If you frequently read this column, you probably noticed a different byline. On May 31, Reid Ribble retired as NRCA’s CEO and gave up the pen for this space. It’s all our loss. He helmed the organization for the past five years through changes and transformations seen and invisible and through headwinds and challenges revolutionary and minute. But like so many others, Reid wants to spend more of his time with family, golfing, riding motorcycles and doing other activities. Having dedicated nearly 50 years to the roofing industry (and more than 30 years to NRCA as a member, volunteer and CEO), Reid’s wife and family said it was their turn to get more of his time and for NRCA and the industry to transition onward.
As I wad up newspaper to stuff into the big shoes Reid leaves behind, I want to take a moment to introduce myself. I don’t particularly like talking about myself, but with my transition to this new role I thought it would be good to briefly tell you some of my background.
I grew up in southern Nevada and watched the city and state change over the decades. Growing up in the Las Vegas Valley is, overall, a pretty normal, suburban existence. If you go 1,000 yards off The Strip, you could be in almost any town … where the temperature is 111 F in August.
I can claim two most uniquely Vegas things. First is tearing up the oil pan of my 1969 Ford Bronco while being an idiot off-roading in the desert as a teenager. A hospital now stands on that spot … a hospital in which my eldest son was later born. I should have kept that truck as prices now would have paid for a decent chunk of his college tuition, but I sold it to help fund my own.
The second entails learning how to gamble in my high school probability and statistics class as we were calculating the probability of the table games. Always looking a little older than my actual age, I would occasionally then hit the casinos to play craps after school (evidently the broader lesson of the statistics in gambling didn’t stick!). Although I lost money at the tables, taking the class allowed me to skip the course in college, so I still came out ahead.
I attended college in Washington, D.C., and studied business with the intention of getting a real job after graduation. But following my freshman year, I was a summer intern for a U.S. Senate campaign in Las Vegas and ended up taking the fall semester off school to work the race through the election. I quickly found I enjoyed the contact sport of politics as well as being involved in something bigger than just “me.” I could try and make a difference in this world while also enjoying the chess-like nature campaigns and politics bring.
I ended up spending much of the next few decades working in and out of government for elected officials and wannabes alike. I moved between Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Washington, D.C., for about 20 years. I had stints running two statewide political parties, working for governors, lieutenant governors, an attorney general, two U.S. senators, two congressmen, and as a partner in a consulting firm involved with dozens of campaigns and ballot initiatives each election cycle.
That’s how I found my way to roofing. One of those initial government wannabes a long time ago was Reid Ribble. I was introduced to him by Mary Mai, a former colleague of mine who worked for NRCA’s government affairs department and Ribble’s campaign. Ribble and I got to know each other, and when he won his race, my wife and I moved back to Washington, D.C., (for the third time at that point) with the intention of starting his office and returning to Nevada and my firm after one year, which ended up turning into six. During his time in Congress, he introduced me to aspects of the roofing industry and after he retired from Congress and became NRCA’s CEO, I decided to join him.
For the past four years, I have served as NRCA’s chief operating officer focusing primarily on internal functions but still able to see the amazing people, companies and extraordinary character of the industry. It’s been a wonderful time that’s gone incredibly quickly. Learning the industry dynamics and getting to work with an amazing, dedicated team of staff professionals helps the time move swiftly.
So, too, does having a robust association agenda of new programs and initiatives, as well as external challenges and headwinds like a global pandemic and unprecedented material supply disruptions. Both NRCA and the broader roofing industry have been incredibly resilient, pragmatic and creative in tackling the challenges that arose in recent years. It’s been inspiring to witness and humbling to be a part of.
The intermediate future likely holds additional challenges that we all will need to navigate and overcome. Supply disruptions continue; inflation isn’t showing promising signs of abating; the Great Resignation continues to upturn the entire economy; and the roofing industry isn’t immune. NRCA’s leadership, committees and staff continue to focus and work on all these issues while continuing to innovate for the future.
NRCA’s strategic plan remains the evergreen roadmap for navigating these issues and more. We, as an industry, are infinitely stronger when we are united and working together, and we remain committed to working in a comprehensive, cohesive manner. Like the old proverb that tells us how it’s easy to break one lone stick but impossible to break a bundle of them, the roofing industry is unbreakable when it bands together. The roar of a crowd at a sporting event is often loud and incomprehensible, but that same crowd singing in unison during a concert brings an inspiring, clear message.
The same is true when we as an industry unite, speak and act with one voice. It’s not always possible, and that’s OK. But more cohesiveness is far better than less.
Another broad focus remains the continued progress on ensuring our industry is recognized for the professionals comprising it. Our members are proud of their work, the legacy they are building and the contributions they make. NRCA will continue to provide resources to help with recruitment (a daunting effort in today’s workplace); education and training; demonstrating a career path and honor within the trade; and certification to bolster pride, consumer protection and quality in our profession.
Each NRCA department is working to develop new resources to help members grow and succeed, and the work won’t slow in the months and years ahead. The needs are too great, and the goals are too important. Whether these are new technical manuals for steep-slope contractors, cyber insurance to protect your company from risks, affordable health insurance offerings to help your company be more attractive to prospective hires, certifications in bituminous roof systems, or career and technical education partnerships to broaden the funnel of workers entering the trade, every NRCA employee is dedicated to helping you and the industry.
I’m looking forward to the tasks ahead and working side-by-side with the professionals at NRCA and you to continue to move the roofing industry and our craft forward. Working together, we can navigate the challenges and come out stronger on the other side.
Nobody will be able to completely fill Reid’s shoes, but between NRCA’s incredible staff, dedicated volunteer leaders and resilient problem solvers like you, perhaps I won’t need as much newspaper.
MCKAY DANIELS is NRCA's CEO.
This column is part of News + Views. Click here to read additional stories from this section.