Roofing and storm restoration is considered a $100 billion industry, but despite this, a study from McKinsey & Company states construction is one of the least digitized sectors in the world.

But that doesn't mean roofing contractors have to dust off old textbooks and manuals to learn something new. Just as technology has transformed classrooms around the nation, roofing contractors are gaining access to enhanced learning opportunities thanks to two universities.

Owens Corning Roofing recently expanded its Owens Corning University (OCU) program to include all members of the Owens Corning Roofing Contractor Network (OCCN). By expanding the OCU, contractors are able to learn everything from how to onboard new employees to learning the fundamentals of roofing application and information on products. 

This platform’s easy-to-digest learning modules are 15 minutes or less, making it easy for busy roofing professionals to log in for quick learning sessions.

The platform is free to all OCCN members and offers an unlimited number of users. They can be accessed from both mobile and computer devices, meaning professionals can view the modules from their truck (parked, of course), on the job site or between appointments.

Since Owens Corning understands the competitive nature of the industry, it plans on implementing elements from the gaming world in future phases. This includes leaderboards that track education points, award badges for completed tasks, and compares scores against other members.

With multiple learning modules, sub-modules and educational videos, the platform is a complement to Owens Corning’s in-field courses. It allows contractors to efficiently access information about Owens Corning products, warranties and business services.

VR Technology

The roofing industry continues to evolve as new technologies are introduced. As Roofing Contractor reported, one such up-and-coming technology roofing contractors are embracing is Virtual Reality (VR).

Anthony Delmedico, CEO and Founder of Storm Ventures Group (SVG) and SVG University, has developed SVG-U3.0, a customized training platform for the construction and roofing industry.

“We make selling roofs a fun and lucrative opportunity inside this state-of-the-art technology,” Delmedico said.

SVG University’s VR goggles come pre-loaded with the SVG University Training App, VR Training Room, and several courses aimed at helping contractors recruit, onboard and train employees. Through the use of VR goggles, participants are placed in a 360-degree virtual environment that can simulate everything from in-the-field installations to safety inspections and sales scenarios.

"The competitive landscape is ever-changing, and our VR training has filled a massive void in the market," Delmedico said. "Companies have two choices: evolve or dissolve. This is one of many tools and systems we've launched in our SVG University training platform to help construction companies scale."

Other SVG University VR courses include scouting damaged areas, conducting roof and property inspections, identifying and monitoring targeted geographic areas after a storm to help property owners, and even educating property owners on damage and roofing options.

VR is quickly becoming more commonplace in both professional and personal settings. In June, the International Data Corporation reported that worldwide shipments for VR headsets reached $1.3 million in the first quarter of 2019, a 27.2 percent increase from the same quarter in 2018.

Paul Reed, general manager of North-West Roofing in Denver, is one of the many roofing contractors who has seen the advantages of embracing digital training and education tools, whether it was drones or VR goggles.

“Up until five years ago, I was unwilling to look outside our own company for new ideas. Once I did we have literally tripled our business,” Reed said. “Drones have been a game changer for multi-family and HOA inspections, and VR has simplified our sales training process.”

Continued Education Matters

It’s understandable if continued education isn’t a top priority for roofing contractors during the busy season when school is ramping up. But as Acculynx recently pointed out, continued education can help differentiate a business, keep employees up-to-date on codes and technology, and allows employees to further their careers.

“Continuing education improves the image of your employees and your company, building trust and respect in the eyes of potential customers and other businesses,” writes Michelle Mittelman, marketing manager at Acculynx.

The off-season and lulls in business are perfect times to learn something new, and there are plenty of options available. Roofing contractors can take OSHA courses, become certified with roofing manufacturers or check out the NRCA’s training programs. Continued education could even extend into leadership training for any non-English fluent employees in your company.