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Calgary’s Next Economy: Roof Ruler leverages high-quality imagery to streamline estimations

One of the most time-consuming parts of lining up roofing contracts is actually going out and measuring up the site.

That’s something that Calgary startup Roof Ruler is trying to nail down. Founder Mike Kong said that between travelling to the location, doing the measure and then calculating the area, he said it’s often more than four hours.

That cuts into time roofers can actually be out on the job, finishing up work and collecting cheques.

“Every time, when the roofers get an order from a homeowner, they need to drive there, get the ladders to go to the rooftop,” Kong said.

“They use tools to measure the roof, the pitch and then put them together and calculate all the costs.”

Kong said quite often they account for a 10 per cent waste error in their measurements as well.

With Roof Rules technology, he said their system measures with 99 per cent precision.

Kong, who has a computer science degree from a Chinese university, emigrated to Canada in 2005 with his wife. He worked with a petroleum consulting company starting as a programmer and then working his way up to manage an entire IT unit.

He started his first business at that time doing travel management, but the market wasn’t very big. In 2020, he turned his focus to rooftops and launched Roof Ruler.

GIS technology for precise calculation

Kong said Roof Ruler’s system is based of GIS and information technology.  

“We just need the address,” he said.

“Then, we provide (roofers) with a precise roof report that includes the roof pitch, the peaks – all of the data.”

Plus, they’re using HD imagery to ensure they’re getting top-quality information on the respective roofs they’re estimating, Kong said.

“If we get a better image, the precision is better,” he said.

Kong said not only does it save time overall, but it also helps roofers with labour issues. They no longer have to send someone out to do the estimate and can instead focus on the job itself.

“The absence of the employee, the shortage of employees is a big headache – their time is very tight,” he said.

Let the learning continue

Despite his years working in information technology and his computer science skills, Kong said it’s important to keep learning.

The Alberta Catalyzer – Velocity program is a place that helps fill in many of the areas entrepreneurs need, Kong said. It’s especially important when you’re learning about things like billing, intellectual property and investment capital, he said.

“It’s hard to find these people face-to-face. I think it is very, very helpful,” Kong said.

Kong said the sky’s literally the limit as the roofing industry in North America is huge. For just measurements, it’s a half-billion dollar a year industry, Kong said. There are more than 200,000 roofing contractor companies, too.

“The population is growing so the market is good,” he said.

The goal is to expand across North America and tap into that business. He said that means a goal of $3 million in business within the next three years.

“We save a lot of time and increase efficiency,” he said.