Here are a few items I would like to find under the Christmas tree this year. Some things that our industry and fellow Americans will be able to use next year.

I wish for a fast and full recovery for all victims of the 2017 tropical weather season. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria left behind paths of destruction that were unprecedented. My wish is that most of this recovery work will be completed by the end of 2018, but an ongoing shortage of skilled labor may be the Grinch that steals this Christmas wish.

To this end, my next wish is that the roofing industry will pull together to solve the problem of workforce development. There are some important initiatives already planned for launch in 2018, and Roofing Contractor will report on them as they are unveiled.

If we do not begin the long-range work of building up a workforce for the roofing industry, the entire economy could suffer a slowdown. Economic growth in this country is impossible if there’s no capacity to build roofs.

While on the topic of economic growth, the promised tax reform sure would keep things moving forward. I’m not going political, just stating the obvious, which is that we have a very complicated tax code that needs to be reformed and simplified.

My next wish is also related to the laws in this country. As the roofing industry advances the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), or drones, for marketing, inspections, and measurement, it would be nice if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would come across with some more realistic uses for airspace as it relates to our work around buildings.

The issue is there’s a lot of airspace in this country where the use of UAS is prohibited without going through an approvals process that can take up to three months. The FAA is working on and testing ways for UAS operators to gain approval online in a streamlined process, and it cannot come soon enough.

For the sake of safety, the FAA (which is chartered with keeping the nation’s airspace safe) should allow us to operate UAS within 100 feet of virtually any permanent structure. It’s unthinkable that any manned aircraft would be allowed to get anywhere near this close to a building, while it can be perfectly safe with certain types of UAS.

I’m not an expert at controlling airspace, and I’m pleased to leave that in the capable hands of the FAA. But I do believe that keeping inspectors and estimators off ladders by loosening extremely tight controls of certain airspace should be taken into consideration. 

Finally, I wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward all mankind. It sounds like an oversimplified and trite request, but I really do long for this. After a horrendous election season in 2016 and a tumultuous year in global and national politics just now coming to a close, I’m ready for some peace and quiet. We need it; there’s a lot of work to do here.