Blue graphic; text reads "An interview with Exceptional Metals' Mike Gwizdala on the ZENTX experience"

How much thought do you give the roof over your head? Do you ever think about all the different components that make it weatherproof?

We’ll bet you don’t. And that’s not a problem: the point of a roof is making sure you don’t have to worry about it. That’s a job for the people who make the roof.

One perk of working with a wide variety of businesses is that we get to learn about industries we’d never thought about either. For example, we recently had the chance to create five custom displays so EXCEPTIONAL Metals, a division of Saginaw’s Duro-Last Roofing, can show off the quality of their products. That meant getting familiar with EXCEPTIONAL Metals’ products — everything from waterproof membranes and metal roofing panels to gutters and downspouts.

The displays we designed are highlighted in our latest Transformation Story, which you’ll find on our YouTube channel (or just down the page here). We heard from two EXCEPTIONAL Metals leaders, including the company’s general manager, Mike Gwizdala. Mike explained what challenges the displays address, who they’re aimed at, and what the displays had to do in order to reach that audience. Enjoy getting a peek into this industry!

Could you introduce yourself and explain what you do?

My name is Mike Gwizdala. I am General Manager at EXCEPTIONAL Metals; been in that position for three years. I’ve been with the [Duro-Last] company twenty-seven years.  My role as General Manager is to make sure all of our metal manufacturing locations run smoothly — providing customer service, products on time, [and a] good quality product to all of our roofing contractors and installers.

Mike Gwizdala from Exceptional Metals
Mike Gwizdala, General Manager of EXCEPTIONAL Metals
So tell us more about EXCEPTIONAL Metals — how you started and what you manufacture.

EXCEPTIONAL Metals started in 2003.  We were started as a division of Duro-Last Roofing, exclusively supplying metal edge, gutters, and downspouts to the Duro-Last roofing contractors just up until recently. We’ve now started to branch out our division and EXCEPTIONAL Metals is now heading to market through distribution in certain areas, and also looking for other contractors besides the Duro-Last contractors.

Why did you guys ask ZENTX to create these custom displays? What challenge did you want to address?

So, as I mentioned, we’re going to market as EXCEPTIONAL Metals to other contractors and other accounts. We’ve got a lot of interest from distribution [stores] in the West Coast. So we needed something to put into their showrooms, and we only had little small displays which we knew were going to get lost at the showrooms. We decided to come up with a display to show as many products as we could.

Full-length shot of display for Exceptional Metals, showing product samples and photos

The challenge there was, we have a lot of products. And with distribution, you have such a small footprint. [The question] was, “How do we get all of those products in a very small, concise area?” So we reached out to ZENTX to come up with some ideas for how we could do that in basically a two-and-a-half by two-and-a-half foot space.

We ended up getting about a dozen different products in that small of a display. The display shows each product based on category. And we’re actually getting ready to ship those out — two to California and one to Oregon.

What kind of store exactly are the displays going to?

Our displays are going to roofing supply companies, typically like an ABC Supply or a North Coast Roofing Supply Company. So the main clientele walking in and out of these distribution stores are roofing contractors. And roofing contractors have a lot of different things that they’re purchasing, so we had to make sure that when we had this display, it was something that was going to — first and foremost it had to be very eye-appealing.

It had to stand out from all the other stuff they’re going to see, ’cause when they walk into these stores, you’ve got siding, you’ve got roofing, you’ve got coatings, you’ve got a wide range of products, and we wanted to not only get our product in that showroom but to have it stand out.

So how would you describe your overall experience working with ZENTX?

We looked at multiple companies in the area, and first and foremost we wanted to make sure we were working with a company locally. It’s so much easier to talk face to face than it is on a phone, even though we did have multiple phone calls and conference calls. It was nice to be able to drive twenty minutes away and actually talk to the guys and Sheena, [our account manager,] at ZENTX.

All five of the displays showcasing Exceptional Metals' products

So that was one big thing. The second thing was the creativity. We knew what we wanted on the display; we didn’t know how to exhibit it and show what our product could do, and that’s where we lacked on our end. Jeremy, [ZENTX’s creative director,] was a big help trying to put that all together.

Ultimately once we did see the display, we got a lot of rave reviews on it. We actually have one in our welcome center here at corporate headquarters, and several of our executives have looked at that and said, “Wow, where did that come from? Who did that?” So I think overall it’s a perfect ten, and we’re hoping as these continue to get out in the field and we get more and more business from it, I can go ahead and get more and more displays made up.