Business

Marion's ReVosWel Truss and Lumber saw routine upended by derecho's widespread roof damage

'Roofing material were hard to get before ...'

Anthony Douglas hammers a connector plate as he along with Levi Thumma (not pictured) and Zane Taube (background) assemb
Anthony Douglas hammers a connector plate as he along with Levi Thumma (not pictured) and Zane Taube (background) assemble a truss at ReVosWel Truss and Lumber in Marion on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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Few homeowners think about their house’s roof trusses, that structural framework of timbers bridging the space above a building to support its roof.

Trusses don’t usually require replacement, but 2020 was an unusual year.

“We sold so many roofing products and soffit and things like that, it’s crazy how much we went through so far,” Dean Montour said one morning this past week at ReVosWel Truss and Lumber’s Marion offices.

“There’s a lot of (rebuilding) projects that haven’t even been looked at yet.”

Already coping with pandemic-related supply-chain issues when the Aug. 10 derecho swept the area, the company suddenly was flooded with calls from contractors seeking to replace trusses damaged by high winds, falling trees and random debris.

“Roofing materials were hard to get before (the storm), and siding,” Montour said.

“It’s not surprising to have some materials that are out eight weeks — cabinets, doors, windows, things like that.”

Derecho-fueled demand upended ReVosWel’s routine. Montour said spring and fall typically are the company’s busy seasons.

“A lot of our new-construction contractors are doing nothing but repairs,” he said.

“They have houses that they’re going to be building for people that they’ve been putting off because they’re doing repairs.”

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ReVosWel President Dave Reed and two partners launched the company in 1975, taking its name from the first few letters of his last name and those of partners, Don Vosseller and Terry Welch.

All three were in the homebuilding business and familiar with local contractors’ need for a consistent supply of key components.

“We started out building wall panels, mostly for apartments,” Reed said.

The company began manufacturing roof trusses about three years later.

“If people need wall panels, they need trusses,” Montour said of the founders’ reasoning.

Most of ReVosWel’s customers are general contractors — Montour estimates 150 to 200 in about a 100-mile radius of Marion — who order all the components and materials they’ll need for a project.

The company doesn’t turn away homeowners, but few do-it-yourselfers are likely to take on a project calling for new trusses.

“We’re a full-service lumberyard,” Montour said. “We have everything a regular lumberyard does.

“We just manufacture our wall panels, and roof and floor trusses. It’s just three extra steps.”

A homebuilder works with ReVosWel’s design staff to determine the dimensions and number of trusses and other components, which the company delivers to the job site.

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“It’s pretty much custom design,” Reed said. “Their blueprints, generally, but we customize everything.”

Keeping customers’ projects on track means precise scheduling, which assumes a stable supply chain — both major challenges in 2020.

“That’s the main thing I’ve been telling all our sales people,” Montour said. “Keep these people informed. Nobody wants a surprise.”

Considered an essential business, ReVosWel instituted safety precautions among its 40 employees as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

“We worked right on through it,” Montour said. “I really give our guys a lot of credit for practicing all the protocol.”

ReVosWel’s own facility sustained about $150,000 damage in the derecho. Power was out eight days, just as hundreds of area homeowners discovered they needed new roof trusses.

Still, the company drew on experience to meet contractors’ demand.

“Our biggest advantage is that we do build the trusses and the wall panels,” Montour said. “And we can pretty much tell them exactly when they’re going to get them.”

“We stock everything here,” Reed added. “It’s not like when you go to another yard and they have to order it.”

If and when things return to normal, Montour expects 2021 to be a solid year for local homebuilders.

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“As long as the mortgage interest rates stay down where they’re at, I think there’s going to be a big demand for housing,” he said.

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At a glance

• Owners: Dean Montour, Dave Reed

• Business: ReVosWel Truss and Lumber

• Address: 320 35th St., Marion

• Phone: (319) 377-9868

• Website: revoswel.com

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