The COVID-19 “pause” wasn’t much of a break for Trent Cotney.

Unable to meet clients in-person and travel, he spent time expanding and growing his business by diversifying revenue streams and delving into international markets. While launching a private equity and venture capital company and growing a team of industry consultants, he’s not taking his eyes off what issues are impacting roofing contractors on a daily basis. A frequent trade show speaker throughout his two decades representing and defending roofing contractors, Cotney will be back in Las Vegas for multiple sessions that will resonate with installers and business owners alike at the IRE 2021.

Top 5 Immigration Issues in Roofing

IRE Session: Legal/HR Track

Title: Top 5 Immigration Issues in Roofing
Speakers: Trent Cotney, CEO; Benjamin Briggs, Partner, Cotney Attorneys & Consultants
Date: Wednesday, Aug. 11, 9:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.
Location: Islander H

Despite the challenges posed over the past year by the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of skilled labor continues to be the biggest long-term threat to the roofing industry’s future, said Cotney, CEO of the aforementioned rebranded Cotney Attorneys & Consultants. To supplement the workforce, the industry has come to rely on the skilled workers that relocated here from various countries. However, to employ them legally, there’s a multitude of rules and challenges that are essential for employers to understand. That ranges from I-9 compliance and using E-Verify, to ICE inspections, securing H-2B visas, and the path to citizenship.

The continued pressure roofing contractors are feeling on material prices and overall supply availability only seem to exacerbate the workforce dilemma. The industry continues to look to Washington D.C. for some help and direction, and there are signs showing those efforts may be getting somewhere, Cotney said.

With a new presidential administration in control, there’s a new approach immigration and businesses will need to adapt in order to maximize and best manage this crucial workforce.

“We’re starting to see more and more of the Biden administration’s stance on immigration and the thought process,” Cotney said. “It was very muddled at first, and there were some missteps, but I think as he starts gaining ground we’ll see more and more of an ease of access. That means more availability to get these workers into construction.”

Legal Issues in a Post-COVID-19 World

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic as a roofing contractor would not have been possible without understanding the legalities of being declared an essential business, and several other key matters. Getting through the post-pandemic era as a business will require the same knowledge, as well as some new strategies to manage an ongoing supply shortage impacting both the residential and commercial sides of the business.

IRE Session: Legal/HR Track

Title: Legal Issues in a Post-COVID-19 World
Speakers: Trent Cotney, CEO, John Kenny, COO, Cotney Consulting; Ken Kelly, President, Kelly Roofing; Michelle Boykin, COO, Rackley Roofing
Date: Tuesday, Aug. 10, 9:30 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Location: Islander C

That will be the main topic of a panel discussion featuring industry leaders with years of experience managing through uncertain economic times. Joining Cotney will be Michelle Boykin, COO of Rackley Roofing; Ken Kelly, president of Kelly Roofing; and John Kenney, COO of Cotney Consulting.

Organizers said this seminar will focus on the latest issues involving material volatility, including price increases and long lead times. Cotney said he’ll share key contract provisions to include in new and existing contracts that may need a new look in this new business environment.

Boykin and Kelly, leaders of companies that are perennially on RC’s Top 100 list, and will share how to successfully negotiate material issues in existing contracts, and how to navigate delay claims from both the commercial and residential roofing perspectives. In addition, the panel will discuss how COVID-19 has changed their business and what the future looks like for the entire industry.  

Hearing from the leaders in the industry on the contracting side should help the discussion resonate with other roofing contractors in attendance, Cotney said.

“We’re going to go over all the issues from what does a post COVID-19 business look like to all the material delays and pricing issues contractors have been dealing with,” he explained. “I think it’s a must-see. We’ve focused before on COVID-19 vaccines, human resources policies and safety, but the bulk of this conversation will be on the materials issue because that is the hot-button item affecting everyone.”