Crude yet refined

The polymer-modified bitumen industry has had an interesting year

To say this year has been tumultuous for the low-slope polymer-modified bitumen industry is understating the obvious as anyone directly involved with the industry knows. A few things come to mind: crude oil sources and prices, changes to the NRCA/MRCA Certified Roof Torch Applicator (CERTA) program, cool roof initiatives and innovations, refineries intermittently going down for various reasons, raw material allocations, FM 1-52, and asphalt sourcing and consistency.

Raw material costs

Unless you have been away from the planet for the past year, you are well aware the single biggest effect on our bottom lines—personal and professional—was and is crude oil pricing. The volatile crude oil market has left an indelible mark on the pricing structure of asphalt and related materials. For that matter, the same can be said of any material derived from crude oil, including plastic and rubber components used to manufacture roof membranes, insulation and roofing accessories. Furthermore, steel prices affected the cost of deck materials, fasteners, pails and more.

Raw material costs skyrocketed across the board in 2008. Whether they were a result of diesel and gasoline prices and subsequent shipping and delivery costs, natural gas driving up costs of manufacturing or simply the escalation of crude oil prices, virtually every raw material was affected. Crude oil pricing compounded by a worldwide shortage of butadiene exacerbated SBS polymer prices and led to supply shortages. Asphalt supplies ran short in some parts of the U.S. and caused long lead times in addition to pricing woes.