Much is written here and in other forms of media around the roofing industry about large projects and large roof-contracting firms. The reality, however, is that the roof-contracting industry in this country remains largely fragmented. The majority of the roofing jobs, commercial and residential, are performed by a large number of relatively small contracting firms.
Many of these contracting firms are now, or began as, a family business. Over the years I have known many roofing contractors who have leveraged the tremendous energy and passion that only comes from family and turned them into successful enterprises. I have also borne witness to family business relationships that have not worked out so well.
Successful people who work in successful family businesses are just like the rest of us. They have been trained to do their jobs and they are in a position well suited to their skills and talents. The advantage some have being in a family business is that they have been raised to do the work.
I salute those of you who own, run, or otherwise work in your family's business. I believe the family business makes our nation's economy strong, and I certainly believe it is one of the key strengths of the roofing industry.
While I have spent decades working alongside family-run roofing businesses, the best lessons I ever learned came from my own family. We did not operate a family business; our 11-member family (Mom, Dad, and eight brothers and sisters) was a business. Growing up, we were all taught many lessons about negotiation and compromise, sharing and growing. We were a team and it was OK when the going got rough, because we always knew, even as we became adults and moved away, that someone in the family always had our back.
Why bring this up now? This month marks the 20th anniversary of my dad's passing. While I have missed him all these years, the things he taught me remain with me. Mostly, the immense value of family and how important it is that we care for and defend each other. Perhaps the most valuable lesson of all was his premature departure from this world. He has taught me to never take a moment spent on this earth for granted.
Do you work in the family roofing business? Take some time today and every day to reach out to a fellow family member and let them know how good it is to work with them. It doesn't have to be overt or huge. It may be a simple pat on the back or a "thanks" when one might not otherwise be expected. If you are the elder, rejoice in your job of passing on your knowledge to the next generation (even when they will not listen). If you are the youngster in the group, pay close attention to what you are being taught by your elders (in spite of your desire to make your own way). And above all else, enjoy your time together.