Milestones are a great way to take stock, measure accomplishments, and evaluate important values and strategies to continue positive development.
This year marks Roofing Contractor’s 35th anniversary covering the roofing industry. As we celebrate our efforts to provide comprehensive coverage of one of the most impactful trades in the global economy, we still remain committed to providing content that puts roofing contractors first. Whether in residential, commercial, or industrial categories, or in the number of business fields that keep the industry going, our readers continue to demand quality content across new and innovative media platforms. And we are up for the challenge.
“Reaching 35 years in business-to-business publishing is a great achievement that many people have had a hand in, and they should all feel proud about carrying on a great tradition,” said RC Publisher Jill Bloom, who joined the publication in 1999. “What I’m proudest of are the partnerships and great relationships we’ve been able to build that help the industry improve and move it forward. And that mission continues.”
Roofing Contractor started as a magazine for contractors written by contractors. As the industry evolves, so do we, and we felt it was important to give a glimpse of our story … our past and a taste for what the future holds for the roofing industry’s top national publication.
In the Beginning …
When Rick Damato closes his eyes and thinks about the founding of Roofing Contractor, he sees himself sitting across the desk from our founding publisher, Danny Carson, owner of Lee County Metal and Roofing. Those meetings with Carson from the late 1970’s through the middle of the 1980’s were to sell Carson the roofing tools and equipment he needed.
Lee County Metal and Roofing was a commercial roofing company and Carson was one of a handful of contractors Damato used to call on while in Ft. Myers, Fla. Though his primary occupation was being a roofing contractor, Carson had other irons in the fire. Before entering the world of roofing he was a Navy Seal; highly decorated following three tours of duty in Vietnam. He was a competition water skier until he blew out his knee on a jump. He was also a brother, dad, husband, and friend to many.
And he had this idea that there were no really great, independent trade magazines that focused exclusively on the roofing contractor. So, in the spirit of the hard-working entrepreneur that he was, he decided to start one himself.
The next scene he recalls is being in the former kitchen of the house that served as the headquarters of D&H Publications, named after Carson’s daughters. That’s where founding editor, Deborah Currier-Liftig — who came from a family of roofing contractors and grew up close to the industry, worked with a small crew to publish the inaugural issue of The Roofer Magazine.
In the beginning, Damato was among a group that Carson and his editors used as resources for all things roofing: materials and systems; legal requirements and codes; tools and equipment; insurance needs, etc. Damato’s specialty was equipment and he was a minor contributor and advisor until, after a couple of years, Carson “encouraged” him to write a regular column on roofing equipment.
Over the years, that role changed, as it only took a few years to write just about everything he’d known about roofing equipment. Damato stayed in contact with the editors and became more involved as Carson’s roofing business — and his interests in the magazine changed. He later became a roof consultant and sold the magazine to another publisher who brought Damato in as Editor at Large.
Perhaps the defining moment in RC’s history was when Taggart (Tagg) Henderson, on behalf of his family’s publishing business, BNP Media, acquired Roofer Magazine and became publisher. Henderson intended to continue operating the publication in a traditional, “business-as-usual” fashion, but found that a complete redesign and name change was needed to carry the brand forward. That was in the late 1990’s, and, as it turns out, the future was at our doorstep. The publication became Roofing Contractor and went on to become the top independent national publication serving the roofing industry.
Damato became editor in early 1999 and assumed his current role as editorial director as he shifted his attention back to the roofing distribution business.
A few years after acquiring the magazine, Henderson moved up in the family business and brought in our current publisher, Jill Bloom. In the past 16 years publishing Roofing Contractor, she’s prevailed through seismic changes to both the roofing and print publishing worlds, like the meteoric rise of digital content and the depths of The Great Recession.
A very intriguing history up to this point, but it was really just the beginning. Roofing Contractor has grown to include a significant digital presence that goes beyond our website www.roofingcontractor.com. Working with BNP Market Research — the data and research arm of RC’s parent company — Roofing Contractor consistently delivers relevant industry studies, including our annual State of the Industry Report (see page 58). We also cultivate some of the most valued features in the industry on an annual basis, including the Young Guns series, the Top 100 Contractors List, and Residential and Commercial Contractor of the Year.
As if that wasn’t enough, in 2003, Bloom created and oversaw the first Best of Success conference in Myrtle Beach, S.C. This conference is an extension of the print and online versions of Roofing Contractor, but as a live event has the advantage of face-to-face interaction with industry leaders. The 12th Best of Success Conference will be held on Sept. 26-27, in Marco Island, Fla.
Roofing contractors work hard, respect their core business, and innovate to overcome challenges. As the roofing industry and publishing world evolve, so too has Roofing Contractor. Some changes over the years may have been subtle and others stark, but they’ve largely been designed to encourage our growth and enhance how contractors operate.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ve probably noticed several recent changes to how we provide and share our content.
Within the last six months, www.roofingcontractor.com, went through a complete overhaul that reorganized how content is presented. We prioritized and emphasized the topics you told us were most important through your feedback, engagement, and reader tendencies.
Our Industry News, New Products, Project Profiles and featured columns are easier to find and read, and the latest feature stories, case studies and videos are prominently displayed across our digital footprint. But the biggest change was our switch to a mobile-responsive design that provides an optimal viewing experience for all of our growing content categories.
Rest assured, these changes were not made for change’s sake. These were improvements implemented after a great deal of introspection and deliberate consideration.
The experts at BNP Market Research conducted a reader preference study late last year that showed 60 percent of roofing contractors had access to an iPad tablet, an increase of roughly 14 percent from 2013. The results also showed that more than half of respondents accessed roofing industry information with mobile devices and smartphones, and just 86 percent said they would likely access similar information via a desktop or laptop computer over the next 12 months. That was down from 95 percent of respondents in 2013.
Now, roofing contractors can get the content they want whenever — and wherever — they want it, including on the roof, quickly and easily with any mobile device of choice.
We’re still analyzing the data, but remain encouraged by the extremely-favorable feedback and early responses from reader interaction.
We’ve also recognized a trend in the industry that puts a premium on blogs and contributed content from people that know the industry best. In 2016, we’ll embark on a concerted effort to expand the blogging platform on www.roofingcontractor.com.
At the beginning of this year, we’ll also launch our own app to take that level of service to the next level. Called “RC to Go,” this app will be another opportunity for contractors to easily find the information they’re looking for from us and our partners, both quickly and conveniently. The app is free and will be available for download on iPhone and Android products shortly.
Finally, if you follow, use, or try to leverage social media to improve your business, then you’ve probably noticed significant growth and steady engagement on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/RoofingContractor), Twitter (twitter.com/RoofContr), LinkedIn Group (www.linkedin.com/groups/Roofing-Contractor-Network) and YouTube Channel (www.youtube.com/user/RoofingContractorMag).
It’s our intention to keep these avenues for reader engagement thriving and we plan to continue developing them as a valuable resource for the industry.
Roofing Contractor wouldn’t be what we are today without you, our dedicated readers – who happen to be some of the best of what the roofing industry has to offer across multiple segments. This publication will always be about serving the contractor. We don’t want that to change, and we’ll rely on you and our growing audience to help ensure that it doesn’t.
We want to hear from you. We want to know what type of content you want. We also want to know when, and how you want it. And, perhaps most importantly, we want to know how it improves your business so that others may find and enhance their pathway to success.
In addition to reading the magazine in print, or signing up for our free digital edition and eNewsletters, we encourage you to leave comments on stories that get you thinking; to visit and follow our multiple social media platforms and engage by sharing content with your sphere of colleagues, business partners, customers, and friends.
We want to reflect you, the contractor, as best we can and want you to stay involved in shaping where we’re headed next.