Metal Plus Roof Brackets Improve Rooftop Safety, Productivity
By Marge O’Connor, DesignandBuildwithMetal.com
Mario Lallier (right) and Metal Plus team members are shown here with their exhibit at an industry trade show. Click image to enlarge.
Our industry has many success stories. Perhaps it’s because metal’s ability to adapt to different situations attracts creative, resilient people.
It’s certainly the case with Mario Lallier, owner of Metal Plus LLC, Winsted, Connecticut. He never sought attention, but ironically his constant desire to find a better way to do things has helped put him in the spotlight.
Mario’s knowledge of construction goes back to childhood when his father was involved in masonry. Mario has been in the roofing business for 30 years and has specialized in metal roofing for more than 15 of those. But his transition from traditional roofing to metal was filled with surprises.
“The first month I started installing metal roofing I thought ‘How do these guys get up here and do this?’ It seemed totally insane to me and didn’t seem like a feasible way to work. I’m sure I was not the only contractor who thought that because it was a constant problem ever since I started working with metal. No matter what kind of roof work you do, you always need proper staging or scaffolding. I was shocked there was none for metal roofing. Since I became a roofer I’d always looked for new products and the best way to do things. So I considered finding a solution to this problem was my next new thing,” Mario says.
Ultimate Bracket (above)
Big Boy (right)
Roofer's Helper (below)
Now he heads Metal Plus LLC, a company that manufactures and distributes standing seam metal roofing brackets that simplify installing and maintaining metal roofing. The products include: The Ultimate Bracket, The Big Boys and The Roofers Helper. According to Mario these are the first brackets that enable a contractor to install metal roofing in a comfortable, efficient and safe manner.
He created Metal Plus LLC in 2004 based on his knowledge of the industry and his frustration at not having an efficient way to work on metal roofing. In his usual style, he very carefully approached the challenge, conducting research, product development and testing for six years. This path to final product development and market introduction may seem long for a roof bracket, but as a roofer Mario knew it was most important to have all the details in place before selling any brackets. In 2010 he officially introduced them for the first time at METALCON International, where the product was awarded Best New Product at New Product Harbor. In 2012 the product also received the Best New Product award at the International Roofing Expo (IRE).
The trade show experience was helpful to moving the company forward in several ways. “After several trade shows we started to meet some existing customers and enjoyed hearing their stories of how our brackets made their lives a lot easier. We heard how the contractors felt safe, comfortable and relaxed on our brackets. They shared their stories about the different contraptions they have rigged up in order to install standing seam metal roofing and how pleased they were that we had addressed the problem and made the brackets available to them,” Mario added.
He explains his drive to create the brackets in this way. “Whenever something new, like a tool or product, came on the market, I went for it if it made sense. In the 1980s when nail guns were made I was probably the first one to get one in my area. I could see the advantage of buying them. It was the same with portable roll formers. At first I thought ‘Wow, I have to spend $50,000!’ But then I realized it would save me a lot of time and reduce damage. That’s the same response I have been getting from other contractors when they first see our roof brackets. They’re happy that someone finally came out with a product they can utilize right now that will make things easier and save time.”
The brackets are designed for standing seam metal roofing. They can also be used for installing new roofs where they are most beneficial for all the finishing, especially on hips, ridge caps and dormers. For repairs and maintenance on existing roofs they are especially good for working on chimneys, dormers, and installing skylights.
The brackets weigh between 21 and 22 pounds each and have a 300-pound rating while the roof is wet, which is extremely valuable according to Mario’s experience. “I’ve been stuck on a metal roof in the rain before and know how slippery and scary that is. Our brackets are aimed more at comfort, safety and labor time. They make the situation more secure for the worker while creating a nice comfortable space for them or their tools. For the building owner, it preserves the roof from damage when contractors are performing general maintenance or repair.”
A solar-collecting metal roof is shown during installation with the aid of roof brackets by Metal Plus LLC. Click image to enlarge.
The solar market is also a target because solar is gaining in popularity and metal roofs are a perfect fit for solar systems. But, according to Mario solar installers are hesitant to working on metal roofs. “When I realized this I knew there was a need to reach solar installers. That was a big discovery and the brackets have been very handy for them to support the men and their modulars.”
The brackets install quickly and easily, making jobs go more smoothly. This can be very beneficial for roofing contractors. “It’s hard to estimate how much the brackets improve productivity. It may be 20 to 25 percent depending on the scenario. As for cost, the brackets are not expensive compared to other equipment. And it depends on how many people use the brackets. If a contractor has two or three guys on the team who end up using them all the time the cost is quickly recouped,” Mario adds.
Metal Plus brackets are used on residential and commercial buildings with possibly more use in the residential market because of steep slopes. They work on most brands of snap lock seams and have been tested to have a 300 lb. rating while wet on a 12:12 slope or less. Also on a mechanical standing seam they were tested to have a 300 lb. rating while wet on an 18:12 slope or less. All brackets are shipped pre-assembled and tested to make it easier and faster for the buyer to put them to work. By viewing the video on the company’s website visitors can see how user-friendly the bracket is to install and use. Additionally, the instruction manual is written in English and Spanish to help prevent any injuries.
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These three photos show a sampling of the everyday metal roofing tasks that can be made more efficient and safer by using products from Metal Plus LLC. Click images to enlarge.
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Mario’s field experience makes it easy for him to talk about installations with contractors who visit his booth at trade shows. “I always take several profiles to trade shows so the contactors can see how easy the brackets are to install. When we start talking about their frustrations, I can relate to every scenario they describe because I’ve been through them all. When contractors have this hands-on experience with the product they buy the brackets on the spot. Shows are also a great way to talk with existing customers who offer feedback and referrals to other metal roofers, solar installers, and builders who in turn purchased our brackets,” he notes.
Some other customer situations are even more rewarding. “One guy who ordered the brackets lives a few hours away from our plant in Connecticut. He said he wanted to pick up his order so he could meet me. When he came by, he shook my hand and said he was happy to see that a real roofer created this product. I’m glad to hear that but it makes me feel strange,” adds Mario, who prefers not to get this much attention.
After the first introduction at METALCON the products began to be sold directly to contractors and some contractors as far away as New Zealand. Now, the company is in the process of recruiting new international distributors to sell Metal Plus LLC roof brackets. The online availability of the brackets has also been a consistent source of business and awareness. “If you type in ‘metal roofing tool’ on YouTube the first page that comes up is the video that we’re running on our website. That alone has had 70,000 hits on YouTube,” said Mario. He also noted that the company’s website is being revised and that Metal Plus will soon start offering related products such as snow retention products, gutter accessories and metal roofing hand tools.
As a person who likes to discover new things, Mario is always observing what’s happening in the marketplace and responding accordingly. “We’ve added a new profile bracket designed to accommodate up to a 3-inch standing seam. This will work with high profile systems such as Kalzip, some of Kingspan, and Englert’s profile Series 3000 T. This is new to the market and will soon be offered on our website.”
This ability to seek out new opportunities and be persistent in finding solutions has worked for Mario since he entered the metal roofing market. It’s a great reflection of how metal has also become a solution to many design and construction challenges.
About Metal Plus
Metal Plus LLC offers standing seam metal roofing brackets for installers. For more information, visit www.metalplusllc.com.