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From Pinellas to Panama, firm based in Lutz caps noise levels

Published Sep. 28, 2005

A little-known roofing company made one local television studio quieter this year. WCLF-Ch. 22, a 36,000-square-foot Christian television station based in Largo, successfully used Roof Hugger structured plaster blocks to buffer out noise caused by rain and wind. They had the product installed about six months ago and are happy with it, said Wayne Wetzel, the president of Channel 22.

"They needed the ambient noise stopped," said Dale Nelson, co-owner of the Lutz-based Roof Hugger Co., which was established in 1991. The company reports that sales, which used to measure below $1-million, increased by 12 percent this year, including business overseas.

Roof Hugger was started by former hydraulic salesman and Tampa native Red McConnohie, a 77-year-old mechanical engineer. Among other developments, Roof Hugger last year partnered with HOPSA, a Panamanian steel fabrication roofing company with yearly sales of approximately $20-million.

The product that shares the company's name is a steel bracket that fits over an existing flat roof. Once in place, the bracket provides the durability of a double roof without removing the old roof, in a process known as retrofitting. Plaster block, its other product, fits between the brackets and isolates ambient noise.

"They're getting ready to put on seminars and everything on our products in Panama," McConnohie said. The company has also sold its product to sites in Guam and the Virgin Islands. With a very small staff, Roof Hugger relies heavily on word-of-mouth and trade shows for business.

McConnohie said his roofing ideas are selling domestically under several different private labeling names, including E-Zee Sub Purlin in Texas.