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Rob Soper - Metal Roofing Takes Off With Technology - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Rob Soper - Metal Roofing Takes Off With Technology
April 22, 2023 at 11:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with  Rob Soper of EagleView. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello everyone and welcome to MetalCast. This is Heidi Ellsworth and we are from MetalCoffeeShop. MetalCast is our way of bringing information to you both video and podcast. We're so excited because today we're talking to very good friends of mine that I've been involved with for a long time. And that is EagleView. We have Rob Soper here with EagleView. Rob, welcome to the show.

Rob Soper: Hi, good morning. It's great to be here with you.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh my gosh, even as I was prepping and writing this up, a lot of nostalgia. I love EagleView. Big part of it and it's so fun that we're all working together again.

Rob Soper: Absolutely. Yep. It's super exciting to be part of it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I know. It's so good. Okay, we're going to want to talk about that. We want to talk about overall EagleView, Metal, what's happening. But before we start, why don't you go ahead if you don't mind and introduce yourself and what you do at EagleView.

Rob Soper: Great. Perfect. Yeah, my name's Rob Soper. I've been with EagleView since 2017. I'm a senior business development manager on the business development team. So I'm primarily responsible for partner integrations, partner relationships, the front end of the relationships and I deal with some of the technical integrations, Roofing Passport in particular. And the metal industry is really one of the largest things in my portfolio on the business side with EagleView.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, I know there's probably not too many people out there who do not know the history of EagleView, but let's just touch on that. Rob, can you tell everybody just a little bit, who EagleView is, what you do and that timeline? I mean starting out with roof measurements, but now you're doing so much more.

Rob Soper: Right? Exactly. EagleView goes back about 20 years and overarching, we're an imagery and data company is really what we are. I mean a lot of people think of us as a roof report company because in the roofing industry, that's what people relate to. But really we started out as a company that was taking imagery from another company called Pictometry. Pictometry had the airplanes, had imagery, had that capture system down, and EagleView was using Pictometry imagery to create these roofing reports. They saw a gap in the industry and they filled it with technology, really to automate human processes. Instead of having to go out and measure a roof, you can get an EagleView. In 2017, I think EagleView and Pictometry merged and fell under the one brand. So EagleView, EagleView and Pictometry are the same company. And really what makes us unique is that we hold all the technology in house.

We have a fleet of airplanes and I always explaining to this to people because people don't understand how it works. And I like giving you a peek behind the curtain so that you understand really how this technology is so unique and relate that to the metal industry. But Pictometry had the airplanes, we have about 150 airplanes. We fly proprietary systems with our own cameras on there and we take imagery from anywhere 3,000 to 8 or 10,000 feet above the ground. So it's not satellite, it's not hundreds of thousands of feet above the ground. We are low level airplanes capturing super high resolution imagery. And the unique thing is that we geo reference all of the points on the surface of the roof. So any intersection of an eave and a rake or a valley and an eave is X, Y, Z coordinates. And we use that imagery to reconstruct the 3D model of the roof and the structure around it.

The importance to that is that we get resolution and measurements that are sub one inch in accuracy. So it's not a line drawn on a picture on Google, for instance, that has no scale or reference. We're automatically scaled because we own the geo reference point. So it's a distance between two points on the surface of the earth, not a line on a picture. And that really is the secret sauce that makes what we do so much different and unique. And we've been advancing from way back when we were automating just roof measurements. Now we're getting into whole new industries. This technology is really allowing us to grow this business substantially.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I think it is really important because a lot of people think it's just satellite imagery or Google Earth, whatever it may be. But when the airplanes and the technology behind the capture, even the cameras of how these planes capture the imagery is so important. And when you say sub one inch, Rob, I was there when we were, if we could ever be sub one inch, that would be the most amazing thing in the world. And here you are, it's amazing.

Rob Soper: Exactly. And we're capturing more and faster and refreshing our imagery to capture new construction every 6 to 12 months. All the houses that are getting built, they're going to be imaged in the next 6 to 12 months. So it really, really is helping us out.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, that's one of the things that I, as we've been working together on MetalView and MetalCoffeeShop and all these different things, and every time I see your takeoff reports and I see what's happening with EagleView, you and I have had this conversation so many times, I'm like, people don't understand how big this is. This is just so huge. So let's talk a little bit about, and I'll just say when I was selling EagleView, if I was talking to somebody in metal, I'd be like, you got to measure again. You just got to double check it because if you cut that metal and it's not right ... We just didn't have that sub one inch at that time. But now you do. So let's talk about what you're able to provide to metal roofing professionals on the accuracy that it can go just straight to the cutting machines. It's amazing.

Rob Soper: It is amazing. And even I've been selling EagleView for what, six years now, but it's changed a lot since then as well and especially since I'm on this the technical side of the business now. But what we deliver is called an XML. So it's the metadata behind the pdf report. So people who are familiar with the PDF report, the measurements around it to the foot on the report only for readability because when you get a cut up roof and the lines are in there and the measurements are on the pdf, it's difficult to read sometimes. So we round them just for reusability for the user. But the data behind that PDF report are generated from this integration document called an XML. And that it ties back to what I was saying about how we capture the imagery and the points.

It's the geo reference distance and when you take the XML, it actually calculates that distance down to the sub one inch. And then when you take that data and you put it into a platform like Roofing Passport, it can then display those measurements for you in an electronic or a digital version that shows you the precision of what we can provide out there. And that's the game changer in the metal industry because we never really approached metal contractors because we were displaying it by the foot when they needed it by the inch or the sub one inch. So that kind of accuracy has really changed it. And Sherwin Williams saw the opportunity and put together the partnership between EagleView, Smart Build, which is the design engineering system behind the estimation platform part of it, and then the front end Roofing Passport. So there's multiple components to the whole system and together the output of that is what's really amazing.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well let's talk about that because I know just being at the shows together and seeing ... I'll never forget you brought a takeoff of, it was a very complicated roof, but it was a takeoff that was probably like, I don't know, 25 sheets paper and going through there, it was so precise. It was just absolutely amazing. So let's talk through that, as a contractor getting involved with Roofing Passport, how that system, how they walk through that and how they can get these precise takeoffs.

Rob Soper: Yeah, it's a great question. Essentially the front end of the Roofing Passport is the user interface and you can order your EagleView measurements from there. Once the EagleView measurements are delivered, it's delivered into the platform called Smart Build. And that's where the secret sauce is made for the Roofing Passport. When you go in there, into the Smart Build part of the application, you can select whatever system, whatever standing scene metal system that you want, whether it's one and a half inch snap lock or one and three quarter inch snap lock or mechanically fastened or ag panels. So there's a bunch of built in, somewhat generic metal systems. It's not just panels, it includes everything from the accessories to the trim to the panels and the entire system based on the XML data. And the EagleView measurements is laid out by panel across the entire structure.

And that output, like you were saying, 20 some pages, I have one that I did for somebody in Hawaii that was about a 80 square job that was, and it had I think 96 facets on the roof. But it takes seconds to output this data and it gives you the entire, I like to call it, not only do we give you the puzzle pieces, but we give you the answer to the puzzle in the layout. So the entire panel layout is right there in the system. It can also be delivered electronically to a machine, to a CSV file. So you can send it right to a roll former and then automate the cutting rather than having to manually enter those things, those measurements back into the machine to do it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, this program is going to allow contractors who maybe have not done metal in the past as much or at all, to get into metal because when you think about it, Rob, from the salespeople who are maybe traditionally doing things different with measuring the roof to then understanding the metal components, like you said, it has every single part that you need in that. And then working with the metal manufacturers, which is really the heart of all of this, this is going to bring contractors into metal who have never even thought that they could do it before.

Rob Soper: Well, I grew up, back in the seventies, literally I was hand nailing three tabs on be before laminate shingles were even created. And I installed shingles, I sold for manufacturers for a long time and now I'm with EagleView and I've done some metal work on my own. I never installed a full metal system, but all the sheet metal trim work and all that kind of stuff, I've had plenty of hands-on experience. And from an asphalt person, metal roofing's intimidating. It's complicated, errors are very costly, so if you mess up measurements or you overbid or underbid, you can lose jobs or you know can lose your profit margin. So it is complicated and that's what we're seeing across the board. So on the EagleView side, we have adopted Roofing Passport as an extra tool and service that we can provide to our contractors and we're predominantly an asphalt based contractor customer base on the EagleView side.

So we're approaching our customer base with Roofing Passport, and there's people who are metal roofers that we've been talking to about it and their minds are blown by this. And then you get the asphalt contractors who maybe subcontract some metal but don't really know how to bid it. And this solves that problem. And now we're talking to asphalt contractors who've never even considered getting into metal who are now getting into metal. And we're seeing it in Florida, for instance. You have a hurricane that just rolled through last fall, the tile is out. It's a year out on materials and metal's a great alternative for that. And metal is, I wouldn't say it's, it depends, but it's more readily available than even asphalt or tile in that marketplace.

So now it's giving these asphalt contractors who would just be turning away opportunities in the metal side on residential roofing to actually get out there and approach and bid and bid confidently. And we see it from the people we talk to that the finished metal estimate that comes out of the Roofing Passport is within $100 or $200 of the actual material costs that are delivered to the job. And that's remarkable. That's really hard to beat. It's hard to beat on the asphalt side, let alone the metal side. And then this Roofing Passport really has provided a fantastic solution.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It's huge. It really is. And when I look at the system of Roofing Passport, just like you said, you just get the address of the house and it works all the way through, until you're done, until it's delivered to the job and you're installing it. And probably even a little bit past that, knowing how this whole system, and it's really I think changing how the industry is doing things, which has been EagleView's ... You guys have been involved. I was involved in that changing the industry through technology along Sherwin-Williams has just taken it with you to that next step.

One of the things that I think's interesting too is Roofing Passport is just part of the overall MetalView program. And so really as Sherwin-Williams was bringing all of us together, all these different partners to help promote this and to make it happen, the technology and everything, I think they also saw that, like you were talking about, there's contractors out there who have only done asphalt, who really don't understand how to bid it, how to sell it, how to get production. And so they've gone even past the technology of Roofing Passport to put together a number of partners who are able to help contractors get into this. And you've been so involved, Rob, so maybe talk to us a little bit about that MetalView program.

Rob Soper: So really, again, Roofing Passport is Sherwin William's brainchild and really they put the team and the partnerships together and they've been working really hard. And EagleView's a component of that, obviously a very important component combined with Smart Build to produce this Roofing Passport output. But the MetalView program is really designed towards higher end contractors, at least from sales organization contractors. So contractors who have mature, dedicated sales team, call center type capability to handle lead flow. And they're some of the leaders in the market, whatever market that is that that's out there. So the partnerships that Sherwin Williams is putting together under the MetalView umbrella really solve every part of the business solution for a metal roofing contractor or a contractor who wants to get into metal from sales and lead gen, to business process management, to workflows and labor assignment, to remote measurements, to bidding and estimating, to production, accounting, business coaching.

It is really a remarkable set of logos that are involved in MetalView. So if people are interested, it's probably the most comprehensive single place to go to find the resources you need to really just grow and scale your business. And that's not just metal, that's asphalt. We see a lot of these partnerships that are out there and doing really well in isolation, but under the MetalView umbrella, these partners are together and contractors who want to have access to these as part of the partnership can have cross-functional access to all these different tools under the MetalView umbrella. It's pretty cool.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, It is. It's different how you generate the leads. And we've seen from all the surveys, you've all heard this on other podcasts that we've had, but the metal roofing, the demand for metal roofing is growing. It's the MRA, Metal Roofing Alliance just came out a 17% market share, and that's up from 3% just 10 years ago. We're seeing that they want this, so contractors need it, they need to know how to sell it, how to meet that demand. And this MetalView really has put that together. And I think the other part of it too, Rob, and you guys have really talked about this a lot, is it's also about job compression, project compression. From the very beginning when that lead comes in, till you are handing them the warranty, how are you being the most efficient and effective working with your customers providing metal roofs. So maybe talk to us a little bit about what you've seen from EagleView on that change, that projects are becoming faster and more efficient.

Rob Soper: Well, no, it's kind of a novel concept. New now as EagleView was when it first, because we talk about efficiency and we talk about shortening the life cycle of a project and how important that is for contractors, especially in areas where it's restoration or it's storm damage restoration where time is money, and speed to market is incredibly important. The simple thing that EagleView did originally was we replaced a ladder and a tape measure with a web browser. So you don't have to go to the job site to be able to estimate. You just type in an address and we deliver you the data that you would've otherwise had to drive across town, risk yourself being on a ladder, doing all those things. But now with the technology and the integrations that we have, it's not just measurement process. It's all of these business processes that are sped up.

So not only is it speed, but it's efficiency. You can do more with less, which means you can do more faster than you could have. But when you start your workflow process, like when the lead comes in and you order an EagleView report, you just cut out hours or days of the estimating process because you can do it in house. And then once the lead or the opportunity turns into a project, you have all the data you need to order your materials, to work with your supply house to get those materials delivered, to project plan with your production team on how it's going to go. And then that data also feeds into your backend accounting systems. So there we've eliminated the need for manual data entry from lead management all the way to accounting on the back end.

And what that means to contractors is you take minutes out of every project or hours every out of every project and you do 10 projects a week, you do 52 weeks worth of work, and what you're saving is hours and hours and hours of time that you can reinvest back into your company. And that's really it. You can take all of these, not only are you getting more accurate, so your margins are getting tighter, which is very important in today's age, but the efficiencies that you're gaining can be fully reinvested back in your company to scale and grow to the next level. And that's amazing. We've done a lot, and I would encourage you and Heidi, I know we've got case studies and things like that, we have case studies and we're always gathering new contractors to build new case studies. So stay tuned for that content because we're not pitching something that isn't working.

We're taking contractors who are giving us testimonials about exactly what's working in their business and how effective these tools are. Not just Roofing Passport, but all the partners in MetalView that really make a business just sale. And when you learn from your peers, that's super important. And I talk to contractors, not all the time, but I talk to contractors who refuse to talk to the other people in the industry because they're competitors. And then you get into organizations like the NRCA or the Colorado Roofing Association where all of these competitors are coming together, but they're sharing because they're doing it for their industry and they're doing it for their businesses. And that's a really important component.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: MetalView has just brought all of us together, so many different people and haven't been just impressed with it, the sharing what we're talking about right here, how does this improve the lives of the people in roofing? It really does, and it makes the businesses more profitable, which is just important. And it's supplying and demand that we are seeing growing every day, and that's for metal roofing.

Rob Soper: Yeah. We've seen it grow just in the past few years significantly, which is great.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It's awesome. So I think one of the things that contractors are asking and will continue to ask is, "Okay, this all sounds great, this is awesome, but how do I get involved and do I have to do everything with MetalView or can I just do parts?" And the answer is, it's easy to get involved and the MetalView program is there with the parts that you need, whatever that may be. But contractors can come in, they can get ahold of EagleView, they can get ahold of Sherwin Williams, they get ahold of their metal manufacturers, which is you really start with Sherwin Williams and or EagleView to get into Roofing Passports. So let's talk about that. How do they get involved? Let's start with Roofing Passport.

Rob Soper: Sure, yep. That's the lowest barrier, easiest thing to get involved with. And really the easiest thing, if you have an EagleView account, you have an EagleView sales rep and get ahold of your EagleView sales rep and we can get you a demo, like a live demo, a one-on-one of the Roofing Passport to really show you what it's like and answer all your questions. Super easy. And if you haven't, all you need is an EagleView account to be part of the Roofing Passport. We do some credentialing, just because it's a software platform. We have to get logins and passwords and those types of things to get involved in it. But all of the process happens through your EagleView account. So the nice thing about it is it's a multi-platform partnership. EagleView collects the per transaction fee for the Roofing Passport. So if you want to bid metal, you just go into the Roofing Passport, order your EagleView report through Roofing Passport, we charge you, we share with the other platforms that are in there, and it's super simple.

There's no onboarding fees, there's no monthly subscriptions. Smart Build is the company that does the onboarding and the training. EagleView provides the data, but Smart Build is the one who actually does all of the technical training and configuration of the database and they're on it. So they'll do one-on-one training with the contractors to make sure that they have everything they need. They understand how to manipulate the system and how to get the outputs configured exactly the way they want. And literally, it's as simple as that. It's as easy as go to myeagleview.com and order an EagleView report. You just do it through the Roofing Passport and your output is your cut list, your material list, your bid, the whole nine yards. It all comes out from right there. And if you're interested and you have a mature relationship or even a new relationship with a metal manufacturer, that's when you could potentially migrate up to the MetalView program, where you could take advantage of some of the other things that have been going on out there.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So if you're listening to this and you have a metal manufacturer and you're wondering, are they involved, just ask them, say, "Are you involved in MetalView?" But you can also go, it's MetalCoffeeShop. This is where we come in, is in the directory on MetalCoffeeShop. You will see the ME metal manufacturers that are participating in the MetalView program. You'll also have EagleView's full directory on there. So you can get in touch if you are one of the few people who do not have an EagleView account, and you want to, you can get in touch with them there. You can also actually get information from MetalView straight from Sherwin Williams and then get in touch with a metal manufacturer.

So if you don't have a metal manufacturer and you want to do all this, they will also connect you, because there are participating manufacturers across the country. They try to make it as easy as possible because we know that there's so much out there that needs to happen. Just real quick, Rob, what are some of the things that you're seeing as in how long the solution has been available and are there contractors using it today? Just because we just told them how to do it, but let's share with some of the success of the ones that are using it.

Rob Soper: Yeah, absolutely. So the Moving Passport concept came into existence a few years ago, around three years ago. And it's not only has the technology changed, but the good market strategy has changed as well. So it was tailored specifically towards the metal manufacturers, but we really opened the floodgates in 2022 with the EagleView team to really go out there and approach the contractors, our entire customer base. And we created that EagleView generic metal database with those profiles that pretty much all the manufacturers have a one and a half inch snap lock, 16 inch on center, 24 gauge panel. That's about the most generic thing you can get out there. And that's built into the system.

We've got hundreds of users, we've got dozens of metal manufacturers out there that are onboarded already with their own profiles in there. And we've got hundreds of users that are on the Roofing Passport bidding now successfully through the Roofing Passport, generic EagleView database. So it's growing and it's accelerating. Heidi, these are the things that are making this platform grow is by getting the word out. So we go direct sales, we do marketing, we do these podcasts, and that just gets the message out all across.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, and I know we've been at shows together, you can find information about MetalView at, Top 500 they've been at, it's going to be at IRE. There's so many different places that you can connect with that too. And in fact, I remember when you first launched it last year at some of these shows, there were lines waiting to get into the EagleView booth to talk about this new product.

Rob Soper: That's funny you say that because at Western States last September, we had a television screen that was up there and it had a picture of a cut list of a panel layout on a roof, and everybody who walked by stopped and stared at it. I've never seen anything like that before. I'm like, "You have no idea how easy this is with literally a few clicks of a mouse on your machine. You wait three or four hours for the EagleView report to get delivered and then select your system and you have it. Literally, it's that long. Yeah, it's amazing. It's revolutionary.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And you're seeing contractors who are actually going from the Startup Roofing Passport and doing their jobs. How long does that take? How long does it take for the contractors to deliver that first job once they get involved with this?

Rob Soper: Once you get onboarded and started, the delivery time is hours, like three to four hours to get your EagleView report delivered back from the time you click Create Job. And then once you're in the Roofing Passport, once that XML data is delivered in the Roofing Passport, minutes. Minutes if you have to do some modification, if you already have your system built in and your profile fine tuned, it's seconds. You pick the system, click the button and out out comes the output, it's pretty amazing. EagleView measures what we see. So when you estimate through the Roofing Passport, again, like I said, within $100 to $200 of the finished material order is what we've been seeing from contractors.

When it comes to actually cutting material on the roof. You do need to field verify because EagleView doesn't know necessarily what type of application you're going to do, whether you're going to roll your panels into the gutter an extra inch or what kind of ridge detail that you have, whether you're going to hem your valleys, whether you're going to do open fasteners, those are all the things that you can configure in Roofing Passport, so that when the data does come in, you know it's EagleView, you know it's accurate, then you can create that estimate.

And then if you need, I've heard of contractors not field verifying and doing that. I don't necessarily recommend that. I think it's always a good idea to make sure you're pulling a tape. If you're going to order all your panels from a supplier delivered to the job site, I would field verify. If you're going to the job site with your portable roll former, you're going to plug your profile in and you can take your cut list and just start rolling and going with it. Everything's going to be there. So there's different techniques, there's different application methods. Those things have to be considered. But once when you onboard, I mean, that's the great thing. Once you onboard with Smart Build, they're going to show you and help you configure everything precisely to what you want to do as a contractor, what your typical application technique is, what type of panel system you use, profile, and have it all dialed in.

And it literally goes from days to minutes. And a quick story, I was, I was demonstrating Roofing Passport to a contractor in Seattle a few months ago, and they've told me now that the bidding, just the bidding through the Roofing Passport saves them at least 48 to 72 hours of time and on the job site with the cut list that the Roofing Passport provides, job site material organization, he said it saves them two to three days of production time. There's a 72-hour lead time that we solve for, because you don't have to go to the job to estimate with EagleView, but even on the job site, more importantly, I mean, the job that might take a week or 10 days is now taking six or seven days because everything is so well organized with the documentation that comes out of roof and passport that they're just sailing with it. Their production people love it. Their installers love it. And obviously their sales and estimating team loves the tool as well.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I love it. Well, wow, this is great. And we're going to have to talk a little bit more too just on how much that documentation also helps on the sales end when they're selling. So all of it, this is just great. So again, if people want to sign up, you can find it all on MetalCoffeeShop in EagleView. You can get contacts there, you can ask to sign up, you can go to the Sherwin Williams site, sign up for MetalView or Roofing Passport, and once you go in, you already shared, it's just the cost of your EagleView. You'll see the cost in there. So that's it. You guys got to do it. I'm just saying you guys and gals out there, you got to do this. So Rob, thank you. This is great, great information and wow, amazing innovation. Thank you so much.

Rob Soper: No, Heidi, I appreciate it. Anytime I get a chance to share this stuff with the customers and the contractors out there, the better. Really appreciate it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So great. So great. And thank all of you for listening and watching. We're very excited to bring this to you. And again, please check out the EagleView, the Sherwin Williams directories on MetalCoffeeShop, also overall MetalCoffeeShop. You're going to find so much in the directories and articles about this. There's a lot of information. And I want to say thank you very much for listening, for being with us. Be sure that you have set your notifications in YouTube so you're getting notified anytime we bring new MetalCast out, and also on your favorite podcast channel. We'll be seeing you next time on MetalCast.

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