The biggest roofing show of the year - the International Roofing Expo - got off to an auspicious start Tuesday when the scheduled keynote speaker, NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton, was given doctor’s orders not to travel because of a bad back.
The biggest roofing
show of the year - the International Roofing Expo - got off to an auspicious
start Tuesday when the scheduled keynote speaker, NBA Hall of Famer Bill
Walton, was given doctor’s orders not to travel because of a bad back.
But IRE organizers
(Hanley Wood Exhibitions) did not miss a beat as they scrambled to put together
a panel of industry superstars to provide the keynote address held at the
Mandalay Bay Convention Center.
The keynote address
included: moderator Bill Good, Vice President of the National Roofing
Contractors Association; Keith Rozolis, Senior Vice President of Strategic
Marketing and Planning for ABC Supply Co. Inc.; Mike Vall, President, Firestone Building Products; Bob Tafaro,
President of GAF; Fred Stephan, Vice President and General Manager of Roofing
Systems, Johns Manville; and Marcelino Susas, Vice President and General
Manager - Americas Uni-Solar.
In a changing
economy, knowledge is everything, which made Tuesday’s keynote that much more
remarkable. The expert panel talked about the current state of the roofing
industry, emerging technologies, economic trends, issues facing the industry,
and future growth.
“We were blessed in
‘08 by Mother Nature,” said Keith Rozolis of ABC Supply.
Mike Vall from Firestone Building Products said he looked forward to new
year and noted Firestone’s
certified contractors indicated that going into 2009 there’s a “back log” of
work, referring to contracts on the books and roofing projects ready to begin.
“Plan for a
challenging year,” said Bob Tafaro, President of GAF.
that GAF was doing more with less, and that despite the down economy, it’s a
good market to “recruit people” and to spend money on “infrastructure” needs.
“The outlook long-term
is very strong,” said Fred Stephan, Vice President of Roofing Systems for Johns
When the topic at
Tuesday’s keynote turned to solar initiatives, Marcelino Susas, Vice President,
Americas Uni-Solar, said with the new Administration in office in Washington D.C.,
he sees growth in the solar market over the next eight years. Susas said he
would like to see the new government put together “more incentives” for
builders “to get things going.”
“I think of solar as
relatively new to the market,” Susas said, despite acknowledging that solar’s
“been around for 30 years.”
Tafaro said it’s
only a matter of few short years before there’s a significant breakthrough in
solar technology like integrated photovoltaics. But Tafaro also noted the big
winners in 2009 would provide the “whole system” like roof membranes and solar
“There’s a lot more
to learn” in integrating photovoltaics, Stephan told a full audience at the Mandalay Convention Center.
meanwhile, said he would support some of the proposed stimulus package plans
backed by President Barack Obama.
“We are watching
credit carefully,” Mike Vall commented about any stimulus plan.
Tafaro, who noted
that the economy would not get going “until credit is flowing in a free and
responsible way,” offered one final tip. “Know your costs and customers,” he
said. “Buyers will be more inclined to buy quality and reliability.”
The fact is, the
show must go on, as Ringling Bros. And Barnum and Bailey Circus once coined,
and the IRE did not miss a beat in making the keynote a memorable experience.
Watts Up? IRE Doesn't Miss a Beat
By Tom Watts
Tom Watts is the associate editor of Roofing Contractor. He can be reached at 248-244-1738 or firstname.lastname@example.org.