Following a record-breaking International Roofing Expo, the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) is already set to continue its mission as a voice for the industry with the election of new officers for the 2020-21 term.

Rod Petrick, president of Ridgeworth Roofing Co. Inc., in Frankfort, Ill., was elected as chairman of the board. Prior to his new position, he served as president of the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association (CRCA); as director, officer and chairman of the CRCA Industry Affairs and Technical Operations Committee; as president of the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association; and president of the Roofing Alliance.

RC sat down with Petrick as well as NRCA CEO Reid Ribble to discuss the new chairman’s visions for the coming year, the ProCertification program, and the importance of attending Roofing Day in Washington D.C.

RC: Congratulations on being elected as chairman! Can you tell us how you got your start in the industry?

RP: I started kind of by accident. My dad started the company a year before I got out of high school. I told him I was willing to help him for a year or two and wanted to go to school. Well, I graduated from the school of roofology — you got in, and as everyone says, you don’t get out. But I worked my way…I started as an apprentice, then journeyman, foreman, superintendent, and then moved into management.

RC: What inspires you to give back to the industry?

RP: I can remember my dad giving me a call, and it was to inform me that I was going to be asked to start as a director with CRCA. Being a young guy, I gave him a little pushback, and I remember to this day, he just said, “You have to give back in the industry where you make your living,” and he hung up on me. Ever since that day I’ve been giving back.

RC: Reid, what are your thoughts on Rod being elected as chairman? 

RR: Rod is one of the most well-liked people I have ever met. People love Rod, they respect him, and he’s absolutely earned the chairmanship at NRCA and I’m proud to have him on board.

Having done that job myself back in 2005, I always marvel at the caliber of the leaders that emerge, that have shown and demonstrated a commitment to the industry. These guys donate a lot of time. Our current chairman, Nick Sabino, will be on the road 125 days this year. Rod will be similar in his year. That’s all time they donate to the industry, to all of their colleagues and every roofing company — whether they’re an NRCA member or not, they benefit from the leadership that these folks represent.

RC: As Reid said, it’s a big commitment. What drives you to serve the roofing industry in this capacity?  

RP: Everybody here has got to have the passion in their heart to even want to be in this industry. It’s a tough business, we all work hard. Whether you’re the guy pushing the broom or as a new apprentice up to the owners, you have to have the passion, and passion is what drives me to get up every day wanting do it.

I remember when, a few years ago, they had commented that I may be somebody that (the NRCA) is going to consider. I went back to my office and had a talk with my son, who is third generation. I talked to him about it and said, “Hey, what do you think? Because there is a time commitment.” And he said, “If we’re not ready by then, shame on both of us.” He’s ready to step up and allow me to go represent the industry.

RC: The NRCA’s ProCertification has been in place for a year now. What updates can you provide?  

RR: We did a soft launch about a year ago. We wanted to run 100 or so people through the process so that we could fine tune it, find efficiencies, find out what mistakes we had made in the testing atmosphere. To create a test that can demonstrate that the worker doesn’t just have the knowledge, they can demonstrate they have skills, it’s a challenge to create that test.

(In February), 20 workers were certified in Hayward, Calif. at the SOPREMA training center; we had workers certified in Ohio, so all over the United States roofing workers are coming forward and want to be a part of this.

RP: We’re now seeing the involvement, more of the manufacturers are parlaying their way in, asking “How do we get our system next in the queue?” Because they see the importance of it. The manufacturers are in the game with us, they want to be there every day. They’re willing to assist us with getting technical information together and helping us get our test questions. They want to get their contractors that are certified with them, they want to help get those guys certified.

RR: It’s heartwarming for me to see the contractors, manufactures and distributors come together for the betterment of everybody, and this is how it’s designed to work.

RC: Roofing Day is scheduled for March 23-24, 2021. Why is it important for roofers to speak directly to their congressional representatives?

RP: You have to get in front of them. We have to convey our message so that they understand that we are professionals and we’re not here to hire illegals, we’re bringing professionals in…and we want to be recognized as the top guys. We are the professionals in the industry. If somebody asks “Why do you go,” my comment is, “Why aren’t you there?” You need to be there, we need power in numbers. I’d like to see 1,000.

RC: Talk about the new Diversity + Inclusion Forum planned for Roofing Day.

RR: When you take a look at the roofing industry we know that roughly 60% of our workforce, you’re going to see the face of an immigrant. We recognize that there’s broad diversity inside our industry and we want to make sure that for whatever and wherever you come from, that there’s room for you to advance in the roofing industry.

I often talk about how National Women in Roofing is changing the dialogue and changing the conversation about what’s going on with women in roofing and the importance of not just automatically — because we’re in the construction trade — discounting 50% of the nation’s wisdom and brainpower.

RC: What can roofers and other individuals do to boost the industry? 

RR: Every dollar of dues that a member pays we try to deploy in that year. We’re a not-for-profit advocacy organization that advocates for the roofing industry at virtually every level and across every part of the supply chain, but with an eye toward what contractors need. We advocate before the building codes, we advocate at ASTM, we advocate in Washington D.C. and before Congress and before the Department of Labor. We advocate for safety.

Think of it as a time share of workers. Instead of having your own lobbyists where you’re paying a couple hundred thousand dollars a year, for a couple thousand dollars a year you get three lobbyists, you get three risk management experts, you get five engineers and designers, you get all the communication and marketing, you get legal — all those people get to work for you for a couple thousand dollars.

RD: All the opportunities are there to a contractor when you become a member. Get into the website, see what’s available. The staff works tremendously hard to make sure that there are programs. I remember I was looking for a program for my guys, and sometimes I accuse the education of being the best-kept secret. But if you take the time to see what’s available, there’s a lot available. It’s a member benefit, get out there and use it.