Midwest Roofing Contractor Association's Annual Conference Strives to Connect Opportunity
The Midwest Roofing Contractors Association’s 65th Annual Conference was held Dec. 10-12, 2014 at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. The event’s theme was “Connecting Opportunity,” and the conveniently located and inviting venue was handpicked to encourage attendees to do just that — interact, learn, visit, network and connect with their fellow contractors and industry leaders.
As the saying goes, “Everything is bigger in Texas,” and the 2014 conference was certainly no exception. There were 890 roofing professionals in attendance, including contractors, manufacturers and suppliers who seized the opportunity to connect with each other throughout the three-day conference and on the trade show floor, which featured a record 141 exhibitor booths. Attendees also embraced a variety of special and networking events, including the first-ever Community Service Day, a Welcome Reception and Foundation Auction, the inaugural Women in Roofing Reception and the Young Contractors Council Reception. The auction raised $50,000 for the MRCA Foundation.
MRCA prides itself on offering relevant and applicable education at its annual conferences, and the event kicked off with a Keynote Address by Ricardo González, founder and CEO of Bilingual America. His presentation titled “The Intersect Between Cultural Leadership and Business Growth,” sponsored by Johns Manville, stressed an important message: “leaders who properly identify, create and grow their work culture enjoy a more profitable and productive business model.”
According to González, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that by the year 2020, 74 percent of the new labor force will be comprised of Hispanics. He encouraged business owners to become cultural leaders and to progress from simply having Latino workforces to developing relationships with their Latino employees. “A cultural leader is a person who identifies the present culture, envisions a preferred culture, and creates the environment for the preferred culture to grow and mature,” González said. “Either we will manage change, or change will manage us. We have an amazing opportunity to grow together as an industry and as people. The truth is, change is here.”
He went on to explain that to successfully incorporate people from different cultures and backgrounds into their workforces, employers must make a conscious effort to understand, connect and engage with them. “We cannot lead people to the highest levels who we do not understand at the deepest levels,” González said. “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. When you care, you start seeing opportunities.”
He closed with six ways cultural leadership affects business growth.
The conference also featured several educational sessions to help contractors stay on top of current industry trends and improve their businesses. These Learning Labs included “Through the Decades — Celebrating 65 Years of T&R Findings,” “Building Your Own Safety Plan,” “Just What Is Great Service?” “Young Contractors Council Learning Lab,” “Foreman and Superintendent Operational Training Instruction,” “Presidents’ Forum: Presidents’ Perspective on the State of the Industry” and “Technical & Research Committee Update — Baseline Study on Water-Based Adhesives.”
Creating Great Service
According to Greg Hayne, owner of roof-consulting company Roof Management, many of today’s roofing contractors are seeking to improve and expand their service departments. In his informative seminar titled “Just What Is Great Service?” he drew from real-life experiences to provide examples of what he considers exceptional service. He also provided a list of performance-based goals for attendees to take back to their companies.
Hayne stressed the importance of developing a service department, not simply a repair or maintenance division, and explained that great service requires great communication — communication with clients, communication within the department and communication with one’s self. When it comes to communicating with clients, Hayne noted that it’s all about being timely and thorough. He suggested sending invoices via email by the next business day; taking a maximum of five days to prepare and submit proposals; returning all phone calls and emails within two hours; utilizing automatic replies when necessary; and providing comprehensive documentation with repair invoices, including before, during and after photos, and roof drawings or diagrams detailing the location of the repairs.
According to Hayne, interdepartmental communication is another important key to the success of any service department, as all employees must be on the same page for operations to run smoothly and efficiently. He recommended implementing communication tools within the department, including an accessible digital schedule board; roofer-specific database software, such as Dataforma, FCS or RoofLogic; and work order forms. Hayne also explained that communication with one’s self is crucial to staying organized and productive on a daily basis. He stressed the use of calendars and lists, whether on paper or electronic. “Write it down,” Hayne said. “Adopt a system that prevents dropped balls and does not require the use of your memory.”
Mastering these various forms of communication can put companies on the right track to developing and providing great service, which, according to Hayne, is what truly stands out amongst the competition. He told attendees, “When you give people truly exceptional service, they don’t care about the price.”
Women in Roofing
The conference also featured a variety of invaluable networking opportunities, including the launch of Women in Roofing, a volunteer-based organization established to provide female roofing professionals with education, mentoring and networking opportunities. The first-ever Women in Roofing Reception was held during the MRCA Conference on Dec. 11, where female industry professionals and leaders gathered to connect and form relationships, share their knowledge and experiences, and encourage and support each other.
The new organization was the brainchild of professional women currently involved in, contributing to and making their mark on the roofing industry. According to MRCA, Shari Carlozzi, national sales manager for Hapco Inc., and Heidi J. Ellsworth, executive vice president of marketing for EagleView Technologies, are the current co-chairs of Women in Roofing, and they initially collaborated with the association to gather female roofing professionals at the conference.
“I have worked in the roofing industry for close to 20 years,” Ellsworth stated. “It is an amazing industry where you can find a balance between family and business. The group of professional women that are forming are power houses in the industry, and will provide the energy and wisdom to create an organization that will provide excellent networking opportunities along with amazing mentoring and education for women throughout the industry.”
MRCA’s 2014 President and KPost Company Head Coach Steve Little was on hand to show his support and kick off the inaugural reception. “This is traditionally a male-oriented industry,” he stated. “When this concept was presented to me, I knew it was the right time to help launch this initiative. The MRCA has been active in developing enriching initiatives, including our current Young Contractors Committee (YCC) and the MRCA/NRCA CERTA torch training program for roofers. As an industry, we need to embrace the talent that is emerging both in our youth and in women who may not have traditionally thought of this as a career avenue.”
According to the MRCA, the initial leadership committee will include co-chairs Shari Carlozzi and Heidi Ellsworth, with support from Alma Garnett, Convoy Supply; Mary Rhinehart, Johns Manville; Sheree Bagado, Owens Corning; Jill Bloom, Roofing Contractor magazine; Karen Edwards, EagleView Technologies; Pillar Garcia, Georgia-Pacific; Lindy Ryan, Tecta America and incoming NRCA president; Monica Gwaltney, Diamond Roofing; Kathy Hendricks, ABC Supply; Helene Hardy Pierce, GAF; Rachel Pinkus, MRCA; Dene Ellie, No Roof Left Behind; Aileen Struble, KPost Company; and Jayne Williams, KPost Company and NRCA PAC chair.
The MRCA honored several award winners at its Membership Meeting during the conference. The prestigious James Q. McCawley Award was given to not just one individual, but to all MRCA Technical and Research Committee members, both past and present, for their contributions to the roofing industry throughout the years. According to the association, this unique award was presented to help celebrate the T&R committee’s 65th anniversary. It was accepted on behalf of the committee by Dr. Rene Dupuis, a long-time technical advisor for the MRCA.
The Impact Award, which recognizes an MRCA member company for working to improve the lives of others, was given to Peterson Roofing of Mount Prospect, Ill. The company was honored for its partnership with No Roof Left Behind, through which it has already donated two roofs to deserving families or individuals, with a third free-roof project already in the works.
The MRCA also presented its Safety Program Awards, which recognize MRCA member companies for their commitment to actively improving jobsite safety. The association honored six Gold Award winners, eight Silver Award winners and nine Bronze Award winners. A complete list of winners is available on the association’s website.
The Midwest Roofing Contractors Association’s 66th Annual Conference will be held Nov. 10-13 at the Kanas City Convention Center in Kanas City, Mo. For more information, visit www.mrca.org.
MRCA Elects 2015 Officers and Directors
The Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA) elected its new slate of officers and directors for 2015 at its Annual Membership Meeting held on Dec.10 in Grapevine, Texas. The 2015 officers include President Larry Marshall of L. Marshall Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc. in Glenview, Ill.; First Vice President Bob Schenkel of CL Shust Company in Ft. Wayne, Ind.; Treasurer Mark Langer of Langer Roofing in Milwaukee; Secretary Greg Sprague of Sprague Roofing in Lincoln, Neb.; and Chairman of the Board Steve Little of KPost Company in Dallas.
MRCA’s new 2015 directors are Miguel Arzola of CIM Roofing in Arlington, Texas; James Boland of The Quality Roofing Company in Kansas City, Mo.; Tracey Donels of KPost Company in Dallas; Fred Horner of Advanced Industrial Roofing in Massillon, Ohio; Laurie Moore of Kreiling Roofing Company in Peoria, Ill.; and Dale Tyler of National Roofing Partners in Coppell, Texas.
For more information, visit www.mrca.org.