Welcome to the New Year! Some in the roofing industry had a 2011 to look back on and cheer and others are glad it has mercifully ended. I hope yours was great and that your 2012 will be even better.

Last year this column made a prediction that for most of us did not exactly work out. It stated that after several years of a slack economy something had to change. The nation’s economy was in for a change of course, either up or down, just different. Is it me, or did 2011 seem like Groundhog Year? At the end, at least in my part of the roofing world, it was same-old-same-old. The economy went along at a continuing slow pace. The price of raw goods continued to rise, but not so much as to cause real change in our markets.

So that prediction was wrong. Do I dare make another or go back to making New Year’s resolutions? I will stay away from the broad economy and predict a little closer to the roofing industry this time. I predict 2012 will be a very interesting year for roofing. Skip the fact that this is an election year. That will make some things interesting but will not change the price of asphalt or the amount of rain and snow we will get or how many hail or wind storms will hit. So many more things impact the roofing industry than mere politics.

New demands for fall protection will continue to be an “A” topic for 2012. Trade groups will continue to argue that there is a better way to manage falls from height than those being demanded by OSHA. For my part, I remain delighted that this argument is being played out.

New demands for crane fitness and crane operator training will be interesting to watch in 2012. The rules relating to crane operator training are not set to take full impact until 2014 but many owners are demanding compliance now.

New demand for our products and services will bring on some interesting challenges as roofing contractors will take on the significant task of ramping up their workforces. Immigration reform, or at least the talk about it, will be more than interesting in 2012, especially in the face of emerging demand for skilled labor; the kind of skilled labor that is typified by its Spanish accent.

The new International Green Construction Code will make life interesting for some roofing contractors in 2012. Code changes in general will place new demands on everyone involved in the chain from suppliers to specifiers to estimators to contractors and even installers in some instances.

Stay tuned to Roofing Contractor as we keep you posted on all of the most interesting trends that come along. Find them here every month and keep up with them every day online at www.roofingcontractor.com


 P.S. — It is not too late to join me at the International Roofing Expo in Orlando next month! Read more about it in our IRE pocket guide tipped to page 15 or log on to www.roofingcontractor.com to find a link to all the latest information.