Organizations and industry associations like the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) Young Contractors Committee (YCC) are the backbone of the roofing business, continuously striving to educate young professionals on emerging technologies and best practices. The YCC is comprised of leaders from across the roofing industry that are dedicated to developing and retaining the future generations of roofing contractors. Roofing Contractor OnSite recently checked in with YCC Chairman Brad Sutter to dis-cuss prominent industry trends and challenges, as well as what the YCC has planned for 2016.
Brad Sutter is the executive vice president at Sutter Roofing Company of Florida. He is a current member of the NRCA Board of Directors 2014-present, as well as the current chairman of the NRCA Young Contractors Committee.
IRE Session WE08
RC: What’s the best advice or specific tip for a young roofing contractor just starting out?
Brad Sutter: Get involved with industry associations like NRCA or your affiliate at the regional or local level. You’ll access the latest information and trends affecting your business, which can give you an advantage over competitors that aren’t paying attention. The single best tip that I can pass on is one given to me by a wise industry veteran — always do the right thing and you’ll never have to worry about telling the truth about what you did or why.
RC: What would you say are the most prominent trends in the industry today?
Brad Sutter: The most pressing trend is the difficulty for contractors and suppliers alike to find and retain young workers. I don’t think this classifies as a trend, but it’s without question the top issue affecting our industry and construction in general.
RC: What are the biggest challenge(s) facing young roofers? What can they do to overcome them?
Brad Sutter: One of the challenges we hear about quite often is the difficulty of staying on top of the different types of systems and products. Understanding what’s acceptable or can be used in specific applications is important. Knowing what systems are in compliance with the specifications, building code, or intended manufacturer’s warranties can be difficult and requires guidance. Contractors can work with their manufacturers and suppliers to obtain the correct documentation. Of course, if you’re an NRCA member, you can also rely on their technical staff for help.
RC: How does the rapid development of technology affect the roofing contractor and how can they stay at the forefront?
Brad Sutter: Technology continues to play a huge role in our industry. From start to finish, we’re all using technology in many different forms. From aerial measurement services and weather apps, to online warranty submission and drones for documenting the finished results, today’s roofing contractors are embracing them all. These technologies are allowing us to be more efficient with our time and accomplish many different things without having to leave our desks. I like to read the industry publications and attend events for roofing and construction contractors. This allows you to see firsthand what’s available and talk with other industry professionals about what they’re doing to run successful projects.
RC: What else can an attendees expect to learn about emerging business technology from your session?
Brad Sutter: I feel that this event is unlike any other, because you get the real life experiences — both good and bad — from other contractors around the country. There are valuable tips and strategies to be gained from those experiences. One of the things I find most interesting is that you truly get to hear the pros and cons, successes and failures of technology implementation, soft-ware, and hardware directly from the people who’ve lived it. You get that without any spin or sales pitch, which is refreshing and unique.
RC: What are some common best practices to foster and grow professional, mutually-beneficial relationships among peers in such a competitive industry?
Brad Sutter: One bedrock that must exist is respect for this industry and the professionals in it. In talking to people all over the country, we all understand that this is a unique industry with inherent challenges and some danger. To be successful in it requires a strong work ethic and resolve. When contractors recognize the commonality that we’re all in this together it usually starts a good discussion. They can focus on what’s good about the industry and where we are heading, rather than who won a particular job, or overcame that day’s crisis event. Just because we compete does not mean that we can’t respect each other. The best relationships start with a conversation. You can’t be scared to talk to other contractors, including your competition. You might find more common ground than you thought existed.
RC: What can we expect from YCC in 2016?
Brad Sutter: CC is continuing to reach out and connect with more new and established professionals in the industry through social media and events. We recently launched a new “Emerging Roofing Professionals” Facebook group, where we hope to drive traffic and build a following. We hope to build a more dynamic, interactive, and engaged following in order to plan events with face-to-face interaction and networking opportunities. At this year’s IRE, the YCC hosts its first Emerging Professionals Meetup at the NRCA lounge (booth 841) from 11 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Feb. 17. We hope to create those connections while continuing to share ideas from sessions earlier that morning.