As all of us know by now, the roofing industry is facing a severe shortage of skilled roofing labor that’s only increasing with each day that goes by. For the fifth-consecutive year, both commercial and residential roofing contractors indicated that ‘finding qualified workers’ was their chief concern and by far biggest issue impacting the industry, according to Roofing Contractor’s annual State of the Industry Report and Survey.

Despite the concern, overall, our industry, is behind the 8-ball on solving this potentially disastrous problem when compared to other trades in North America.

We saw this problem first-hand at our residential roofing company, Reliant Roofing. Having too much work isn't a problem, but not having enough skilled labor to produce that work definitely is. Without a true successful training and retention model to follow, we aimed to create a solution for our issues ourselves.

IRE Session TH02

Title: Create Your Own Skilled Labor: As Showcased by the mikeroweWORKS Foundation
Speakers: Sean Shapiro and Cameron Shouppe, CEO and president (respectively) of Reliant Roofing Inc., based near Jacksonville, Fla.
Date: Thursday, Feb. 8, 7:45 a.m. - 9:15 a.m.
Room: 207

Our goal when we designed the skilled-labor incubation program was to spearhead this problem and create a sustainable model for training and retaining our own skilled labor that can then be implemented by roofing contractors all over the country. If we can become the guinea pig for this formalized training program, hopefully, other roofing contractors and their advocates with the regional and national roofing organizations can formulate a nationwide labor standard and certification program.

The National Roofing Contractors Association announced plans to launch a national certification program this year, and we’re looking forward to this positive step in the right direction.

Finding a way to regulate our skilled labor much like plumbers and electricians do would be something paramount for the roofing industry in years to come. We all must band together to solve these critical problems as an entire industry before it’s too late.

Who it Helps

Our rigorous training program is a 6-8 weeks long. It’s a fully-paid training program for all new recruits, which gives them two weeks of classroom education on the roofing industry before training in the field. They then work on the ‘jobsite’ for the remainder of the program. We hand-select potential recruits for this program by focusing on people who we think have demonstrated the mental focus to not only learn a trade, but also that allows them to become a master of their trade by the time they’re done. We also invested in our own training locations and did it in a way that helped our community and strengthened our relationship with local officials. We partnered with our local city government to use abandoned homes that we can roof day-in and day-out to practice on.

We continually aim to create win-win scenarios while implementing our training program in our market to help not only Reliant Roofing, but also the community as a whole. The potential economic impact this training program can create is endless for local and regional markets.

How it Works

Our training graduates each earn a minimum of a $40,000 annual salary, and our promoted crew leaders can earn almost double that amount through hard work and exhibiting team leadership. These salaries might seem outrageous, but in reality, we’re saving up to 50 percent based on this model vs. the typical "piece-rate" roofing crews. We offer a fairer financial split throughout the entire crew and everyone makes more, on average, this way.

Compared to the typical roofing crew structure, the crew leader keeps 80 percent of the weekly proceeds and splits mere pennies between the remaining laborers. Our training program creates a more positive working environment for each member of the crew and allows them all to work together to hit bonuses based on quality and production for the entire crew. Many of our graduates continue to climb the ladder in our organizational structure and end up being project managers or fit into other managerial roles.

Our hard work and dedication to this endeavor was recently spotlighted by the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, organized by leading trades advocate Mike Rowe. The former host of the “Dirty Jobs” television series — who will appear at the 2018 IRE show floor Wednesday, Feb. 7 has made it a personal mission to help solve the construction labor shortage in America.

We hope our presentation will give other owners a clear and easy path to help solve their own skilled labor shortage, while at the same time helping their bottom line and increasing the quality of work they consistently produce for their clients.