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Herb Englert: A pioneer in total rollforming systems and total metal roofing systems

2015 Metal Construction Hall of Fame

Herb  Englert Image

Herb Englert, who passed away in 2000, was born and raised in Pittsburgh. He was the son of a siding installer for a major aluminum siding and gutter manufacturer. By the time he finished high school, Englert, like many of his contemporaries, got a job in the same industry, working his way up to vice president of sales in the same company where his father had toiled. By the mid-1960s, portable gutter machines had been invented and contractors were beginning to make seamless aluminum gutters at the job site. He noticed there were companies making and selling the rollformers, and there were other companies, like the one he worked for, that only sold the aluminum coil for the machines. He saw a real opportunity staring him in the face.

Why not sell the coil and machines together?

He saw the opportunity but lacked the finances to get his business started. A successful investor saw promise in him and his ideas, and gave him the capital to get started. Englert not only pioneered the concept of a total system⎯selling aluminum gutter materials, equipment and accessories⎯but he also provided his customers with support materials, including color cards and literature as well as technical service and machine maintenance, to independent gutter contractors.

Pay it Forward

With the success of his business, he was able to re-pay his investor, but his benefactor refused the money. "Pay it forward," the benefactor said, "help others become successful businessmen and we'll all be better for that." From that point on, he worked hard to provide others with the tools they needed to be successful, refining his equipment and material to produce a perfect product, precisely and consistently, at the job site.

Joe Turovac, director of specialty products and a 40-year veteran of Perth Amboy, N.J.-based Englert Inc., recalls that Englert was indeed an early mentor and help to others who got into the business after he did. Many of those he mentored today are major players in the gutter manufacturing and distribution industry. "Most of them started out as contractors who literally came to his home in New Jersey and trained with him," he says.

"I think my father was clearly one of the pioneers in portable rollforming. He was the first to introduce a full program for contractors, including selling materials, equipment, accessories and support materials for both metal roofing and gutter products. He built his own paint line and standardized the concept of providing relatively low runs for custom colors."
- Herb's daughter Debbie Tripod, current president of Englert Inc.

In the mid-1980s, Englert took the same successful rollforming concept and brought it to the metal roofing industry. "My father was already firmly involved in portable rollforming for the residential and commercial gutter markets when he turned his attention to steel," says Herb's daughter Debbie Tripod, president of Englert Inc. "His first focus was on the residential market. He asked his mill suppliers how much steel was being used in the residential marketplace and heard 'none.' And while he initially saw that as an opportunity to explore a new market through metal roofing with portable rollformers, he quickly realized the real market was on the commercial side."

Until then, nearly all standing seam metal panels had been made in factories and shipped to the job site for installation. Englert again pioneered a new industry, selling portable rollforming machines and standing seam metal roofing material and accessories, to independent roofing contractors and installers. Again, he developed a total package of value-added support, including certified technicians providing on-site service and maintenance, machine training, marketing support, product testing, and engineering expertise and support.

Englert was one of the early innovators in leaf protection systems, and in 1993 introduced LeafGuard, a revolutionary, one-piece, seamless, hooded gutter system that draws rainwater down and around the underside of the hood and into the gutter. Its curved hood deflects large debris and even dirt while gravity forces the water to fall into the gutter. Again, he drew on his patented way of going to business, creating a dealer network armed with special portable rollforming machines and material with a total package of value-added support, including machine training, service support and marketing tools for national and local product marketing and sales.

It wasn't just rollformers and gutter systems that Englert helped innovate. "Englert Inc. was the first company to embrace the new UltraCool coatings as a standard paint system for all of its metal roofing products," Tripod says. "An Englert metal roof is on the world's only Platinum certified LEED residential and the largest commercial photovoltaic structure in the Pacific Northwest."

Foresight and Commitment

Englert Inc. has grown from the small construction trailer where Englert started his business, to a modern manufacturing and sales operation that encompasses a large headquarters facility and 10 branch offices around the country. "Operationally, there is no comparison," Tripod says. "So much is computerized including manufacturing, distribution and sales. However, we still have some accessory products that require skilled labor. I'm also proud that two of the first 10 employees my father hired in the 1960s are still with us today."

And today, as a result of Englert's foresight and commitment, there is a sophisticated network of portable rollforming fabricators and installers making millions of dollars on gutter and metal roofing projects all across the country. At the time of his death, he had left a legacy of growth and accomplishment within the contractor community, at the same time leading his company into its place as one of the largest gutter and metal roofing manufacturing companies in the U.S.