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Chuck Howard: A dedication and passion for metal roofing

2014 Metal Construction Hall of Fame

Chuck  Howard With Tie Low Rez

In 1979, one of Chuck Howard's, P.E., metal building customers asked him if it was possible to install over his current flat-roofed building the same sloped roof Howard had provided to one of his recent warehouse buildings. As a young and very conservative engineer Howard told him "no." When the customer asked why, Howard said that it had not been done before.

"That didn't sit very well with him or me, so I proceeded to engineer a light-gauge framing system, attached to his existing flat roof, on which to install a concealed fastened standing seam roof," Howard says. "It worked! This building has since been sold to the local school system in the area, and is currently keeping the water in the gutters and not inside the building. From this roof, which appears to be the first one that converts a flat roof to a sloped roof, my career took a very unexpected turn from general construction work to retrofit metal roofing work."

Promoting metal with passion

From designing and installing this roof, one of the very first retrofit metal roofing applications ever, to the extensive roof consulting work he does now as president of Cary, N.C.-based Metal Roof Consultants Inc., Howard has been a vital part of the metal roofing industry since the 1970s. "Chuck's dedication and passion for metal roofing has been unparalleled in this industry and still lives on today," says Joe LaFave, president of LaFave's Construction Co. Inc., Landis, N.C. "Chuck has accomplished it all when it comes to roofing. There is no way to talk about metal roofing without seeing the name Chuck Howard."

The core of all of the businesses Howard has owned throughout his career has used metal roofing. Whether it was metal buildings in the 1970s and 1980s, or solely metal roofing, dealing with mostly retrofit metal roofing since the mid-1980s, Howard claims the benefits of this superior product have been dominant to any successes he has enjoyed.

"Being able to provide building owners with long-lasting and leak-free roofs has allowed my career to move forward," Howard says. "It has been challenging to witness the lack of understanding by some building owners, as well as specifiers, as to the many benefits of a metal roof. Walking away from a building owner that makes a roofing decision without taking the time to fully understand the benefits, including the fact that they are the most cost effective, has been almost as frustrating as has been the exhilaration seeing the satisfaction in the eyes of the owners that did understand the message and have a metal roof installed."

"For the last 20 years or so the codes have evolved in the metal roofing industry, introducing specific requirements to provide a superior, properly engineered solution to all commercial buildings."

Chuck Howard

Terry Burford, regional sales manager for the Carolinas at McElroy Metal Inc., Charlotte, N.C., and business associate and friend of Howard's for 20 years, attests to Chuck's passion and push for metal. "He's done a wonderful job of promoting it nationally and regionally and in his own location. He's a strong proponent and promoter of metal when it comes to selling that product versus the traditional low-slope, single-ply or built-up roofing system. He's done a great job increasing the awareness of metal and its use versus what most owners know as a roof system."

Helping others

During his career, Howard says he has had the pleasure and privilege to work with many young people starting their careers. "I have seen many of these people that have taken what they have learned from their experience working with me and started a new career that they can be passion about," he says. "I always have stressed that everybody's passion does not have to be in the metal roofing business, like mine has been, but wherever they work needs to ignite their passion to be the very best they can be. Some of these individuals have stayed in the metal roofing business, and have even been one of my competitors; however, I take pride in knowing that they are following their dreams. I consider these individual's successes as some of my most significant accomplishments."

LaFave's Construction is just one of the companies who Howard has helped. "I was introduced to Chuck about 11 years ago and Chuck and I struck up a friendship and a professional relationship based on that conversation," LaFave says. "Chuck has been a tremendous asset to us with his in-depth wealth of knowledge concerning metal, especially with the retrofit roofing industry."

LaFave Construction has been listed in Metal Construction News' Top Metal Roofers listing for the last few years, always being in the top 10. "We have helped them achieve this goal solely through metal retrofit roofing," Howard says.

Working with professional associations has been one way that Howard has been able to help others. He's been assisting the Metal Construction Association (MCA) at METALCON since the inaugural event in Washington, D.C., in 1991 with seminars and other activities. For the last two and a half years he has worked with MCA participating in a study to determine the actual longevity of Galvalume metal standing seam roofs. The final report will be forthcoming shortly with very important information. He has provided metal roofing seminars for American Iron and Steel Institute and several manufacturers over the last 30 years. He has contributed more than 100 articles concerning metal roofing for publications.

Future

Howard believes metal roofs are the most economical roofing solution to any roof, based on simple life cost analysis and predicts, "An explosion in our industry is looming, where everyone in the industry, especially our building customers, will benefit." Howard also says he can never see himself completely retiring from this industry, but believes, "Maybe someday I will be able to slow down; the friendships I have made and the ability to pursue my passion in this industry have been a joy.