The Road Ahead
Contractors’ Views on the 2022 Western Roofing Industry
by Marc Dodson, editor
This time last year, the Western roofing industry, and the nation, pretty much thought that COVID-19 was winding down, we could all dig out of our quarantine burrows, and see the light of a pandemic-free economy. How wrong we were. While COVID-19 is still here, most are trying desperately to find some sort of normalcy and get their businesses back on schedule. While Western roofing contractors are working, they’re facing many challenges, chief of which are getting materials and find enough people willing to work.
Our roofing contractor survey results are in and according to the majority of our readers, the outlook for the 2022 Western roofing market is looking good. While most comments from our annual survey elicited many more positive than negative responses, it was still a mix. The construction economy is still on the rise in the West, and Western roofing contractors are reaping the benefits, but as mentioned, demand is outstripping supply.
The View From the Roof
What do Western roofing contractors have to say about this next year and what they see on the road ahead? Here are a few of their responses.
- Michael Tory, Tory’s Roofing & Waterproofing, Pearl City, Hawaii, notes, “I think business will be close to what we did last year. We’re using the same type of products, however, we are substituting alternate manufacturers because of the shortage of materials.
“I think we are headed for tough times because our government is shutting down a lot of the businesses due to COVID-19. Hawaii is one of the strictest on mandates and shutting down our economy. The Hawaii construction market remains busy, however, the government is shutting down many businesses and the tourist industry, so I foresee a negative financial impact.”
- Bill Baley, CI Services, Irvine, California, states, “We were one of the few companies that actually had a down year in 2021. We expect a strong year in 2022 despite our government’s attempts to ruin that. We will definitely be increasing our repair and maintenance efforts, as well as a few new ideas for roof life extension that we are working on. I believe companies will be looking for responsible corrections this coming year at reasonable prices.
“I think we will be in about the same condition as everyone else in the California marketplace. It will start as a struggle until everyone settles in and accepts the shortages and the price increases. Work still needs to get done.
“COVID-19 and the current political climate has effected the way we do business, but we simply move with whatever is thrown before us. Fighting political dogmas and opinions of so many is not the way to move forward. Adapt and work with what you have. That is the best anyone can do. We all need to stop whining and get working.
“I think 2022 can be a boom year for most of us. But, as we have already seen, it needs people to vote right and support the politicians that are pro-business and understand the need to think long-term. The right people in the right spots will make a huge difference for our state and our country.”
- Andy Clarke, Tecta America Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona, notes, “The backlog and number of job opportunities are good, but volume is down because jobs can’t get started because of the lack of materials. I don’t see a lot of changes in how we do business besides maybe trying to eliminate any materials in our scope that are the hardest to get a hold of. Phoenix and Arizona continue to grow with new people and businesses, so we don’t expect any slowdown yet. It’s hard to say what direct impact we have knowing for sure if COVID-19 is causing the issues with supply.”
- Danny Cornwell, CC&L Roofing, Portland, Oregon, states, “Hopefully, business will be up from this year into the next as we are bidding on some very select projects now. We are not considering taking on new products, we are too busy doing what we already know, and it is extremely difficult to hire additional help.
“I think our economy will be the same as neighboring states and it is my hope that it will remain robust. Based upon the number of bids we are currently asked to provide, it appears that there will be a lot of work available into next year. However, I fear that with the blunders of the current administration, there could be a dramatic slowdown in the overall economy.
“COVID-19 and the current political directives have absolutely had an impact on us. We have to abide by new mandated regulations on jobsites, such as hand washing stations, additional record keeping, and drinking water and shade that now must be provided by the company. Fortunately, since we work outside, we have not been affected nearly as much as restaurants and other brick-and-mortar shops.
“The workload remains steady, with new bid requests coming in on a regular basis. We have a backlog of work into late spring and many more promising opportunities upcoming for the summer and beyond. Our main concern is attempting to hire new people to keep up with the workload, as it seems much of the younger generation just does not want to work at all at this point in time. The Biden administration is doing everything it can to stagnate the economy by implementing new job-killing regulations and spending us into oblivion. If they are not stopped, soon the economy is doomed to crash and it may never recover from the path they are leading us down.”
- A Western Roofing Contractor who wished to remain anonymous, says, “Our backlog is strong, however, we cannot predict when we will be getting materials so it is really hard to forecast on whether or not it will be up or down. We have lots of potential business but may not get materials in a convenient timeframe. We are changing the mix based on products that are more readily available, and we are doing more service and maintenance. The economy in our area will probably be very similar to the rest of the West, but the market has always had tighter-than-average margins.
“COVID-19 and the current political climate have absolutely affected the way we do business. It’s a struggle every day, especially now with the new variant. We are going backwards, and we’re crossing our fingers that the supply chain issues improve at some point in 2022.”
- Ron Lloyd, Kokua Roofing Service, Kailua, Hawaii, says, “It appears that our business will remain the same as last year. There is a lot of reroof and service opportunities. We will probably stay the course with our tried-and-true product lines, although material shortages may make us look at other options.
“Hawaii’s economy is a peculiar animal. We rely so heavily on tourism and military, and tourism took a big hit during COVID-19. While it has rebounded significantly, the threat of a COVID-19 return has kept a full-blown recovery at bay. Hawaii’s roofing contractors have remained hopeful and confident throughout the pandemic. They are a resilient group of people, with a state roofing association that is very proactive.”
- Everett Martin, Empire Roofing, Billings, Montana, states, “Our business could easily be up this coming year. We are looking at some nice projects on the horizon. We may need to pass on some of these if we can’t get the allocated materials in a better time frame. This may hold our business down, but the work is out there.
“We alter our mix of work generally according to what is out there available to bid. This year we will strive to land more of the steep-slope metal work because we see an opportunity to get the needed materials, even though they are up in price, in a better time-frame than the low-slope membrane and insulation products.
“This area of Montana has had steady growth and will continue even in the face of the overreaching regulations put in place by this socialist government. The current people in government have turned a virus into a political football. They may collapse this economy. They have already put us into the inflation mode. We are trying to stay away from any federal projects, so we don’t get caught up in all the COVID-19 issues. We have workers that have their immunities and don’t want them screwed up by these virus shots. I think there is still pent-up demand for all types of construction projects in this area. There are a lot of job openings. If the economy doesn’t get hit too hard by the inflation, I believe the West will still have growth.”
- Stan Robinson, Pacific West Roofing, Hubbard, Oregon, states, “Our business will probably be about the same based on our huge 2021 sales and a loss of a specific crew that we used for specialty roof systems. We’re adding a couple new items such as liquid rubber cold-applied coatings to our business mix this year.
“I think the economy in our area will slow for the most part. The politics in Oregon are awful and the governor and Portland city mayor need to go if we are to survive the homelessness issue and rioting downtown. COVID-19 was nothing compared to the political toxicity. A lot of smaller roofing companies are trying to survive in a down market. It will be telling next year.”
- Pete Schmautz, Star Roofing, Phoenix, Arizona, says, “We should be at or above the level of business we saw last year at this time. We do not know if we will have product to install when the work is ready to be performed. We may be forced to try and use other systems and manufacturers based on their ability to supply materials.
“I think the Arizona economy has fared as well, or better, than the rest of the West, due to our handling of COVID-19 protocols in construction. COVID-19 and the current political climate have absolutely affected our business. New jobsite criteria for various projects have added additional administrative and labor costs that were not anticipated when jobs were contracted.
“It’s a daily struggle to monitor and control material deliveries coming in piecemeal and often not in the time frames we are told.”
- Paul Reed, North-West Roofing, Denver, Colorado, notes, “We expect business to be up as our pipelines are full. We will be using the same products for the most part, but have added foam and coatings as a cheaper option for our clients. We haven’t had hail in Colorado for three years. We expect hail this year, so in theory, business it will be higher.
“COVID-19 and the political climate have affected the way we do business. Zoom has taken over face-to-face meetings. We also make sure all employees are very careful on social media. Material shortages and labor issues have been a huge problem. We don’t expect it to go away.”