As I was saying …

The industry's resiliency

Rarely have I talked to so many roofing contractors who have different opinions about the state of the industry as I have lately. The adjectives range from "awful" to "improving" to "fantastic." I think it's a clear demonstration of the uncertainty we all feel as we work through our fourth year of, well, malaise.

The weather, of course, contributes to the confusion. There was no winter to speak of (not counting Alaska, where it still may be snowing); there were hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings damaged by wild wind events in the hail belt; and yet there have been virtually no big weather events along the Atlantic seaboard for six years now.

The weather's one thing, and it always will provide a baseline of work for the roofing industry. The bigger issue, of course, is what Uncle Sam will do. Tax cuts and changes to the estate tax expire Dec. 31. Regulations for our new health care program still are being written—and no one fully understands the consequences for employers. And then there's the elections, which will make us all so sick of political ads we'll be throwing up "unsustainable debt" and "Swiss bank accounts" long before November.

And the government keeps piling on new regulations, hoping that will somehow, miraculously, level the hypothetical playing field. Instead, the pile of regulations simply makes it more difficult for businesses to operate, makes them less inclined to think about expanding and creates new opportunities for the underground economy.