posted February 8, 2006
Unum Roof
Up on the roof.

Installing a seventh of a mile walking track for UnumProvident Corp. has Competition Athletic Surfaces moving up in the world.

The Chattanooga athletic surfacing company specializes in building, resurfacing and repairing running tracks and tennis courts across the Southeast - and does so with notable success, growing from sales of $400,000 to over $3 million since 2000.

Now the company has added the rooftop track at UnumProvident Corporation to its repertoire.

“Competition Athletic Surfaces has tackled some unusual projects over the past year,” Mr. Murray said. “But this one posed special challenges. We think the success of the project demonstrates our company’s willingness to think outside box as we work with our clients to overcome obstacles and provide them with results that meet or exceed their expectations.”

When it came time to renew the insurance company headquarters’ roof at its West Building in downtown Chattanooga, UnumProvident officials saw an opportunity to add an outdoor facility to its employee wellness program by converting the 19,000 square-foot space from a bleak smokers’ outpost to an attractive fitness patio with walking track and picnic tables.

By the time CAS was hired to build the track, TBM roofers were already at work installing a Garland Company roofing system. “We had to locate an athletic track material that would be compatible with Garland’s multi-ply modified bitumen roofing system,” Mr. Murray said. “We checked around but couldn’t find anyone who had installed a track system on that kind of roof.”

At that point “Professor Murray” launched an experiment that would make his old lab instructors proud and should earn CAS an A in creative customer services. He took a sample of the Garland roofing product and applied to the sample a three-foot square surface by Plexitrac.

“We use Plexitrac surfacing systems for many of our jobs,” Mr. Murray said. “The materials are durable with excellent UV resistance. One component in the surfaces is recycled tires, so Plexitrac products are also environmentally friendly.”

Mr. Murray left his science project out all last winter. “I drove over it, bent and folded it, and exposed it to the elements,” he said. “In the end, the Plexitrac surface showed no damage or wear and tear and it adhered perfectly to the Garland roof sample. We decided to go with it.”

Once he determined the right surfacing product, he faced another challenge.

Unum Roof

“There was no way we could bring our equipment to the roof through the building,” Mr. Murray said. “So we had to dismantle our rig, hoist it up to the roof then reassemble it. We typically have our compressor and pump for spraying the surfacing material sitting in the bed of a truck. Since we couldn’t have a truck on the roof, our guys figured out how to put the equipment on dollies. They created a system that would get the job done.”

Borrowing a crane from TBM workers who were putting finishing touches on the roof, CAS also had to hoist up hundreds of pounds of Plexitrac surfacing material for the track.

CAS’s extra effort was repaid when the new rooftop track opened officially in January. Hundreds of UnumProvident employees attended the opening and took a turn around the roof, enjoying the renovated outdoor area and pleasant views of downtown and north Chattanooga.

“The company thought the walking track application would be great and would pair well with UnumProvident’s on-site fitness facility and campaigns for healthy lifestyles,” says Mary Clarke Guenther, UnumProvident manager of media relations. “Our indoor track is very popular with employees, and we expect equal or better usage for the outdoor track.”

The idea for the multi-purpose roof came from a UnumProvident staffer who saw a TV program about innovative uses of rooftops in New York City. Multi-use rooftops are growing in popularity around the country, according to Adrian Stitts, a roof asset management specialist for Garland.

“The main goal of a roof, of course, is to keep water out of the building, which means that the roof system must be durable with well-thought-out details,” Mr. Stitts said. “But property managers and owners have come to realize that they can install solid roofs that serve several purposes. Some options for multi-use roofs are green roofs with vegetation, leisure areas, and running/walking tracks. The UnumProvident roof is a good example of this roofing trend that we expect to see incorporated in many other area buildings in the future.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Murray says Competition Athletic Surfaces is happy to install walking and running surfaces anywhere from the ground up. “I think the UnumProvident track shows that we can put an athletic surface virtually anywhere our customers want it,” he said.

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