I recently had the opportunity to meet with roofing industry
leaders in Japan and China, and if any of you have lingering doubts
about the globalization of our industry, I assure you they
can—and should—forcefully be put to rest.
What was most remarkable about the meetings was the topics we
covered were wholly unremarkable. We talked about the emergence of
energy and environmental issues; government incentives and mandates
affecting the roofing industry; opportunities for expanded trade;
and—in China—new FM Global requirements for wind-uplift
To be sure, there are important differences. Built-up roofing
still has significant market share in Japan where TPO is scarcely
known. EPDM is just beginning to gain popularity in China where
torch-applied systems generally are outlawed. And the preponderance
of concrete buildings in both countries has created an entirely
different set of design and performance issues from what we are
used to in the U.S.
There certainly are differences, too, between the roofing
industries of Japan and China. The most astounding difference is
that China's construction industry still is growing at a
double-digit pace with not the slightest prospect of a slowdown in
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