Form and Function Meet Works of Art
Z-Craft Creates Unique Solutions for Roofing and Siding
Tradition and innovation work side by side at Z-Craft. The Golden, Colorado-based company is known for quality roofing and siding, but Z-Craft is also known for its expertise in architectural metal.
Z-Craft, much like other roofing companies, installs the usual expected roofing materials, including a wide range of membrane systems and a variety of shingles, and also has expertise in fabrication.
But Z-Craft has stepped outside the usual and created its niche in the roofing industry by also working with metal in a variety of ways, from functional to artistic, says company President Zach Taylor. Z-Craft is often selected for high-end custom projects as well as remediating roofing projects that have failed in terms of weathertight warranties from the manufacturers.
Custom Metal Expertise
The team at Z-Craft does a lot of problem-solving regarding various custom fabrications of flashings and panels of both metal roofing and siding, as well as custom finishes and patinas. “Having an intimate knowledge of metallurgy and the various metal choices allows us to identify a better selection of, or more appropriate materials for, a project to accomplish its end goals,” Taylor says. “We pay attention to a variety of solutions and materials and recommend the best solution, rather than the commonly given answers.”
“The firm is known for creating custom and specialty roofing systems,” he adds, “and is largely recognized for adding a boutique or artistic flair to projects. Sometimes, people don’t know what they want. This offers an opportunity for Z-Craft to bring new ideas to the table and help clients choose from solutions they may not have realized were possible.”
Taylor learned the roofing industry through on-the-job training while attending college in Durango, Colorado. Initially, it was a summer job to earn money for school, and then later in college he set up his class schedule to allow him to do roofing for a local contractor around his college courses.
After graduating from college, he started a roofing company in Summit County and worked in the surrounding communities of Vail and Beaver Creek. That company quickly grew to more than 15 roofers and operated for several years before Taylor sold the company to his employees.
It was in the years that followed that Taylor really honed his craft of architectural metal roofing and siding. Those experiences helped Taylor build relationships with several technical directors from the major architectural metal manufacturers in the industry. Those individuals recognized Taylor’s attention to detail, hard work and straightforward demeanor, which prompted them to seek his services in re-roofing and fixing projects that had gone to litigation.
“These projects not only needed to be redone, but redone totally by the book,” Taylor says. “They also had to stand up under the added scrutiny of the client and their incumbent attorneys.” These experiences were later parlayed into providing training and consultation for large international companies that were looking to enter the architectural metal field.
Expanding the Business
In less than six years since starting Z-Craft, Taylor has grown the multifaceted business to include roofing and siding with an emphasis on architectural metal, as well as shingle, shake, tile and various membrane roofing systems. The company has added equipment, a fabrication shop and key personnel to continue the firm’s growth.
“We have built the company piece by piece, organically, investing in equipment as warranted, careful of debt. I have become fond of Henry Ford’s famous quote, to paraphrase, ‘If you need a piece of equipment and don’t buy it you will end up paying for and not owning it,’” Taylor says. “We really needed to expand the business by adding a full-sheet metal shop,” Taylor says. “After extensive research, we purchased the machinery and hired a chief operating officer for the day-to-day operations. We found the ideal candidate in David Kutchinski.”
He continues, “David is a competent man and a good friend. He’s trustworthy, dedicated, disciplined, capable and skilled in variety of domains. His life story consists of multiple trades and positions. He was a U.S. Army Special Forces lieutenant colonel and a scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory in the Advanced Computer Division. He brings systems, organization, logistics and safety experience to the company. A big part of that success is because of David’s management skills. He is always ready to get the next thing done.”
Thinking Outside the Box
Taylor, a philosophy major in college, has spent lots of time pondering his ultimate goals in life and at work.
Taylor and Kutchinski agree that a good esprit de corps in the workplace is important. Camaraderie is the central focus of this common bond among team members, which can inspire enthusiasm, devotion and unity. The company values teams so that employees remain engaged in a variety of work tasks, and sometimes changes up who works with whom so that work doesn’t become stagnant.
“I really have a sense that work is life,” Taylor says. “You don’t want your life to just be work, but it is a big part of it—irrespective of your finances. A person needs to work. A vocation is essential; you want work to be positive and good. Everyone needs a roof. It is intrinsically valuable to individuals and the market as a whole. Obviously, roofing is a hard task. The inherent difficulty is a good thing as well; to accomplish hard tasks in challenging situations is a key ingredient needed to build solid character and have a real sense of one’s value and worth in the world.”
Creating Environments with Details
As a self-declared “metal artist,” Taylor often looks at jobs beyond paneling, siding and roofing, searching for an artistic approach to meeting a project’s needs.
“I genuinely care about being pragmatic,” he says. “I like to use materials that may not be extravagant or rare, although those are cool too, but rather ordinary materials in a way that is not normally considered for a particular application. Maybe it is ⅛-inch plate steel, certainly not rare or uncommon for construction use, but with a patina and some interesting shapes, it can create a feeling or look that’s unique and artful.”
This application was employed in one high-end residential project where there was a unique stairwell that went up and around an elevator shaft in the center of the home. To give the project added visual interest, Z-Craft created a blackened gun-barrel blue patina on plate steel and fit the pieces of plate steel together in a variety of different sizes to resemble a puzzle-type design going up the middle of the elevator shaft. On other projects, Z-Craft has also created different interior pieces with copper and patina to provide a unique look for various paneling systems.
“Zach has an innate design talent to create something that is simple to manufacture and install, as well as durable enough to withstand hurricane forces, like he did for a paneling system at the SugarSquare project in Lower Downtown Denver,” Kutchinski says.
Developed by Urban Villages, SugarSquare is a new office building project that Z-Craft is scheduled to finish this spring. Z-Craft was tasked with creating custom-made siding panels with a specialty patina finish. The four-story, 10,800-square-foot structure features an exterior façade of glass and blackened 20-gauge stainless steel cassette panels complete with a rooftop deck. The custom panel design was a collaborative venture between Taylor and Jeff Patch of Premium Panels in Arvada, Colorado.
“Jeff and I explored some interlocking designs for their appearance, but most especially their form and function in both fabrication and installation. Once we had worked through the initial kinks, then it was time to get the panel tested,” Taylor says. He went to Tampa Bay, Florida, and had the panel system tested by an engineering firm, PRI, and ran the system through a variety of ASTM International testing for water and air permeance and wind loads (the force on a structure arising from the impact of wind on it). Even with large two-by-four-foot panels fabricated from common 24-gauge painted steel, “the panel performed admirably and passed every one of its tests, even at hurricane-wind forces,” Taylor says.
From there the panel design was accepted by the SugarSquare architect, Semple Brown Design, to be installed on the building, which is located by the historic Sugar Building. Premium Panels is now creating and selling the panel system as the Premium Reveal Cassette Panel in a variety of sizes and finishes for a price that is competitive with most other rainscreen systems.
Serving Communities, Near and Far
aylor and Kutchinski believe in supporting nonprofits with both time and talent. Taylor has helped to build several projects for missionaries working with the poor in the Dominican Republic. Another ministry that Taylor supports is Vida Nueva Ministries, in which he helped build a church and print shop in a rural area of Mexico to support a pastor and his family working with rural neighbors. In 2017, the team planted trees in multiple parks across the Denver Metroplex for the Denver Parks & Recreation Department. Working with the nonprofit Front Range German Shepherd Rescue, Kutchinski used his military experience to help train dogs to not be afraid so they can be used as therapy dogs for veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. Recently, one dog was placed with a military policewoman who lost her hand in a firefight in Iraq. Also, Z-Craft actively partners with United Service Organizations (USO) and many Christian charities.
Contributing to the larger community is part of the work-life balance that is so important to the Z-Craft ethos, Taylor says. He prefers to focus on the positive, whether it is fulfilling a client’s needs or giving back in some way.
“On the job and in life, I really value the various aspects of both the fun and the difficult,” Taylor says. “If you have a good sense of honoring and enjoying your work, including those with whom you work, then the endeavor is going to succeed—however that may be defined.”