Spray-Tec’s Haley Jordan recently joined our podcast series to discuss the benefits of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) for buildings, as well as other tips they’ve incorporated into their roof contracting business. In this episode, Jordan shares the benefits of Spray-Tec’s third-place win in CoatingsPro’s 2020 Contractor Awards Program in the Commercial Roof category. Their latest project featured in CoatingsPro Magazine was a cover story in the July 2020 issue.
See below for a complete transcript of the interview. For more information, contact: Spray-Tec, www.spray-tec.com
Stephanie Chizik: Thank you so much for joining today, Haley.
Haley Jordan: Thanks so much for having me. I’m excited.
SC: Sweet. Why don’t you go ahead and start by giving our listeners a bit of your background?
HJ: Sure, no problem. I am actually — both of my parents own Spray-Tec. We are a woman-owned company. My mom actually owns the majority, but they have been in business together and running Spray-Tec for 30 years. This is our 30th year, so we celebrated that. I’m their daughter.
HJ: Thank you. Thank you. I’m their daughter. I always joke that I’ve been working here for 25 years. It feels like it, just because I’ve grown up with Spray-Tec. I went to school for multimedia journalism. A little different than roofing. Then I worked in home staging and interior design for a while until I graduated college. Dad asked if I would come and give him one year at Spray-Tec working in the office, doing some marketing. That was three or four, maybe five, years ago now. I’ve stuck around, and I’m a roofer now, and I love that.
SC: That’s amazing. Can you give a little bit of an overview of what you guys do at Spray-Tec?
HJ: Sure. Probably my favorite thing: We repair and restore all types of commercial roofs, and we also insulate. We’re spray foam insulation. Spray-applied systems are our specialty. We can repair and restore or replace commercial roofs, and we can also insulate interior and exterior of commercial buildings.
SC: It sounds like you guys do a lot. I’m wondering how you bring your background into it. I bet you have such a unique point of view to bring to the business, that you can think outside the box or something along those lines.
HJ: I think the only thing — well, not the only thing, but the biggest thing — that I bring to the table is trying to explain why this matters. It’s kind of that perspective of no one cares about their roof as much as we do. No one cares about spray foam as much as we do. So it’s bridging that gap of, Why should you care? And education on that part of it. That’s what totally geeks me out and what gets us all excited, is about how we can find a solution or engineer something for a customer that is the best value and something that blows their mind with how much they can save, how their building can be restored, whatever it is. Working with customers and finding that best value and getting them excited about our products and services too. Yeah, that’s probably my favorite part and hopefully what I’m best at.
SC: Do you think that most people come to you guys when there are — as a reactive — when they’re having leaks or something like that, as opposed to proactively coming to you?
HJ: Most definitely. That’s probably the number one thing that we say. You don’t care about your roof until you need to, which honestly, it’s out of sight, out of mind. You can’t blame anybody for that. We’re really pushing our preventive maintenance right now, and trying to explain and educate our customers and potential customers of why maintenance and paying attention to your roof every single year, twice a year preferably, is so important. But we’ve been saying that for years.
It seems like that time for education, where people are — once we have them, and they’re interested, we want to continue to explain, This isn’t a one-time thing. It’s going to be worse. It’s going to be a longer-term issue if you don’t pay attention to it now or pay attention to it little by little each year. Yes, definitely. People come to us when it’s leaking or it is so old, it just looks awful and something needs to happen. Like I said, you can totally understand. It’s a large investment, and we don’t overlook that at all.
SC: I think about it — you just reminded me of — it’s time to get my HVAC checked. It’s like, Hey, you're supposed to do that twice a year. It’s probably the same sort of mentality as, If you don’t pay attention to it, you could have a serious problem down the line that’s probably even more costly and more disruptive. It’s so interesting.
SC: Could you explain to our listeners who don’t know what spray foam is, that thousand-foot view of what spray foam is?
HJ: Yes. Anybody who is not familiar with spray foam, I think they should be. It’s a unique product. Spray foam and coatings are such unique products, that they have so many uses. I really do think there is a solution for anybody in there, whether it be on the commercial or residential side. Obviously, we focus on commercial. Just the functionality of spray foam. You've got the fact that it’s self-adhering and a seamless application. It’s very long lasting, a warranted system, leak-free, reflective. There’s some cool roof rebates that you could possibly cash in on. Energy efficiency. All of these big marketing words, if you will, make it a great product to look into.
Like I said, the functionality and how versatile it is, whether it’s an interior, an exterior application, a complete roof system or — we can even insulate tanks. We insulate tanks with spray foam, and ductwork insulation. There’s a lot of different uses. Like I said, something for everybody.
SC: For our listeners’ sake. I’ll put a little plug in. The reason that we focus some of our projects on spray foam, to your point, is that the exterior spray foam products need to be coated to protect them — as far as I understand — from UV rays and those kinds of things that could affect the functionality of the spray foam. We’ve definitely done exterior tank projects that are insulated and then coated on top. You had mentioned the coatings portion. I just want to circle back and explain to our CoatingsPro readers why it is that we focus on spray foam occasionally.
HJ: Exactly. Don’t even get me started on coatings and why they’re so great. I think that is coming up more than spray foam. There’s uses for both. There’s a time and a place for both of them. So yes, both of them are great products.
SC: Absolutely. No one thing can be the solution for all problems, I would think. They all have a place. I don't know how long you've been there now at Spray-Tec, but what are the lessons learned, even over the past year? I feel like we’ve all grown so much, or been forced to grow. What challenges, opportunities have you guys experienced that you want to share with our listeners?
HJ: Of course, you can’t go anywhere without someone saying, “Well, it’s been an odd year,” and it definitely has. Our whole team has done an amazing job, being flexible and learning how to adapt to the changing landscape. We have learned a lot about flexibility, which we always try to be flexible and creative. One of our values is the fact that we can value-engineer a solution for something. Like you said, there’s not one solution for everything. Having to adapt and the different areas of masks and temperature checks and working around other contractors in a safe and distant way. Thankfully, we were able to keep going during the shutdown, just being part of the construction industry. But it didn’t come without challenges, obviously.
That being said, we learned a lot about adapting, especially with people’s budgets. They need work done but took a huge hit this year. Our repair division has really grown. It’s like, Okay, let’s fix some of the main problems and then put you on a plan to save up what you have to budget for, and we’ll restore the roof a few years down the road. We’ve also diversified our service a little bit this year, too. Insulation has really grown because it’s kind of that quick fix to some of the energy efficiency problems. There’s a lot of new construction this year as well, which is great. Infrastructure’s still rockin’ and rollin’. We’ve been a part of that, and we’ve also dipped our feet into a little bit more of the membrane side of roofing, which is so new for us. But definitely a solution that some of our customers wanted to look at, and it was the right fit for a few of them. We were able to check that out, and it is a whole other ballgame, but it’s exciting to check out all the different things that the roofing industry has to offer.
SC: When you say membrane, do you mean TPO or built-up roof or something like that?
HJ: Yes. We’ve been working with some manufacturers and some contractors, subcontractors, too, to try to figure out the best, most quality application for those. Definitely our bread and butter is spray foam and coatings, but when the customer has something in mind, and it’s a small roof — whatever it is — we can now offer that with them and help them out with that. We’ve had some awesome projects this year despite everything. That’s a huge blessing to us.
SC: Your point about being flexible, I think, is a really good one, a key takeaway for me at least. That flexibility was probably underlying in your business already, but to be able to hone in on that and do what your customers or clients need, because obviously their situation is constantly changing as well, that’s really great. Do you see that you’ll be able to take those kinds of changes with you into the future? Do you see any big changes that are coming down the pike for the contracting world?
HJ: I think we all have a tendency to put ourselves on autopilot, almost, and put our blinders on and do what we’ve always done. But despite all the major setbacks that this has brought, it has definitely opened our eyes to, We need to figure something else out. The way that it was is not going to work anymore. That, I think, is for years to come. I’m no expert on it or anything, but I definitely think that our team here at Spray-Tec, our eyes have been opened to, Okay, we need to adapt, we need to educate people, we need to show some of the new ways of doing things.
I’m excited about those possibilities of what’s to come. I think it’s like a breath of fresh air, that we’re pumped up about some changes. It made us focus on even some of our internal processes and gave us a little bit of time to focus on those as well, to make sure that we’re offering present and future customers the best version of us. If anything, I think it made everybody wake up a little bit and get creative and learn how to work together but be apart in some sense.
There’s a lot of rebuilding that needs to happen, and honestly, that’s what I miss the most of this year, is working with other contractors and educating them on our products and services. I’m excited to either do that virtually here in the next few months, or, if we can, figuring out how to get in there and see them. The biggest part of this industry, or at least with what we’re doing, is education and showing them what the value of this system is. Adapting to that is going to be our 2021 focus for sure.
SC: I love that. There’s obviously a lot of negatives that have happened this past year, but what a great way to find a positive spin to it for your company, and it sounds like personal growth as well within the company. That’s great. Do you think that some of that virtual relationship building that you mentioned — you are active on social media. Has that helped or been in the place of those personal meetings? Is that working or are you finding other solutions?
HJ: I think it’s been good. I was very hesitant to ever get started on LinkedIn till at least a few years ago. My dad pushed and pushed and said, “No, you need to be on LinkedIn.” I was like, “No, no one gets on that. That’s not where our demographic is.” But more than anything, come on, I can totally [0:15:00 admit?] and say I was so wrong in that. Wherever you can be. I’ll tell him that. He’s not here right now, but if he listens to this, he’ll know that I said I was wrong. I think that anywhere that somebody could find you, or if someone’s searching for you, they’re already interested. You have a little bit of that interest from them that you need to capitalize on.
So put your best foot forward, whether they’re giving you a phone call and you get to explain it over the phone. You get to go out and show them what you do. Or if they’re just doing their research and can find some of your content online, obviously. It just clicked in that way of, What do people want to see? What do people need to see? And honing in our messaging a little bit more than we were before. Obviously, we have a long way to go, but I’ve got some cool ideas — at least they’re cool in my mind — for next year for some content. I think, across the board — and I was talking to one of our manufacturing reps about this on Friday — about drone footage and videos. She was complaining about it too. She’s saying, “All of our videos are out of date, and they’re not speaking to the right demographic. We can’t explain what we do well enough with those videos, so everything needs to be updated.” I agreed.
I think that the industry as a whole is going to get much better on the virtual side, making videos, and being really descriptive with it. I’m excited for our growth as an industry in the next few years.
SC: I think you're right. With cell phones and drones and all these tools we now have at our disposal — that everyone seems to have at their disposal — it’s like, now is the time to capitalize on all of that. That’s a great idea.
HJ: Well, CoatingsPro, too. Even just in general. They — their education front, I think that that’s so important. They’re showcasing some of these projects. They’re showcasing contractors. Whether or not the mass majority of people ever see these things, if anybody ever searches for it, it’s going to be there. There’s so much value in that. You can’t even put a price tag on it. I really appreciate that, that we have that support from you all.
SC: Thanks for the plug. I’ll take it. That was not paid for. [laughter]
SC: That’s actually a really good dovetail to — I wanted to go into the Awards Program, too. The way that you and I met was because you guys had submitted for — I think this is how we met, at least — for the Awards Program last year, and you guys won third place in the Commercial Roof category for a project that was called Industrial Coating System. I thought, “Now’s the perfect time.” We’re getting ready to close our Awards Program submissions for this year. We extended through the end of November, so if anyone’s listening before November 30th, please do submit your project. I thought you’d be a perfect person to chat with briefly. What made you want to apply to the Awards Program? Is there anything that you are able to get out of it? You briefly touched on that, about marketing toward your potential future customers. Can you touch on why you decided to participate in the program last year?
HJ: Sure. I was thinking back on it a little bit when I was thinking about our conversation. I remembered that I was not going to submit anything last year. I’m embarrassed to say that, that I wasn’t going to. It was the end of the year, and I had a lot of stuff going on. But the guys in my office kept forwarding the emails that you guys sent: reminder, blah blah blah. I was like, Fine, I will submit this year. The only reason that I held back — I’m not the best at the technical elements of it, and you guys asked a lot of questions about that, which is important. It was more of, “I’m going to have the pull out the job spec, I’m going to have to do all this stuff.”
But once you do, and you start looking back at it, it’s like, “People would be interested in this. This is a really cool project.” I don't know what stopped me from doing it — just being lazy and putting in the effort — but I’m so glad that I did, obviously, because we got a little press out of it. That’s probably the best part of it. You guys make it look so pretty, and I think it has that credibility behind it. It’s like, “Look, we’re not just saying. We’re not the only ones who think this is cool. There’s other people who see this project and recognize its value and recognize the unique parts of it.”
For this particular project, the Industrial Coating System, they were these huge grain silos here in Louisville, Ky. Our customer had been one that we were trying to close for a while. It’s a big project. Every single thing had to be craned to the roof. The crane was there almost the entire time. Obviously, it was a large undertaking. We finally, after three or four years, were able to close this project and start to mobilize our crews. It was a huge safety undertaking as well. They were 180 feet up on these silos and working with the crane. They only had a single-person elevator. Everybody had to take either the stairs up all of those stories or the single-person elevator. All of our equipment and tools each day. It was this big project, and it was so cool once we finished it.
The pictures came out awesome. I think that was really cool in the magazine to see. It was a testament to the way that we can restore roofs in even the most unique of conditions. Huge silos, which you would not expect, would need that kind of work, we were able to tear off sections of it. Not all of it, because it didn’t need it. We just tore off the sections that were wet and that held moisture and replaced those with spray foam and then coated over all of it. That was really cool. That same company actually called us just the other day for something else, so we’re excited to work with them again. I do think people were impressed by that. I honestly would not have put that much emphasis on it if it hadn’t been for you all asking me to.
SC: Hounding you. [laughter]
HJ: The emails. I remember the emails. It was so good, but sometimes you just overlook those things. You keep getting emails and it doesn’t register until finally it’s like, Yes, I should do that. That’s good. And then you get paid back for it. Not every time. But it is really cool that we were chosen. Definitely a victory over here.
SC: That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that. We’ll be sure to link to the project’s profile that we did the writeup of, that Haley’s talking about, in the show notes today. Awesome, thanks. We definitely appreciate all of the support. We’ve heard similar stories from other contractors, that the Awards Program allows them to use it for their own marketing material, to say, “Hey, we’re not just touting our own work. We want to shout from the rooftops that an international magazine is also able to identify that we were an award-winning project.”
It’s a win-win as far as we’re concerned, and that’s why we do it. We want to make sure that we’re awarding and rewarding deserving crews. Awesome. Thanks for the plug that I made you plug. Is there anything else that you want to mention before we sign off today? We’ve been able to chat a lot about what you guys do and the spray foam roofing world. But if there’s anything else, please feel free to mention it.
HJ: Sure. The only thing that I want to convey, probably the most, is that if you have a project, if someone listening has a project, no matter where you are, but you think that you could potentially save money but repairing or restoring a roof or a tank — whatever it might be — it’s that spray foam and coatings are great options. If you don’t know a lot about them, you should do some research. CoatingsPro has some great resources for that. Or our website, we have a lot there. If someone’s interested, we service a certain area, so if you’re outside of our area it might not be the best fit. But at least we have that information there, if you're interested. Our guys are always game to talk about it, to provide that information for somebody if they’re interested, because we really do believe in the products, especially the ones that we work with from some of our key manufacturers. We work a lot with them. That’s all I would add.
SC: Do you want to go ahead and give your website so that people can reach out?
HJ: Most definitely. It is www.spray-tec.com. A lot of people put the H in there, but there’s no H.
SC: Perfect. And we’ll add that to the show notes. Thank you so much for all of your time today, Haley. That was really great chatting with you and giving some of our listeners some good tips on how they can use spray foam in their contracting business as well.
HJ: Thank you so much for having me.