Like everyone else, Trent Cotney’s travel schedule screeched to an abrupt halt with the onset of COVID-19. But he hardly sat still.
Finally taking a page out of the playbook he’s been helping roofing contractors follow for years, he said he took his own advice to work “on” his business. In the past 18 months, Cotney has rebranded his business; diversified services and revenue streams; launched a private equity and venture capital company; and expanded into international markets. To do so he’s also grown his staff — bringing aboard industry veterans for key leadership positions while also strengthening partnerships with well-known consultants.
Cotney did this all while becoming a critical source of information, advice and hope for roofing contractors during uncertain times. He’ll share some of that sage wisdom from the Best of Success (BOS) stage for the sixth straight year.
Roofing Contractor: Since you work with contractors everywhere, tell us what’s your assessment of the roofing industry moving into the second half of 2021?
Trent Cotney: I think the roofing industry is strong and will bounce back from the challenges of COVID-19 and material volatility. All the contractors I work with are optimistic, but they’re facing material shortages, and they need more skilled labor. What I always tell them is that if they plan ahead and have the right language in their contracts, they can figure out any situation.
RC: It’s been a very busy 18 months working “on” your business. What are you proudest of?
TC: Yes, Cotney made some big moves this past year. We changed our name from Cotney Construction Law to Cotney Attorneys & Consultants to reflect our broader services. While construction and roofing are still key for us, we now offer much more, including operational consulting, technology solutions, business coaching, and training in safety, HR and estimating. I think I’m most proud of the coaching and training offerings because John Kenney and I want to support our clients in growing the best, most effective companies that they can. As a result of our work, we were named to Forbes Next 1,000 list (2021).
RC: What do you remember about your first BOS?
TC: The first one I can remember was Clearwater (Fla.) more than 10 years ago. I was a speaker, and the topic was contract provisions. Although I was used to speaking in front of large crowds, I was surprised by the hundreds of contractors in the audience. I remember for the first time having real discussions about business. This was a year or two before I started my own business, but I remember thinking that these were real discussions about real issues.
RC: Care to share a takeaway or two that you still use?
TC: A takeaway I always share is that contractors have to document everything. Unfortunately, owners are well-versed in litigation and insurance, and they might be eager to take advantage of contractors who don’t know better. If a given project ends up in litigation, nine times out of 10, the party with the best “paper” will win the day. In other words, the party that has the most detailed and descriptive paper trail supporting its claims will more than likely succeed in court. I remember talking to contractors who talked about how they used the same strategy in every aspect of their business.
RC: What will you cover in your BOS presentation and what do you hope contractors get from it?
TC: I’ll be sharing my best secrets for negotiating contracts. So often, contractors don’t read all of their contracts, or they don’t understand how just a few word changes can make or break a deal. I’ll explain the key clauses and provisions that will help contractors protect their interests and make their projects successful.
RC: When were you last in Dallas, and what do you love/hate?
TC: The last time I was in Dallas was for IRE February 2020 and I always enjoy visiting there. We also have an office there. It’s an affordable, convenient and easy to get to from almost any destination.