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Educating for Endurance: How a metal roofing company succeeds by communicating high quality

Mc Carthy 2

Classic Metal Roofing Systems' aluminum rustic shingles in Deep Charcoal were installed on a residence in Jacksonville.

By Christopher Brinckerhoff, Associate Editor

How do you build a sustainable metal roofing business by communicating high quality in a market saturated with low-cost alternatives? Timothy McCarthy, president of Raleigh, N.C.-based McCarthy Metal Roofing LLC, found an answer to this question in educating potential clients about roofing companies, roofing products, installation labor and warranties.

McCarthy says consumers are usually unaware of the many ways that roofing contractors can cut corners to save money and don't realize what they are purchasing. "[Other contractors] could use felt paper as underlayment, and that's not a permanent solution," McCarthy says. "A homeowner's not going to know because it's not obvious. So what we do is educate the consumer as to why some roofs are permanent and why some aren't. And then we let them make the choice about what they want to do."

McCarthy Metal Roofing, founded in 2011, completes approximately 20 mostly residential andhouses of worship projects in central and eastern North Carolina per year and annual revenue is approximately $500,000. McCarthy says the majority of metal roofs he sees on residences in the area are screw-through agricultural panel systems. Agricultural panels, sometimes called ag panels were not designed for heated spaces, he says. "From what I've seen installed, most of the roofs that are out there shouldn't even be on homes," McCarthy says.

Some metal roofers advertise screw-through systems for the same price as asphalt roofs, McCarthy says. Slow leaks are an issue with screw-through systems, which homeowners may not discover until years later, after moisture has penetrated the attic, attic insulation and possibly more. "It gives metal roofing a bad name because it isn't if it's going to leak, it's when," McCarthy says.

Elevating choice

McCarthy Metal Roofing's typical client is a homeowner that has already replaced a roof once, plans on remaining at the residence for more than 10 years and wants a permanent roof solution. McCarthy says he educates potential clients about screw-through systems and other quality issues during sales presentations so they can make informed decisions.

McCarthy says he tries to figure out what potential clients want, analyze what they need and present options. "We're in there trying to solve a need," he says. "We're not really concerned about who's out there because we're not just selling a roof, we're trying to sell a solution." McCarthy says his company performs consultative marketing. "We don't believe in high-pressure sales," he says. If his company can fulfill that need, then hopefully they will earn the business, he says. "But we don't see ourselves as really having a competitor; we can either help them or we can't."

The first things McCarthy discusses with potential clients are what to look for in a high-quality roofing company and McCarthy Metal Roofing's story and approach. Next, they review roofing options including asphalt and associated warranties. Then they review permanent roofing options including slate, tile and metal. If the potential client expresses interest in metal roofing, McCarthy says he presents the different types of metal and the pros and cons of each.

There are different areas to explaining this, McCarthy says. He presents information about underlayment, sealant, how different types of metal panels fit together, paint finishes and other attributes. "Any part of that roof, we talk about how it's done and different ways to do it," McCarthy says. "And from there, they see how work is done and it helps them to understand what a quality roof is."

High-quality crews

In addition to communicating to potential clients the high quality of products his company installs, McCarthy says he explains the value of experienced, skilled labor employed for projects. Two of the crews he hires were certified by McCarthy's primary supplier, Piqua, Ohio-based Classic Metal Roofing Systems, and have more than 20 years of experience.

McCarthy does not look for roofers for installations, he says. He looks for craftsmen that have good competence working with their hands and various metals. "It's more like metal smith work than it is installing a roof," he says.

Employing highly skilled, experienced installers is essential to completing a high-quality metal roofing project because some aspects of projects cannot be determined until work begins. No two jobs are the same, even if the houses appear similar, McCarthy says. "There's always something that's particular to a certain job, so you need somebody that's got a lot of experience that can kind of figure things out," he says. "It's a lot different than putting on an asphalt roof that's going to be replaced in a few years. If you don't do something right, you live with it forever."

Assuring longevity

Another consideration McCarthy educates potential clients about is warranties. Some people that purchase screw-through systems believe they have a 45-year roof warranty, he says. "What [the contractor] fails to tell you is that warranty is a paint warranty, and the type of paint they use, that panel can turn from red to pink and it's not covered by the warranty because that paint warranty uses a different scale than the rest of the industry," McCarthy explains.

Classic Metal Roofing Systems offers a 40-year-transferable lifetime warranty, something not offered by many companies, McCarthy says. "I think they're the only ones that offer a watertight warranty that's guaranteed not to leak due to hail damage," he adds. "It won't perforate."

Additionally, while other roofing companies offer one- or two-year warranties on labor, McCarthy

Metal Roofing offers a 10-year labor warranty. If there is an installation issue it usually becomes apparent within the first six months or year, McCarthy says. The 10-year warranty is offered to alleviate reservations. "I think it's maybe peace of mind it gives a customer, and I explain it that way," McCarthy says.

To ensure McCarthy Metal Roofing will be in business to support the warranties, as well as complete any additional work such as adding a garage, McCarthy says his company focuses on generating qualified leads through a variety of strategies including the company's optimized website, membership in the Metal Roofing Alliance, local advertising and referrals. After the process of selling, ordering, installing and reviewing the project is complete, payment is received and the process begins again.

"That money goes back into marketing to help generate more leads to keep fueling the business, to keep growing the business so you can be around for those customers after you install the product,"

McCarthy says. "It takes marketing to do all that."

McCarthy says customers tell him they learn more from his company than from any others and it is the most professional company they've dealt with. "Most people don't have a clue; they think a metal roof is a metal roof," he says. "They have no idea. But when we go out there, we really do a good job of educating those folks to what they're buying. They don't always buy from us but at least they kind of know."

McCarthy Metal Roofing LLC

Year founded: 2011

Location: Raleigh, N.C.

Geographic area of service: Central and eastern North Carolina

Services offered: Metal roofing system installation: aluminum, copper, steel and zinc

Number of employees: 8

12-month revenue: $500,000

Management team:

Timothy McCarthy, president

Terry Bozon, general manager

Industry awards: 2013 Shining Star Award from Classic Metal Roofing Inc.