The 2020 International Roofing Expo® and NRCA’s 133rd Annual Convention in Dallas were held in February, and what a week it was. NRCA’s Executive Committee and board of directors met; ROOFPAC had another successful live auction; and the Roofing Alliance was front and center with an exciting student competition and packed reception.
As you know, the J.A. Piper Award is the most prestigious award bestowed by NRCA. Previous winners represent the best the roofing industry has to offer. I cannot think of a more distinguished list of servant leaders anywhere. I was excited to see my friend Mark Gaulin from Tecta America® Corp. was named the 2020 J.A. Piper Award winner. It was my distinct honor and privilege to serve closely with Mark when he was NRCA president in 2006. Mark has one of the most brilliant business minds I have ever seen. His quiet, thoughtful demeaner combined with an uncanny intellect have been on display throughout his career at his own roofing company, NRCA, the founding days of Tecta America, and in committees and volunteer activities too numerous to count. I cannot think of a more worthy recipient, and I am proud to have Mark as a friend.
As I speak with roofing contractors throughout the U.S., I am inspired by what I see. I am also concerned about members finding skilled workers to grow their businesses. There simply are few legal workers available to hire. And there are no quick solutions. By some estimates, the roofing industry has 40,000 job openings, and roofing companies struggle to grow without much-needed help. This shortage will get worse as the current workforce begins to retire in record numbers. Fortunately, the industry has begun the hard work to solve the problem.
For example, manufacturers are trying to reduce labor from their installed systems. Distribution is playing a role by facilitating material loading directly to job sites. Technology companies are making it faster and safer to estimate work. And roofing companies are starting to take the need for workers more seriously and understand it will take all of us to solve the problem. We need to put self-interest aside for the bigger goal of having an industry that attracts new workers who seek professional careers. This will take looking at ourselves, the entire industry and the role each of us plays in making a better future for all. And this is where NRCA comes in.
NRCA can use the power of its vast contractor network to begin to shift public opinion. We will start with properly training roofing workers. NRCA has developed programs to make internal training more effective. NRCA’s Qualified Trainer Conference helps a designee from a roofing company take on the responsibility of managing its worker training program.
NRCA also created Training for Roof Application Careers. Combine the powerful TRAC curriculum with a Qualified Trainer, and you have taken a major step forward to changing the industry. Most programs I have seen require workers to leave the roof and get into a class. Our system allows new workers to learn at home and does not disrupt the “earn while learn” environment taking place on your next roofing project. New workers can stay right on the job.
And for skilled workers, we have NRCA ProCertification.™ If we want to build a sustainable workforce, we need to show future workers what their futures could look like. Professional certifications do exactly that. NRCA ProCertification, when adopted nationally by roofing contractors, will change the future in ways we can only imagine. Potential workers will see a future with them in it.
The final piece to this puzzle is Roofing Day in D.C. At this event, the industry takes charge of future legislation by helping Congress know who we are and what our industry needs, such as pragmatic, thoughtful immigration reform and better career and technical education support. The best way to make sure the roofing industry isn’t an afterthought is to show up in Washington, D.C., and show Congressional representatives we are interested in how their work affects us and our families. Join us in Washington, D.C., April 21 and 22. You can register at www.nrca.net/roofingday.
A brighter future is waiting for us. We just need to step up and take it.
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