Case Studies

The Garland Company Inc.

Continuing a 40-year tradition of cutting-edge roofing products with OptiMax

Based in Cleveland, Ohio, The Garland Company Inc. is a leading manufacturer of high-performance commercial roofing and building envelope solutions. With a history of innovation, Garland offers a wide range of modified roof systems, sustainable solutions, architectural and structural metal options, as well as maintenance and restoration systems for new construction, retrofit and renovation. Garland’s extensive offering of products and services allows the company to meet the performance, time and budgeting requirements for a range of commercial, industrial and public bid markets.

Ongoing research and development is pivotal to Garland’s continued success as a market leader. Customers, including architects and building contractors, look to Garland for innovative solutions. Even in its prominent standing today, Garland pushes for more. The company looks to be the best-in-class solution in every product category it serves.

Today, Garland has more than 200 sales representatives strategically located, covering all corners of the United States, Canada and the U.K. Over the last decade, Garland has been in acquisition mode and now the company has 16 subsidiaries under the greater Garland Industries umbrella.

Pushing the envelope

While the Garland that exists today is very different from the company that began in 1895, the firm has focused on delivering industry-leading solutions from the start in an effort to raise the bar in roof and envelope performance.

Garland’s history spans more than a century, dating back to 1895 when the Wise family first founded the business. “Garland started primarily as a paint manufacturing company in its early years,” recounts Dick DeBacco, CEO emeritus of Garland Industries. “The paint manufacturing side was sold off shortly after World War II.”

DeBacco joined the organization in 1974 and purchased Garland with six partners. “At first, all seven of us were also sales people,” he recalls. “We sold roofing until we got to the point where we could hire a sales force.”

All the while DeBacco and his partners were in search of leading roofing products. “I traveled around the globe looking for unique, innovative roofing systems,” he says.

“In the late 1970s we came across the modified bitumen membrane technology, a process that modifies bitumen with rubber,” continues DeBacco. “It was being utilized in Europe. Seeing the resilient, durable qualities of this technology, we were the first ones to bring it to the U.S. and we began to develop robust roofing systems with modified bitumen.”

Continuing a history of innovation

In 1980, Garland first introduced this product formally as StressPly, the first high-performance modified bitumen roofing system to be manufactured in North America. A few years later the company began to expand its offices and warehouses in Cleveland to meet the demand for the product.

In 1988, Garland brought the second generation product to market: StressPly Plus. This improved product was engineered using a combination of SBS and SEBS polymers and reinforced with a quad axial scrim. In 1989, GMX Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary also based in Cleveland, launched to offer waterproofing products to the residential markets and to provide metal and BUR restoration products to Garland’s industrial and commercial customers.

Even before green roofing systems went mainstream, Garland was ahead of the curve. In the early 1990s, the company was one of the first roofing companies in North America to embrace green technologies, introducing the first green roofing system nearly a full decade before other models. And by 2002, the company rolled out its own line of SolarGrid photovoltaic roof panels.

In 2010 Garland introduced its White-Knight Plus, a highly reflective, multipurpose, single component aliphatic urethane liquid waterproofing membrane, one of the many ENERGY STAR-rated products that exist in its portfolio today.

The Energizer LO, a multipurpose, asphaltic polyurethane based, low-odor, liquid waterproofing membrane followed White-Knight Plus and Tuff-Coat, an architectural wall coating used to damp-proof and beautify all types of exterior and interior masonry surfaces.

Continuing to go green, Garland added the StressPly E (environmental) membranes that feature select reinforcements, a unique rubber-modified asphalt and surfacing that contains pre and post-consumer recycled content as well as rapidly renewal content as verified by a third party.

Taking ownership of the system

With countless solutions, Garland occupies a unique role in the roof manufacturing industry by marketing directly to building owners. “We sell directly to building owners – school systems, hospitals, municipalities, factories and more,” explains DeBacco. “We actually inspect their system and help them prioritize repairs and replacements and help them set up budgets to do the project.”

Not only does Garland design and manufacture a complete range of roofing and envelope products and applications, the company also offers building evaluations, a roof asset management program, engineering services and free roof inspections.

“We monitor all installations and help to ensure the product is installed properly,” says DeBacco. “We work with our customers on long-term warranties and on an annual basis, our employee sales representatives inspect our roof systems to ensure they’re performing properly.”

“We really take ownership of the roof and the system, which is something not all manufacturers in this business do,” adds DeBacco. “Once the project is completed we issue a long-term warranty, some up to 30 years, depending on the system. We take the responsibility off the owner’s shoulders and they know they can call us any time if there’s an issue and we’ll take care of the problem.”

The next generation of roofing revolution

Even in its industry leading position, Garland is never satisfied. The company is always striving to make the next product better than the last. “Garland’s research and development team is always searching for technologies to improve upon and creatThe Garland Company Inc.e better solutions for our customers,” says Melissa A. Rus, director of research and development for Garland.

“We have strong relationships with our suppliers, industry groups and academia,” she continues. “These relationships offer our R&D team additional resources to develop innovative products for our industry. Our customers – schools, universities, hospitals, major manufacturers and government entities – are interested in the long haul. They want roofs that last the life of the buildings and Garland’s goal is to develop technologies that help our customers meet their goals.”

Driven by this desire to set the bar in new innovations and examining how other markets – such as road and infrastructure repairs – deal with exterior environments, Garland has developed the next generation of roofing revolution: the OptiMax membrane.

Developed by Jason Smith, lead product chemist, and a project team of researchers, the OptiMax membrane utilizes a reactive urethane technology process that is vastly different from a production standpoint than standard SBS modified membranes.

Where the rubber meets the road

Garland’s research and development team looked at road systems in Europe for inspiration and how rutting problems were solved by blending polyurethanes with the asphalt before blending in the aggregate. The common denominator between the roofing and paving industries is asphalt.

Asphalt is one of the oldest and most durable waterproofing materials in the construction industry. And while asphalt in itself is an excellent water proofer, it lacks in performance when subjected to extreme temperature changes with no elasticity or strength built into the system.

That was until modifying asphalt with polyurethane first began in the paving industry in Europe. The new formulation greatly increased the life cycle and performance of European roads. “There were notable improvements in the high temperature properties and significant reduction in rutting, resulting in a longer life of the road way,” says Rus.

“We asked ourselves, ‘if it worked for a road, why couldn’t it work on the roof?'” says Smith. The research team examined the different properties a polyurethane modifier could bring to the table: mineral retention, exterior resiliency, impact and chemical resistance and better aging. “All the things that we, as roof manufacturers, desire in a product were present and that is how we came up with OptiMax,” reveals Rus.

The formula for longevity

The OptiMax roof membrane combines the best of both worlds with two proven waterproofing materials – polyurethane and asphalt. The unique formulation remains resilient over time due to an active modification process which chemically reacts the polyurethane with specific chemical groups within asphalt. Polyurethane-modified asphalt, when compared to traditional SBS-modified asphalt, is not as susceptible to the effects of exterior exposure and as such, weathers slower than its SBS counterpart.

With the unique chemistry behind OptiMax, the reactive sites within the asphalt are receptive to urethane polymer, making for any number of combinations – flexible to very rigid. Another characteristic that makes OptiMax’s technology ideal is mineral retention. “We see that the minerals stay on longer across a variety of climate zones that would cause the minerals held by styrene-based membranes to fall off,” explains Smith. “The mineral retention is a great indicator of future performance and longevity because the minerals act as a first line of defense for the modified asphalt. As minerals fall off, the polymer modified film is more exposed to damaging UV radiation from the sun. This degradation causes embrittlement, which leads to more mineral loss, speeding degradation even more.”

In fact, after six months of testing, Garland has seen a mineral retention rate of 99 percent. “Modified asphalt weathers well, but after years of UV exposure it gets brittle,” says Smith. “But with polyurethane used as a modifier, the asphalt stays strong and elastic much longer.”

“There’s no denying that the urethane modified strength is consistent even after a year in an intense heat and UV-laden environment, where SBS modified lost strength,” adds Rus. “Also, the aged mineral retention, which is a good indicator of longevity, is better than SBS sheets. The heat resistance is also better than SBS-modified.”

OptiMax is set to launch in October 2015 and Smith says Garland couldn’t be more excited. “It’s just the next step in our tradition of innovation and the product is truly evolutionary,” he says.

As a 100-percent employee-owned company, Garland’s entire team is committed to upholding the tradition of bringing revolutionary products to the marketplace. “We’re a very curious company and we won’t accept status quo,” says Dave Sokol, current president of Garland. “Our customers are looking for something that’s going to last for the long haul and OptiMax delivers.”

For Garland it’s pretty simple: listen to what today’s customers need and anticipate what tomorrow’s customers will want. It’s this kind of forward thinking that has set the precedent and led The Garland Company Inc. to be one of the best in the roofing business.

Click here to view the company’s brochure as the cover story of our Fall II 2015 edition.

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