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Rob Haddock: A lifetime in metal construction and a drive to contribute earns Haddock a spot in the Hall of Fame

2012 Metal Construction Hall of Fame

Rob Haddock

Rob Haddock is known throughout the industry as the founder of Colorado Springs, Colo.-based S-5!, the company that invented the non-invasive clamps for fastening accessories to standing seam metal roofs. That innovation and impact on the industry would probably be enough to earn Haddock Hall of Fame recognition, but he also had a long career in the metal construction industry prior to the founding of S-5! that, in itself, is noteworthy.

Attend an industry event-trade show, association meeting or conference-and you will quickly recognize Haddock as the man in the cowboy hat. He began his work life as a cowboy, tending a 5,000-acre ranch in the Colorado mountains. He loved that life, but aspired for something more than the older, beat up he was working alongside, so he looked around for new work opportunity (although he continued to rodeo) and took a position for a company doing metal building erection. That was his start in the metal construction industry in the early 70s.

In 1977, after a few false starts with partners, Haddock opened shop with his own company, Seven States Steel, "with 40 bucks and a pickup," which grew over the course of the next 13 years to employ as many as 52 people and offer erection services across the country.

During that time, Haddock became actively involved in industry associations and learned everything he could about metal construction. "I had help from so many people," Haddock says. "I entered the industry at age 19 and thought I was 10 feet tall and bullet proof. But I always wanted to learn more, and so many people helped to teach me all I wanted to know. I also found out I wasn't bullet proof."

"I believe our industry has a promising future because we have some of the best products, systems and technologies in the entire construction industry-we just need to make people aware of them and keep innovating."

Rob Haddock

Although Haddock isn't college educated, he learned the depth of the industry and absorbed knowledge from experts. "I learned by doing and by interfacing with people who knew way more than I did," he says. In the associations, Haddock found mentors who encouraged and educated him.

Part of what drove his success was an underlying curiosity, which urged him to learn more. A good example is his reaction to the introduction of Kansas City, Mo.-based Butler Manufacturing's MR-24 Galvalume standing seam roof in the late '70s. "What a wonderful thing," he says. "Innovators appreciate innovation, and I was just really curious about this new technology. I learned all I could about it and about steel, coatings and thermal expansion. I would have mentors in the paint business and sealants chemists teach me about all those things. Eventually, I started to become recognized as a go-to guy for metal roofing." His erection company, Seven States Steel, soon offered roof retrofitting and architectural metals to its ranges of services, and he started getting into consulting work.

After 19 years in contracting, though, Haddock wanted to take on new challenges, so he closed up the construction company ("retired," he says) and began a career as a consultant in the metal construction industry, which allowed him to share his amassed knowledge with architects, engineers, building contractors, product manufacturers and trade groups. He worked on research projects and wrote white papers, participated in building forensics when roofs failed, and brought his breadth of experience and knowledge to a wider audience. With a knack for teaching, this new career fulfilled a new part of him, and his writing and lectures have been translated into at least nine languages.

It also matched a need to solve problems, which is a welcome challenge for him. "It's using common sense and following the science along a logic path to a final conclusion." That skill suited him well in the consulting business when he was called on to determine why a roof had failed and it also led directly to the creation of S-5!. "When people want to attach something to a roof, how do you do that? There wasn't a way. But you have standing seams-an upraised portion. How do you grab ahold of it without penetrating it? How can I accomplish those objectives?" The invention of S-5! uses the same thought process that Haddock exercised with his consulting work.

The company now has five manufacturing locations and serves the international market with footprints in the United States, Canada, Australia, Europe and Asia. The success and innovation of the company has been well documented, but there is one thing about it that stands out in a unique way and goes directly to the source of what Haddock has brought to market. The goal for S-5!, which Haddock asserts is probably little known, is not so much to promote its products but to promote metal roofing. "Our big goal is to do what we can to make metal roofing the most desired, accepted, user-friendly, most coveted roof in the construction industry globally. Of course we don't even make metal roofing and we don't aspire to. But we want to innovate and commercialize products that make the building community more aware of the attributes of metal roofing. By doing both of those things, we can attain our goal."

Haddock sums up his success by saying, "I had help from some fantastic people in this great industry, including my kids and my staff. And most especially my Creator."