Credit: Illustration: Ronan Klonek

In the dog-eat-dog siding market, contractors are always looking for something extra to set their jobs apart and distinguish them from the competition. Some strategies include:

  • What we won't do. Ted Castonguay, owner of Home Town Window World, in Portsmouth, N.H., concentrates on quality installation to make his company stand out. “It doesn't take a consumer long to figure out that products look more similar than different between one company and another. So we spend a lot of time with our pitch book showing bad siding jobs — poor corners, poor metal work, buckling, etc. We call it our ‘war book,'” he says. “Our biggest argument is that great products in the hands of nonprofessionals [results in] a nonprofessional job, no matter how good the product.”
  • Color and convenience. State Roofing in Monroe, Wash., counts on a combination of “distinctive service” and unique product, according to Mike Farina, sales manager. The company sells its own pre-coated fiber-cement product in more than 25 colors. “[The coating is] factory-applied in ideal temperature and moisture conditions by an independent coating company,” Farina says. “You are applying a much greater amount of coating to the surface [than can be done with ordinary painting], so the client doesn't have to hire a painter and there's no overspray.”
  • Custom design. Computer-aided design and “time with the customer to find out everything they want,” provide his siding jobs with a competitive edge, explains Nathan Ante, owner of Waddle Exteriors, in Ames, Iowa. “We lay out three or four different designs, then go back to the house and we're able to change it with the homeowner,” he says. “We also stress customer service as a differentiation, more than we do product,” he adds.
  • Unique, branded product. “We do our own in-house branding,” says Joseph Tunney, owner of American Design and Build, in Bel Air, Md., with products trademarked with the name American Century Seal and marketed as American Sentry Siding Systems.

For siding, Tunney combines a local product exclusive from Alcoa, which is “heavier, more structurally sound, and more UV-stabilized,” with a raft of services, including a mandatory call by the project coordinator or the office each evening keeping clients informed about job progress, and a labor warranty that matches the manufacturer's product warranty. “Whether it's a product or an installation problem, we're going to take care of it; in the case of siding, for a lifetime. That distinguishes us,” he says.
“Anybody can sell you siding,” Tunney adds. “What we are selling is an exterior transformation of the home, a completely new home at the same address.”

—Jay Holtzman is a freelance writer based in Jamestown, R.I.