There’s a running joke I have with a couple of other trade journalists about how the most common sentence uttered at industry trade shows is “What’s new?” The joke isn’t that funny, but it is true. I found myself asking that question a lot at the recent International Roofing Expo (IRE) in Dallas, and I saw a lot of people brighten up as they started to show me their company’s latest offerings.
For me, the sheer number of new products being introduced at the show was the most striking thing about this year’s IRE. The event set records for attendance and the size of the show floor, but it was the new products I will remember most.
Almost every asphalt shingle manufacturer has introduced new developments in the past year, including new polymers that increase strength, hail resistance and flexibility, even in cold weather. New features also include larger and more durable nailing zones. Roof membrane manufacturers have continued to develop new features designed to make their products easier and more efficient to install. Underlayments are more durable, less prone to tearing, and offer better traction. Tools and equipment are being updated to make them simpler and easier to use.
The manufacturers are clearly aiming to address roofing contractors’ key pain points, which include the current labor shortage. In fact, at the IRE the term “labor shortage” might have been uttered almost as often as “What’s new?”
Products that are easier to install mean that there is less likelihood of making mistakes. The learning curve is also reduced, so a new employee in the field can be trained and brought up to speed more quickly. In an era marked by tight labor, promoting someone from field laborer to installer more quickly can be crucial.
We’ll continue to update readers on new product developments in the pages of Roofing as the year goes on. At press time, the COVID-19 coronavirus is currently making headlines, and it is possible a pandemic will be the next force to affect the economy. Right now, the future is uncertain.
Sometimes there isn’t a clear answer to the question, “What’s new?”