This being the Young Guns issue of Roofing Contractor eMagazine, I thought it might be appropriate to share some of my experiences from that time, as Billy Joel says, “When I wore a younger man’s clothes.” 

I was blessed from the beginning of my career in roofing to have some of the best people working in the trade as mentors. I did not call them mentors, but they were. Around midway through my career in roofing I was mentored by Mr. Tommy Ponsell. He owned the roofing supply company that was acquired by the company where I was newly employed.

Spending a year working with me (I was branch manager) was part of the acquisition deal, and I needed as much of his knowledge and experience as I could gain. I came over from selling roofing equipment, so this was my first experience in the materials business. Tommy brought dozens of years of experience and was a generous teacher. 

Of everything I learned from Tommy, most was not specific to roofing, but really about business in general or life itself. He was a decent man; strong-minded and respected in the local trade. I did not want to be just like him so much, but these qualities I admired and have tried to emulate. He was respected for who he was: a good and honest broker.

When it came to accounts receivable, he did not rely on a hired credit manager, but his own gut and the occasional call on a reference. His only fuss about his customers, primarily roofing contractors, was about the ones who could not manage their accounts well. 

The thing that bothered Tommy the most was that roof contracting, at least in that market at that time, was a good and profitable business. He would say about his slow-pay customers, “They can’t stand prosperity!” Of all the lessons he taught me, that one sticks with me to this day. 

The world is fighting a pandemic and the economy is in tatters. Our politics have gone from divided to hatred. Read the mass media and all you hear is complaining. Many roofing contractors and others in the trade have chosen to take sides and maintain this constant feeling of dissatisfaction. That somehow things are awful because of the other side and would be so much better if everyone would just buy into their side. 

They can’t stand prosperity.

Despite the pandemic and recession, roofing is still an essential trade. In most parts of the country the roofing business is good. There are places where things have slowed down, but the prospects for the future are great virtually everywhere. 

So, is it best to continue down the road of being dissatisfied? Is this a good time to complain? My advice would be to look around and you will see that things are not all that bad. If you are depressed by what you are hearing on the news, turn it off. Turn off the TV. Take a week away from talk radio. You will gain time to focus on your business, if only the extra time just to think about it. 

Change is hard, and I wish we did not have to go through so much of it all at once. But if we are honest with ourselves, many changes will ultimately be good and the industry we work in is in good shape with prospects for a prosperous future. 

I can stand that. And I encourage my Young Gun friends to embrace prosperity as well. After all, the future is yours.