NOUN1. hopefulness and confidence about the future or the successful outcome of something. —Oxford Dictionary
We still are confronted with effects of the COVID-19 pandemic; new variants are on the rise and can move through an unvaccinated population rapidly. In August, I was receiving calls weekly from friends and members telling me of loved ones who recently passed away because of complications from COVID-19. A majority of these people were unvaccinated. Yet some were vaccinated. Confusion abounds.
When will we get past this pandemic? I am unsure we ever will. We are tired of it as a society. And we are tired of reading, writing and talking about it. Annual vaccines or boosters may be in our future like annual flu shots.
To add to our woes, the roofing industry has been disrupted by supply chain issues. One member recently reported that after placing an order for polyisocyanurate insulation, he was given a delivery window in July 2022—nearly a one-year wait. From asphalt shingles to fasteners, adhesives, insulation and membranes, it seems every job is short of items, preventing its completion. Contractors are—with good reason—frustrated. But they are not the only ones. Customers are frustrated, too. So are architects, designers, manufacturers and distributors.
And then, Hurricane Ida struck. Most polymers used to make polyisocyanurate are refined in the Gulf of Mexico region. Louisiana and Texas are big petroleum players. Notably, the storm hit Geismar, La., which is home to some of the biggest suppliers of MDI, the primary component of roof insulation. The plants there were shut down for days. Pre- and post-hurricane shutdowns are the norm as evacuations occur and storm damage is repaired. Will it get better soon? Don’t count on it.
But instead of focusing on the darkness, let’s look at the light. With past disruptions, the roofing industry has been successful in working through them, and I am confident we will overcome the ones we currently face. We should be encouraged by the saying “everybody needs a roof.” The first sign of light is the work we do and the roofs we provide are essential. Not every industry can say that.
Another light we have is the past few years have been good ones for the roofing industry. Sure, we have had some challenges, but most of those were caused by the labor shortage and high demand. Both of these issues held pricing up, and for the most part, the balance sheets of contractors and other industry stakeholders are in good shape. Imagine what the challenges would be if you were in the hospitality business, for example, or if we were coming out of a recession like the one in 2007-08. Many companies could not survive that scenario.
Another light is high demand. Admittedly, demand may be higher than usual because of material shortages and government stimulus, but I will take a long backlog any day over not knowing when the next job will come. The key here is communication. Stay in close contact with your customers even when they are mad at you (maybe especially when they are mad at you), and stay in close contact with your suppliers. Information is critically important, so make sure you have the latest.
Remember, NRCA is here for you. We have the most current information posted on nrca.net to keep you updated about all things related to COVID-19 and the supply chain disruption. We continue to develop programs and services to address the worker shortage issue and have fully engaged with construction and technical education initiatives to provide you with the best workers. And NRCA has been at the forefront of advocating for business-friendly policies at the state and federal levels. Every move we make is with you at the center of it. We remain steadfast in our commitment to you and the entire industry. Now, that is a reason for optimism.
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