I remember when NRCA launched E-News, its weekly electronic newsletter, in 2001. At the time, we were concerned the roofing industry might not be ready for electronic communications and Internet technology was not mainstream within the contracting community.
Now, we boast 12,725 E-News subscribers, adding an average of 30 new subscribers per day. And surveys we have conducted show NRCA E-News is a leading source of information for members and nonmembers alike.
For an industry that sometimes is slow to adopt new technology, the roofing industry now seems to be embracing nearly all technology available. Tablets and smartphones are common on job sites, and apps designed specifically for roofing have become increasingly popular.
As I walked through the trade show floor during the recent 2013 International Roofing Expo® (IRE), I saw several displays of cutting-edge technology contractors can implement into their daily workdays.
For example, Labor Sync, Dumont, N.J., offers a time-tracking software that operates from mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. A contractor can track his or her workers' time and locations through the software. And though the idea may seem a tad "Big Brother," consider this: The company signed up more than 5,000 users from seven countries during the 2013 IRE.
"The Great Recession hit everyone hard," says Dean Logan, Labor Sync's founder and chief executive officer (CEO). "Cost control and increased efficiency remain priorities. Technology solutions make workers more efficient and reduce labor costs, which result in increased contracts."
But the biggest news on the technology front was the merger of EagleView® Technologies, Bothell, Wash., and Pictometry,® Rochester, N.Y. Although the two had been somewhat competitive before merging, the consolidation brings together leading forces in aerial measurement technology. And that can only mean good things for the industry.
"To put both these innovative companies together is a monumental move that provides the opportunity to create even better technology solutions for the industry," says EagleView/Pictometry's CEO Chris Barrow.
As the industry continues to evolve and adapt to technology, we will continue to see companies shattering preconceived notions of what is possible. After all, to quote Steve Jobs: "Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower."
Ambika Puniani Bailey is editor of Professional Roofing and NRCA's associate executive director of communications and production.