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LIVE From IRE 2023 With Vicwest!

vicwest - ire 2023 - transcript - interview
April 13, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Heidi J. Ellsworth visits with Jeff Bernstein from Vicwest to talk about their unique product offerings and the growth of metal! 

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Jeff Bernstein from Vicwest. You can read the interview below or watch the YouTube video.

Heidi Ellsworth: Hello. We are back live from the sound stage at IRE. This is Heidi Ellsworth and I am my friend Jeff from Vicwest here. We are so excited. I'm so excited to have you.

Jeff Bernstein: Well, I'm pretty excited too, Heidi. I got to say.

Heidi Ellsworth: There's been a lot of people who I've been working, we've been working together, we haven't met in person, and this is our first time.

Jeff Bernstein: That's true. I feel like even just in the short time that I've been here, I mean dozens of people will come up. "Oh, so nice to meet you."

Heidi Ellsworth: I know.

Jeff Bernstein: It's so nice to get out the office and out of a Zoom call and meet in person. I mean-

Heidi Ellsworth: Meet in person.

Jeff Bernstein: ... even this morning, having a meeting before the show, it was like first time we've ever seen these people in a room but it's the only way really to build that rapport.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I think that is what's so the beauty of trade shows and of us being here in person and then we can go back, keep doing business Zoom, but it's that hybrid thing that we've got going.

Jeff Bernstein: Exactly. Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth: So can you introduce yourself, talk a little bit about Vicwest, let everybody know who you are.

Jeff Bernstein: Sure, of course. So I'm Jeff Bernstein. I'm the marketing director at Vicwest. We're a Canadian manufacturer of roofing and siding solutions and we're here today with a couple of really interesting products. One is True Nature metal roofing, which is a roof tile designed to look like shake or slate, and a barrel tile. So that really is a product that's well suited to residential re-roof projects. Kind of introduces metal into a suburban environment that may not really be on board with putting a role form panel into really what is a residential area.

Heidi Ellsworth: Right.

Jeff Bernstein: That aesthetic just doesn't always work. So here we've got a solution that'll help asphalt roofers be more competitive in those neighborhoods and really provide a solution that a homeowner's going to be more comfortable with.

Heidi Ellsworth: And we're doing a lot that way. I mean, through the MetalVue program that we work together.

Jeff Bernstein: Oh yeah. I mean the MetalVue program combined with Sherwin Williams and obviously Roofer's Coffee Shop has been a tremendous boon for us. I mean, it's helped us identify those contractors who really are looking to differentiate their business and that's part of the challenge. I mean, you think of asphalt roofing and it's, "Oh, it's a commodity," and, "It's just a fight to the bottom for the lowest price to kind of win that job." But helping, through Roofer's coffee Shop, identify who those tier one contractors are that are willing to offer a premium product in a premium setting to a higher end clientele is exactly the audience that we're targeting.

Heidi Ellsworth: And the thing I love about it is what you were talking about is your product is easy to install. It has a different look than your traditional standing seam and real form. And so it makes it easier for these contractors who want to add metal to their business.

Jeff Bernstein: And that's the thing, I'm not delusional to think that all of a sudden a hundred percent of your business needs to convert to metal. It's a slow process, even if you're going to be able to sell a few jobs a week and eventually that turns into 10, 20% of your business. Yeah, that's great. I mean, it's a huge pie out there in the residential roofing market. So being able to provide a product that's going to differentiate, not only their roofing business, but also help them earn more money per job and help them really set themselves apart from the competition in their area. I mean, it's a no brainer.

Heidi Ellsworth: It's a no brainer.

Jeff Bernstein: It's right there.

Heidi Ellsworth: I mean it works. And with the growth of metal, we keep seeing how much metal is being demanded from the consumers-

Jeff Bernstein: Metal's the only material that's stealing share right now. I mean, there's only so many slate roofs that are going to go up and so many shake, the price points are astronomical. Obviously they're beautiful, but it's cost prohibitive in a lot of situations. But metal provides tremendous value, value not only with the upfront cost, but also it's a lifetime solution.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yes. Yes.

Jeff Bernstein: We offer a lifetime warranty on our roofing solution. So really it's the last roof you're ever going to need.

Heidi Ellsworth: Right. And it's beautiful.

Jeff Bernstein: And it's beautiful and it has a transferrable warranty and it'll add value to your home. I mean, it's a laundry list of benefits as to what really the overall-

Heidi Ellsworth: It's the protection of it.

Jeff Bernstein: ... the overall value proposition for the product.

Heidi Ellsworth: So now you said you had another product in there too?

Jeff Bernstein: Sure do. We sure do, Heidi.

Heidi Ellsworth: See, we know these things.

Jeff Bernstein: So we have another product, Bellara steel siding.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yes.

Jeff Bernstein: So that really is a product that's kind of shaken up our business. We weren't totally expecting it to take off the way that it has. So Bellara is a seal siding panel that's painted to look like wood. So through Sherwin Williams technology, through coil coatings, we're actually able to produce a graphic on the steel panel-

Heidi Ellsworth: So cool.

Jeff Bernstein: ... that really is replicates hyper-realistic imagery of wood grains. So we have a barn board look, we have a rough saw look, and we've got some really elegant, natural wood grain patterns that you would expect to see from natural wood, but without the maintenance. With a 40 year warranty on those products and really beautiful and still have... Because of the technology that we're able to utilize with the printing process, you get a tremendous variation of the wood grain. So it really does look natural. And if you come over to the booth, not only does it look, you're standing a foot away from it and people are touching it. "Is this wood? I can't really tell." Because it has a depth to the image that really makes it look unbelievably realistic.

Heidi Ellsworth: That is so cool. And so going with our earlier theme that contractors are adding different products, it's not just adding metal roofing, but we are seeing contractors go with the whole exterior. So this is a great alternative for roofing companies to start adding siding and putting it all together.

Jeff Bernstein: Exactly. So that remodeler type business is, once they get into the home, it doesn't matter if they're selling roofing or siding or even windows, it's that selling process that is inherent to working well. The guy who's, it's not a vinyl product, it's not the old cheap aluminum siding product, right? It really is a step up. But what's a little bit different about Bellara is that it actually presents a value in terms of cost. So compared to natural wood or compared to some of the extruded aluminum products out there, we actually have a cost advantage. And even compared to some-

Heidi Ellsworth: That's great.

Jeff Bernstein: ... even compared to some fiber cement products, right?

Heidi Ellsworth: Wow.

Jeff Bernstein: So it's not like on roofing where asphalt is the value play. So in roofing, we're asking for a premium, with the siding panel, it's completely the opposite.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love that.

Jeff Bernstein: So it's a natural fit. And just another point. We find that people who are doing the installation of the siding, it may not work for a hundred percent of the house, but it's going to look beautiful as an accent or as a soffit. So it's not like, "Oh my god, a hundred percent of my house all of a sudden it's going to look like wood." Well no, I mean if you mix it with stonework or some brick and then add this warm accent of this wood grain pattern, all of a sudden you have this design palette where the sky's the limit.

Heidi Ellsworth: You're smart. I mean, that's smart.

Jeff Bernstein: Thanks Heidi.

Heidi Ellsworth: And I love the architecture because that's the thing. Well, our house is wood, but now I know.

Jeff Bernstein: Listen. Oh, there's-

Heidi Ellsworth: That doesn't last.

Jeff Bernstein: There's a beauty to a wood house and the idea that you have, "Okay, I really want wood. It's natural. I love the look of it." First year you're in love with it.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yes.

Jeff Bernstein: Year two, year three, like "What have we done?"

Heidi Ellsworth: You got to paint it again, stain it.

Jeff Bernstein: What do we do?

Heidi Ellsworth: Yes.

Jeff Bernstein: And it becomes that like, "Oh, we loved it, but, but." And with the metal, with the steel solution, you don't have that issue. It has a 40 year color fade warranty that's almost no maintenance.

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it.

Jeff Bernstein: Even just, you don't even need to hose it down most of the time.

Heidi Ellsworth: So let's let the rain do it thing.

Jeff Bernstein: That's it. The rain is enough.

Heidi Ellsworth: Okay. That's it. Well, okay. What kind of reactions are you getting at the booth? I mean, I know we just started-

Jeff Bernstein: Well, I mean the show just started, Heidi...

Heidi Ellsworth: I know. Just started.

Jeff Bernstein: So it's been a little... I haven't been there, but I mean usually the reaction is, well one, certainly with the siding is, "Wow, this is steel." They can't believe that it's actually a steel product, which okay, great. But educating them to educating the contract say, "Well, one, there's a new alternative. There's a product that is going to add value to your business." Well then it becomes eyeopening for them. And then on the roofing side, we find that the contractors who are going to take the time out of their schedule to come to a show like this are looking to differentiate their business.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yes. I agree.

Jeff Bernstein: I mean, there's not much... I mean, okay I'm biased, but there's not much new happening on the asphalt side.

Heidi Ellsworth: No, no.

Jeff Bernstein: So products are there, obviously they're the king of market share right now, but they don't have a hundred percent share. And our products are going to continue to gain and chip away at that and provide a new alternative-

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I just think-

Jeff Bernstein: ... for every one of those contractors.

Heidi Ellsworth: For contractors who want to differentiate, this is it.

Jeff Bernstein: That's it.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's the way to go.

Jeff Bernstein: It's as simple as that. And I mean that's the only way to put it really.

Heidi Ellsworth: Well, you can find Vicwest on the MetalCoffeeShop, full directory, articles, beautiful pictures, you name it, so.

Jeff Bernstein: Well, and thank you for putting all that together. I mean, it really is... The work that obviously your team's done on that. It's been great.

Heidi Ellsworth: It's awesome.

Jeff Bernstein: The leads that we get and the content that's out there, that's exactly what we need to help promote the brand in the US and get the name out there.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. We're excited to have you in the US. I don't think we mentioned that. You're a Canadian company, but active in the US.

Jeff Bernstein: Yeah, we're a 90 year old Canadian business, so pretty much a household name within the roofing and siding business in Canada. And... Okay.

Heidi Ellsworth: Okay.

Jeff Bernstein: Just a recent... We've been in the US now for a few years, obviously in the northeast, but expanding nationally and able to fulfill demand and direct to site anywhere in the country. I

Heidi Ellsworth: I love it. I love it. Find them on MetalCoffeeShop. This is so exciting. Great stuff. Thank you so much for being here today.

Jeff Bernstein: Thank you, Heidi.

Heidi Ellsworth: Awesome.

Jeff Bernstein: Appreciate it.

Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you all for watching. We have more coming really soon. And don't forget live coffee conversations with a great panel at one o'clock-

Learn more about Vicwest in their Coffee Shop Directory or check out their Planet Passionate Strategy at www.vicwest.com/planet-passionate.

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