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Lack of major storms lulls hurricane firm

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  • | 6:31 a.m. August 15, 2012
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Selling hurricane fortification products is apparently a tough go in an area with no major storm in eight years.

That's the predicament Bob Stobaugh finds himself in these days.

Stobaugh, past president of the Gulf Coast Mortgage Bankers Association, launched Bradenton-based Building Performance Americas USA last year. Under the theory that “it only takes one storm,” the company sells a pair of patented products for roofs of commercial and residential buildings designed to mitigate water damage. One product is a claw and a strap that ties the truss of the roof to the wall. The Florida Building Commission approved the products.

Yet business is sluggish. “I'd love to say differently, but it has been slow,” Stobaugh tells Coffee Talk. “We have many people interested. We are just waiting for them to pull the trigger.”

One challenge could be price: When Stobaugh first started the company, purchase and installation costs were between $15,000 and $30,000, depending on the size of the building. Another challenge, one Stobaugh has battled since he started the business, is Floridians tend to have a short memory when it comes to storms.

Stobaugh, though, now hopes to use a different tactic to generate business: the testimonial.

The recommendation is from homeowners in Pass-a-Grille, Pinellas County. The homeowners were the only ones on the block to have Building Performance Americas products installed, and on June 24, when a tornado ripped through the neighborhood, their decision looked prescient. The tornado, part of Tropical Storm Debby, damaged more than half the homes on the block.

But Stobaugh says the house where Building Performance Americas installed retrofitted roof products had no damage. “We're happy for those clients,” says Stobaugh, “but sad for the people who didn't have it.”


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