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Not So Fast

Get an unbiased opinion before deciding to replace your store’s roof

If your car began acting up and you needed an expert opinion on whether to fix or replace it, you wouldn’t seek out a new-car sales associate. In the same vein, FMs who notice a leak or weather damage to their store’s roof shouldn’t immediately turn to roofing companies that focus on selling new roofs. That’s the message from the guys at Sodexo | Roth’s integrated facilities management company based in Youngstown, Ohio.

Sodexo | Roth, which started as a roofing company 95 years ago and now offers a wide range of FM services, does not sell roof replacements but instead focuses on extending the life of clients’ existing roofs through reactive repair and preventative maintenance. If Sodexo | Roth’s roofing consultants determine a building needs a new roof, they will design the roof, bid that project out to construction companies and supervise construction for clients, but the goal is to extend the life of the existing asset and avoid the costly capital investment of installing a new roof.

The typical flat roof on a retail facility can be expected to last 15 to 25 years if properly installed and maintained, according to Robert Swartz, a sales executive in Sodexo | Roth’s roofing division, so FMs shouldn’t assume that a roof showing wear and tear needs to be replaced.

“When people have a leak and begin to have issues with a roof, they immediately think, ‘I’m going to have to replace it.’ But not always,” Swartz said. “Sometimes you can do repairs and stretch out those capital dollars for a number of years. Unless the damage is from a major storm event like a hurricane or a tornado, more than half of the roofs we see that have been neglected for a few years can be repaired and can have some extended life.”

Barry Wardle, Sodexo | Roth’s Vice President of Sales and Business Development, said retail FMs should be wary of roofing contractors whose first impulse is to sell them a new roof.

“It’s definitely important to have a third party involved to guide the process of deciding the right time to have a roof replaced.”

Swartz said retail FMs seeking reputable roofing consultants should turn to professional organizations such as PRSM, the RCI Inc. roofing trade association and the National Roofing Contractors Association.

Roofing companies that are members and attend these events are much more likely to get the continuing-education and training opportunities necessary to keep up with changes in roofing materials and maintenance and repair practices, Swartz said. The 2019 IRE, for example, will offer 122 hours of education at 44 sessions spread over three days next February in Nashville, Tenn. For roofing contractors, these training sessions help ensure that the repair work they do is consistent with the warranty requirements for stores’ roofs.

Swartz said a good place for retail FMs to start is to have a roofing consultant perform an initial inspection, which might include taking high-resolution digital photos so changes in the roof can be monitored over time. Prior roof maintenance and repair work can be evaluated, and a maintenance program can be developed.

“If you have a game plan of how your roof is going to be maintained over a five- or 10-year period, you’re probably going to add to the life of the roof,” Swartz said.

By: Nick Fortuna

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