Adam’s American Adventure

Russell Roof Tiles recently sent a team from its Lochmaben site to improve the productivity of Florida-based sister company, Crown Roof Tiles.

Amongst the team was Adam Clark, a 28-year-old Operations Manager who joined Russell Roof Tiles as part of the manufacturer’s graduate trainee programme.

Here’s a first-hand account of his time working on the other side of the pond.

Joining Adam on his trip were mechanical fitters Kyran Jackson and Tom Watson, as well as supervisor Robert Thompson. The opportunity to travel to Florida was an exciting opportunity for Adam, because he had never been to the US before.

The team were brought in to look at how they might be able to use their success in the UK to improve efficiencies at the US$10 million plant in Arcadia, Florida.

The biggest challenge to improve the Florida-based plants’ productivity was the hot climate. This is because high temperatures speed-up the rate at which concrete begins to harden, resulting in a smaller time-frame in which to mould the concrete into tiles.

Adam and the team set-up a series of workshops, which highlighted the importance of acting fast when the concrete is in its liquid state.

In addition, the team drew on their experience of working in Russell Roof Tile’s Lochmaben site to identify and carry out maintenance repairs.

Working at Russell’s sister company enabled Adam to observe the differences between US and UK production methods as well as how the tiles are used

In the US tiles are given much more rigorous testing – mainly to ensure products withstand the extreme weather conditions.  Every tile has to have a Hail Impact Test, which is required to provide certifications in the Florida – Miami Dade, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arkansas markets. The test consists of shooting the tile six times with a two-inch diameter solid ice ball at speeds higher than 110 feet/second. This test is really tough and is aimed to replicate weather conditions that could appear during a tornado or during a hurricane or tropical storm.

However, it wasn’t all work and no play for Adam and the team. When they weren’t assisting their American counterparts, they spent a lot of time travelling around the local area in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Florida’s breath-taking wildlife. On one occasion they were fortunate enough to see a congregation of American Alligators, a far cry from what they are used to seeing back in Scotland!

Commenting on his time in the US, Adam said: “We all enjoyed Florida very much, it was good to see this part of the world and we learnt a lot about the local culture.

“If I was asked to go again I wouldn’t give it a second thought. Florida is a great place and to be able to share our knowledge to help improve the company made it a memorable experience.”

Since assisting in the construction of the-state-of-the-art Florida plant in 2014, staff from Russell Roof Tiles have made frequent trips to Florida to support the team, as well as Crown Roof Tiles’ Texas-based plant.

In recent years, the US roofing market has seen an increase in demand for traditional roof tiles. This has been driven by the US’ lack of local planning regulations, meaning homeowners are free to dictate the aesthetic of their home. As a result, the US market has seen an upsurge in re-roofing projects, with re-roofing projects accounting for 81 per cent of US roof tile sales.

In conjunction with these positive market conditions, Russell Roof Tiles will continue to support its American counterparts in providing homeowners with innovative concrete roof tile solutions.