Looking back on 2015, I get a sense that this has been a year of growth for the roofing industry. Yes, 2015 was a good year overall for the roofing industry, but what I’m feeling is the industry has matured. Not just growing bigger, but growing wiser and better with age.

Here are some examples that bring me to this conclusion:

This was the year that women in roofing and construction stepped into the spotlight. The Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA) announced the formation of the Women in Roofing (WinR) initiative at their 65th annual conference in late 2014 and the group hit the ground running in 2015. Their mission is to provide networking, mentoring, and education for women roofing professionals with a strong focus on women entering the roofing industry.

It’s a beautiful thing because as the roofing industry continues to mature, so do a lot of us old silverbacks in this historically male-dominated field. We need to be replaced eventually, and to ignore half the workforce is no way to continue growing as an industry.

Not only is the WinR initiative working toward the betterment of the industry, 2015 was a remarkable year as women have taken up numerous positions of leadership in the roofing and construction industry. In 2015, roofing and construction industry women professionals were leading some of the most influential trade groups, including the American Institute of Architects (AIA), the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), the Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA), and the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA). Even more women serve in leadership roles in these and other industry trade groups.

Here’s another way the roofing industry continues to mature:

As the software industry has moved forward, the roofing industry has kept pace with the latest technologies. Just when I thought enterprise computing systems for roofing contractors had reached the top, bigger and better systems and system upgrades continued to flow in 2015.

Roofing contractors stay on the leading edge of their enterprise computing systems by maintaining close ties to their software providers. And mobile computing options for contractors grew substantially in 2015.

It’s also not enough to buy a software package and flip it on. Today’s enterprise computing solutions for roofing contractors are dynamic and their development stems largely from the two-way street that savvy developers have formed with their contractor-clients.

Roofing work also continues to be cleaner and safer. As the style of our work continues to mature, products that are easier to handle, and safer to apply, take on a greater share of the market. Roofing contractors have never had more training opportunities. Of course, when it comes to safety, we can always do better.

The industry has matured in other ways and is generally becoming “smarter.” I believe these trends will continue to compound over the years. Will it not be wonderful to hand off an industry to the next generations that is safer, more inclusive, and simply “better?”

Thank you for your contribution to the roofing industry in 2015. Best wishes for more and better things to come in 2016, and happy holidays to you and yours!