As I was saying …

Is there hope for the shingle market?

For the most part, the 21st century has not been kind to the asphalt shingle manufacturing community. The list of challenges the sector faces is daunting. It includes, of course, the subprime lending mess, stagnant condition of the new housing market and unrelenting increases in manufacturing costs, most notably with asphalt.

It was only a few years ago we were talking about the commercial marketplace being in the doldrums while we witnessed housing starts climb to near-record levels of 2.3 million annually. Some experts predict housing starts will dip below 1 million this year. Think about having your business face a 60 percent decline in a primary business line.

The residential roofing marketplace also has seen the emergence of more new products, such as metal shingles and faux slate. On top of that, the capacity for producing tile grew with the abundance of new plants built in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane season.

Happily, we have a resourceful group of shingle manufacturers in the roofing industry. In a sense they have to be, but many not only are surviving, they have identified new market opportunities.