Sharing its story

Two Alliance leaders discuss the organization's past accomplishments and future endeavors

In 1996, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress set out to improve the roofing industry by bringing together all industry segments to help fund research and educational programs; provide timely and forward-thinking industry responses to major economic and technological issues; and enhance the long-term viability and attractiveness of the industry to roofing workers.

Now, after more than 13 years of hard work and during one of the most difficult economic climates in recent history, the Alliance hasn't lost sight of these goals. According to Reid Ribble, the Alliance's president and president of The Ribble Group, Kaukauna, Wis.: "The Alliance is as engaged as ever."

Exciting accomplishments

When talking with Ribble and Geoff Craft, the Alliance's vice president and vice president—roofing products for Agawam, Mass.-based OMG Inc., it is difficult to miss their excitement about the organization.

One cause for excitement is the Alliance's Helping Our Own program, which reaches out to families in the roofing industry that have experienced a tragedy.

"During the past year, we helped two roofing industry families through the Helping Our Own program," Craft says. "The families experienced something that was tragic not only because somebody was sick or injured but also because it could have been a financial calamity. The Alliance donated funds to these families."

For more information about the Helping Our Own program, see "A helping hand," Professional Roofing Workers, November 2008 issue, page 18.

Another program generating excitement is the Alliance's Melvin Kruger Endowed Scholarship Program. Introduced in 2008, the program provides $5,000 per year for up to four years of full-time study at any accredited post-secondary institution for NRCA member companies' employees and their families.

"The Melvin Kruger Endowed Scholarship Program was launched a year ago, and money continues to come into the program," Ribble says. "We've broadened the base for the scholarships to include children of employees of any NRCA member company, including manufacturers and distributors, so it's not limited to just roofing contractor families.

"We're pretty excited about the growth of the foundation as it relates to our scholarship program," he continues.

A fresh image

This year, the Alliance began a campaign to re-energize its members, update its appearance and promote membership.

Ribble says: "We left our April meeting in Dallas with a lot of enthusiasm and a broad-range strategy to improve our marketing and rebrand the Alliance.

"We've had committees and task forces working on those very things," he continues. "This fall, we launched our new logo and marketing plan for the Alliance. There has been a lot of work going on below ground, but everyone will be seeing it shortly."

The Alliance's new logo features four colors representing different elements of the roofing industry: Blue reflects the colors of the outdoors and sky, representing the rooftop and roofing workers; gray and brown reflect the colors of steel and wood, representing manufacturers and suppliers of common roofing materials; and green reflects earth, nature and the environment, representing progress toward environmentally sustainable roofing practices and design.

"We wanted a fresh logo to go with the theme of re-energizing the Alliance," Craft says. "We wanted a modern look to appeal to the younger generation that is interested in sustainability and anything green."

But the Alliance hopes its new image will represent more than the green building movement.

"The bigger purpose is to create a better, more streamlined presentation to show what the Alliance has done and what we want to do," Craft says. "The purpose of that is twofold: for one, to be more successful with recruiting new Alliance members, which can be difficult in the current economic climate, and also to re-energize some current and long-term members. We want to do a better job of showing the industry what we do and what we're all about."

The Alliance also hopes its campaign will give its members the resources—such as a new Web site—necessary to accomplish the organization's goals.

"Resources such as the Web site will be provided to Alliance members so they can better tell the organization's story to other stakeholders," Ribble says. "That's what we haven't done as well as we could have—really tell the Alliance's story."

And part of that story is inclusivity of all industry sectors.

"The Alliance is all about improving the industry for everybody," Ribble says. "It is designed to improve the roofing climate for every roofing stakeholder and family."

Brighter than ever

"The Alliance's future is brighter than ever," Ribble says. "As the community of generous roofing contractors, distributors and manufacturers continues its engagements with the foundation, we're going to see more activity happen, not less.

"There are all kinds of new things in the works for the Alliance as the green roofing movement continues to emerge and solidify," he continues. "We have more requests coming in for funding and more ideas for funding than ever before. We're pretty excited about what's coming up for the Alliance."

It seems clear the Alliance will continue to focus on green building issues as it moves forward. An important aspect of this focus will be making sure the roofing industry maintains its presence on environmentally friendly rooftops.

"As the roofing industry moves toward sustainable energy, the government is going to make decisions that people are going to have to adhere to," Craft says. "The industry needs to control its own destiny because right now other factions—specifically electrical and landscaping contractors—are seeing this as an opportunity to get up on the roof where they've never been.

"We also need to educate the marketplace and consumers, as well as the codes and standards people, that roof systems' most important function is to waterproof buildings," Craft continues. "The Alliance knows this, but now we need to form a strategy to educate consumers."

"We want to make sure the Alliance is at the forefront of keeping the green movement as it relates to the roofing industry contained within the roofing industry," Ribble agrees. "We need to be on the front end of research and technology so the roof remains in the domain of roofing contractors and roofing suppliers. Projects that help reinforce that are the types of projects we look for and want to fund."

Keeping the roofing industry at the forefront of technology will include continuing work with projects the Alliance currently is funding.

One such project is the Wall of Wind, a project being conducted by Miami-based Florida International University's Hurricane Research Center that enables full-scale wind testing of structures, helping to promote performance-based roof system design for hurricanes by determining direct correlations between wind speed and performance and damage levels.

Another project the Alliance is helping to fund is green building research performed at Penn State University, University Park, Pa.

Researchers at Penn State University are assessing the roofing industry's role in green building projects, focusing on roof-integrated solar applications. Recent research has included exploring factors influencing the solar energy market and its effects on the roofing industry. Expected research results include a summary of factors affecting the roofing industry as a result of rapidly developing solar markets; a set of best practices; and a summary of developing solar technologies that will affect the cost and profitability of roof system installations.

"Ultimately, we look for projects that increase the performance of the U.S. roofing industry," Ribble says. "That's one of the reasons we got involved with the Wall of Wind in Florida and with Penn State University and its research. That is the future, and we want to be involved at the front end of all the projects and help fund them for the roofing industry."

Additionally, the Alliance may consider revisiting some of the organization's most successful projects, including The Roofing Industry in 2025, which was published in 2005 and explores future roofing industry trends.

"One of the things I would like to see the Alliance do is reinvestigate some projects it's already done, such as the future trends study," Ribble says. "We're seeing much of the stuff that was in the study happening now. Those folks who were engaged with the study and used it in their businesses were a step ahead of everybody else in the industry, and I'd like to see us revisit that entire program."

Lastly, the Alliance will continue its efforts to enhance the industry's long-term viability and attractiveness to roofing workers.

"We have to continue to improve the job we do of recruiting good people into the roofing industry," Craft says. "We compete with all construction trades for good workers, and we've learned roofing workers are unfairly looked at as almost the bottom of that construction pillar. All of us, even manufacturers, face that challenge."

Strength in numbers

As the Alliance moves forward, it will continue to be a strong force working toward improving the roofing industry for all its involved parties. And part of the Alliance's strength comes from its broad base of supportive members.

"To really make the Alliance work and get a lot out of the organization, you have to participate," Craft says. "We have to get new people to keep our momentum going."

"The roofing industry has a wonderful history of generosity," Ribble says. "If any roofing contracting company or any in the manufacturing or distribution community would like to be involved with giving something back to the community and industry that have given so much to them, we encourage their participation."

Ribble invites anyone interested in joining the Alliance to contact him or Craft.

Ribble says: "We'd love to sit down and talk to potential members about what the Alliance has accomplished and what we can do with greater participation."

Kaylee Alberico is Professional Roofing's editorial assistant.

Get involved

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress brings together leading roofing contractors, manufacturers and suppliers committed to securing the future strength and excellence of the roofing industry. For more information or to join the Alliance, contact:



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