Roof reconstruction after a tornado leas to more efficient choices

May 22, 2003
In this installment of What Works, a company works to reconstruct its roof after a tornado.

As more than 400 employees prepared to change shifts at the Da-Lite Screen Co. near Warsaw, Ind., a tornado slammed into the 330,000-sq.-ft. facility. The blast injured 15 employees, ripped off an exterior wall, tore up interior walls and gouged a 60-ft. hole in the roof.

Da-Lite, a manufacturer of electric screens used for movies and professional presentations, was turned into a scene of chaos and debris within seconds.

A rapid reconstruction was possible, in large part, because of Bambi's Roofing, a local company that had developed a solid working relationship with Da-Lite. Bambi's owner, Ken Collins, headed straight for Da-Lite when he heard about the disaster to see if he could lend a hand. "We have cranes that we thought might be needed to move debris to rescue people," he said. They weren't needed for that, so Bambi's crew "got to work to rescue the operation."

"You can't imagine what it felt like to see [Bambi's Roofing] out there on site so quickly," said Keith McScheery, Da-Lite's maintenance supervisor. "It was a terrible experience, but the way everyone pulled together was incredible."

By the time the dust had settled that evening, $10 million in damage was evident at the facility. Although damage to machinery and finished products was minimal, huge holes in the roof left the facility vulnerable to the weather. Getting the facility under cover proved to be one of the most important elements of the repair program. Within two days, temporary patches allowed Da-Lite to reopen. The entire repair took another four months.

"Keith and I had talked about different roof types before the tornado," said Collins. "I had suggested that he look into Duro-Last because of its energy efficiency and because of the company's warranty policy, which covers materials, labor and the contents of the building."

The Duro-Last Roofing System is a thermoplastic single-ply that provides good welding ability for the life of the system. A patch, curb, stack or other necessary alterations can be made by heat welding the new Duro-Last membrane or accessory to the existing membrane. Once installed, the system is watertight and virtually maintenance-free.

Duro-Last's system has helped Da-Lite reduce energy costs. According to Collins, the temperature on a dark-colored roof can reach 170F on a summer day, while Duro-Last's roof's temperature will range from 85F to 105F.

McScheery said the roof has yet to need major maintenance repairs.

"There have been one or two small leaks, but they were dealt with immediately," he said. "Repairs are a snap. I'm looking forward to seeing how the roof lastshopefully without a tornado causing problems."

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