Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Brian McLaughlin, Eastern Sales and Business Development Manager for Drexel Metals. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to MetalCast from MetalCoffeeShop. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and this show is all about metal. We are here to really find out what's happening in the industry, what is happening around metal roofing, siding, frame building, you name it. And today I am very excited to have the experts from Drexel Metal here with us. I would love to introduce Brian McLaughlin and Jim Alexander. Thank you gentlemen for joining me today.
Brian McLaughlin: Oh, thanks Heidi. Thanks for having us.
Jim Alexander: Thank you. Glad to be here.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank you. Yeah. I'm so happy. I'm so excited to have both of you. I actually used to work for Carlisle a long time ago. So I'm a little bit, you know how roofing and metal is, it all connects.
Brian McLaughlin: Go blue.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Go blue. There we go. So before we get started with some questions about your made in America campaign, which I love and I'm so excited about, I would love to have you both introduce yourself. So Brian, let's start with you. If you could introduce yourself, tell us a little bit about your position with Carlisle, and your history in the industries.
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. So National Sales Manager for Drexel Metals, which is a parallel company. I've been with Drexel Metals for 13 years. So all of my metal experience has actually been with Drexel Metal. So it's been a good run. Learned a lot. Started as an inside sales guy and worked my way up to my current role. So really great company to work for.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's excellent. Congratulations. That's pretty fun.
Brian McLaughlin: Thank you. Thank you.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it. Jim?
Jim Alexander: My name is Jim Alex and I am the southeast regional sales manager for Drexel. Been with Drexel coming up on 10 years in March. Pretty much most of my metal experience in working for the manufacturers has always been Drexel. Drexel's always been pretty much my home. Before Drexel, I was with a roofing contractor for 10 years in the Florida area. So got a little bit of background on the other side as well.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Excellent. Jim, thank you so much for joining us. I'm excited to have both of you on here. So let's kind of start with what you were talking about, Brian, that rich history of Drexel Metals. Always have been aware of Drexel. It has such a great brand, such a great company. Can you tell us a little bit of its history?
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah, sure. Drexel Metals itself was started actually in 1985. So been around for a while. Started out as more of a broker servicing the military community, raw material, got into painting later on, and then saw a real need for metal roofing, saw a great opportunity. The market was expanding into metal roofing more and more, especially on the regional manufacturing side. So our company was one small location in Trenton, New Jersey into we're up to nine locations. So we're a nationwide, even international type company servicing both roof wall perimeter metals. And now I've been, again, part of the company for 13 years so I've seen it as a small company getting into a large company now owned by Carlisle.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. And maybe talk a little bit about when Carlisle acquired Drexel and kind of a little bit of that history.
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. So I think back in 2013 is when the relationship started. So back then it was strictly a private label deal. Drexel Metals was providing coil and flats and panels to our network of regional manufacturers to Carlisle through their network of independent reps and authorized distributors. And the leadership between both companies were pretty well aligned. The culture matched, great relationships with the company. We had some success with that program and then that led into, back in 2017, our company was up for sale and Carlisle was the bidder and interesting enough, they were not the highest bidder, but we felt so aligned as far as the two companies and directionally where they were going, where we wanted to go, that we decided to choose Carlisle and for Carlisle it made sense because it filled a void that they currently had, which was steep slope.
They weren't involved in anything really metal related other than perimeter metal. So that got them into metal roofing, metal wall, continuation of perimeter edge metal systems. So again, it was a natural fit and it's been a really good five year ride so far.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. It's great. You have an excellent brand and I'm seeing you everywhere. At METALCON, at the shows. We'll be seeing each other I'm sure at IRE. So I really love your commitment to American made metal roofing products and you have just some great signs and different things that you have with that, but Jim, maybe you could talk a little bit about that program and the importance of being made in America.
Jim Alexander: Well, especially in this day and age, one of the things that Drexel's always prided theirselves on is keeping the materials that they purchase within the North American footprint. Our aluminum products, our steel products, all come from within that North American footprint. And with everything that's going on in the world today with a lot of the manufacturers that are offshore suppliers that are out there, it's very difficult to control the quality of the product that you're getting from offshore. Buying it within the North American footprint allows us to control our quality of our product better, which means a better product to our customers, our contractors in the field.
And to take it a step further, when you look at a lot of the things that are going on today, when you look at our core customers, the segment of the market that we're in, we're in the construction industry, but when you look at our core customers, the roofing contractors that are out there, they're really very, very pro-American.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yes.
Jim Alexander: Everybody wants a really good product at a fair price, but when you throw the other part of it, that our products are 99% by American, that really carries a lot of weight with it as well.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: It does. And with what we've gone through in the last couple years between COVID and then the material shortages, really understanding being able to buy local, to be able to buy American has I think it's almost grown in the last couple years. It's just we realized we need to be able to support and provide what we need internally without always being so dependent. Brian, as we're kind of looking at that and thinking through on all that, there's also, as Jim said, there's quality standards, there's safety standards, there's a lot of things that determine the quality and down the road, the safety for the end user and for the contractors. Can you talk a little bit about the difference between American made and maybe some that are not as high a quality or maybe just don't have the same standards?
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. I think it's no secret that America has some of the most stringent standards. A lot of it's back via the ASTM. So there's a lot of different ASTM numbers related to metal and basically what it requires with regards to the material makeup, pencil strength, the heat exposure, and whatnot, but a lot of that has to do with how it's made, which is a big part of metal. You can have serious impactful defects if it's not made to the right temperature and the right alloys when we're talking about aluminum. The recyclability content of the product. Again, when we've talked about aluminum. So not to say foreign offerings can't provide that, but we just don't know what you ultimately get. With American made, without a doubt you know exactly what you're buying. So we're confident in the fact that with us sourcing over 99% of American made product, that we have one of the highest quality products that we can provide to our customer base.
And the other part of that too is from a structural standpoint, think about where this product's going.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.
Brian McLaughlin: It's going on a roof in hurricane conditions. Jim Alex is out of Florida and we just had Hurricane Irene and we saw the devastation that happened in that area and having a product that's structural, that can withstand high wind speeds, and the core of that product is the steel or the aluminum. It's made into a panel, but the core of that product is still the material that's made with. So it's really important to us that we make sure that we utilize high quality product.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: I was just thinking of that as you were talking about that and that was going to be my question is when we look at what's going on right now with weather, we were just talking about it. There's a huge storm off the west coast, which is not normal. We don't usually get hurricane style storms that much, but it's happening everywhere. So the quality of the roofing and the siding metal is really more important than ever. And Jim, with you being down in Florida, I know I saw some pictures where the only roofs that were left were metal roofs.
Jim Alexander: Yeah. Absolutely. It's unfortunate, but every time that we, Florida, and in some of the other states as well, get hit with any kind of a powerful storm like that, Hurricane Ian was a cat four, cat five hurricane when it made landfall in the southwest Florida area. Good things come out of that. Bad things come out of that because of what it does to the communities and all the people. The good thing that comes out of storms like that is it forces everybody to go back to the drawing board and reevaluate current conditions out there and take a look at and say, "Okay. Well this held up really well. This didn't. How can we better the systems that are out there?" All of our products have Florida product approvals and Miami-Dade approvals and that's the governing bodies in the Florida area that basically you have to have to be able to do business down here. So it's bad, but a lot of good comes out of it.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Especially when people go back and look at it and how can we make it better? How can we have more safety for people in their homes and throughout these storms? So the quality of the metal is the first step and then the quality of the forming and putting it all together, which is what Drexel does, that is just key and putting those systems together and making sure that they fit. So Brian, maybe just talk a little bit about that, the importance of the systems to make sure that we're protecting all these homes and buildings.
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. We always promote a systems approach. We kind of look at it as if you're a car manufacturer, you don't just focus on the engine or the tires, you focus on the whole assembly. And that's the same thing with metal roofing. We have a program called the DMR. It's a regional manufacturing program and the first part of that is certifying those that are fabricating the product, our product. And through that certification is making sure that they're following the guidelines, the tolerances. We have a go no go gauge block, which basically enables the fabricator to know whether or not that product's within tolerance, the metal roof panel that comes out of that portable machine.
So we're very big on that. Jim is heavily involved in Miami-Dade, which is again, a part of that requirement is making sure that we are keeping samples of every single panel job that we fabricate or that our roofing fabricator fabricates in their possession so that if there is a specific situation that comes from a claim, that we have proper material to be able to audit and make sure that we're safeguarding against any improper fabrication or design.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Wow. That's very cool. And so talk to us a little bit more about this ability for contractors to buy local and you're on DMR program.
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: How does that work for contractors?
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. So our DMR, we've had that for I think probably about 20 years now. And again, the two AQC part of it came from Miami-Dade when that was established back in the early '90s. And we've evolved that into kind of a think local metal roofing on demand philosophy where instead of having your typical hub and spoke model where you have a factory and you're fabricating panels and you're shipping those panels typically in long distances, we're setting up regionalized manufacturers that are certified within our program to buy coil rather than panels. So instead of shipping a max of 10,000 square feet of panels, we're able to get 45,000 square feet of coil and we're able to distribute it in a local market.
So again, we have our nine locations and within those nine locations, we're able to service the country nationwide to these regional manufacturers that are able to buy local and service their end customers, which are going to be the roof installers to install the product. So from that landscape, you're saving on cost, you're lessening your chances of damage in transit by freight, you're also providing a better cost position for the market as well with the product.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: And there is so much talk, and important talk, about sustainability. And really metal is always at the top of that conversation of the durability, the performance, and now with what I'm hearing that you are all talking about too is that ability to buy local, which is going to bring the carbon footprint down and also made in America, which is another brings that carbon. So Jim, I love it. You're nodding. Those are really important not just for business and for our contractors, but also for the overall sustainability movement.
Jim Alexander: Yeah. Absolutely. Our approach to the market and the programs that we offer give the contractor a lot more control and a lot more flexibility on how they go to market and how they provide their manufacturing to their customers.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's great. And we all know how great metal roofs are, both under solar and with longevity and the durability and so that whole sustainable message comes through along great big with the made in America. So also we have to talk just a little bit about Drexel is one of the leading participating manufacturers in the Sherwin-Williams MetalVue program. Super exciting. We have been doing tons about that on MetalCoffeeShop. So what are some of the things you can share that you're seeing, Brian, as being part of that MetalVue program and I know it's just at the very beginnings, but what are you seeing?
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. So I've been heavily involved, Jim and I have been heavily involved in that program. Sherwin-Williams just a great partner. They're our paint supplier so it was a natural fit once they started talking about this new program they had and there's a handful of things our customers always ask for. It's training, whether it's installation training for the roofers or sales training for their sales team on how to properly sell metal roofing just 'cause it's different. It's not a shingled roof. It's not a flat roof. It's totally unique and the benefits are a little bit different than some other roofing systems.
The other part is the how to properly get lead generation. Once you have those lead generations, how to provide estimates and quotes quickly. So we have all these things in separate areas, but MetalVue basically puts everything together in one place. And really, whether you are 30 years experience in metal roofing or you just getting into it, it gives an avenue for someone to really take advantage of something that hasn't previously existed. So we're really excited about the MetalVue program, really excited to promote it within our customer base, and not meant for every contractor, but it's definitely meant for those that are equipped to be able to handle lead generation and want to grow their metal roofing business.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. It's kind of turning metal roofing a little bit upside down 'cause it's always kind of been a little bit more one project at a time in metal roofing where it's now through your participation with Drexel and everything that's going on with this MetalVue program, contractors can really start really upselling metal on a regular basis and putting it more into that overall, what would you call it, the cycle of getting sales out there to homeowners quickly.
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. It's a different philosophy for sure. And again, we're really excited about seeing this grow and we have some good examples of customers that have already taken advantage of it, that have gone out there. They have a whole sales team canvasing a market and selling metal roof systems, which is great for everybody involved.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: How's that going? What are you seeing from these contractors that have started implementing it?
Brian McLaughlin: Yeah. Jim, I'll allow it 'cause he has firsthand knowledge or experience with this.
Jim Alexander: Well, the MetalVue program has so many different pieces to it that each contractor either uses or elects not to use, but for the most part, the program services that we offer with MetalVue, the contractors are able to turn, with the lead generation, turn a quote around really quick and also provide all the backend, pretty much the office, the difficult part of your roof layouts. Your cut list, how are we going to order this, items like that to be able to get it turned around and turn it into an order rather quickly. Where before with all the different programs that were available out there, a lot of the contractors were using all these programs, but now it's all in one pool.
So bringing it together and streamlining it and being able to offer this to our customers with Sherwin-Williams and Drexel is a big benefit to our contractors out there. And everybody that we've presented this to, I have not gotten any negative feedback from the guys that have looked at it. There's certain components of it that they really loved and there's pieces that, "Well, we may not want to do that just now," but it's something that they can always bolt on later.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.
Brian McLaughlin: It's definitely an a la carte type option. There's eight different things minimum that is available, but they can pick and choose what makes sense for their company.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.
Brian McLaughlin: Which is great.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. It is really. It's really unique. We're just thrilled to be a part of it with the MetalCoffeeShop. And so everyone who's listening and watching this out there, you can actually see all these different opportunities, all the vendors, how the program works, and I have to tell you, the Roofing Passport from Sherwin-Williams that Jim was talking about, is pretty amazing. Using EagleView to get the measurements, provide the cuts, get that to the manufacturer, it just takes everything and kind of super speeds it.
Jim Alexander: Takes a lot of guesswork out of the process.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. For people who maybe didn't do metal before.
Jim Alexander: Yeah. Basically what a lot of these contractors are doing is, and it's part of our philosophy, we make it simple to do business and that's what we're trying to do. And the MetalVue program takes all those pieces, brings them together, and makes it simple.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. It does. Yes. Yes. Well, gentlemen, I love this. We went from made in America to sustainability to this awesome MetalVue program on how to get more contractors into metal working with Drexel. This is pretty exciting stuff. Thank you.
Jim Alexander: You're welcome.
Brian McLaughlin: Thank you, Heidi. Yeah. Great conversation. Great topics too.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Really fun. So the one thing I do want to, and I mentioned it a little bit at the beginning, but I just have to say, for all of you watching and listening, you have to go to the Drexel Metal directory on MetalCoffeeShop and check out the metal sign that they've made. Made in America. Talk about a very cool promotional item.
Brian McLaughlin: I love walking into some of my customer's shops and seeing that on the wall. It's a cool design. It has the American flag in the background with our logo and the outline of the United States and it's just a cool little feature that we do and just shows appreciation to our customers that support us that we want to support them.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: I was super impressed by it. Very cool. Very cool stuff. And so be sure everyone to go out there, go to the Drexel Metals directory on MetalCoffeeShop. You can find all this information. You can get to their website to find out even more information about their buy local, about what they're doing with made in America, sustainability, and most importantly, you can get all the information about MetalVue where you can get involved and really bring some great services working with manufacturer like Drexel into your in company. So again, Brian, Jim, thank you so much for being here today.
Brian McLaughlin: Great. Thanks Heidi.
Jim Alexander: Thanks for having us.
Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank you. And thank you all for watching this MetalCast. We have a lot more coming. We're going to be talking about metal training, installation, sales, you name it. We've got a lot of great metal information, including Frame Building Show coming up. So stay tuned for the next MetalCast. Be sure to subscribe to us either on your YouTube channel, on your favorite podcast channel, and get those notifications. We will see you next time on MetalCast.
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