In the spirit of Halloween, a more appropriate title for this blog may have been “Trick or Treat”, or maybe “Beware. Proceed at your own risk!”
Where to start? For those of you who’ve been following my blogs, you know that I’ve been focused on the evolution of the roofing industry combined with snow management evolution to service new roofing products. You’ll also know that many new roofing products as well as ill-conceived snow management products have come and gone.
In my most recent blog, I touched on themes that have been repeated in this industry. One theme that I missed, and frankly one that happens in every industry, is the constant need from people outside of the roofing industry to jump into the business with a would be knock-off. This isn’t a sour grapes commentary…this is the basis of competition and we all face it (either that or we’re incredibly lucky, smart or magical).
The problem we all face, regardless of the industry we’re in, is when an entity that doesn’t know what they’re doing, making, or selling jumps into a market with offers to sell better, cheaper or faster solutions to those currently available.
Trick? Or Treat?
One such questionable alternative in the snow management business came to my attention yesterday – see below. The facts don’t support the claims.
Let’s start with a brief understanding that I’m the President of Alpine SnowGuards. I started my career in the roofing industry in 1977 as a slate roofer (read more on Alpine’s history in the About Us section of our website), wrote a book (The Slate Book, below), consulted for slate projects including the Pentagon and transitioned to a full-time manufacturer of snow management devices to service the needs of roofing products and projects, both standard and custom.
In 2006/2007 I saw an opportunity to enter the solar industry using variations of our snow management hardware to service solar panel attachment needs. By 2010/2011, the trade name we were using as a sister company to Alpine, EcoFasten Solar (EcoFasten) had surpassed Alpine both in volume and in sales revenue. As a result, EcoFasten spun off into a stand-alone entity that we relocated to Phoenix, AZ, in 2016 and subsequently sold on, you guessed it, Halloween day of 2018.
Yes, 1 year go today. Treat!
The reason for this history lesson relates to the “trick” part of the new snow management product I saw yesterday. Folks, the technology of the attachment mechanism referenced above is technology that I invented (you can see the full United States Patent here).
Note the title of the invention: “Roof Mount Having Built-In Failure”. It doesn’t take a real deep thinker to figure out that this may not be appropriate on a sloped roof. If I thought it would have worked as a snow management device, Alpine would have been all over it.
The fact is that it was never intended to be used to withstand sustained shear loads such as the loads applied by retained snow and ice. It was designed to manage the compressive loads of a solar installation on a flat commercial roof. The base component, a large plate with screws and weldable coating, is screwed to the roof with 8 fasteners. It’s larger than anticipated for one reason – to distribute compressive loads over typical roof insulation and typical fire retardant covering.
The problem is that the attachment post that comes through the top of the second membrane is attached to a metal disk underneath that is sandwiched between two layers of membrane. Correct, the post essentially floats freely on a plate between the two layers of membrane. This is ideal for compressive loads and seismic loading. However, it was never intended to resist sustained shear loads from snow and ice resting against the bar.
Let’s refer back to the little history lesson above. I’m the President of Alpine, I started and sold EcoFasten Solar, and invented this part. Don’t you think that if it were suitable as a snow management device, Alpine would be using it? Guess what? We aren’t! And there’s a really good reason for this. We know the snow guard business – I now have over 40 years of practice both in roofing and in snow management and I won’t sell something that I don’t believe will work for its intended use.
The appropriate part that Alpine has been selling for years, without leaks or failures, is the PP115 as shown below on the Erie Intermodal Transportation Center in Erie, PA.
And the install of the PP115 is a breeze as you’ll see in our installation video:
The “new” system only has 7 fasteners instead of 8. Think of the labor and materials saved on that 1 screw! Nonsense, right?
We don’t make false claims. We lead.
We don’t follow and we don’t put end users in jeopardy. We innovate.
So, “Beware. Proceed at Your own Risk”.
Yes, competition exists and that is a good thing, but there is no replacement for experience and years of practice. Alpine will not sell a product that I do not believe in. I’m in the snow management business because, as a roofer, I witnessed what didn’t work and came up with solutions that do. I started as a roofer. I didn’t start as a second or third generation manufacturer who needed new sources of revenue. I set out to serve the industry, not the other way around.
We hope you all have a safe and happy Halloween!
Until next time,
President & Founder, Alpine SnowGuards
We keep snow in its place
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Alpine SnowGuards designs, engineers, and manufactures snow management systems from our facility in Morrisville, VT. We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, developers, solar installers and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do. Alpine SnowGuards can help a building qualify for LEED® credits.