Reinhard Schneider was just a young man working the night shift at the Ford Motor Co. plant when he decided a career in engineering and architecture was more his style.
“I had an interest in construction and always liked to draw, and engineering always sounded good,” said Schneider, now the DensDeck Product Manager for Georgia-Pacific Gypsum in Atlanta.
“The reality of building, not the theory, but taking brick and mortar and studs and running electricity and how it works, told me I had an interest.”
Schneider can now lay claim to in-depth knowledge in architecture and roofing, and he wraps the two vocations together into one professional package.
“Architecture puts the whole package together and takes all other disciplines of engineering and creates a final product,” he said.
Schneider’s vast understanding of the roofing industry is something he is proud of. “You wouldn’t think roofing can be fun,” he said, “but it’s great to solve problems.”
Schneider, 64, has spent a lifetime solving problems, and today he finds solace in his career and through traveling and spending time with the grandkids.
Reinhard Schneider immigrated through Ellis Island, N.Y., with his Austrian family as a 7-year-old boy who did not know how to speak English.
“My teachers in public schools took extra time with me, while the other kids were on recess, to teach me grammar, sentence structure and vocabulary,” Schneider said. “I gained an appreciation for language, and now love to read and write.”
Schneider was born in Austria at the end of World War II where his future father-in-law, who was his Lutheran minister in Austria, baptized him.
Schneider knew his wife of 44 years in Austria, but they didn’t get together and get married until her family moved from Saginaw, Mich., to Youngstown, Ohio.
“My wife went to Arthur Hill High School in Saginaw and her father had a Lutheran Church there,” recalled Schneider.
Still, it was education that propelled Schneider into the world of architecture. He started his engineering career at Fenn College (now Cleveland State University) and later graduated from the School of Architecture at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.
“I paid for my college costs by working part time,” he said, “where I learned more about construction and design.”
In addition to working for architects during his time at Kent State, he spent summers working as a laborer for a masonry contractor on all types of buildings.
“Not only did I earn appreciably more than the architects were willing to pay, but I learned a lot about the reality of the construction process and the interaction of materials,” he said. “Every architect should work in construction to appreciate the importance of communicating clearly with the contractor, who has to interpret the drawings and specifications.”
“After graduation and prior to taking the State Board Exam I spent four years working in Austria, my birthplace,” Schneider said. “First, I worked for an architectural firm specializing in resort design, then with the Austrian American Magnesite Corp. consulting to architects worldwide on acoustics and insulation.”
Schneider was involved in acoustic design at the Pretoria, South Africa, and Sydney, Australia, Opera Houses, and he traveled throughout Europe and North Africa, where he spent time with the Sheik of Kuwait in his castle.
“My stint in Europe gave me a real appreciation for architectural history after roaming through the Coliseum in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens and the Pyramids in Cairo,” he said. “I was involved with ‘green’ architecture before it became a popular in the U.S. Europe has been concerned about conservation of resources and energy for a much longer time.”
Roofing in His Future
After returning to Ohio and successfully passing the State Board Exam for Architects, Schneider was responsible for the design of numerous buildings, including a fire station, community centers and high rise apartments.
“I also designed numerous private projects throughout northeast Ohio, including several retail establishments, professional buildings, private residences and the German American Club in North Olmsted, Ohio,” he said. “I then spent ten years as School Architect for the Akron Public School system, where I gained my knowledge of commercial roofing. This knowledge set the stage for my change in direction. I used all of my architectural training and experience to take on a new challenge.”
That new challenge was Goodyear in Akron, Ohio, which was just getting into the commercial roofing business and needed people to help market to architects.
“I joined the Goodyear Roofing division in 1985 as marketing and training manager and have not looked back,” he said.
In 1995, Schneider took the position of National Director of Sales and Marketing for Clements National, Co., a manufacturer of hot air welding equipment for thermoplastic roofing membranes. Together with the major manufacturers of roofing products he helped to design auto welders for modified bitumen membranes.
Standing by DensDeck
For Reinhard Schneider, an opportunity of a lifetime presented itself in 1999 when he was asked to become Product Manager for DensDeck Products at Georgia-Pacific.
“My architectural background allowed me to help define DensDeck roof boards as the high quality standard for high performance roofing systems,” Schneider said. “I have conducted numerous architectural symposiums, speaking to thousands of architects nationwide and written numerous technical bulletins explaining the issues confronted in commercial roofing applications.”
After 27 years in Ohio, Schneider now resides in Atlanta, where he said DenDeck roof boards “take the forces and make roofs last longer.”
“It allows you to support a photovoltaic, high wind uplift resistant roof,” he said. “It will last longer. That investment will have a better return. It maintains the durability.”
Reinhard Schneider said he is working with testing with G-P, and moving forward with the DenDeck brand, helping to solve problems.
“Helping the industry understand the benefits through educational, presentations, trade shows, literature, getting the message out,” he said. “First developing and then educating.”
“When you get feedback from webinars - a young architect says he heard and participated and learned something - that tells you are doing the right thing,” Schneider continued. “It has becomes a means of communication. We’ve had advertising and brochures, but electronic communication is the way to do it.”
Reinhard Schneider’s most recent project is the development of a sound remediation roofing assembly to address the issue of sound intrusion through roofing systems, while taking steps to ensure that moisture does not accumulate between the existing and new membrane.
“This assembly will reduce the sound penetrating a roof by more than half,” Schneider said.”
Schneider brings his intense knowledge to projects across the United States and abroad.
“You get into the job and advise the architect, but it’s not your project,” Schneider said. “We are part of a lot of work that goes on worldwide.”
When it comes to doing business, Reinhard Schneider is on top of his game.
“Part of it is being aware of what is happening as far as trends and new products, and then see how those products interact,” he said.
“My next project is to define the concept of sustainability in roofing systems in terms that are easily understood by architects and building owners,” Schneider said. “Sustainability is a concept being discussed at length, but is not always understood. It comes down to durability and strength, which allow the roofing system to last longer.”
Schneider offered a tip: to succeed in these difficult economic times, “we need to understand the technology of efficient, sustainable construction, looking for innovative solutions that address the issues of resource and energy conservation.”