WASHINGTON, D.C. — Roofing Day in D.C. 2019 kicked off Wednesday with about 500 representatives of roofing converged on the nation’s capitol, intent on making the industry’s biggest concerns known on Capitol Hill.

Roofing industry professionals heard from members of congress during two events held Wednesday, the day leading up to the official Roofing Day on Thursday, when industry representatives will get some time with members of congress or their representatives.

Earlier in the day, National Women in Roofing held the first NWIR Roofing Day Women’s Luncheon featuring U.S. Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota and U.S. Rep. Suzan DeBene of Washington. About 50 people attended the inaugural event.

Later in the afternoon, NRCA hosted a welcome event. U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Denver Riggleman, R-Va., addressed the crowd and acknowledged many of the issues facing the roofing industry.

Smucker, who has a background in construction, said he “loves contractors.”

He expressed concern over too much regulation handed down from government.

“I still believe that we are the greatest country in the world and we want to ensure that system where anyone can start a business with little or nothing can work hard, can live hard and live his or her dreams,” Smucker said. “That’s what you’re all about and that’s what this country is all about so I’m very pleased to be here with you.”

However, he told those in attendance that the workforce shortage has reached “crisis proportions.” He said that’s why he is sponsoring the Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act — an act that would essentially use market demand to determine how many qualifying visas are issued.

“If were’ not able to find solution to our workplace shortages, it will have an impact on our ecomomy,” Smucker said.

Also during the welcome event, NRCA CEO Reid Ribble and Mike Gula, co-founder of Washington, D.C.-based Prime Advocacy (the organization that helped coordinate the meetings set for Thursday), discussed issues the industry faces and offered advice for how to interact with legislators and their respective aides.

His advice included thanking those who have sponsored or co-sponsored bills favorable to the industry or trying to get them to sponsor legislation industry officials feel is needed.

Duane Musser, vice president of government relations for NRCA, briefly reviewed the three primary issues officials are set to talk about on Capitol Hill Thursday.

The issues are:

  • Immigration reform to address nationwide “chronic workforce shortages”
  • Supporting measures in expand workforce training incentives
  • Supporting legislation aimed at improving the infrastructure of public buildings

Musser said those interacting with government officials don’t necessarily need to know all of the details of bills that would address those issues to have an impact during Roofing Day in D.C.

“We have a lot of members of congress who don’t understand business,” Musser said. “This is our opportunity to go up, tell your story, talk about the challenges that you face as an employer, in terms of workforce and not being able to get a sufficient number of workers to sustain and grow your business.”