By Linda Schmid

The Speedlap team planned to start a company that would produce soffit, but their vision didn’t end there. They wanted soffit made from the same grade and brand of steel as the roof panels on a project. Speedlap started business May 1, 2023 bringing that vision to life.  

Darin Westhoff, CEO explains that their system includes running industry standard 29 gauge Grade 80 coils. The soffit will perfectly match the roof. Further, the company  cuts the soffit to the lengths the rollformer needs for a job.

Traditionally, Westhoff said, rollformers carry aluminum soffit and send it to the contractor to cut to all the required lengths on the job site. However, his team will use the same steel as the panels used in the project so it will match, and they will cut it for them.

“A rollformer can put in one order with 41 different lengths of soffit. This means they will all be cut to the lengths needed, and organized in labeled boxes so they can put the box on a lift and go right around the eaves, installing and getting it done so much faster than the traditional cutting on the job site allows.” 

This customized matching and cutting service means the rollformer doesn’t have to carry soffit and the contractor gets a better aesthetic for the job and an easy time installing it. The company’s tag line: “Happy Job sites!” takes on real meaning for contractors.

“At first, contractors may not put much stock in pre-cut soffit, but after they’ve done a couple of jobs with it, they tell their suppliers they never want to go back!” Westhoff said.

 Getting Started!

Starting a manufacturing business begins, of course, with developing the product. The team was testing their product on a machine they had purchased, but the machine did not produce the soffit they were looking for. They continued looking around, and eventually they had a machine designed to match their vision so they could get precisely what they were looking for. 

“The machine runs 29 gauge Grade 80 steel, the same steel most people are putting on their buildings,”  Westhoff said. “The machine is equipped with shears and can make a lot of footage fast,” he added. 

Soffit comes in solid, vented, or center- vented in about 40 different colors.

Growing the Company

The company started with Westhoff and one production person; now they have 6 employees. Further, in one year they have developed a client list in 32 states.

Their outside salespeople call on rollformers across the country. Over the autumn and winter seasons they made a push across the South where more construction is done in the winter than in the Midwest, helping to keep production going year round.

A YouTube video done by a happy customer helped spread the word about Speedlap soffit, bringing in calls from across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.

Further, their first time out at the Construction Rollforming Show in Cincinnatti last fall, the company picked up 15 rollforming customers. 

Servicing Customers

Westhoff said that many other companies in the area offer soffit. They sell 12-foot aluminum or steel, but only in 4-5 different lengths. 

“Our end users like that our soffit is already cut to fit and it will match the panel.”

Lead time can vary, but they usually get it to the rollformer in two to four days. Less labor is required to install the soffit helping them to deliver on their tag line: “Happy Job sites”.  If the contractor is happy, it strengthens their relationship with the rollformer, which makes the rollformer happy and strengthens their relationship with Speedlap.

Lessons Learned

Westhoff advised that when you are in uncharted territory, don’t rush your research and development. Ensure that the product is what you want before you move forward. 

“Culture is very important,” Westhoff said. “You can’t have in-fighting; everybody has to work together.”

A strong team is developed, he believes, by carefully selection of employees. They have hired everyone through referrals. 

They include everyone in weekly meetings and idea generation, so there is a strong feeling of pulling together as a team. If they develop a good idea about what will make their jobs easier, for example, “they can implement it within the hour,” Westhoff said.

Moving Forward

Westhoff believes that people are going to want cut-to-order soffit at an increasing pace. This will make it easy for the rollformers who won’t have to carry as much inventory, as well as the installer who doesn’t have to cut soffit on site.

Meanwhile, the company has expansion plans of their own. They have another machines on order, and they are planning to add custom-cut orders in aluminum to their product line so they can serve customers in coastal areas.

Congratulations to Speedlap on their anniversary! The company has developed their own niche and is making a success of it. GSCB