Ewald Stellrecht is a basic, factual man, not given to false promises. He doesn’t believe every metal roofer needs to own a portable roll former, but should get to know someone who does.

“For the small guy it doesn’t make financial sense to spend roughly $30,000 on a machine. When you calculate the time you spend on a roof, like a residential roof, it will take 100 hours to install a roof, and you only need 30 minutes to make all the panels,” he said. “The rest of the time it just sits around.”

There are still many opportunities, however, to cater to these smaller roofers. His son Mark provides roll-forming services and makes a living doing this in the southeastern Pennsylvania area.

“My son has worked for me since his teenage years,” Ewald said. “He loved the trades, and I gave him a present for his 18th birthday; I gave him a roll-forming machine and said go ahead and make panels for all these small roofers. So he has more than a 100 regular customers. When they have a metal roofing job, they either come to our place where they keep their coil and he runs the panels for them to take it to the job site, or if the panels get too long he goes to the job site to run their panels. That’s a business somebody can make a living at, just making panels.”

Bells & Whistles?

If you do buy a machine, Stellrecht said beware of getting caught up in expensive add-ons. “Companies that make panel formers now, they get carried away, they think it has to have more bells and whistles, which is totally unnecessary, but some customers really like that. I believed in a very simple understandable product, where if something breaks you can fix it. If my computer breaks, I can’t fix it.” RF