The new “Tough as Nails” TV show is celebrating American workers who aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves, work long hours and get the job done, so it’s only natural that at least two roofing contractors are contestants.
Linda Goodridge of Marion N.Y., is one of the competitors vying for the title of Tough as Nails in the new competition TV series from CBS. Goodridge is a former deputy sheriff jailer and a roofing contractor with Long Construction in Rochester, N.Y.
“I truly believe that your physical strength can only take you so far, and your mental state of being and mental toughness can take you places where you thought you could go,” Goodridge said. “My life is very physical. I’m not afraid of manual labor, I volunteer for it, my job requires it, the sheriff’s department requires it.”
Like many in the industry, she didn’t think she’d end up being a roofer. Having worked as a deputy for eight years, Goodridge began dabbling in roofing at the end of 2019 part-time when Long Construction’s owner, Mike Long, saw her helping a neighbor unload firewood.
“He yelled down from the rooftop, ‘Any chance you’re looking for a job?’ and I looked up and said, ‘Actually, I’ve been thinking about a career change,’” Goodridge said. “The first 10 minutes that I was on a roof I was plotting my escape, because it was one of the most difficult physical things I had ever done.”
True to being tough as nails, however, Goodridge stuck with it, starting with picking up roof debris and working her way up to tearing down and installing new roofs. Following the taping of the show, she switched to roofing full time. She is now a project coordinator, though she is happy to head back onto the roof when the need arises, noting her favorite tool to use is a shingle remover.
“I could not imagine taking a roof off without it,” Goodridge said with a laugh.
Hosted by Phil Keoghan of “The Amazing Race” fame, the show pits 12 hardworking Americans against one another in competitions of strength, endurance, agility and mental toughness in challenges that take place in the real world. They are eliminated one by one until a winner is crowned, earning them $200,000 and a 2020 pickup truck.
Unlike other elimination shows, no one goes home when they’re out. Instead, competitors can win additional prizes in team competitions held throughout the season.
Goodridge saw the competition as a way to prove to herself and others that hard work, faith and integrity can get people through any struggles. When it came to strategy, she said hers was balancing mental and physical toughness and keeping a positive mindset, the latter of which she credits to her boyfriend as well as her personal mantra.
“I constantly am ‘Let go, let God,’ because you get to a point where sometimes things are out of your control, and I think God has had a huge hand in my journey,” she said.
Goodridge faces stiff competition, with her fellow participants ranging from firefighters and farmers to ironworkers, welders, scaffolders and a former Marine. Goodridge is joined on the show by fellow roofing contractor Lee Marshall of St. Louis. She said that shared connection made it easier to work with Marshall on Team Dirty Hands, who even at the age of 61 proves his mettle.
“That makes it easier to create something to bond with with your teammates when you’re in a position to team up with complete strangers,” she said. “It allowed me to have great respect for him … he does get up on the roofs every day and does that manual labor.”
In the pilot episode that aired July 8, Goodridge showed off her fortitude by wielding a wheelbarrow to move heavy bags of mortar on a narrow path. Contestants then had to lay bricks in a set amount of time. She credited working as a roofer for being able to handle the first challenge.
“When I started, obviously I was doing more of the cleanup — what was coming down off the rooftop,” she said. “It’s a lot of heavy stuff you’re picking up off the ground and wheelbarrowing to a dumpster … and flashing back to that I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m so thankful I had those experiences leading up to filming.’”
Naturally, Goodridge couldn’t give any spoilers for the 10-episode season, but does hope that it will inspire others to have a better appreciation for the trades.
“I went and walked up on a rooftop and all I could honestly think about was, ‘How can I get away from here?’ It wasn’t my physical strength that got me through it, it was me choosing to change my mindset and I ended up doing something I never thought possible,” she said. “If you have the power to try, you can do anything — females especially! I think there’s a stigma that they can’t be or shouldn’t be in these work fields, but I like to think I just showed America that women can do anything too.”
Root for Goodridge and Marshall on “Tough as Nails,” airing Wednesdays at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.