As I was saying …

To the new year

In 2013, we experienced the shutdown of the federal government, reopening of the federal government and possibility of the government defaulting on its debts (twice).

We learned the government, composed of human beings after all, is prone to errors. And big government, composed of millions of human beings, is prone to catastrophic errors. The case in point, of course, is the Affordable Care Act, and in 2014, we enter a new age of uncertainty led by doubts about its final disposition.

In 2013, teams from Baltimore, Boston, Chicago and Miami captured the major U.S. sports championships. And who says major markets don't have an advantage?

It was a year when cyclist Lance Armstrong acknowledged: "I'm a flawed character." And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said: "I'm basically the healthiest fat guy you've ever seen." The healthy fat guy had a good year; the healthier guy, not so much.

In the roofing industry, 2013 was a year of mixed results. The housing industry continued its rebound from the depths of 2009 without yet approaching the levels it experienced in 2006 and 2007. The commercial sector was solid—if not spectacular—as more money moved off the sidelines. And the industrial sector softened as government money (thanks to the federal sequester) dried up.

The onslaught of government regulation continued at all levels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced a long-developing proposed rule to regulate worker exposure to silica, a natural material found in all sorts of construction products. Later in the year, the agency decided it would be a good idea for employers to do more frequent reporting of accidents and injuries. The stated reason: to make the information more widely available to the public, never mind the nature of the injuries or methodology of data collection.

NRCA members, even in a sluggish economy, struggled to find qualified workers at all levels of their companies. Increasingly, they have been considering succession planning in their businesses, as well; the roofing industry isn't exempt from the effects of an aging U.S. population.

For NRCA, it was another solid year with new initiatives being introduced in a number of areas. We're promoting, more heavily than ever, the value of using NRCA member professional roofing contractors. We're ready to launch a new Enterprise Risk Management Department, which will broaden our definition of the risks roofing contractors face, and we'll be offering even more expert help to members when they need it most. We've also upgraded the level of tangible, member benefits we offer, starting with free monthly webinars and bimonthly issue updates addressing the most current topics.

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress, too, did a lot of great work on some big strategic issues, most notably establishing relationships with three of the top schools of construction management. We hope they will become a source for our industry's future leaders; we also hope their students learn more about roofing than the previous generation.

In 2014, we'll be offered the opportunity as we have in every even-numbered year to have our collective voices heard at the polls. A toast, then, to the new year: Let's be heard—loudly—and let's all keep up the great work done by roofing professionals.

Bill Good is NRCA's executive vice president.


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