More Roofers Buying Portables

If you’re in the market for a new gutter roll former to start a business, or to add to your current business, you’re not alone. Derek Olson, Product Manager for Eastside Machine Co., Fargo, North Dakota, said he has observed a definite trend particularly among roofers for purchasing their own machines.

“We’ve noticed that more roofing companies are purchasing gutter machines so they can offer gutter services on their own and diversify their companies,” he said. “We, of course, are more than happy to give these companies the tools they need to succeed.”

Eastside’s most popular machine for small- to mid-size businesses is the Eagle 5″ K-Style.

“Our Eagle 5″ K-Style is a top seller for this demographic, probably because we’ve put a lot of design time into making it as user friendly as we can,” he said. “Our 5½” and 7½” fascia gutter machines are also popular.”

They have recently updated the materials used for their rolls “in order to reduce friction and optimize their performance,” Olson explained. “We’ve gone from chrome-hardened rolls to QPQ rolls. This new roll type almost behaves as though it is self-lubricating, which makes things easier for our customers.”

Increasingly attractive to customers, he noted, was manufacturing origin.

“One aspect of Eastside Machine Co. that sets us apart is that our products are 100% American-made,” he said. “We get all our materials from American companies and manufacture our machines in-house. I think, especially during the current pandemic, the opportunity to support U.S. businesses is something that customers really respond to.”

Buying the best machine is only the first step in learning how to get the most for your money, Olson said, and complimentary training is offered and encouraged.

“We want to make sure our customers have all the resources they need, so we believe offering this service to those who want it is essential,” Olson said.

Eastside, which started producing portable seamless roll formers in 1960, knows all sides of the gutter business first-hand. They not only provide machines, they also manufacture gutter coil and accessories, and have a retail division that installs gutters.

Once online, Eastside technicians should be called in before making mechanical adjustments, Olson advised, “as our technicians will be able to correctly diagnose the problem and offer specific solutions.

“We have technicians on call, ready to answer any questions or address any concerns a customer may have about their machine,” he continued.

Another maintenance tip for machine owners is to keep rollers clean, “this will help ensure high performance and longevity,” he said.

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New Versus Used

Be wary of buying used equipment, “unless the equipment is certified by a manufacturer,” advised brothers Keith Minor Sr. and Ken Minor Sr. who oversee operations at the family-owned KWM Gutterman, Inc. roll-form company in Rockdale, Illinois. “Sometimes the repairs of getting a used piece of equipment to good running condition can be more expensive than buying a new machine,” they offer.

KWM’s most popular machine for small- to mid-size companies is the 5/6 Combo, for one simple reason: “because the two most popular size gutters can be run out of one machine,” Keith said, going on to explain, “Obviously, then, it is less expensive to purchase one machine over two and more economical in terms of vehicles and space required.”

Simplification in changeovers is simple, he stressed.

“With the KWM Gutterman app downloaded on your phone, there is only a 30-minute changeover time to run either a 5″ or 6″ gutter, which covers the majority of gutter needs.”

The app also has job estimator capabilities, which makes it especially helpful to newcomers.

The Minor family has been making seamless gutter machines since 1983, with the company started by Karl W. Minor Sr., a self-employed roofing, siding, and gutter contractor. The Minors note that family pride continues to run deep. “We are a family-run business—personal pride goes into every part, piece, and machine we ship. The quality of the parts individually makes the quality of the entire machine.”

The machines are made in-house at KWM.

While not a lot of maintenance should be needed, some preventative maintenance to heed is keeping foreign debris out of the machine and oiling the guillotine daily.

In terms of upgrades, the Minors suggest adding profiles to your arsenal of options that you can sell.

“The 6″ gutter is becoming more of a demand for residential areas, as are newer-style profiles like the box gutter, straight-faced, fascia, etc.,” the brothers said. “With the offering of the new Gen2 half-round machine, more steel products can be run now. Another relevant change is the use of technology and apps like the KWM Gutterman app mentioned earlier, where you can calculate your job and all your parts and pieces needed, and not to mention you can access a link to an eagle view of the job.”

For maximum success in the gutter business, however, KWM stresses: “prioritize selling correct installation and quality work over anything else.”

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ASK LOTS OF Questions Before You Buy

Buying a gutter machine is serious business and requires asking serious questions. Englert Inc. advises to “get the facts by researching machine companies to see what they have to offer. What is included with a machine purchase? Does the supplier offer gutter materials? Check the warranty offer on the machine. Check the warranty offer on materials. What kind of service/maintenance will the machine need as time goes on?”

Englert offers financing, something that has proved popular with customers, so if that is something you’ll need, make sure to include it in your research.

Of course, the type of machine you buy depends on the size of gutters you want to install. Englert’s top three machines for gutter installers are all in the MetalMan series: the MetalMan 550 (5″), 660 (6″), and 650 (combination 5″ and 6″).

Englert says its service package sets them apart from the competition. Machines have a 5-year parts and labor warranty, and “machine technicians are available for training, assistance, service in-house or via mobile with our fleet on-site. Machine parts are always available,” they add.

Englert also offers dealerships for its own gutter systems. A recent addition to its LeafGuard Series is the 56X Gutter System, which is an aesthetically streamlined 5″ gutter that performs like a 6″.

Maintenance is also high on Englert’s priority list.
“We want to train our customers how to operate, clean, and maintain the machine so that it can perform at its best,” they said.

Machines should be cleaned once a week, and preventive maintenance/service done at least once a year by an experienced machine technician. RF

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Originally published as “Planning to Add a Gutter Machine?” Summer 2020 issue Rollforming Magazine.