Throughout 2020, RC had the opportunity to speak with talented women from all over the country who are shattering barriers in the roofing industry. Whether it was the women of the first all-female roofing consortium or reality show contestants, this year continued to prove women are driving the overall betterment of the industry.
Below are just a few of the insights these women shared with RC about being women roofing professionals.
RC: Linda, you’re relatively new to the roofing industry. Tell us about your journey into roofing.
Linda Goodridge: I was with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department for eight years, and I worked in the jail as a corrections officer. After filming (of "Tough as Nails") wrapped up, I went full time with Long Construction and a complete, different career change.
I just remember my first 10 minutes up on a roof with the owner, Mike Long, I was literally plotting my escape because it was the most difficult, physical thing I had ever done. I had dabbled in some roof tear-offs prior to “Tough as Nails,” and there was a lot of moments during the show where I reflected on that. It’s like, “If I can get through a roof tear-off I can keep going through this.”
RC: How did being a roofer help you as a contestant on “Tough as Nails”?
LG: I jumped into something that I had never done before and I didn’t bail out within those 10 minutes when I wanted to on that first roof. Everything on “Tough as Nails” I’d never done before, and being able to reflect on that and having that past experience, where I can tackle something I hadn’t done before, was big. What I took from Long Construction and being a part of that family before filming was just that I had that support and camaraderie back home.
RC: Molly, can you talk about becoming the first female member of the Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Advisory Board?
Molly Mortenson: My first meeting was so awesome. It was just such a cool accomplishment and just such a fun thing sitting there with a bunch of successful men. I share my opinion, good or bad, but I don’t have a problem speaking my mind, so I actually fit right in. It was encouraging, it was nice, the leadership team there was very open … It’s been so fun to be part of a larger group that runs businesses like we do.
RC: How does Meta Team view its role in the roofing industry?
Candace Klein: We really wanted to start around creating a culture that had the values of diversity and safety and community and integrity and service, so we created a really high-level company and we wanted to keep the expectations high for anyone who does participate and do business with Meta Team.
Sherri Miles: We want business, but we also want to effect change. So, if this is a vehicle for change in that respect, then we’re hoping that it is. We’re hoping that more women will see us running this company, running our own companies, and say: “You know what? I can do that too. I want to lead too, and have ownership, too.” That’s our ultimate goal.
RC: Why is it important for people to invest in and support minority-owned companies?
CK: The trend to engage minority-owned contractors has really increased dramatically over the past decade. In spite of the global pandemic, that’s not going to stop. In listening to supplier diversity professionals right now, they’re talking about leaning in more, because what they have found is minority companies tend to engage in and reinvigorate these communities where we live and work … an investment in us is an investment in the community, which is what you really need right now in the middle of a recession and a global pandemic.
RC: Is the roofing industry more accepting of women than in the past?
Kelly Van Winkle: I feel like the roofing industry has been a very friendly industry, it’s a warm and welcoming group of professionals, and I want all the women to understand that, especially young women entering the industry, and to see how many opportunities there are.
MM: I think in the last five years there’s been a major change, and I don’t know if that’s just been the workforce or the people … I know from 15, 20 years ago when I worked for my dad it was totally different than it is today. When I started here I used to work the booths at trade shows, and people wouldn’t ask me the same questions they’d ask (my husband) if we worked it together.
LG: When I came back, we hired another female who’s tearing off roofs and stuff, and that’s a great thing. I’m a roofer, but I’m not a man. To speak to the women out there: Don’t limit yourself — just because you see guys doing all that doesn’t mean you can’t either.
SM: I think each one of us individually is called to really bring change — social change, change to better this world — and this is our little piece of the world that we can be most effective in, and so I think all of us feel a responsibility and truly a calling. This is more than just a roofing company, we are changing and transforming the way that women are seen in a traditionally man’s world. There aren’t many of us — less than 1% of roofing companies are owned by women.
RC: What can be done to encourage more women to join the industry?
Alicia Michael: I think Meta’s role is stated in our mission, and our mission is to empower diversity throughout the construction community while delivering the highest quality roofing solutions. A lot of people say ‘How do you empower diversity?’ And that’s about creating opportunities for all individuals who are either currently in or seeking to enter the roofing industry.
KVW: When we talk about diversity, we of course have the women that we like to mentor as well as younger women. Age diversity, it’s such a big issue right now with the retiring workforce — getting in the younger ladies to the construction industry to see that there is unlimited potential, that there is a vast array of possibilities for leadership in our industry.
MM: I think most of my mom friends — that’s a totally different category if you have kids — really think what we do is cool because of the fact that we promote it and wear it everywhere and we hand out clothes, tee shirts and hats all the time, so people think our business, roofing, is super cool. I think by just branding it and sharing it and shedding a light on it that roofing can be a business, not a roofing company. I hope someday my girls will do it — I have two girls, and they’ve been up on a few roofs and they know what hail damage is and know shingles.