The inventor of metal roof attachment solutions is an award-winning roof-forensics expert, author, lecturer, building envelope scientist and former contractor with more than five decades of metal roofing in his blood. Through S-5! (www.S-5.com), he has created the leading authority on metal roof attachment solutions. Check out what a trip to his office looks like, and why the view from his home may be one of the best in the country.
What is the most cherished item in your office?
I have too many to pick just one. None are related to work. We call my office “The Teddy Roosevelt Room.” If you have been to his estate in Long Island (New York), you will understand. My walls and shelves are adorned with treasures I have collected from all over the world, including:
- A knife collection of one-of-a-kinds and numbered editions, including a couple from world champion knife makers
- A warthog skull I picked up off the savanna in Uganda
- Five smooth stones picked from the same streambed in Israel where David chose his 100-year-old hay knife, a drawknife and hash knife
- A Sioux war club from 1860s
- A few trophy mounts and a bronze of V61 (“PRCA Bucking Bull of the Year,” 1970)
- A hand blown Murano glass set from Venice
- A stool given to me from a chieftain of the Karamoja (Africa) tribe (the chief always carried a simple carved wooden stool, so he did not have to sit on the dirt)
- A Turkish rug hand-woven with 1,200 double-knots per inch, which represents three or four years of a rug-weaver’s life
What is the soundtrack that plays in the background of your office?
I prefer quiet when I am working. It allows me to focus better.
What does a typical workday look like?
Up at 5 a.m. or so; coffee and watch the sun rise; study time and conversation with God; bring the love of my life coffee in bed; shower, dress and catch up on things I did not finish yesterday. I also return calls and emails from Europe, Africa, MENA and Australasia that came in overnight. Then, five to seven Zoom meetings, keep up with email and return calls in between (or multi-task).
I quit by 6:30 p.m. or 7 p.m., fix dinner (if it is my turn) while sipping a good whiskey (Irish or Scotch). Eat dinner and enjoy a good Cab, AU Shiraz, Rioja or Pino Noir with the love of my life.
How are you staying connected with your team? Customers?
Zoom, phone, a new series of S-5! webinars, email and social media. It can be very effective and time/money-conserving, but I cannot wait to travel again and visit face-to-face. There is no replacing that.
Meanwhile, with many projects on “pause,” we are working harder and faster than ever before. I am focused on leading S-5! to continue to identify the opportunities hidden within this difficulty and align ourselves, our strategies and preparations to emerge on the other side of this pandemic as a more vibrant company. It is actually invigorating and gratifying.
What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on a job site?
I suppose when I visited one of our S-5! fall-protection distributors in Singapore. He took me on a tour of some rooftop installations. One of the most impressive was a state-of-art stadium cover that was still under construction. We had to climb six or seven stories of scaffold to reach the high-tech installation of a state-of-the-art fall protection system on a state-of-the-art metal standing seam roof. The scaffold we climbed was bamboo, lashed together with twine. It made me a little nervous.
Name the band you cannot take off your playlist.
I am more of a vocalist fan—Kris Kristofferson was one of the best lyricists ever. I also love Waylon Jennings, George Strait, Garth (of course) and Andrea Bocelli.
What are you binge watching right now?
“Poldark” (Masterpiece Theater from PBS); past faves include “Justified,” “Hell on Wheels,” “Blacklist,” and “Yellowstone.”
Thoughts on the collegiate and pro seasons—will they get to finish seasons or no?
Pro sports is a machine that has to keep working and needs college to keep feeding it. Horse racing is the same. There must be a Derby, Preakness and Belmont winner every year. It has been so for 150 years. So how do you not do it?
What sports have you been watching (or waiting to watch)?
The horse races and rodeo; soccer and rugby on occasion. Baseball has never been my thing—it moves too slowly. I still watch some college football. NFL, I quit after being totally disgusted when players refused to stand for our flag, so I swore off it.
What is the coolest thing you have done since the pandemic hit?
Spending plenty of time at home. That may not sound “cool,” but to me it is. You see, I traveled about 250,000 air-miles/year prior to the pandemic. We sell product into at least 40 countries worldwide. I spend most of my time manning tradeshows, visiting and educating customers all over the world. It is my fortunate privilege to go cool places and make lifelong friends within my business. I love it.
For the last 45 years I have had a beautiful home in the Black Forest outside Colorado Springs (the foothills of the Rockies at 7,500 feet) that I also love, but only got to enjoy 100 days/year. It is surrounded by 90 acres of Ponderosa Pine, rocky bluffs and meadows. I have a Koi pond outside my back door and a 300-mile panorama of the Colorado Front Range out the front. The deer, elk, turkey, bobcats, songbirds, coyotes, falcons, hawks, bear and lion all come to call. Now I can enjoy it every day.
Favorite comfort food.
Almost anything Mexican—and hot.
Best advice you ever received?
Stay out of debt—it is really nobody’s friend. Love your neighbor as yourself. Stay humble. The Book of Proverbs is full of good personal and business advice. I consult it regularly.
Biggest influence in your life?
Jesus Christ and the Bible (The Passion Translation). Next to that, my grandfather. He was always there for me—a principled guy, always fair and just. He played with me and took me fishing. He taught me how to shoot a bow, a rifle and pistol; how to run a chain saw and a hammer, and wedge to split wood the old way—and many other things.
What trait do you most admire?
What advice would you give your younger self?
That one would take a book. If I have to sum it up in brief, “You are not 10 feet tall and bulletproof.”
What is the first thing you are going to do when you are able to get back to some sense of normalcy?
Get back on an airplane and start catching up on those face-to-face visits. There is no substitute.
More with Rob…
Check out five things he has learned along the way to overcome difficult times like these.
Also, check out Rob’s interview with Roofing Ambassador, Keynote Speaker & Social Media Influencer, Brunno Batista.