McKay Daniels expressed a humbleness when asked about stepping into the position of CEO of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA), taking over the role from the Hon. Reid Ribble in June.
But, just like any other leader in roofing, the former NRCA chief operations officer knows he has a solid team of professionals backing him up.
“Reid’s going to be leaving some tremendously large shoes (for me) to fill, and I make no allusions that I'm going to be able to do that with the skill and grace that he does,” Daniels said. “The volunteer leaders that we’re fortunate enough to have step up and serve and be involved in this organization … I’m fortunate enough to say that it makes my current and future job a lot easier.”
This humbleness hides an impressive career that makes Daniels the right fit for CEO. Daniels came to the NRCA in 2018 with 20 years of experience working with nonprofits, government and the private sector. His professional journey includes management and consulting positions, including executive director of statewide political organizations in California and Nevada. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from George Washington University, in Washington, D.C., where he not only excelled academically but learned politics from the ground up. Once he started working in the Beltway, he also witnessed, first-hand, the importance of when and how business and politics intersect.
Prior to joining the NRCA as chief operations officer, McKay was chief of staff for two members of congress, which includes Ribble, who represented Wisconsin from 2011 to 2016, and Ribble’s successor, U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher, from 2017 to 2018.
Daniels takes the reins in a time where the roofing industry is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and battling supply issues. He noted the industry is facing challenges on nearly every level, including logistics, workforce and material shortages.
“In pre-COVID days, the big variables was weather, but now you throw in weather with whether or not materials are going to arrive on a stated date or the jobsite is ready – if another trade has finished up its work and it’s prepped and ready for the roofing crew to come in,” Daniels said. “There’s so many variables outside of a contractor’s control.”
Even with these challenges, he believes the capabilities of the industry have never been stronger. One thing Daniels said he admires about the roofing industry is its perseverance. Whether it was adapting to COVID safety protocols or coming up with new ways to do business through the latest technology, the industry finds a way forward.
“A lot of what I do is talk on the phone or Zooms or meetings, and talking with contractors across the country, I continue to be impressed and inspired and downright amazed at the resilience and the heart and the ingenuity and pragmatism that comes out each and every day,” he said. “2022 will have a level of uncertainty with it, we don’t know what the next variant may bring or what hurdles may arise, but we’ve got the talent and brainpower in the industry to navigate it.”
Even when the pandemic and global material shortages are over, Daniels noted labor issues will still be present. It’s why the NRCA focused on immigration reform and supporting career and technical education policies during its 2022 Roofing Day.
The NRCA is continuing to expand on its capabilities as well. It most recently announced expansions to its NRCA ProCertification program to include metal panel roof system installers, bringing the total of available certifications to seven. And like the industry itself, the NRCA is adopting technology to improve its operations.
“NRCA is going through a technological transition and revolution of really trying to improve our data capabilities and modernization of communication, data, analytics and being able to better serve our members, and that’s been a multi-year project that’s going to be continuing,” he said.
Daniels also wants to continue the NRCA’s mission of promoting the professionalism of the industry. The goal of improving how people view the industry is part of the NRCA’s long-term strategic plan and vision. It’s what Daniels calls the “North Star” that NRCA leaders say the association should concentrate on in the next decade.
“Our industry is filled with professionals. Some don’t necessarily view themselves like that, which is a travesty and tragedy and something NRCA has been trying to talk about and bolster,” he said. “We need to continue to do a better job on speaking up for the industry, for the craftsmen who are a part of it.”
“Our industry is filled with professionals. Some don’t necessarily view themselves like that, which is a travesty and tragedy and something NRCA has been trying to talk about and bolster. We need to continue to do a better job on speaking up for the industry, for the craftsmen who are a part of it.”
A Glowing Review
Rod Petrick, who served as the NRCA’s chairman of the board since 2020, said he looks forward to Daniels’ tenure as CEO. Petrick held the position of chairman for two years due to the pandemic and stepped down this month as Kyle Thomas, who previously served as an NRCA director, took on the role.
“Having had the chance to work with (Daniels) the last couple of years, I personally had an opportunity to work with him, see how he thinks things out, and I think it’s going to be an exciting time,” Petrick said. “I’m excited for the people that come after me to have a new kind of person in there and somebody that can drive it forward.”
Petrick said that, while Daniels wasn’t a roofer like Ribble, he noted the previous CEO, Bill Good, also didn’t have a roofing background, yet led the NRCA for years.
“I think McKay, with the way he thinks things out and envisions things, I think he’s going to really move NRCA forward where we need to be moving into the future for 2025, 2030,” Petrick said. “I think it’s a great move for NRCA right now.”
Ribble noted that one of his few regrets as CEO was not being able to spend more time with NRCA staff members, whether he was busy on the road or having to work from home. He said this was part of what drew him to hiring Daniels in the first place – to have a competent leader running day-to-day operations.
“Within about a year, it was really clear to me that he would make a very dynamic CEO. He is a highly, highly skilled manager, but not only that, he’s as good if not better at communication than I am,” Ribble said. “I will be able to walk out the door and nobody will notice it because that’s how strong of a leader McKay is.”
In February, as Ribble prepared to step down as CEO, he told RC that he was interested in building a legacy through his children and grandchildren as opposed to his work. Months later, while at the 2022 Roofing Day in D.C., he noted that the association’s future is in great hands.
“If I were to define or describe McKay, I would just simply say that he is a good man, he’s true and honest and just, and he is whip-smart,” Ribble said. “I love him like a son, I really do.”