Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Registered Roof Consultant Rebuts Claims of Tremco Sales Rep

On April 22, 2009, I published a blogpost entitled, "Bidding Process Saves Penn-Harrison-Madison School Corp. $75,000, and included a copy of a letter written by Tremco sales rep, Doug Copley. Apparently, Copley's letter ruffled a few feathers in the roofing industry, and one Registered Roof Consultant decided to address the claims made by the Tremco rep.

Michael H. Cardwell, a Registered Roof Consultant with Roof Tech, Inc. of Merillville, Indiana, wrote the following rebuttal to Copley's earlier claims:

I am a Registered Roof Consultant and have been in my own practice since 2000. Prior to starting my consulting business, I worked as a roofing contractor for twenty-five years. I have included Tremco products as an option in my roof specifications for many years and have yet to have a contractor use their materials, mostly because the products are not cost competitive.

I was reading the Welcome to My Tea Party website last week and ran across a letter written by a Tremco material salesman that was sent to the Executive Director of the Northern Indiana Education Service Center. The letter was in response to an article published in the South Bend Tribune in 2006 indicating a local school system had saved $75,000 by not using the AEPA system and offering his “other side of the story”.

In his letter Doug Copley from Tremco claims that the savings on the project was due to:

· A different scope of work of lesser quality
· The re-use of insulation and of the existing perimeter metal
· Variation in the time frame for construction
· Periodic inspections versus full time inspections

He implies that the AEPA scope was a higher quality specification and also claims that Tremco does not make a profit from insulation sales.

On the surface this sounds like a reasonable argument if you are not very knowledgeable about roofing. His premise falls apart when you understand the following:

· The only difference in the scope of work that he describes is the re-use of the insulation and perimeter metal. He alleges that the existing insulation could be wet and calls it “a recipe for disaster.” The truth is that re-using insulation is a common and acceptable practice as not only does it cut costs but makes good ecological sense to reuse perfectly good materials with no reduction in quality to the roof system. Proper analysis of the existing roof prior to installation of the new system would reveal whether any wet insulation is present and should be replaced. We are also aware of previous AEPA/Tremco projects that have called for the re-use of insulation and metal.

· I do not see a big difference in completing the project in late August or early September as most schools are heavily used during the summer for all types of programs. I find his assumption that much of the savings ($20,000) is directly related to the time frame of the project rather than material costs to be farfetched and pure conjecture.

· I also find the statement that “…Tremco does not manufacturer insulation, thus I do not get an extra penny for advocating or specifying higher quality” to be quite a spin. The AEPA bid sheet filled out by Tremco has bid item lines for demolition of the existing insulation, and the installation of new insulation. These line items are based on the thickness of the insulation to be removed and the thickness of the insulation to be installed. Seems to me Tremco makes a lot of money for this maneuver, but maybe the writer personally does not.

· I have seen that the AEPA project document calls for full time inspection and the manufacturer tells the contractor how many days of inspection to put in his pricing structure. The school never sees this cost, and to be honest, I have never seen a full time inspector on any project from this manufacturer. It is my opinion that properly screened and pre-qualified contractors who are financially sound; performing specifications that are properly written with drawings that are germane to the project do not need full time inspection.

The Tremco letter is typical of the “smoke and mirror” sales approach to clients that are unfamiliar with the roofing industry. Tremco and other proprietary manufacturers go to great lengths to hide the true cost of their products and the AEPA structure provides plenty of cover for this concealment. Even very knowledgeable school personnel would have difficulty discerning the fairness and accuracy of the 371 unit prices in the AEPA bid and how they are applied to an individual project.

Ultimately the complexity of the AEPA process obscures the cost of roofing. Standard manufacturers have been shut out due to the scope of the AEPA bid. In the first 10 years, only 3 other companies have presented competing but unsuccessful bids.

The bid of the roofing contractor actually performing the work is issued directly to Weatherproofing Technologies and the contractor then acts as a sub-contractor to this Tremco affiliate. Thus the school system is never aware of the difference between the price of the guy doing the work and price charged by Weatherproofing Technologies to the school district.

The school officials believe they are saving money because Tremco tells them they are. Tremco provides incentives to the service centers to promote the roofing program in the form of the “rebate” checks going to the service centers. I have no doubt based on my years of experience as a contractor and now as a consultant that the conventional open bidding process would provide lower cost roofing to the schools.

Michael H. Cardwell, RRO, RRC
Roof Tech Inc.
email: rooftech@att.net
2525 W 65th Ave
Merrillville, IN 46410-2833
Phone: (219) 884-4420
Fax: (219) 887-4064
Cell: 219 613 8074

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