It was around this time 30 years ago when I submitted my first feature article to Roofer Magazine. The publisher at the time, Danny Carson, was a customer of mine back in the days when I sold roofing equipment, and he had been suggesting this to me since founding the publication in 1981.

I was not a writer, and Carson was more of a roofing contractor than a publisher, but with the help of some talented professionals, we managed to make it work. He left the publishing business when he sold Roofer Magazine, and in spite of the fact that I am still not a writer, I am proud to continue being a part of Roofing Contractor.

Much of what I have learned these past 30 years of my tenure in the roofing industry came from the roofing contractors with whom I had contact every business day and from trade periodicals — especially this one. Roofing Contractor is edited to bring the valuable information to roofing contractors that helps them prevail in their market and succeed in their business.

I am not a roofing contractor, but working in the roofing industry has always required me to observe it as a contractor would. This, I believe, is what has enabled me to have success in my work, which has always involved delivering service to roofing contractors.

So, just for the fun of it, here are 30 of the things that I learned in my 30 years associated with Roofing Contractor (in no particular order of importance):

  1. Words are powerful things.
  2. Listen. Listen a lot. Listen way more than you speak.
  3. Human relationships are the highest-value commodity in this or any other business.
  4. Humility is part of life, and being humbled is part of business.
  5. It’s not about me. Keeping others’ interests first has been the cornerstone of my sustainability in this and every other venture in my life.
  6. Roofing is a team sport (making it, selling it, putting it down).
  7. Burning bridges in an industry this small can be devastating.
  8. Nothing lasts forever, but roofing materials like slate, copper, slag and river rock are extremely long-lasting and timeless.
  9. Giving back to the community is always more selfish than selfless.
  10. Be prepared for the worst, even as you are enjoying the best that life and business offer.
  11. I owe my living to more people than I can name (and some of you just read that … you know who you are).
  12. Seeking continuous improvement is a good and honorable thing to do in any enterprise.
  13. My grandchildren are, for some reason, so much easier to get along with than my children were at the same ages. And arguably better behaved.
  14. It’s a new day. Just because print publications have been around and available all my business life does not mean they will be around forever. Thank you, BNP Media, for keeping the Roofing Contractor brand competitive in the world of business information delivery.
  15. Always drive the traffic from one platform to the other — like from print to the Web.
  16. It is better to be digging out than digging in.
  17. Always, always put a date and time on any notation, including something as simple as a phone message.
  18. Return phone calls promptly.
  19. Ask for the order.
  20. Dress appropriately in every business situation, but always dress like what you want to be.
  21. You cannot do business with every customer.
  22. You should not do business with every customer.
  23. Bullies suck — especially in business.
  24. My faith, family and friends are still more important than roofing.
  25. Keep a pen on you at all times. You never know when someone will offer you a valuable piece of advice, a lead, or an order.
  26. The manufacturers and suppliers who support this publication have been responsible for much of what I have learned in these thirty years.
  27. This is a damned dangerous business. And still many fail to recognize it.
  28. In spite of the fact that roofing is still a damned dangerous business, it is less so than it was last year, and certainly less so than thirty years ago.
  29. Roofers are underappreciated in their community and even in their industry. They deserve my respect.
  30. There are a lot of good people working in the business-to-business publishing business that make hacks like me look pretty good sometimes.



Bonus List:

  • Whenever possible, especially on business correspondence, spell out proper names. It just does not take that long to write or type it out, and it looks so much more professional.
  • Work is what I do when business is good, and fun is what I have when business is tough.
  • Everyone in business has a boss.
  • People do not admire other people who have a lot of money or things, if that is all they bring to the game.
  • We are all in this together.
  • Business ethics is not an oxymoron in spite of the way some treat it.
  • Avoid writing about politics, especially if you are unwilling to get into the game.
  • Conventions and trade shows are a great way to learn things, move relationships forward and have some fun.
  • Never stop learning.
  • A college education is vital in some trades and overrated in others.
  • Labor is a real hassle (in one way or another, year after year after year).
  • Worker training could be better in this business.
  • Insurance is expensive, hard to deal with and essential for sustained business (and life) success.
  • Hurricanes and hailstorms account for a percentage of my business success but are not good for business.
  • Playing a bit part in the roofing industry is still a great fit, and I will feel a part of it so long as I add value to it. 
  • OSHA is not a small town in Wisconsin.
  • When in doubt, realize that doubt can be a part of business.
  • Risk may be a four-letter word, but it is still exhilarating.
  • One’s skin color, gender, ethnicity or any other proclivity has not excluded any particular person from the list of people whom I admire.
  • A short story, like a magazine article or column, should have a beginning, middle and end.
  • A picture is worth a thousand words, and innovations like smartphone video and Facetime bring even more value to many business situations.
  • Taking photos of roofing practices in the real world may never meet muster in the pages of this publication.
  • If it was not written down or otherwise recorded, it does not exist.
  • We really could live without computers and smart phones. Not going to happen prior to World War III, but we could do it.
  • I’m too stupid to not try the untried.
  • If it ain’t broke, break it.
  • There is nothing wrong with positive spin.
  • Never stop innovating.
  • Never stop shipping.
  • Never stop asking questions.
  • There are a lot of really smart people in the roofing industry, and they are, to the person, always willing to share their great knowledge.
  • You can find good people anywhere, but there seem to be a disproportionate share of them working in the roofing industry.
  • Communication is the enemy.
  • Communication causes all manners of calamity.
  • Communication can solve problems before they happen.