Roofing Firms Prepare for Rainy Days

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — Commercial and industrial roofing companies have work for now because of contracts signed in advance, but the coronavirus crisis has all but dried up future orders.

The Business Journal recently took the temperature of the industry and found that companies are feeling the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We have some current contracts in process and on hand, and some work at schools, but otherwise it’s dead slow,” says Vince Holko, president of Holko Enercon of Fowler. “Any new calls have dropped to a trickle.”

This time of year is when Holko’s company and others like it begin to ramp up their work schedules. His crews are busy now but a slowdown could be around the corner.

“Nobody is thinking about roofing right now,” Holko says. “Everybody is worried about what’s going on.”

Holko Enercon specializes in public and commercial buildings and industrial structures. It has 14 employees, and adds more in the summer.

Justin Froelich, vice president of TEMA Roofing in Liberty, put the situation into perspective.

“It’s a strange time in history for everyone,” Froelich says.

At present, his company is busy with a few projects and has a few other jobs pending with clients waiting out the situation.”

TEMA is a commercial and industrial design/build contractor.

The president of Roof Rite of Boardman, Robert Cruciger, says his company’s workload is right where it usually is this time of the year. He’s optimistic that his crews will stay busy.

“In the short term, there’s been no impact because we had contracts already in progress or [awaiting a start],” Cruciger says. “But the uncertainty of the future is there in terms of how long it will last. Hopefully we’re back to normal in two months.”

The commercial-industrial roofing company has a little over 20 employees, and no layoffs are planned.

“We don’t see it in the future, either,” Cruciger says. “Our backlog is big because of the great economic times we’ve had in the Valley.”

While most area roofing companies are geared up for the season, one has shut down production until the coronavirus crisis abates.

Diamond Roofing of Howland is continuing to do repairs and emergency work for its customers but has suspended all production work and idled its employees on that side of the business.

“As far as production operations… our employees are laid off for the time being,” says marketing director Alexis Millerleile. “We are just doing service calls. We have to take into consideration our employees. A service call takes one or two workers but a [roof replacement] job is a large crew.”

Millerleile says the small administrative staff is working from home.

Diamond Roofing specializes in commercial work and has 45 employees.

All of the companies say they have implemented the Centers for Disease Control’s recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus.

TEMA’s Froelich acknowledges, “Everyone is a little skittish,” but points out that roofing crews practice social distancing as part of the job.

“We are outside in the elements, 20 or 30 feet in the air, and out of everyone’s way,” he says. “In most cases, we are not inside the building at all and have no contact with the customer.”

All of the companies interviewed say they are keeping workers at home if they are running a temperature. “This is all new for everyone; and we want to be responsible to the situation,” Froelich says.

Steps that TEMA Roofing has taken to keep its employees safe include making personal protection equipment available, including eyewear and gloves, and providing enhanced cleaning and disinfection.

Froelich has also shared with his workers written procedures and safety measures for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus. He also will share information with all staff if a worker believes he might have come into contact with an infected person.

One thing that all of the companies say is that their chain of supply has not been affected by the coronavirus outbreak nor the measures put into effect to halt it.

Although they use more than one supplier, none have experienced a shortage or a delay.