Until a couple of months ago, Rod Petrick, president of Ridgeworth Roofing Co. Inc., Frankfort, Ill., may have had a different answer for what it means to be NRCA’s chairman of the board.
“Now, it’s about how we are going to come out of this COVID-19 crisis,” Petrick says. “The roofing industry may look a bit different. I want to help our members navigate through probably one of the most difficult times to work in our lifetimes. I’ve been involved in the industry since 1975, so I’ve been here through small recessions to 9/11 to the Great Recession.
“We’re going through a pandemic that nobody in the industry has gone through at this magnitude. I am going to help those who need help now and guide our members and the entire industry through this. I want us all to be in a good position to move our businesses forward.”
On June 1, Petrick became NRCA’s chairman of the board, assuming the position during an unprecedented time for the roofing industry. Everyone in the world has in some way been affected by the pandemic.
“Every organization Rod has been in charge of has always been better after his term,” says George Patterson, president of Bennett and Brosseau Roofing Inc., Romeoville, Ill. “Whatever Rod does during the next year will make NRCA a better place than before he was there.”
Roofing in his blood
Petrick grew up in the southwest side of Chicago just west of Midway Airport with his parents, Barbara and Robert. After graduating from St. Rita of Cascia High School, an all-male Catholic school, in 1975, Petrick had every intention of going to college.
“I told my dad I would work for a year or two to help him get started on his business,” Petrick says. “And then, I began making a good wage and developed a passion for the business. I love roofing. I love what I do. I love being here. I bleed roofing.”
Petrick’s father started working in the roofing industry for a manufacturer and then went to work at Knickerbocker Roofing and Paving Co. Inc., Harvey, Ill. His father and two co-workers then left the company and founded Ridgeworth Sheet Metal and Roofing on Feb. 1, 1974.
“Within a year, my dad bought out his two partners and sold off all the sheet-metal equipment to be able to afford it because my dad was stronger in roofing than the other two gentlemen, who were stronger in sheet metal,” Petrick says. “And the roofing company went forward from there.”
Petrick moved up from an apprentice to journeyman, foreman and superintendent, and then project manager before taking over running the business when his father became ill during the mid-1990s. Petrick’s brother Brian also worked at Ridgeworth Roofing after graduating from high school.
“Brian was never looking to be in the management side,” Petrick says. “He was our crane operator, tanker driver and basically handled all the logistics in and out of the shop. He worked with us until he developed lung cancer, and we lost him three years ago. It was a rough loss. And trying to find someone like him has been extremely difficult.”
Now, Petrick gets a lot of help with the family business from his son Ryan, 35, who is a graduate of NRCA’s Future Executives Institute—Class 7.
“Ryan went through a program when he was in high school where he would come to work at Ridgeworth from noon to 4 p.m., and he took a liking to it,” Petrick says. “College would not have been the right fit for him. But if you tell him you’re going to buy a car at a certain price at a certain interest rate, he’ll tell you within pennies what your payment is going to be.”
Similar to his father, Ryan started working on roofs to learn the trade, moved up in the company and currently is vice president.
“Growing up, I always enjoyed coming to the office with my dad on the weekends and during the summers and still enjoy working with him today,” Ryan says. “My dad is honest, hardworking and driven to succeed.”
At Ridgeworth Roofing, all employees are treated like family members.
“Rod and Ryan have made it easy for me to feel part of the Ridgeworth family,” says Linda Mudroch, office manager for Ridgeworth Roofing. “Being at Ridgeworth has made me challenge myself and learn new skills because of their support. Rod is one of the most genuine people I have ever met. He is always looking out for his team.”
Although Ryan and Mudroch help manage the company, Petrick remains engaged in the business, often arriving in the office before sunrise to help get the crews out. Afterward, he checks in with clients, something he enjoys. Helping people in the community is important to Petrick.
“I’ve been fortunate in the business that I took over from my parents that I can afford to help people who need help,” Petrick says. “My dad and I graduated from the same high school, and I’ve been able to donate two roofing projects to the school, the most recent one being a substantial roof system installation on an addition.”
Through Ridgeworth Roofing, Petrick also has helped other organizations such as Inner Voice Inc., a Chicago-based initiative helping homeless persons; Shady Oaks Camp, a summer camp in Homer Glen, Ill., for people with disabilities; and veterans to provide roof systems to those in need.
“It’s nice to be able to reach out and help someone,” Petrick says. “And what’s really nice is our workers who help them realize it’s special, too. If I hear of a project that’s not in my area and I know a friendly competitor in that area, I’m going to call that person and try and talk him or her into taking the project. It’s so important we all understand we are fortunate in what we do, and it’s nice to be able to share it.”
Getting people to share their talents is a skill Petrick used well during his term as president of the Roofing Alliance from 2018-19, when he, with help from Charles Antis, founder and CEO of Antis Roofing & Waterproofing, Irvine, Calif., who presented the idea to the Roofing Alliance, challenged the roofing industry to adopt all 165 standalone Ronald McDonald House Charities® houses across the U.S.
“It was one of the biggest undertakings during my term, and I enjoyed it,” Petrick says. “With Ronald McDonald House Charities based in Chicago, I became the go-to guy.”
RMHC helps families with critically ill children stay together and near the hospitals providing them medical care. The initiative to adopt RMHC houses has brought together roofing professionals who donate their time to provide roof system inspections, maintenance, repairs and/or replacements while also volunteering and donating financially.
“The way the roofing industry met the challenge to get all the houses adopted is probably one of the best things the entire industry has done since I’ve been involved,” Petrick says. “We didn’t get them all adopted before I was done being president, but we got them all within 30 days after that.”
Before serving as president of the Roofing Alliance, Petrick served as CRCA president and MRCA president concurrently in 2008. He has volunteered with CRCA since the 1980s after his father persuaded him to get involved.
“I remember my dad telling me I was going to get a call from CRCA,” Petrick says. “He told me I needed to give back to the industry where I make my living.”
As part of his volunteer work with CRCA, Petrick was involved with developing Chicago’s current roof reflectivity ordinance.
“In 2001, Chicago’s mayor basically wanted to change Chicago’s roofing industry from using dark-colored roofs to using light-colored roofs and do it in three months,” Petrick explains. “So several organizations—CRCA, NRCA, Building Owners and Managers Association, Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association and others—got together and started having meetings with City of Chicago representatives.”
After years of meetings, climate studies, research and accumulating data from all parties involved, Chicago’s roof reflectivity ordinance went into effect April 22, 2008, coinciding with Earth Day.
“It took seven years and I don’t know how much money with attorneys and studies and everything else we needed, but what we ended up with is a good compromise from what originally was proposed,” Petrick says. “At the time, a lot of roofing contractors were not working with TPO and PVC membranes. But now, it’s about all we install. The manufacturing and coating sides of the industry really stepped up and developed materials that are readily available and easy to work with.”
Petrick remains an active member of CRCA’s Industry Affairs and technical committees and regularly meets with the City of Chicago’s building department and the state of Illinois’ building counterpart. Through committees, CRCA recently achieved a necessary amendment to the city and state building requirements relating to roofing.
In recognition of his volunteer service with MRCA, in 2013, Petrick was awarded the James Q. McCawley Award, the highest honor bestowed by MRCA. The award is presented annually to an individual in recognition for outstanding service to the roofing industry.
While volunteering locally and regionally with CRCA and MRCA, Petrick served as a liaison to NRCA’s technical committees, but he didn’t start volunteering nationally with NRCA until 2010 after his friend, Jim Barr, president of Barr Roofing Co., Abilene, Texas, and a former NRCA chairman of the board, talked to Petrick about getting involved.
“Rod and I met about 25 years ago when we were serving on the board of directors for MRCA,” Barr says. “Rod is a genuine, bright person with great leadership skills. Most of our contemporaries enjoy what they do and are accomplished at it, but Rod absolutely loves the roofing business.”
Since volunteering for NRCA, Petrick has served on several committees, including the Future Executives Institute, Insurance Board of Governors, Manual Update, NRCA University Operations, ProCertification® and Safety Regulatory, and was chairman of the Technical Operations Committee. He also served as a director of NRCA’s Legal Resource Center from 2017-19. From 2014-16, he served as an NRCA vice president; from 2018-19 he served as an NRCA vice chairman; and most recently, he served as NRCA’s chairman of the board-elect from 2019-20.
Now, as chairman of the board, Petrick’s most pressing concern is making sure members have the resources they need to persevere through the coronavirus crisis and beyond.
“I think finding qualified workers as we get past the COVID-19 crisis is going to be difficult,” Petrick says. “Everybody was talking about backlogs and not having enough people before the pandemic. In most areas, roofing has been considered an essential business, but there are plenty of areas where roofing was or is not considered an essential business, so it’s going to be a difficult time as we get out of this.”
Petrick serves as a trustee for the Chicago Roofers Joint Apprenticeship and Training Program; anyone applying to become an apprentice needs to satisfactorily pass an aptitude test before being accepted. According to Petrick, the workforce issue is not about finding enough people.
“We had 250 people take the test in 2019, but we never called any of them because they didn’t qualify,” he says. “Whether you’re a roofing contractor on the signatory side or a roofing contractor on the open-shop side, everyone is struggling to find good, responsible, qualified people.”
In 2018, NRCA launched its Training for Roof Application Careers and ProCertification programs to train and certify workers in specific roof system installations. There currently are four TRAC packages and four ProCertification designations available. Petrick credits Immediate Former Chairman of the Board Nick Sabino, president of Deer Park Roofing Inc., Cincinnati, with helping move the initiatives forward.
“I think Nick did a great job; developing ProCertification was a gigantic undertaking,” Petrick says. “He got the right people on the right committees. He kept a constant flow of information. We talk about ProCertification on almost every leadership conference call. Now, my job is to keep that momentum going.”
During the next year, Petrick plans to tighten the ProCertification production schedule.
“I would like to see NRCA completing two, three or four certifications within 14 to 18 months,” Petrick says. “I don’t think the industry can wait. Manufacturers are now coming to us to help because they also see it as extremely important.”
Working more with manufacturers and other industry partners also is at the top of Petrick’s agenda. During 2017, NRCA launched its One Voice Initiative to address and speak with one voice about matters critical to the roofing industry’s continued success.
“Thanks to the One Voice Initiative, NRCA is becoming more involved in issues that affect everyone,” Petrick says. “We are bringing contractors, manufacturers, distributors and other industry players together to speak with one voice about matters critical to the roofing industry’s continued success. We’re not the roofing contractor industry or the roofing manufacturer industry. We are the roofing industry.”
Having volunteered on the local, regional and national levels, Petrick has a unique perspective.
“I’ve worked on the local side and have seen the local issues. I’ve worked on the regional side and have seen the regional issues. And now, I’m working on the national side and see the national issues, and it’s interesting that as much as the markets may be different, inevitably we all have the same issues,” Petrick says.
Dennis Runyan, president of DrySpace Inc., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, says having a wide range of volunteer experience makes a great leader like Petrick.
“Rod’s varied involvement in local, state, regional and national roofing-related groups has given him a breadth of knowledge to lead,” Runyan says. “Rod is a crusader for excellence in the roofing industry.”
For Petrick, achieving excellence means involvement from everyone.
“Of course we want to grow membership, but I encourage people to do more than that—get involved and share ideas,” Petrick says. “And in return you’ll gain knowledge and insight. NRCA has newsletters, webinars, programs and a wealth information readily available. And if anyone calls with a question, anybody on the board of directors is willing to help. NRCA is where the professionals hang out.”
In Petrick’s downtime, he also enjoys hanging out with roofing professionals socially.
“My dad used to say: ‘If you can’t have friends in the industry, it’s not an industry worth being in,’” Petrick says. “I can’t tell you how fortunate I am that I have friends in this industry.”
Through his volunteer involvement, Petrick has developed a vast network of peers.
“It’s amazing how many contacts he has throughout the country,” says Bonnie, Petrick’s wife. “Everywhere we go, he knows everybody. I don’t know how he can remember so many people and what they do. But he does, and he loves it.”
Petrick and Bonnie met in 1982 when one of Bonnie’s friends introduced them at a party.
“My friend didn’t tell me much about Rod, and I don’t think she said much about me to him,” Bonnie says. “So we met, and we started dating right after that.”
Within a year, in 1983, the couple were married.
“He made me laugh,” Bonnie says. “And 37 years later, he still makes me laugh—every day.”
Petrick agrees he and Bonnie are a great match.
“When I met Bonnie, she had a three-year-old son, Dan, and the rest is history,” Petrick says.
Dan, now 40, lives in Boston with his wife, Ashley, and they share three children, Josh, 8; Brooke, 6; and Jonathan, 3. Dan is an oncology research chemist responsible for global clinical trials.
“So you can imagine what he’s working on now and is quite busy during this pandemic,” Bonnie says.
Petrick and Bonnie also had two children together: Ryan, who works at Ridgeworth Roofing, is married to Christen, and they have two children, Lyla, 6, and Sadie, 3; and Ashley, 31, who lives in Phoenix and is a vice president of human resources. Ashley had been planning to get married in Chicago May 2, but the wedding plans had to be revamped because of COVID-19 social distancing requirements.
“It was emotional for her to have to change her plans,” Petrick says. “I helped her make all the calls to vendors and caterers. She and Jake ended up getting married in Sedona, Ariz., in the beautiful mountains.”
On Saturdays, Petrick escapes to the garage to wash and wax his many “toys”: an original 1967 Chevrolet Camaro; a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette with T-tops and a rare 427-435 motor; a special edition 2008 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, car No. 54 out of 505, of which he is the original owner; and a couple of motorcycles.
“One of my favorite memories growing up is going to car shows and drag-racing events with my dad,” Ryan says. “We both love cars and racing.”
Whenever they can, Petrick and Bonnie enjoy going out to dinner and sharing a bottle of wine and traveling with friends.
“We love going to Key West with Jim and Sue Barr,” Bonnie says. “We love traveling with them. They are fun people. We all laugh so much together.”
Bonnie previously worked at Ridgeworth Roofing between 2005 and 2017 as office manager, so she understands what the roofing industry entails and the professional challenges facing her husband during the coming year.
“I support him through everything,” Bonnie says. “I met Rod when he was in his twenties, and to see him progress to the person he is today makes me step back and say, ‘wow.’ He knows and gets along with so many people. That is going to help NRCA.”
Start your engines
As the roofing industry navigates through challenges never experienced and begins to emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, Petrick is well-prepared to lead members and the industry forward to a prosperous future.
“Rod is an intelligent take-charge individual who has vast knowledge of business, roofing and codes and thinks fast,” Patterson says. “He thoroughly understands what is being put forth before him, and he will provide concise solutions that will be fair for everyone in the industry.”
Petrick says he’s ready for what’s ahead of him and is grateful for the opportunity to help during such a critical time for the industry.
“I’ve met lifelong friends, some of them have become the best of friends through my involvement in the industry, especially at NRCA,” Petrick says. “I am humbled to have been asked to serve as chairman of the board. I will strive to lead the industry forward and leave NRCA and the industry better than when I entered it.”
The Lighter Side
What is your favorite word?
What sound or noise do you love?
The cold start of a high-performance engine
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Open-wheel race car driver
What is your favorite quality in a person?
What is your fear?
Which season of the year do you prefer?
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
Glad to have you, Rod.
Do you have a favorite food?
I like everything.
What is your pet peeve?
Next in line—Kyle Thomas
Kyle Thomas, vice president of Thomas Roofing Co. Inc., Mobile, Ala., has been in the roofing industry since 1993. With encouragement from his father, who saw the value in NRCA membership, in 2002, Thomas enrolled in the first class of NRCA University’s Future Executives Institute.
Soon after completing the FEI program, Thomas served his first term on NRCA’s board of directors from 2005-08 and then served again from 2011-14. During 2016-18, he was an officer for the association and has served on many committees including Education Resource Oversight, Future Executives Institute, Health and Safety, Manual Update, PAC Advisory and Technical Operations, as well as several task forces including QC Guidelines, Repair Manual and Vegetative Roof Manual.
On June 1, Thomas began his one-year term as chairman of the board-elect, the second highest-ranking officer for NRCA.
“After years of committee work and serving on the board of directors and Executive Committee, it seemed like the right next step,” Thomas says.
Similar to NRCA Chairman of the Board Rod Petrick, president of Ridgeworth Roofing Co. Inc., Frankfort, Ill., Thomas says finding qualified workers and an unpredictable economy are the most important issues facing the industry.
“Recruiting, training and retaining our workforce is the biggest challenge overall,” Thomas says. “However, the most immediate challenge we face at this moment is the economic uncertainty following COVID-19 shutdowns and how our customers respond.”
With programs such as NRCA ProCertification® and Training for Roof Application Careers designed to help roofing professionals succeed, Thomas wants to help more people take advantage of these and other opportunities.
“We have invested a lot in the ProCertification program, and we must continue to communicate its value throughout the industry,” Thomas says. “I also would like to focus on growing membership. Our current membership is great, but there are tens of thousands of roofing contractors and other professionals out there who would benefit tremendously from joining NRCA. We need to bring them in.”
According to Thomas, NRCA has provided many benefits that have helped him professionally and personally.
“Tangible benefits such as keeping abreast of current technical and code issues, legal guidance and advice, and having a voice for all roofing professionals in Washington, D.C., provide what roofing professionals need to succeed. And intangible benefits like industry relationships and the ability to share challenges and successes with a group of peers are invaluable,” Thomas says.
In his personal time, Thomas enjoys cooking; watching Alabama Crimson Tide college football; riding in his Jeep with his wife, Emily; trying out local restaurants; and spending time with his family in their boat or on the beach. Thomas and his wife have four children: Sara, 25, is a graduate of the University of South Alabama, Mobile, and works in the event planning industry; Bradley, 23, is a student at the University of South Alabama and is married to Campbell, who works at Thomas Roofing as an estimator and project manager, and the couple has two children, McLane, 6, and Ella Hayes, 1 month old; Jared, 20, is a student at the University of Alabama at Birmingham; and Benjamin, 17, is a student at Fairhope High School.
Thomas is thankful for the opportunity to give back to the industry that has given him so much.
“This industry has been good to me and my family,” Thomas says. “My involvement in the association has been rewarding, especially the relationships I’ve made. It’s humbling to be selected by this group of people to be chairman of the board-elect.”
During the next year, Thomas plans to support Petrick’s agenda and assist any way he can.
“I’m confident Rod and I will work well together,” Thomas says. “Rod will set the agenda, and I’ll go wherever he needs me and do what he asks. And if he needs me to take a few of his ‘toy’ cars out for a drive to make sure they are running well, I’ll do that, too.”