This year’s winner of RC’s annual Residential Roofing Contractor of the Year Award winner — stood out among her peers for employing industry best practices, taking care of their employees and their customers and giving back to the community. And Letitia Hanke and her team at ARS Roofing, Gutters & Solar in Santa Rosa, Calif., did it all under some very difficult and unusual circumstances brought about by COVID-19 lockdowns, social unrest and historic wildfires.

“Working in a mask when it’s 100 degrees is not easy, but they’re determined to keep themselves safe and their families safe,” Hanke told RC Editor Art Aisner in a recent video chat. “I’m proud of my team for adapting, and adapting without complaining. Rolling with it and keeping things going.”

Hanke also discussed her nonprofit LIME Foundation, and its NextGen Trades Academy, where she and about a dozen other contractors commit time and resources to train young people getting started in the trades. She said she takes enormous pride in highlighting the program’s success and becoming the first African American woman to receive RC’s Contractor of the Year.

“Women are capable of doing anything and for me it’s about showing the young people that they can really be anything they want to be. I can be an example of that,” she said. “When they see me, and see a black female roofer, they’re like, 'What?' it blows their minds.”