A few years back, Roofing Contractor started what would become a series profiling some of the rising stars of the roofing industry, appropriately titled Young Guns. The series continues this month; be sure to check it out.

The roofing industry is in a perpetual state of evolution, and young people taking places of leadership plays an extremely important role. I know because I was young once. It was a long time ago, but I can still remember.

One of the things a younger generation will always do is challenge the status quo. Alternatively, I choose to challenge the younger generation of the roofing industry: What will you bring to the table to change the industry for the better? Of the numerous opportunities for improvement, I will suggest only two for now.

1. Make the world a greener place: The roofing systems you will design and install could make a tremendous difference in the realm of environmental stewardship. There are few trades that can, day in and day out, make such a direct impact on energy conservation. Further, with the emergence of garden roofs, the roofing industry can become a key player in improving water quality.

Recycle your refuse. Learn solar. Sell daylighting and reflective roofing (or dark membranes) where appropriate. Learn insulating and ventilating alternatives, and install appropriately. Create solutions we have not even thought of yet. Your efforts may make a world of difference.

2. Improve the labor situation: Labor was an issue generations before mine. What can the next generation do about it? To begin with, I believe the next generation of roofing contractors will be required to place even more focus on this issue than the present or past generations.

There is a devastating lack of vocational training relating to the trades in this country. There is constant focus on getting a college education, but very little emphasis on seeking a secondary education in a trade. 

From the roof to the front office is a path that some have taken, but in many shops it is never encouraged. If the new generation of leadership in the roofing industry will establish a culture that encourages and rewards those seeking a career path, it could go a long way toward alleviating labor problems.

The fragmented nature of roof contracting does not lend itself very well to broad-based initiatives such as starting a roofing program in all the secondary vocational schools in the country. But I believe in the coming generation. This may be the generation that is able to focus on the big picture and turn things around.

For my counterparts of the senior generation, we must give the younger generation all the support it needs in these endeavors. As a young man in this industry, I received more help from my seniors than I deserved.

These are a few of my suggestions; I would love to hear your ideas on the topic. Let’s talk in person at the 10th Best of Success Conference Sept. 22-23 in Marco Island, Fla. Check it out online at www.BestofSuccessConference.com