Welcome to 2013, a year that promises to be ripe with possibilities and more than the average number of challenges. Here are some examples of issues I think will be significant.

Finding and winning new and profitable contracts is always top of mind except for those rare occasions in which demand far outpaces supply. The world of mass and social media continues to change and finding the sweet spot to focus marketing efforts is as elusive as ever. The good news is, maintaining contact with your customer base is more cost-efficient now than ever. You must, however, continuously invest in your knowledge of marketing in the digital world in order to convert your efforts into paying customers.

With the outcome of the presidential elections there should be very little doubt as to the continuing direction of OSHA and its enforcement of fall protection standards in construction. A change in the executive branch of the government might have prompted certain changes in this regard, but that did not happen and we should expect OSHA to continue pressing for full use of full fall protection schemes on virtually all roofing projects.

Changes to health care in this country will likely move forward largely as planned under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), often referred to as Obamacare. While the impact on roof-contracting enterprises will not be universally negative, there should be little doubt that it will prompt other changes in labor markets that will impact all of us in business.

This year we will see some added production capacity coming on line in both asphalt shingles and commercial roofing and insulation products. This may bode well for savvy roofing contractors who maintain excellent supply-chain relationships. That is a good idea in any economy. It is refreshing to see this kind of investment as manufacturers believe the demand for products will be there to absorb this new capacity.

By the end of 2013 we may be closer to the tipping point for solar, at least in coastal areas where kilowatt-hour prices for electricity run to the high side. Prices for raw materials continue to fall while system assemblers and contractors continue vying for market share. Most tax breaks and incentives remain in force, and will for several more years. As this still fledgling industry continues to mature, opportunities for roofing contractors installing solar systems could improve significantly over the next several years.

 So what is your plan to take advantage of emerging opportunities in 2013? This would be a good time to remove yourself from the day-to-day to have a look around and see what’s up in the rest of the world. One good way to do that would be to join me and the Roofing Contractorteam at the International Roofing Expo (IRE) in San Antonio, Texas, February 5-7. In addition to attending the informative seminars and excellent trade show, you will be able to pick up your copy of our February issue, which will contain the annual State of the Industry Report. For more information on the IRE, visit www.roofingcontractor.com. See you in San Antonio!