What business challenges and opportunities do you expect to face in 2015, and how do you plan to address them? The onset of a new year is a great time to consider these questions.

While I am excited about the prospects for the economy and the roofing industry for 2015, I think we will face some daunting challenges. Following are a few examples of the issues we will keep an eye on this year.

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the changing landscape of the fossil fuels industry, prices of raw goods used in roofing materials may be in for some unusual swings. Instability in pricing can cause a multitude of issues for roofing contractors unless you prepare yourself and your clients for them. That would be easy enough to deal with, but completion may operate behind the curve on large projects, which may make this a touchy subject with your clients. You do not want to come up short in a big way.

Labor, especially in the roofing and construction trades, will be impacted by the continuing struggle over immigration reform. Our nation’s leaders do not seem to possess the ability to craft a suitable immigration policy, which makes it difficult for employers and the hardworking folks who want to come to work in this country legally. In addition, improving economic conditions in some countries to our south are keeping some of the better workers at home.

And on the topic of labor, this may be the year when labor costs begin to take a meaningful rise. Wages in this country have been lagging behind all the historical norms of a recovering economy and that could change. In our industry these changes may come very quickly.

Governmental regulations have had more than their share of an impact on the roofing and construction business over the past several years. The continuing implementation of the Affordable Care Act will complicate things for a number of roofing businesses and others affiliated with the industry. OSHA’s continuing implementation of fall protection standards via fines and penalties will likely continue unabated. Time and time again, roofing industry interests have tried to bring OSHA to the table to discuss fall protection standards but have not met with much success.

OSHA’s emerging rules on occupational exposure to crystalline silica could radically remake the way you install roof tile. Continuing changes on rules involving the establishment of union representation in all businesses could change the calculus for some roofing businesses and roofing projects in the future.

Last, but not least, I think some markets will make great gains in 2015. Too much business is the kind of opportunity you dream of, but failing to be adequately financed or otherwise unprepared can take you straight down the tubes.

So we have come all the way back to the question of challenges and opportunities. Simply put, I believe 2015 will be a stellar year for those who do the best job of preparing for whatever it brings.

Best wishes for a successful and prosperous year!