After a whirlwind start in my new position, I am happy to say I survived my first NRCA convention and International Roofing Expo® (IRE) as NRCA's CEO. I also am happy to announce the 2017 IRE was the largest exhibit in history and also broke attendance records. It's evident roofing contractors are interested in advancing their businesses and their industry.
Roofing manufacturers, distributors, roof consultants and architects also are equally interested and vested in the industry. When I became NRCA's CEO, it became clear to me NRCA—and its contractor members—no longer can exist in "us vs. them" relationships but rather should foster relationships that are more inclusive and collaborative.
I firmly believe NRCA should be an association first and foremost for professional roofing contractors, and we fully intend to maintain this focus. However, our initiatives can be better accomplished when we work together with all industry players.
NRCA's board of directors also recognizes this and has amended the association's bylaws to grant a minority position on NRCA's board and committees for associate members who desire greater partnerships with the organization.
Our chances for success in many areas improve when we row in the same direction, and I saw this firsthand during my time in Congress. Industries that spoke with a single voice were much more effective at moving legislation in their direction than those that did not. I also know this is true in areas such as building codes, influencing the insurance industry and worker safety. The entire roofing industry has broad agreement in many areas. It's time to dismiss the 2 percent disagreement we may have and emphasize the 98 percent of areas where we all agree.
For example, most of the industry broadly agrees on how to revise the U.S. tax code. The same goes for desiring pragmatic regulations. The roofing industry will have more influence in Washington, D.C., if we pool our resources than if we go at it separately.
Most notably, to remedy our workforce issues we need a unified message in relation to immigration reform. We all agree illegal immigration is a problem, but reforms are decades past due. The National Association of Home Builders recently reported worker shortages in the U.S. construction industry exceed 200,000 people. Most roofing contractors I speak with are feeling this pinch as they cannot find workers of any skill level much less trained ones. The industry can conquer this problem, but I believe it only will happen when we work together.
I hope you will participate with us. We are all better off when we agree to associate together—after all, that's the backbone of an association. Stay tuned.
Reid Ribble is NRCA's CEO.