Like a meticulous estimator, Lt. Col. Rob “Waldo” Waldman has studied details about numerous rooftops from his vantage point thousands of feet in the air. But as a combat pilot trained in air-to-ground assaults, it’s probably safe to say most property owners wouldn’t care for his brand of “inspection.”

After a highly-decorated career in the U.S. Air Force, Waldman, now retired, undoubtedly has his share of interesting stories from 65 combat missions over Iraq and Serbia. And although he may be inclined to share a few of them, they won’t be the focus of his remarks when he takes the stage as the IRE 2017 Keynote Speaker at 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 1. Instead, the focus of his presentation, titled “Never Fly Solo! The Power of Partnership,” will primarily be on how no one — whether roofing contractors on a steep slope rooftop, or fighter pilots patrolling the skies — succeeds on their own.

Having a trustworthy wingman in the skies — and in business — is essential to achieving team and even individual goal, according to Waldman. who knows it first-hand from both perspectives.

Waldman graduated from the U. S. Air Force Academy in 1990 and racked up an impressive collection of awards during his career. He’s a multiple recipient of the Air Medal (5), the U.S. Air Force Commendation Medal (4), the Aerial Achievement Medal (2), and the Meritorious Service Medal (2).

Upon retirement, he channeled his leadership skills and ability to rally and inspire others into a distinguished career as an author, motivational speaker and business consultant. Based in Atlanta, his client list includes a bevy of household names including Home Depot, Oppenheimer, Deloitte, Aflac, Verizon, Siemens, Novartis, Panasonic, The Cleveland Browns, New York Life, Bank of America, HP, Honeywell, MassMutual, Honda, Gallo Wines, Juniper Networks, and many national associations. 

He recently received the Council of Peers Award for Excellence and was inducted into the National Speaker’s Association Hall of Fame. The lifetime award honors organization members for their longevity, excellence and overall professionalism. Inductees are evaluated by their peers, and must excel in five categories: message, presentation/delivery, experience, professionalism, and collateral material.

He said that as younger man, he never imagined himself doing the work he’s currently doing or reaching such a high level of success in multiple fields. And though thankful for the opportunity and driven to maximize it, he admits the accolades set high expectations from clients. And that’s just how he likes it.

IRE Keynote Address
Title: Never Fly Solo! The Power of Partnership
Speaker: Lt. Col. Rob Waldo Waldman
Date: Wednesday, March 1, 9:45 a.m. - 10:50 a.m.

“Looking back, it almost seems like a fantasy,” he said. “From my book becoming a New York Times bestseller, to the Speaker Hall of Fame, I am so thankful for these special honors. But it also means my clients expect more from me. There’s a higher standard I need to deliver on.”

The Wingman Way

For IRE, part of that, Waldman said, is delivering information that’s relevant to roofing contractors and giving them actionable tools that will enhance their businesses.

“I want them first thinking about what they can do as individuals to re-commit themselves to their chosen profession. I believe complacency kills,” he said. “It kills jobs, futures, and relationships — as well as lives.”

“I want every person in the audience to provide more open communication and mutual support with their co-workers, customers, and partners – in and out of work.”

His high-energy delivery will also get roofing contractors thinking about taking control of their business future today by building on the core values of courage, trust, confidence and compassion.

“These skills are a lot harder to develop than how to sell, give a briefing, build a roof, or work a piece of software,” Waldman said. “You also must understand that you are the pilot in command every day, and that no one will be there to motivate you or provide a flight plan for you to follow. Entrepreneurs need to create one. Part of this involves realizing that you can’t do it all on your own.”

Most importantly, Waldman said he wants roofing professionals to leave the session recognizing the importance of being an individual or company that others feel comfortable going to for help.

“This ultimately is what being a wingman is all about,” Waldman explained. “When someone — be it a customer, subordinate, co-worker or partner — is able to ask you for help, and you’re able to confidently deliver on that help, that’s what forms the basis of trust. It’s the foundation for a wingman relationship.”

The keynote address is sponsored by Malarkey Roofing Products, and is free with all registration packages, however, advance registration is required. Visit for more information.