National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) focuses on labor shortages and green roofs

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New CEO Reid Ribble to take helm as Bill Good retires

New York Construction Report special feature

Since 1886, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has been the voice of roofing professionals and an industry leader for information, education, technology and advocacy. Today, its efforts also focus on labor shortages and resolving labor challenges within the industry. This year, the NRCA will also adapt to a new representative voice, as its current chief executive officer retires after 28 years of service.

Representing more than 3,500 members from all 50 states, the NRCA is addressing the challenges in attracting new workers across a nation that is demographically older. Chief executive officer Bill Good says attracting young people to the trades is a national issue and with roofing, which is ideally an occupation for young men and women, the pressure is growing. “The country’s national immigration policy is a nightmare that doesn’t help, when there are willing people outside the country able to do the work who we can’t get in.”

Combined with labor shortages are cultural differences within the sector. Good says current statistics suggest 57 percent of the country’s roofers are Latino and that this percentage is expected to grow with time.

In an effort to embrace this diversity, NRCA is working with Bilingual America to identify opportunities to integrate workers and provide cultural awareness and training.

The association has also built an online career centre aimed at helping its members recruit new workers and at helping people considering a career in the industry, find opportunities. “We’re also working at developing a career path that is less textbook training and more focused on skill development.”

Good says the economy is in a much better place than it has been with new housing starts back up to about half of where they were at their most recent peak. That, combined with an increase in the green building movement, means more and better opportunities for members. “Collectively, building owners are paying more attention to roofing. That means more insulation, reflective surfaces, retrofits, vegetation, photovoltaic additions. For many this means more involved projects and more opportunity for upsell opportunities.”

These new roofing settings require new levels of education and training; with a focus on safety. Good says, for instance, some of these additions may require the introduction of additional trades into work areas such as electricians for photovoltaic, or landscapers for vegetation. The safety challenges are significant – roofers didn’t in the past need to worry about the risk of electrocution, for example.

Changing codes are also a challenge. Good says the NRCA works with code bodies to ensure codes make sense and that they don’t conflict with other code considerations. The other aspect of code is ensuring it is enforced, and that members are aware of the complicated and constantly changing requirements.

In order to better support members, Good say NRCA now delivers more of its information free through its website, rather than through hard copy publications. “We are getting thousands of hits and downloads so we know our members are taking full advantage of this.”

NRCA holds regional summits three times each year. These provide an opportunity for current and prospective members to meet with association leaders directly. Another important event is the 1,200 booth International Roofing Expo. This event, which also incorporates the association’s annual convention, trade show and educational components, attracts between 9,000 and 10,000 people annually.

New voice

Bill Good

Bill Good

Announcing his retirement in February at this year’s International Roofing Expo, Good said: “It’s the right time in my life.”
“And after 28 years, it’s not only healthy for me to do something different, but for the organization to have a new face and a new sense of direction,” he said during a press conference at the Orange County Convention Center shortly before the show opened.

Good will remain as CEO until the end of the year and then will remain with the association in a part time capacity for five months to help with the transition of its new CEO, U.S. Rep. Reid Ribble.

He says Ribble owned a successful roofing company for many years and served as NRCA president a decade ago. Shortly after that Ribble sold his roofing business and ran for Congress. “His son said he was always talking about things that were wrong in the country and challenged him to do something about it. When he was first elected he set a four-term limit on his time in office. Now that his career in Congress is ending, we’re excited to have him take the helm at NRCA.”

Good is confident in the leadership Ribble will bring to the association. “He has a great presence in Washington and he’ll be able to tap into and engage with the people there in a unique way. A lot of our issues deal with federal government policy so beyond the leadership he will bring directly to our members, he is also the right person to represent us moving forward on these issues.”

Starting his career with NRCA in 1973, Good served in multiple roles before he left temporarily in 1985. He returned in 1987 as CEO. Good has also served on the board of directors, and as president, of the Chicago Christian Industrial League, one of the oldest and largest shelter and rehabilitation providers in the city. He also served in a two-year term as national board chairman of Rebuilding Together, an organization dedicated to rebuilding single-family homes for low income homeowners.

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