A look back

The Roofing Alliance has focused on education, technology, sustainability and philanthropy

For the past 25 years, the Roofing Alliance has been supporting roofing industry efforts to address a variety of challenges from workforce development to regulatory compliance to roofing technology and research. The Roofing Alliance also has been working to enhance the professional image of the industry through positive branding and philanthropic outreach. Starting with a key group of roofing professionals in 1996, members of the Roofing Alliance continue to believe in the most important mission of the organization: giving back.

The Roofing Alliance’s mission has never wavered. As the 501(C)(3) foundation of NRCA, the Roofing Alliance focuses on four core values: education and training, technology and research, sustainability and philanthropy. In celebration of its 25th anniversary, we will look at some of the Roofing Alliance’s top accomplishments in each of these four core values.

Education and training

The Roofing Alliance began investing in groundbreaking initiatives when it funded a Gallup study of the roofing industry workforce in 1997. The Gallup study led to additional Roofing Alliance-funded initiatives such as NRCA ProCertification® and Training for Roof Application Careers to help develop a future industry workforce. The Gallup study acknowledged and warned of the upcoming labor shortage the industry still faces.

To that end, the Roofing Alliance began an initiative to work with construction management departments at major U.S. universities. The Roofing Alliance funded the following faculty-led studies:

  • A Study of the U.S. Roofing Industry and its Workforce at Arizona State University, Tempe
  • Evaluating the Efficacy of Virtual Reality Technology at Mississippi State, Starkville
  • Heat Stress Conditions and Awareness for Roofing Workers at Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers
  • Principles of Roofing from Design to Installation and Beyond, Phase I at Clemson University, Clemson, S.C.
  • Workforce Education and Retention, Phase II at Clemson University

Two major outcomes from the partnerships with construction management schools are an annual student competition and development of roofing-specific course materials. The Roofing Alliance Construction Management Student Competition promotes careers in roofing industry management while also providing a significant learning opportunity. The competition fosters an environment that brings out the best in each team; encourages dialogue among the students; and promotes team spirit as students rise to meet the competition’s challenges. The competition tests students’ roofing knowledge and project management, estimating, safety, quality control and presentation skills.

Clemson University’s faculty adviser Dhaval Gajjar has been instrumental in creating the first roofing-specific university-level class. Gajjar is developing three courses (totaling nine credits) that will lead to a formal Roofing Certificate Program for university students and corporate-level industry professionals. The first phase of this study created and implemented an in-person, three-credit roofing introductory course specific to the roofing industry. The study saw graduate and undergraduate students enrolled during spring 2020. Sixteen Roofing Alliance member companies participated in guest lectures and 90 companies provided funds for content development.

“Along with developing the online certificate program, we have done analyses for various economic factors such as salary, benefits and career advancement within the roofing industry,” Gajjar says. “This is due to the important contributing factors that influence the career choices of younger generations. These are the factors the industry needs to better understand if it wishes to attract and maintain a talented workforce.”

Because the Roofing Alliance owns the course materials developed by Clemson University, it makes the course available to other construction management schools.

One of the oldest Roofing Alliance programs to address current and future workplace issues while ensuring a qualified, trained workforce is the Melvin Kruger Endowed Scholarship Program. Annual scholarships are awarded to individuals planning to attend post-secondary colleges and universities or vocational and technical trade schools with the intent of pursuing careers in the roofing or building construction industries.

The program offers three scholarship categories: the accredited Post-Secondary Institution Scholarship, the accredited Career Technical Education Scholarship and the Diversity Scholarship. Industry professionals, their spouses and their dependent children are eligible to apply.

The scholarship endowment fund currently stands at $1.5 million. To date, $945,000 has been awarded to 137 scholarship recipients. For the 2021-22 academic year, $65,000 was awarded.

Technology and research

The Roofing Alliance provides timely and forward-thinking industry responses to major economic and technological issues. Understanding that technology and research will continue to improve the industry, the Roofing Alliance has been collecting data through research programs.

For example, in collaboration with major universities, the Roofing Alliance funded a study by faculty members at Arizona State University who analyzed the industry and concluded there are more than 50,000 roofing contracting companies in the U.S.—far more than some people realized.

The Roofing Alliance also made a significant contribution to a study conducted by Structural Research Inc., Middleton, Wis., that evaluated moisture in concrete roof decks. The findings indicated there is more moisture in structural concrete roof decks than previously known, and it is retained longer than expected. The finding has helped contractors and manufacturers address roof system failures.

Other roofing technology and research accomplishments affecting the roofing industry funded by the Roofing Alliance include:

  • The Futures Study, 2005 to 2025, which helped industry professionals strategically plan for the future
  • A study to examine ergonomics that resulted in practical recommendations for reducing strains, sprains and hernias—the most common injuries suffered by roofing workers
  • A significant contribution to Florida International University’s Wall of Wind, which provided a more sophisticated understanding of how to prevent wind-related damage when designing and installing roof systems
  • Funding NRCA’s silica objective data collection so contractors do not have to conduct exposure testing on every project where silica might be present
  • Studying the cultural issues surrounding an increasingly Spanish-speaking workforce


Leading the industry into the solar field early on, the Roofing Alliance funded work by Penn State University, State College, Pa., in 2007 to help the industry understand the implications of rooftop solar installations and identify issues related to solar integration. The Roofing Alliance continued to look for projects that would find solutions for sustainability in the built environment.

As energy and environmental concerns mounted, the Roofing Alliance knew it would be important to quantify the role reflective roof systems play in mitigating heat absorption. The Roofing Alliance funded a major study to understand and promote the growth of roof reflectivity and how roofing contractors could be a larger part of the movement. The study concluded the life expectancy of a typical low-slope roof system is about 18 years. This helped NRCA to change depreciation rules for roof systems, saving building owners thousands of dollars and spurring demand for roof system replacements.


Philanthropy is an important part of the Roofing Alliance. The organization’s most significant philanthropic effort is its partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities.® Roofing Alliance and NRCA members have adopted the roofs of all 165 standalone Ronald McDonald House® programs in the U.S. Members agree to maintain the roof systems through annual inspections, respond to emergency repairs, and help with expansions and new roof systems when needed.

Other initiatives include:

  • Creating the Most Valuable Player Awards program, which recognizes field, warehouse and manufacturing plant workers who not only do exemplary work for their companies but also affect their communities with charitable outreach
  • Showcasing the industry through the annual Gold Circle Awards program, which recognizes contractors for their workmanship, innovative solutions and safety
  • Creating the Helping Our Own program, which provides assistance on an as-needed basis to people in the industry who experience life-altering circumstances. Most notably, the program provided financial assistance to two roofing workers who were injured during the Boston Marathon bombing.
  • In 1990, the Roofing Alliance developed a relationship with Rebuilding Together,® an organization that rehabilitates single-family homes for people in need and veterans. For several years, the Roofing Alliance co-sponsored Community Service Days with local Rebuilding Together chapters and was a sponsor for Kickoff to Rebuild, an annual event held in conjunction with the Super Bowl.

More to come

The Roofing Alliance has accomplished a great deal during the past 25 years. And as it embarks on the next 25 years, it will continue its mission of promoting the advancement of the roofing industry through education and training, technology and research, sustainability and philanthropy. 

HEIDI J. ELLSWORTH is partner with RoofersCoffeeShop® and owner of HJE Consulting, Camp Sherman, Ore., and BENNETT JUDSON is the Roofing Alliance’s former executive director.


Bennett Judson, former NRCA vice president of meeting services and former Roofing Alliance executive director, retired Dec. 31, 2021, after more than 40 years of service. For the past 17 years, Judson helped grow the Roofing Alliance’s philanthropic and educational initiatives. She has been an integral part of the Roofing Alliance’s Most Valuable Player Awards program; Construction Management Schools initiative; Ronald McDonald House Charities partnership; and many research projects. Judson will continue her involvement part-time with Roofing Alliance programs.

Alison L. LaValley, CAE, will move into the position of Roofing Alliance executive director. LaValley has been with NRCA for 34 years in various capacities, most recently serving as executive director of NRCA’s Legal Resource Center as well as spearheading NRCA’s career and technical education and diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Get involved, give back

Financial support is critical to the Roofing Alliance, and its strength comes from its members. The roofing industry has a history of generosity, and for roofing professionals who would like to be involved with giving back to the industry that has given so much to them, the Roofing Alliance provides the perfect opportunity to do so.

The Roofing Alliance offers different levels of membership to encourage small-, medium- and large-sized firms to join and have a voice in determining the roofing industry’s future. The leadership of the Roofing Alliance includes roofing contractors; roofing material and equipment manufacturers; distributors; and service providers. Commitments to the Roofing Alliance can be pledged over three- to five-year periods.

The Roofing Alliance also provides roofing professionals the opportunity to fulfill their philanthropic goals through a variety of planned giving opportunities, including bequests, gifts of real estate or appreciate stock, life insurance policies, retirement plan assets and charitable trusts.

Roofing professionals also are encouraged to support the Melvin Kruger Endowed Scholarship program, which provides financial support for students furthering their education to pursue careers in the roofing or building construction industries. Gifts to the scholarship program are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law and can be paid during a period up to five years.

For more information about how you can make a commitment to the Roofing Alliance, contact Alison L. LaValley, CAE, the Roofing Alliance’s executive director, at (847) 493-7573, or alavalley@nrca.net.



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