Roofers

Roofers from Duffield Home Improvements prepare to install a metal roof.

Metal or shingle? That's the first decision that homeowners need to make when planning to have a new roof installed. 

Along with the price difference, local roofers say that how soon you want that new roof might also sway your choice. Production of asphalt roof shingles has fallen behind, so getting access to stock is a month out or more.

Bill Duffield, owner of Duffield Home Improvement in Gainesville has his crews installing an average of 10 roofs a week. After 37 years in the business, he said this shortage of shingles almost equals what it is like when storms wreak havoc on Florida and cause a high demand for roofing repair supplies.

"Shingles are a little bit of an issue to get," Duffield said. "They are backed up in production and even closed down in parts of the country."

Right now, Duffield said it takes about four weeks to get asphalt shingles in for an order. But metal roofing can be delivered within days of a quote approval or installment appointment. 

"You have to put order in right away," he said. "They sell 'em even before they get them in stock and [shingles] go straight onto a tractor trailer when they come in."

Duffield buys his shingles through several distributors such as ABC Supply and Gulf Eagle Supply.

"Right now orders are so outpacing deliveries," Duffield said. "Everybody has negative inventory."

That shortage has had an impact on the price he's paying for those shingle orders, Duffield said: "It's the nature of the beast. They can go up in price and have shown some increasing but not as terrible yet as what a hurricane might do."

When storms come through the state, roofers start pulling shingle orders from suppliers out of state and that adds to the cost in the form of a longer transport. He said there is an Owens Corning plant in Jacksonville, but the next closest ones are in Alabama and Atlanta.

Owens Corning is an American company that develops and produces insulation, roofing, and fiberglass composites and related materials and products, according to the company website, which states, "It was formed in 1935 as a partnership between two major American glassworks, Corning Glass Works and Owens-Illinois. The company employs approximately 19,000 people around the world. Owens Corning has been a Fortune 500 company every year since the list was created in 1955. The Pink Panther appears in most of the company’s advertisements."

Owens Corning spokesperson Matt Schroder explained how the pandemic affected the slowdown of shingle production that has ultimately led to a shortage.

"When the early effects of the pandemic were hitting in March of 2020, many contractors were unsure of how or when they would be able to get back on roofs again," he said. "That led to an abrupt interruption of demand for our distribution customers, who told us they were not in a position to order. Production slowed as our available space to inventory our product filled up."

Schroder said demanded has accelerated throughout the pandemic as people spend more time in their homes.  "Homeowners had more time to engage and educate themselves on how their roof can add value to their home and improve their overall living experience," he said.  Now, Schroder said Owens Corning plants are determined to catch up to the demand.

"We have a manufacturing network of 13 shingle plants across the United States," he said. "Four of those are the southeast region running at full capacity, and demand will still out-pace supply, at least here in the beginning of 2021."

Schroder said the company is "maxing out" its facilities in an effort to serve contractors and distributors who need supplies.

Demand is stronger than ever for many reasons, including storm activity, remodeling demand and new construction," Schroder said. "We are shipping all the shingles we are producing at this time, and likely well into this year."

Sergio Macias of ABC Supply Company in Gainesville also credits homeowners working from home as a contributing factor to the increase in home improvement projects including roof installments.

He said a combination of COVID-19 cases among employees that lead to manufacturing plant section shutdowns coupled with homeowners sitting at home working and looking at their houses have boosted home improvement projects.

"They decided to get windows or roofs," he said.  "A lot of [asphalt shingle] manufacturers are making staple colors and not niche colors,"  Macias said about less choices in some areas on shingle colors.

But even with manufacturing plants streamlining production, they have not caught up with the demand from suppliers experiences, Macias said: "Instead of having the supply here, we are constantly trying to chase them down."

Mainstreet Daily News Reporter

Suzette Cook is a Mainstreet Daily News reporter who has been a community journalist for more than 30 years.

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