Like many entrepreneurs, Mike and Todd Feazel started out in an industry with a successful business, in this case, Feazel roofing, founded over 25-years ago. Throughout the years, they've watched the industry change, innovation become increasingly accessible, and consumer demands grow. When they decided to sell their business and change it up a little bit, they had their eye on something bigger. In so many industries, innovation seems like it has to be a unicorn- magical, new and full of complexity. But what the Feazel's and entrepreneurs like them have learned along the way is that sometimes innovating through the most simple, most available means is where you get the results you are really looking for. When it came to roofing, sustainability, and the Feazel's, that happened to be soybeans- something plentiful in the U.S.- but not necessarily what everyone was thinking when they were thinking of disrupting the roofing industry.
Sustainability Is The New Consumerism
For years, we bought everything from wherever it was cheapest and whoever promised to get it to us the fastest. As Mike Feazel pointed out, every roofing manufacturer over the last 15 years has been in a class action lawsuit because shingles weigh less now than they used to, removing the asphalt, and roofs are prematurely drying out, failing, and a 30-year roof was only serving half its life span. This tipping point, along with many others across several industries, is representative of the shift in our collective mindset as well. After surviving through economic downturn and hardship, more than we wanted things fast and cheap- we wanted them to last. Now, roofing, in the case of consumerism, isn't an exact match but the pivots we are seeing in the industry now absolutely mirror the change to a sustainable, upcycled mindset of the masses.
With the downturn of the economy in the mid-2000's, the roofing industry was between a rock and a hard place. Plenty of people still needed a new roof but many couldn't afford the $10,000+ price tag. The Feazel brothers found themselves offering band-aids to their clients, to help them get a longer life out of their roof, because for many, this was the only option they had. Out of the recession came another pivot in roofing, the storm teams, salesman notorious for targeting specific areas with potential damage and selling roof after roof, even if there was another solution that was less costly. Between these pivots, the Feazel's found themselves staring down huge market gaps, and when the offer came to sell Feazel Roofing, they knew where they were headed next.
Roof Maxx, the brainchild of both Mike and Todd Feazel is a treatment, derived from soybean oil with sustainability, innovation, and rejuvenation at its core. Roof Maxx is a scientifically formulated, and safe, plant-based roof rejuvenating spray treatment that was developed by Battelle Labs, the world's largest private research and development company, and garnering support from big names like Coldwell Banker, Sotheby's, Dollar General, NAPA, and more. According to their team, Roof Maxx is roofing's most disruptive new green technology, that restores your roof's flexibility and waterproofing to preserve the life of your roof. If that sounds like nothing you've ever heard of, imagine trying to sell it.
We talk often about how difficult and expensive it can be if you are first in on an innovation. In an industry without major disruption, that is amplified. For Roof Maxx to be a success, the Feazel's knew they would have to educate the entire market, from the consumers, to the roofers, and pretty much everyone in-between. Market proof is at the top of my to-do list, and this was their approach as well. They went directly to The Ohio State University and had testing done that concluded two very important things:
Roof Maxx restored the flexibility of 17-year old roof shingles
Roof Maxx treated shingles successfully passed the same materials testing required of new shingles.
With this information and a very simplified breakdown of the problem they solve and their value add, they hit the ground running. Clearly defining the problem they solve and their value add is absolutely key to market and industry wide education in any industry. Taking that one step further, if you've done your due diligence, a warranty is final piece that lets everyone know you have what you say you have, and it does what you say it does. The Feazel's approach to early adoption and market education has landed them in a sweet spot, as they went from a startup to 400 locations, in their first full year.
With so much innovation on the horizon, and barriers to entry minimizing regularly, it's important that we don't forget about the progress we've already made, and how those solutions and answers might translate into new markets, filling new gaps. For the Feazel's, they found their solution in soybeans, but without their industry knowledge and decades of dedication, that solution may not have been as obvious. Innovation as a standalone is exciting. Innovation backed by experience is how we are impacting industries and changing the world we live in.