Believing that NRCA membership is good for roofing contractors and the industry, Roofing Contractor sought to answer the question of why many roofing contractors have not joined the one association that has represented them consistently for 120 years. It appears that that many roofing contractors do not really know who the association is or what the association does for them.
The current leadership of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) led by president Reid Ribble would like for you to consider joining the association as they work to improve your roofing business and the roofing industry in the United States as a whole.
Believing that NRCA membership is good for roofing contractors and the industry, Roofing Contractor sought to answer the question of why many roofing contractors have not joined the one association that has represented them consistently for 120 years. It appears that that many roofing contractors do not really know who the association is or what the association does for them. Take a moment to consider a few facts that are frequently misunderstood:
1. NRCA members are not all large, commercial roofing contractors. The NRCA is run by roofing contractors of all types and is focused on the interests of all roofing contractors. In fact, NRCA members are solid roofing companies of all shapes and sizes. A third of NRCA members have been in business over 25 years. Forty percent of NRCA roofing contractors have annual sales under $1 million, and half of them perform both residential and commercial work. 2. Because of the NRCA, all roofing contractors get results from:
- NRCA's office in Washington, D.C., with one of the most effective lobbyists on the Hill on staff looking out for the interests of roofing contractors in the important areas of tax reform, immigration issues, labor and workforce training, health care, energy efficiency, and litigation reform. The work they do benefits all roofing contractors.
- A technical staff including two architects and two engineers who advocate for roofing contractors with the nation's top code bodies, as well as with other construction industry trade groups.
- A considerable body of educational and training materials that have been professionally produced and are in use across all segments of the roof contracting industry. Some examples include manuals for steep-slope as well as low-slope roofing, a waterproofing manual, an "Energy Wise" roof calculator, and many, many others.
- An affiliation that benefits over 100 other roofing industry trade groups including regional, state, and local roofing associations.
- Regular reporting on the activities of the various entities and activities of the association, including updates on legislative initiatives, code changes, insurance issues, legal concerns and other issues.
- Direct access to the staff of professionals to get answers to specific questions regarding their business.
- Direct access to thousands of other contractors (that you do not compete with) who have lived through many of the changes that you may be working through right now.
- Discounts on educational materials and seminars.
- Access to specialized training programs such as OSHA courses, management training, and the Future Executive Institute.
- Referrals from the NRCA Web site (www.nrca.net), which receives around 100,000 hits per month, 40 percent of which come from consumers.
- Recognition that comes when you put your firm forward as a serious member of your industry as displayed by the NRCA logo.
Another misconception in the industry is that the cost of belonging to a national association is too high for many roofing contractors. Given the sheer volume of materials received and made available, there is scarcely a better value in the marketplace. In fact, the membership dues are set according to the sales volume reported by members. The membership retention rates of the association bear out the fact that members realize the value in their membership investment once they become involved. Several major roofing manufactures even help pay for NRCA membership for their top affiliated roofing contractors.
What's Happening Now?NRCA, like any trade association seeking to better its industry, requires a certain scale to accomplish its many goals. Obviously, it takes money to fund research projects, to staff communication, technical, educational, and government relations departments. In the case of government relations, however, sheer numbers of members makes a big difference when your lobbyist takes your case into the halls of the federal government. Walking in the door with 20,000 member firms behind you gets the attention of a politician much more quickly than one with fewer than 5,000.
Most roofing contractors work a relatively small piece of geography. Why be concerned about what is going on in Washington, D.C.? Plenty. Immigration reform is a hot topic there right now and how it all works out could have a profound impact on roofing contractors of all stripes. Other key issues, such as Association Health Plans, reform of taxes relating to the depreciation of the retrofit roofing jobs you sell every day, and litigation reform are a few other important issues being addressed by the NRCA on behalf of roofing contractors.
These concerns and others explain the motivation behind Ribble's decision to make increasing NRCA membership a key item on his agenda this year. To advance that agenda, Ribble appointed Lisa Sprick of Sprick Roofing Co., Corvallis, Oregon, to chair the Membership Committee. Sprick works in her family's roofing business with husband Randy and son Chris. Sprick Roofing opened in 1952 and has been an NRCA member since 1996. Sprick has been an active member of the association, having served on a number of committee assignments and a term as a vice president.
Sprick is a solid spokesperson for NRCA membership owing to the benefits her firm has received since joining. Sprick cites the "one-stop shopping" for business help in the areas of technical, educational, OSHA compliance, training and management. Son Chris is one of the first graduates of the NRCA-sponsored Future Executives Institute. She also appreciates the intangible benefits of association membership, such as the ability to pick up the phone and call a non-competing roofing contractor to discuss business issues.
Sprick Roofing joined when representatives from the company attended one of NRCA's annual conventions. This year new members will receive a discount for joining at the NRCA-sponsored International Roofing Expo and NRCA Convention.
NRCA executive vice president Bill Good cites many reasons to take advantage of membership in the association, including discounts on business expenses as varied as insurance and gasoline. Good says of the NRCA, "We are positioned as the only place in the market that roofing contractors can come to for high level issues that are important to their businesses." The ability to pick up the phone and tap into the vast resources of the NRCA staff and other roofing professionals has proven its value to members time and time again.
Some New Members Speak OutTo learn a bit from some who have joined the association, Roofing Contractor got in touch with several members who have recently joined for the first time. Jeri Snider, with Snider & Son Roofing, Kirtland, Ohio, tells us the expansion of their business into Florida prompted them to reach out for the kind of assistance the NRCA provides. Snider & Son is a family-owned and family-operated firm that employs seven. With a solid business in their surroundings, Snider looks to the NRCA for the ability to gain educational opportunities for their expanding business and to make a connection with other roofing contractors.
The Snider family has interests in other industries and has been a member of other trade associations. According to Jeri Snider, it was time for them to step up and become a more active participant in the roofing industry.
Bill Abrahamsen is account manager for National Building Contractors, Conyers, Ga. National is a family-owned firm specializing in all types of exterior building maintenance, including roofing, that focuses on commercial and institutional accounts. In addition to looking forward to taking advantage of educational opportunities, Abrahamsen sees membership in the NRCA as a way to show potential clients that his firm is professional and involved in the industry.
Alex Glasscock of American Integra, based in Orlando with operations in other parts of Central and South Florida and Mississippi, describes his firm as "an emerging roofing company." His business consists of a mixture of residential, commercial, and institutional retrofit roofing projects with the aim of adding new residential work to the portfolio in 2006. American Integra is engaged in local trade associations but sought out the NRCA to link their business with the tools they need to expand their business into new territory. As the firm grows, Glasscock feels it will save time by tapping into NRCA's knowledge base. He expects to operate his firm in accordance with the standards set forth by the NRCA while gaining the recognition for doing so.
David Griffin, president of Coastal Commercial Roofing, Conway, S. C., started in the roofing industry "sweeping the shop floor" for another contracting concern and worked his way up to the point where he is now one of the owners of his own firm. He is greatly concerned about immigration reform and has become aware of NRCA's efforts in this area. Of primary concern to Griffin is finding qualified workers. To that end, he has initiated an apprenticeship program and is working to provide a career path for his workers.
The apprenticeship program Griffin has begun is under the South Carolina Bureau of Apprenticeship Training, which is backed by the U.S. Department of Labor. They will use a training program established by the NRCA, including DVDs, manuals, and tests. According to Griffin, everything he has seen from NRCA is "right on the money." He notes that the Safety Resource CD is of particular value for his overall operation.
On The SoapboxIt should be clear by now that we support the NRCA and encourage all roofing contractors to take full advantage of NRCA membership. There are many solid business reasons to join the NRCA. The value received far, far exceeds the expense of membership dues. One other reason that may be added is simply this: Supporting the NRCA with your membership is the right thing to do for the industry. The NRCA really is the one advocate for all roofing contractors in the United States and deserves the support from all of us who make our living in the trade. It will benefit your firm now, and it will benefit your industry in the future - a future that may include your children and grandchildren.
Another key initiative that NRCA president Ribble has put on the table is affiliate relations. NRCA's connection to the many other regional, state, and local trade associations should be institutionalized. These industry groups must support each other and work closely together in order to produce the best results for all concerned. We encourage all roofing contractor associations to work with the NRCA to find ways to reach consensus and find ways to work together most efficiently to benefit all roofing contractors.
To those of you sitting on the fence, don't just take our word for it. Pick up the phone and call the NRCA today. Get the names of a few of their members and call them. Ask them why they invest their time and money in NRCA membership.