Getting Started in the Spray Foam Industry. The Big Questions You Should Be Asking.
By Ryan SpencerIt’s no secret the spray foam industry is booming, and will continue to do so in the future. With any industry rife with opportunity, new entrants are a certainty. However, there’s no dipping your toe into the spray foam industry; it’s an all-or-nothing commitment. The capital requirements alone are enough to keep most prospective SPF contractors at bay, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing, as high barriers to entry can weed out those who are less committed to the skill. It takes substantial time, talent, and energy to hone such a skill, and contractors that have successfully persevered the initial hurdle can attest to its rigors.
“A new business is a journey filled with peaks and valleys,” says Matt Enfield of Montana Spray Foam Inc., an Icynene Dealer. “The good times can be exciting but hard times can rattle even the toughest individuals.”
While highs and lows are unavoidable, new contractors can maximize the upside and minimize the downside if they work with the right partner and make the right decisions from the start. It’s really all about asking the right questions.
WHAT KIND OF INVESTMENT IS REQUIRED?
The initial investment for a fully equipped, towable high-pressure spray foam rig will typically range between $70,000-$80,000. Of course, when considering vehicles, the initial investment can increase further if a contractor opts for a box truck rig. Furthermore, a contractor may have to factor in the cost of a pickup if they don’t already have one that can handle a towable rig. Being well capitalized from the beginning can lay the right foundation for a successful operation.
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW?
To successfully install spray foam, a contractor must have a deep working knowledge of diverse subject matter: the chemistry of spray polyurethane foam, the mechanics of spray equipment, and the technical aspects of spraying foam. Additionally, it’s crucial to be up to date on all of the factors that affect SPF applications: familiarity with current building science concepts, compliance to health and safety best practices, and adherence to applicable building codes.
IS ALL TRAINING THE SAME?
The information may seem overwhelming, and it certainly can be if new contractors don’t have the proper direction. Spray foam manufacturers should work hand-in-hand with new contractors to train them not only on the particulars of SPF products and the technical aspects of SPF installations, but also the numerous factors that affect spray foam applications. Prospective contractors should look to partner with a manufacturer like Icynene that provides thorough, comprehensive training not only from the beginning, but ongoing as well. It’s this kind of commitment and support from manufacturers like Icynene that helps contractors achieve long-term success.
WHAT’S THE PLAN?
Early success will be impossible to attain without formulating an effective plan by understanding the regional market and the opportunities it presents. Local situations like a housing boom or an abundance of aging commercial buildings can dictate a business’s focus on residential or commercial construction, and new or retrofit applications.
WHAT’S THE COMPETITION LOOK LIKE?
Research other companies currently serving the same area, find out what they offer, and look for a gap in the market. Local competition will shape how a business distinguishes itself to customers, who can be attracted by different product offerings, more services, and better quality. Also, analyzing the competition will dictate how a business will reach out to customers, be it by word of mouth, extensive marketing, or a mix of both.
WHO’S DOING THE WORK, AND HOW?
When it comes time to actually install SPF, a lone gunman, so to speak, isn’t going to cut it. A general rule of thumb is that three crewmembers maximize efficiency and effectiveness on the job site. Furthermore, it’s critical that all crewmembers comply with health and safety best practices during an application. In other words, always be ready for a visit from OSHA or NIOSH. Prospective contractors should look for a spray foam systems house like Icynene that provides regular updates, reminders, and informational materials in multiple languages.
HOW WILL THE PRODUCT PERFORM?
It’s critical to install a product that sprays well and delivers what customers expect, thereby ensuring a smooth operation and lasting integrity job after job. Additionally, a product with a higher yield per set installed is better for a business’s bottom line. The right product can be a make-or-break decision for new SPF contractors, but it really doesn’t have to be, especially if they partner with a brand like Icynene that’s known for industry-leading innovation.
WHAT IF THERE’S A PROBLEM?
Whether you’re an industry newcomer or veteran, issues will pop up from time to time. While it’s possible to mitigate potential issues with training, it’s impossible to eliminate them. That’s where technical service becomes a high priority when considering systems houses. New contractors should consider manufacturers like Icynene that work one-on-one, and even on-site, through unique applications, complex designs, building code restrictions, troubleshooting, and beyond.
WHAT MORE IS THERE TO DO?
Reach out: join relevant industry associations; meet local building code officials; seek advice from other SPF contractors at trade shows and conventions. Networking is an extremely valuable practice that can enrich a business in the short term and open doors down the road. Prospective contractors should look highly on manufacturers like Icynene that make an effort establishing a community among their dealers and offer regular networking opportunities.
In a lot of ways, success boils down to relationships, be they with customers, competitors, or suppliers. While a business has little say over who its customers and competitors are, it does control who it partners with, and that single choice can be an operation’s most valuable relationship in the long run. •
Direct any questions you have about getting started in the spray foam business to Icynene:
Phone: 1-800-758-7325 | Website: www.icynene.com
Photos Courtesy of Icynene