Hundreds of roofing contractors from across the United States and beyond traveled to South Florida to be part of RC’s 15th annual Best of Success conference at the J.W. Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in September.
RC Publisher Jill Bloom kicked off the event reminding attendees of the event’s history and overall mission to help roofing contractors improve their businesses.
“The first Best of Success conference launched with 75 people, in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and wow! Look where we are today,” Bloom said while looking out at the crowd of more than 550 attendees. “We go back and forth between the East Coast, West Coast and sometimes the central U.S., and peer-to-peer sharing is the foundation of what we do.”
Bloom also touched on recent inspiration provided by serial entrepreneur and business coach Jesse Itzler, who delivered the keynote address at the 2019 International Roofing Expo in Nashville. During his speech, Itzler talked about his experience of hiring a former U.S. Navy SEAL to live with his family for 30 days, which he later turned into a book.
“The stories he shared, and the life-changing takeaways from the experience truly made an impact and made me think about what we’ve done here at Best of Success for 15 years,” Bloom said. “What struck me from his book is you can do so much more than you realize if you just stretch yourself. I mean mental barriers we put on ourselves that we don’t even realize.”
The unique roofing industry experience began with multiple events before the conference’s official start, including a workshop organized by National Women in Roofing (NWIR) that focused on how women can assert and articulate their ideas effectively in the workplace. Roughly two dozen women were treated to a presentation by Thea Dudley, of Pocket Protectors LLC, titled “Know Your Worth at Work (and how to leverage it).”
Dudley, who previously served as vice president of customer financial relations at SRS Distribution, presented eye-opening statistics about women in the workforce, including how women make up only 19 percent of C-suite executives. She said part of this stems from how, if someone doesn’t believe in themselves or their career goals, then they can’t expect others to believe in them.
“If you think of yourself as a product, whether you work for a company or yourself, you’re a product, and what you have to market is your skills and yourself and what you bring to the table,” Dudley said.
Dudley provided advice on how to become a self-promoter and accomplish career goals, from conducting honest self-evaluations to keeping a career journal to chronicle career highlights.
“Don’t worry so much about career pathing, be a strategic opportunist, and shameless self-promotion is your friend,” Dudley said. “It’s okay to toot your own horn.”
During the event, NWIR representatives announced the organization is rolling out a new program for members to become mentors or mentees. Members can update their profiles to list themselves as a mentor or mentee, and upon doing so, can search for a match using criteria like department or company.
Michelle Boykin, COO of Rackley Roofing, spoke highly of mentorship, saying it is important for women in the industry to find other women to lean on and learn from.
“Had I not joined NWIR years ago I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Boykin, who serves as NWIR Treasurer. “If you’re not utilizing it to be your best self, I encourage you to do that today.”
Time to Connect
As the roofing industry continues to evolve, so does the Best of Success conference as an event. Those that arrived early were again greeted with a welcome reception on the outskirts of one of the resort's elegant outdoor pools. That was just the warm-up to the annual networking reception along the picturesque golf course following the first day’s festivities.
New this year, RC added additional time after the close of day one for a Speaker Connect session. All roofing professionals scheduled to present over the two days were stationed at small tables set up just outside the main conference area to answer questions and meet other attendees face-to-face.
“We wanted to give our speakers more of an opportunity to engage with roofing contractors and the feedback was tremendous,” Bloom said. “This helped advance the learning piece of Best of Success, while also giving attendees a better opportunity to meet presenters and drill down on their topic of expertise.”
RC continued its annual tradition of announcing the Residential and Commercial Roofing Contractors of the Year at the conclusion of day one of the 15th Best of Success conference.
Kelly Roofing, of Bonita Springs, Fla., was named the 2019 Residential Roofing Contractor of the Year, and Don Kennedy Roofing, of Nashville, earned the 2019 Commercial Roofing Contractor of the Year designation.
RC Editorial Director Rick Damato and Editor Art Aisner delivered the awards before a packed ballroom of more than 500 roofing professionals in attendance.
Roughly 100 contractors from across the country submitted applications for the award earlier this year.
“Ken has a great roofing story, from being thrust into leadership at such a young age to navigating a family business through ups and downs over decades,” said Bloom. “But beyond his business success, he’s the kind of guy you want to surround yourself with because he’s organized, motivating and inspirational.”
Kelly, who took over his father’s business, was thrilled to accept the award, and made sure his first call after receiving it was to his father.
“This is one of those moments where you say to yourself, ‘You arrived,’” Kelly said. “This is the Super Bowl of the industry.”
Kennedy said he was just as humbled for the honor and to be able to share it with most of his family in attendance. He also presented his company’s story the following day during a presentation.
“It was a great surprise,” Kennedy said. “This is just a summation of everything that the people we work with has come together and they’ve created a great thing.”
In presenting the award to Kennedy, Damato noted how all of Kennedy's employees work and act like they are the owners, and how the business constantly strives to better itself.
“This business had everything in order, it was focused on getting better. It’s more than a family business, it’s a family,” Damato said. “Consistently managing to attract the best people is one of the many reasons it makes our 2019 Commercial Contractor of the Year so special.”
The Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) awarded Rackely Roofing President Curtis Sutton with its first-ever Innovator of the Year Award during day one of RC’s Best of Success.
RT3 is a group of progressive roofing professionals focused on technology solutions in the roofing industry. The group provides insights from progressive thought leaders both inside and outside the roofing industry along with practical resources for implementing potential solutions successfully.
Charles Antis, founder and CEO of Antis Roofing & Waterproofing, along with Anna Anderson, CEO of Art Unlimited, presented the award. Anderson, who serves as Award Task Team Leader and an RT3 board member, said it was difficult selecting the first recipient of the new award.
“We had many great nominations and it was very hard to narrow the field down to just one,” said Anderson. “We selected Rackley Roofing because they embrace technology and have demonstrated that they are early adopters when it comes to implementing new innovations.”
Sutton brings a respect for the traditional craftsmanship of a professional roofer and passion for the latest technological innovations. Under his leadership, Rackley has introduced industry-leading technologies like Rackley RoofCheck and Rackley RoofView. Rackley has implemented the use of virtual reality safety headsets that allow everyone to experience being on a roof and learn best safety practices. The company is beginning the use of in-ear translators that can translate speech into any language and dialect.
“We are in total control of who we hire, but as far as technology, we have to seek outside the business doors, and at times, outside of the roofing industry to look at the world to see who does what best,” Sutton said.
Following the success of last year’s inaugural Social Media Star award recognizing the attendee with the best engagement on social media, RC partnered again with No Time for Social and tracked use of the #BOSConf hashtag over the two-day period. For his efforts, John Kenney of Sutter Roofing in Florida earned his company three months of Social Media Stockpile, a customizable program for contractors that offers a full complement of social media content.
In addition to this award and the contractors of the year, RC rewarded roughly two dozen attendees with giveaways from generous event sponsors ranging from gift cards to a drone.
The annual tradition of bringing together the best and brightest the roofing industry has to offer in one location continues again next year. Join RC as we head back to The Star in Frisco, Texas, the official home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The venue hosted Best of Success 2018, which at the time was the largest event to date with more than 500 registered attendees. Bloom said to count on September, however, official event dates won’t be determined until after the NFL schedule is released in April 2020.
Check back with Roofing Contractor’s print edition and website regularly for updates or visit www.BestofSuccessConference.com.