The November 1997 issue of Roofer Magazine contained a feature article by this editor that did not win any awards or elicit tons of reader mail. But I have always considered it one of the most important topics I have ever covered for the roofing industry.

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The feature was titled “Residential Roofing: Your Future is Calling.” This was a bit of a departure for me as it touted a new program from a single provider. My sense, however, was that this unique offering. The Master Elite program for residential roofing contractors was more than a simple marketing program. This was going to change the industry. I believe it did and to this day residential asphalt roofing manufacturers all have contractor affinity programs that are robust and thriving.

I believe now, as I believed then, manufacturers have a responsibility to the industry, the contractors who install their products, consumers, and even their own shareholders to maintain strong contractor affinity programs. The delivery and installation of the products they manufacture define how effective and reliable they will ultimately be for the consumer. So the roofing contractor must have the support it takes to train estimators and installers, as well as access consumer financing and other tools necessary for operating a successful residential roof-contracting firm.

Today the industry continues to change. The emergence of storm restoration contractors is changing the industry in many ways. Poorly regarded by many roofing contractors, who often refer to them as “storm chasers,” there are many contracting enterprises specializing in storm restoration work that have grown considerably. They have not just grown in sales volume, they have grown their level of sophistication, leveraging the latest in online marketing, computing and aerial measurement capabilities. They have introduced new supply-chain models in some cases, giving them competitive and logistical advantages. Recently we have witnessed the formation of the United Association of Storm Restoration Contractors (USARC). The USARC is a nonprofit with the stated mission to “promote the highest ethical standards in the roofing and catastrophic restoration industry.” It will be interesting to watch this group as they work to define and share best practices involved in their discipline. It is a good thing that they are banding together to improve themselves and their industry.

Another new initiative is emerging from one of the big box retailers. The big box retailers have long had their eye on the professional contractor. Barriers to their entry as a direct supplier to roofing contractors have included unique services and expanded product lines offered by roofing-oriented distributors.

According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Home Depot is testing ways to connect consumers to contractors as a way of warming up to and building loyalty from contractors. Home Depot acquired the website in January but has kept its name off the site up to this point. It is an intriguing model and it will be interesting to see if they can leverage their massive scale and following in this unique fashion.

 Your roofing business may be impacted by one or more of these changes. Keeping an eye on emerging trends while driving your business forward in real time will never be a bad idea.  

Pickup TruckFor more information on this topic, please click on these links: Author’s note: This is an ‘enhanced’ version of the feature and contains editorial not published in the 1997 print version.