend where a lot of people heavily relied on, “What information can I get on my cell phone?” Right?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
“I need a product that does this.” When the manufacturer is on there, I strongly encourage, at least reach out to the manufacturer and say, “Hey, I saw this online. This is what I’m going to do. Is this the right thing to do?” because the worst thing that you want to happen is, is you go out and you buy the product, you put it on, it doesn’t work, and you call the manufacturer and the manufacturer says, “Who are you, and what did you do? You shouldn’t have done that.” Call us. We have a very large staff. There’s the better part of 800 different, disciplined salespeople across the United States from Sika alone-

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Sean Fraker:
… that will gladly take your phone call, answer your questions, go look at a roof for free, make a recommendation, help you write a specification, help you convince the owner. That’s what we’re here for. That’s what we do.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And I just want to continue that point because I think it’s really, really important. We’ve heard this from other panels that we’ve been having on RoofersCoffeeShop, and they’re talking about, a lot of people have gotten really creative during the material shortage or even around labor, but mostly material shortage when they don’t have, and so they’re being creative on what they use. A year or two years from now, if they haven’t checked that with the manufacturer and made sure that it’s warranted, that it didn’t go out of warranty, that can be a real problem a couple years down the road.

Sean Fraker:
Certainly can. Certainly can. And listen, I mean, Sika has the same rules as anybody else, any of our competitors do. If I’ve put a brand-new roof down on yours and you patch it with somebody else’s stuff, call me and tell me you’re going to do it, because either I’ll tell you, “You shouldn’t do that because it voids the warranty,” or “Here, use this product instead for me because it won’t void the warranty.” Owners should be very, very careful with that. That’s correct. Very good point.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Yeah. We’ve had to be very creative throughout these last couple years.

Sean Fraker:
We sure have.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, great. Sean, thank you. So informative.

Sean Fraker:
Thank you.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. Let’s take some questions. So if you have any questions, or even comments, please put those into the chat. We do have some that have come in earlier that I’m going to bring up. So one of the questions we had earlier, and I think you kind of answered this in the middle, but I want to make sure we have it out there, is, “Where are your coatings manufactured, and how do your lead times look?”

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. Two-part question. So first answer is, where are they made, Marion, Ohio, Southern California, and Texas.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Okay.

Sean Fraker:
So there’s a pretty good-sized triangle right there. As many of you know, Sika is always doing this, getting bigger and bigger and bigger, adding new manufacturing sites, new warehousing sites where the product will soon be stocked. The warehouses are open, but we’re still going through the logistics and getting product there. So even though we manufacture in Marion, Ohio, Southern California, and Texas, stocking warehouses are literally peppered all over the United States for these products.

Sean Fraker:
Lead times, we’re about 90% through all of the problems with raw materials. There’s only one product, and it’s a unique primer, so it’s not overly that popular. So right now, I would say, between some items being in stock now, two to three weeks.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Nice.

Sean Fraker:
So depending on the size of the job. So it’s pretty readily available.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That’s great. And a lot of people are trying to get a lot done before the weather changes.

Sean Fraker:
Oh yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That’s great to know. Okay. And you kind of addressed this at the beginning, but let’s just… We had a question come in and said, “Why urethane over silicone over acrylic?”

Sean Fraker:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
Depending, again, there’s a lot of questions to be asked. What’s the purpose of the building, and what you’re going to do. For instance, the use of a urethane. It’s very, very universal. It has a lot of great characteristics. Ours is extremely UV-stable. You can cover just about everything with them, available in multiple colors, and they can be recoated. School is still out on silicone, for instance. Silicone, incredibly UV-stable, fairly economic. They’ve got a lot of characteristics, but they’re very, very soft, for instance.

Sean Fraker:
So if you’ve got an area that gets a lot of rooftop maintenance, silicone might not be the best choice, because a maintenance cart or even something as simple as a maintenance contractor up on a roof spinning and doing a 180 on his boot can tear up a silicone fairly easily, where with a urethane, it’s very solid and very stable. Acrylic, if you’re in the northern climates or a very wet climate, acrylics by nature are heavily, heavily water-based. So in that climate where it can freeze, thaw often or if it’s flat where there’s ponding water, you might not want to use an acrylic. So there’s multiple reasons why one product might work better over another product.

Sean Fraker:
Again, there’s not a universal solution. There’s all things to factor in, budget, performance, aesthetics, low VOC, what do we need to be compliant to? So we’re trying the best that we can to offer a wide array of product choices specific to the need.

Heidi Ellsworth:
To make them happen. That’s great. We had another question come in. “What are the temperature restrictions?”

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. You’re going to have 40 and rising for an application is best with most of the products that Sika offers. Again, you can apply them in colder temperatures. The cure just gets very, very, very slow. So it’s not much different than other products in the market. Now, granted there are other products on the market, Sika has them, but not all of them are in the United States yet. Kelly and I are working very hard to bring them in. But there are products out there that might be better for a late December or an early January application where it’s cold and you want it to flash very quickly.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right.

Sean Fraker:
We have solutions for that. But there’s other products on the market. So, again, environment might… But in general, 40 and rising is a good general term for the product of families that I currently have. Call me again in 2023 early, and there’ll be a different answer to that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Everybody needs to extend that season. Another question. “You mentioned a coating over a gravel-surface built-up roof. I can see a smooth-surface BUR, but gravel surface?” question mark.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. It’s kind of a use of the existing product. So what we’ve done is, by thoroughly cleaning, it’d be nice if you could hydro-wash a gravel-surface roof, but a lot of times, you’re like, “Wait a minute. And now I’m introducing a hydro-wash with water into a roof that’s susceptible to that. It might be leaking. Can we sweep it? How many times can we sweep it and get it clean?” So, yes, there is a technology out there where you can sweep a granulated roof or a granule or a rock, an embedded asphalt roof. You can sweep it, remove all the loose, you can prime it, you can float out a filler, if you will.

Sean Fraker:
We have the product and you can fill up the level of the gravel so that you don’t have all these dips and valleys, because with a coating, the thinnest point is going to be at the top of the peak. So you can imagine, I can get it 40 mils thick here, but when I go over this piece of gravel, it’s going to be a little thin at the top depending on how fast the product cures and how it settles out. So what we do is, is we level off the surface and then we put a high performance, UV-stable coating on top of that, leveling the surface.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Okay. When you think about all the roofs out there that have gravel and different, uneven surfaces, yeah, that’s excellent.

Sean Fraker:
Yeah. I spend a lot of times on Delta Air Lines and I’m always amazed when I fly over a city coming in for a landing or taking off and you look down.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Sean Fraker:
How many roofs are still out there?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. There’s a lot.

Sean Fraker:
Yup.

Heidi Ellsworth:
A great question just came in from John Kenny. He says, “What is the biggest challenge for liquids in the marketplace right now?”

Sean Fraker:
Well, last… The beginning of ’22 in the higher performance was probably some of the raw material availability. All of us went through that. As far as a challenge goes, I don’t know if there’s really a challenge. It’s to remain… From a warranty standpoint, what customers are demanding in warranty that is being pushed from other competitions. That’s always a challenge. Staying up to date with technology is a challenge.

Sean Fraker:
Keeping up with what people are doing when they get your hands on your product, because it might be perceived on another job to be the greatest thing since sliced bread and they think they can put it on everything, and then they find out that they don’t because they haven’t consulted with us. So keeping up with the trends and what people are doing with the product is probably the biggest challenge, I guess, off the cuff to answer that one.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That’s interesting. Okay. So all this great information. There’s contractors out there who want to get started with Sika. How do they do that?

Sean Fraker:
Call us or go to the website. There’s a button on there that says, “I want to know more,” or “Contact my local representative.” Kelly might correct me, but I think there’s even a button on there that might say, “How to become an approved applicator.”

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yup.

Sean Fraker:
There’s some paperwork that you fill out, some training that you have to go to, and it’s by territory. There are territories that are heavily, heavily covered by approved applicators already, so we’re a bit selective. So we’re a bit more strict, I should say. There’s other territories that are still pretty wide open. We’re going to do our qualifications. We’re going to look at experience. And Sika is, my group, very crawl, walk, run. So if you’ve never done it before, we’ll hold your hand. Let’s crawl on the first job. Let the tech people be there with you, show you the tricks of the trade, then we start walking, and then we say, “Take on the monster job. You guys are ready to go.”

Heidi Ellsworth:
Perfect. That’s perfect. For everyone out there, you can find all this information on RoofersCoffeeShop in the Sika LAM directory. There’s also a couple of really cool promotions, some rebates, a free pail, with training, everything. You have to hit all the right marks. But check that out on RoofersCoffeeShop. There’s a lot of great stuff. So, Sean, thank you so much. This has been great, and we did have a great comment. It said, “Very thorough and informative presentation,” and I agree. Thank you.

Sean Fraker:
Okay. Thank you very much.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Thank you, and thank you all for listening. This has been great having you. This has been recorded, as I mentioned at the beginning. It will be on demand within the next 24 hours. Please check out everything around Sika LAM on their directory on RoofersCoffeeShop. And also, check out all of the RLWs that we’ve done, which are under the Read Listen Watch navigation, and you’ll just have to hit RLW and you’ll find great information all the time.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Our next RLW will be in October and that will be with Sashco, and they’re going to be talking about sealants and caulking. So they have some great information that you won’t want to miss. So we will be seeing you. Sean, thank you again.

Sean Fraker:
Thank you.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Thank you, and thank you all for listening. We will see you on the next RLW. Have a great day.





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