Back in 1995, Robert Lenney was a certified arborist walking past a commercial property in the Bay Area, and genuinely alarmed at the thousands of dollars managers were paying to clear the leaf-choked gutters.
Today, he’s the president and CEO of Gutterglove Inc. The company’s gutter-protection systems – anchored by the 53-year-old Lenney’s stainless steel micro-mesh creations – have made Gutterglove one of the Sacramento region’s manufacturing success stories.
Between 2014 and 2016, nationwide sales ballooned from $4.5 million to $9.6 million. Gutterglove in January moved into a new, 43,000-square-foot headquarters and manufacturing facility in Roseville, the better to accommodate the 21-year-old company’s recently dramatic growth.
“I’ve dealt with leaves before as an arborist; now I’m dealing with them in a different way.”
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Part of Lenney’s gutter guard empire is a newly certified component for a rainwater harvesting system. The company last month announced that its gutter guards received Underwriters Laboratories certification to be used in rainwater harvesting systems where the water ultimately can be used for drinking.
Lenney believes there will be growing demand for water-conservation practices and sustainable eco-friendly green products—despite Northern California’s heavy rains this winter.
“Homeowners that have rainwater catchment systems will appreciate having a gutter guard that has been taken through the rigorous test by UL for the (certifications),” Lenney said.
Lenney launched the original stainless-steel mesh gutter guard back in 2003 but he cites 2010 as the year when things took off. That year, Consumer Reports rated the Gutterglove Pro product as the No. 1 professionally installed gutter guard it tested. That drew a lot of attention.
Today, there are numerous Gutterglove gutter guard products, ranging from professionally installed, intricate gutter guards to more basic ones for do-it-yourselfers.
All are based on the same basic design dating back to 2003: fine stainless-steel mesh over aluminum channels, blocking even the smallest debris while allowing the flow of water on all manner of homes. Homeowners no longer need to scramble up a ladder to clean out their gutters.
Gutterglove systems are now sold throughout the United States and Canada. Big-box retailers Home Depot and Costco stock Gutterglove products. Roofing and gutter supply stores also sell Gutterglove’s gutter guards.
Colleagues noted that Lenney is always inventing, producing variations of his products. He holds seven U.S. patents and two are pending.
Lenney’s inventions go beyond gutter guard systems, however.
Lenney recently unveiled the Gutter Guard Brush, a telescoping pole topped with a brush laced with lines of firm bristles positioned at numerous angles. He says the brush tool can clean any gutter guard system on the market, without the user climbing a ladder.
Anticipating increasing demand for Gutterglove products, the company began moving in January from its 22,000-square-foot offices and manufacturing site in Rocklin to the much larger Roseville facility. The moving process is still ongoing, but Lenney notes: “Now, we have more room to grow.”
Homeowners that have rainwater catchment systems will appreciate having a gutter guard that has been taken through the rigorous test by UL for the (certifications).
Robert Lenney, CEO Gutterglove Inc
Currently, the company employs around 60, although that sometimes varies seasonally.
About 35,000 square feet of the 43,000-square-foot Roseville site are devoted to manufacturing, packaging and shipping.
Spread out over the expansive, high-ceiling manufacturing area, workers stand at specially designed stations, drawing out yards of stainless steel mesh and hammering lengths of gutter guards into shape. Much of the work is done by hand, but there are a couple of exotic-looking machines to handle more complex chores.
Along one wall, Gutterglove products wrapped in sheets of plastic are stacked high and ready to ship to some 300 stores. The new facility has seven truck docks – compared with zero in Rocklin – so Lenney says loading and shipping capabilities at the new site have improved dramatically.
Lenney also said he’s happy that about 80 percent of Gutterglove’s costs to make its products are in the United States, with the remaining 20 percent split between China and India.
That was not true at the beginning. Back in 2003, company founder Lenney was hopeful of having Gutterglove function as an all-California venture, but using parts from high-end, high-quality materials was expensive. So, in 2006, manufacturing was done in China.
In 2012, he brought most of the work back to California, saying at the time that it “will infuse millions of dollars back into the Golden State … and hopefully set an example that other manufacturers can follow."
Lenney also insists that, unlike other Golden State manufacturers, “we’re staying in California. We have no plans to move to Texas.”