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Roof Hugger Celebrates 30th Anniversary Milestone In 2021

Lutz, FL - Roof Hugger marks its 30th year in business in 2021 as a leading supplier of notched subpurlins used in the metal-over-metal retrofit roofing market. During the past three decades, Roof Huggers have been installed on over 100 million square feet of existing metal roofs, setting the pace in the industry.

Roof Hugger co-founders Dale Nelson (left) and Red McConnohie at a METALCON trade show in the mid-1990s.

When Dale Nelson and his business partner, Red McConnohie, started Roof Hugger, their goal was to create something that would allow a new metal roof to be installed over an existing metal roof. It had to work for any new panel, be easy to install, economical and structurally correct. A notched “Zee” seemed to have the most promise. It sounded simple, but there were many challenging issues that had to be solved to turn McConnohie's innovative idea into a real and marketable product.

roof-hugger-30-years-2There was no accepted test protocol when they started, so together with a local engineering firm and local test lab, they created one. A few years later the E-1592 test protocol for metal panels was adopted, setting a new level of sophistication for all the future tests. Actual in-place performance tables were established. Also, new corner and edge zone framing assemblies were created to comply with the updated building codes that divided roofs into several distinct zones, not just one uniformly loaded roof area.

Construction details had to be changed and standard sizes of the sub-purlins had to be modified. All this was a huge change at the time, affecting all manufacturers and contractors in the industry.

A vintage photo of the late Red McConnohie with Roof Huggers ready for shipment.

By 2005, a new wrinkle had come into being: the “Green Movement”. Not only did McConnohie and Nelson have to address structural attachment and panel performance, but now they had to design and incorporate energy-saving assemblies, as well as design for rigid or fiberglass insulated assemblies and above-sheeting ventilation. They had to understand thermal conductivity, thermal breaks, thermal emissivity, thermal reflectivity, solar heat collection and solar power generation.

The Roof Hugger Systems had to accommodate specific insulation and mechanical systems while meeting all the structural code requirements, which led to long hours, lots of reading, brainstorming and, naturally, more testing.

Roof Huggers with ventilation holes were created, new thermal break assembles had to be mated to the retrofit framing system, access openings for solar collection coils were designed, drag loads, and additional dead loads for photovoltaic systems all had to be considered. All this with an eye toward the ultimate critic...the installer.

The system had to be as intuitive as possible, use standard tools and fasteners and be installed quickly.

Innovative retrofit design work continues today with no end in sight. Roof Hugger’s latest task is to conduct testing that will evaluate how much strength the sub-purlin system adds to the capacity of the existing purlins. Although the codes allow 3 psf for retrofits, some buildings need additional reinforcement and this testing will identify the extra contribution to purlin strength that the Huggers provide.

Roof Hugger team members at the International Roofing Expo in 2019.

Looking at the road ahead, Roof Hugger's skilled and knowledgeable staff, headed by Red McConnohie’s grandson, DJ Highnote, and parent company, The LSI Group, will continue to work tirelessly to maintain Roof Hugger's leadership in the metal-over-metal retrofit market. Roof Hugger pledges, as always, to keep its eyes on the codes and any new technologies that can provide customers with the best retrofit products available.

About Roof Hugger

roof hugger logoRoof Hugger notched sub-purlins enable replacement of new metal roof panels over an old metal roof. They can be used over screw-down or standing seam roof systems and can accommodate new standing seam or screw-down panels. Roof Huggers also maintain integrity of original design loadings; achieve "thermal break" air space between old and new roof sheets; allow for optional insulation; and are laboratory and load tested—with certified load charts. For more information on metal-over-metal retrofit re-roofing, contact Roof Hugger at 800-771-1711 or visit

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