Given the Dallas area’s high volume of new construction projects and seemingly oversaturated market of residential and commercial roofing contractors, RC Publisher Jill Bloom said she hoped this year’s Best of Success conference in the Dallas suburb of Frisco would be well attended by roofing professionals eager to learn in a championship-style environment.
For the first time in the event’s history, attendance swelled well past 550 registrations by the time Bloom kicked off the intensive, two-day experience for roofing contractors and industry professionals on Sept. 24 from the Omni Frisco Hotel. She admits it was a bit overwhelming to see the industry respond by showing up in record numbers.
“Everything is bigger in Texas, and clearly that goes in line with Best of Success this year because we have the largest registration numbers ever,” Bloom said before a packed ballroom of attendees in her opening remarks to open the 14th annual event.
In addition to the schedule of dynamic speakers representing all parts of the North American roofing industry, conference attendees also got a first-hand look at The Star — the newly-completed 91-acre campus that includes the 16-story hotel, the headquarters and executive offices of the Dallas Cowboys, the Ford Center indoor athletic facility, and an entertainment district with dozens of shops and a variety of restaurants and bars.
Staying true to the stated mission when she founded the event more than a decade ago, Bloom started off by imploring each and every attendee to let down their guard, shelve their competitive drive, and focus on finding the one, two, or handful of useful strategies that they can implement upon their return to their respective companies.
“Today I’m asking each of you to expand your circle of trust to the people in this room,” she said. “Just being here includes you into the Roofing Contractor family circle of trust. The people you’ll meet here could be the ones to change your business.”
The key is creating a non-competitive environment where contractors can collaborate, build relationships and learn from one another. It’s one of the key components that keeps bringing roofing contractors from all across the country, Canada, Mexico and even New Zealand.
First-time conference attendee Tommy Thomas, executive vice president of Houston-based J.R. Jones Roofing & Waterproofing, said his favorite part of the was meeting peers with similar business stories and challenges.
“This is the one area where everyone lets their guard down and feels like we’re all working together,” he said. “I feel like a lot of times in our industry it’s more adversarial — everyone’s very guarded, and nobody wants to share anything. To be here with other peers and share things that are actually beneficial to each other, that’s my favorite part. Gathering knowledge that can help us, and maybe even sharing something that helps somebody else.”
Day one’s highlights include sessions with Jim Johnson, head coach of ContractorCoachPRO, and Trent Cotney, of Cotney Construction Law, which were streamed live via RC’s Broadcasting Live feature (see pg. 49). Other sessions focused on a wide range of issues impacting roofers everywhere, from digital marketing strategies and drones to workforce development and customer service.
Highlights of day two included a sit-down interview with Reid Ribble, CEO of the National Roofing Contractors Association; how Reliant Roofing, of Jacksonville, Fla., built its own workforce with a unique training program; and how the next generation of roofers are building their businesses.
Networking and Mentoring
The conference wouldn’t be the same without the networking opportunities with leading product and service providers, and the social activities that accompany the more than a dozen learning sessions. Responding directly to attendee feedback from previous Best of Success conferences, RC added an official ‘welcome reception’ to the schedule of events in Frisco, which was well attended, and set the stage for attendees to launch friendships and future business relationships.
That spirit continued during the breakfast and lunch meals provided, and carried into the networking reception at the conclusion of day one atop the rooftop pool deck on the Star Frisco Hotel’s fourth floor.
Kendall Ekerson, business development and recruiting manager with Columbia Roofing and Sheet Metal in Tualatin, Ore., said she appreciated learning directly from some of the best and most experienced minds in the industry, while also getting to rub elbows with some of the elite leaders and companies the industry has to offer.
“I like how Best of Success is tailored toward sales and marketing at a leadership level, and it’s been very eye-opening with a lot of good takeaways,” she said.
One of the highlights of the conference’s first day is the announcement of RC’s residential and commercial Roofing Contractor of the Year awards. As in past years, RC combed through more than 140 nominations from roofing contractors across the continent, and developed a list of finalists from those that exhibited industry best practices, take care of their employees, and excel at quality workmanship and customer satisfaction.
Each year the caliber and quality of the contractors that submit nominations via www.roofingcontractor.com appears to grow measurably, making the decision difficult. However, both Findlay Roofing and Best Roofing showed they were each worthy of the designation for major success last year.
Based in Marietta, Ga., Findlay Roofing was chosen not just for a company-record year in sales ($38 million), but for a continued commitment to the safety and well-being of their people, high-quality workmanship and how they build relationships with their customers and vendors.
“This is an incredible honor, and a really, really humbling award for us,” said Tony Wyss, Findlay’s vice president and COO. “This is very much about our team, our people. We've very proud of our status as the top residential roofing company in Georgia, but to be listed among the elite roofers in the country is an honor that we don't take lightly.”
Tracking for an even better 2018, Wyss told the audience of roofing professionals to learn what they can from the event and to focus on top-down company leadership.
“We don’t spend much time patting ourselves on the back,” he continued from the podium while clutching the trophy. “We never want to play catch up or think ‘we are there.’ We’re constantly pushing the envelope and having daily conversations on where our current weakest link is and what can we do to improve that area.”
The 2018 Commercial Roofing Contractor of the Year award went to Best Roofing, of Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
A long-time Best of Success conference attendee and veteran speaker, Owner Gregg Wallick said it was especially gratifying to accept the award on behalf of his team of more than 300 employees, including his two sons, Zack and Ian, who stood alongside him at the podium to accept the award.
“I’m really honored to accept this award on behalf of all the people at Best Roofing. They’re really awesome people,” the elder Wallick said.
“Every one of our companies, every one of our organizations are families, and they need to stay run like families. It’s a close business…roofing truly is a team sport. Everybody’s got to play their position and it doesn’t just happen with one person.”
For the first time in conference history, a roofing contractor earned a special designation for their engagement on social media. Kira Lee, of Tri-Star Quality Roofing, located in Denton, Texas, was named the first-ever Best of Success Social Media Superstar for using the #BOSConf hashtag the most over a two-day period. For their efforts, the company earned three months of Social Media Stockpile, a program developed by No Time For Social that offers a full complement of social media content.
In addition to that award and the contractors of the year, RC rewarded roughly two dozen attendees with giveaways from generous event sponsors ranging from gift cards and roofing tools to a drone.
Success in the Sunshine State
While there are tentative plans to return to The Star in Frisco in the near future, Bloom was excited to announce that Best of Success will head back to south Florida next year. Roofing Contractor and the roofing industry will celebrate the 15th anniversary of Best of Success Sept. 15-17 at the J.W. Marriott Turnberry Miami Resort and Spa in 2019. See you there! For more information, visit www.BestofSuccessConference.com.