Any industry is only as good as the companies that drive it forward, and those companies are only as good as the people they employ. Some get lucky and reach levels of job volumes and profits rather quickly. But for those seeking longevity and sustainable success over time, that requires a mix of experienced industry veterans as well as the ability to attract, educate and develop a younger talent.
Like a lot of industries, the metal construction industry is facing the challenge of retiring leaders with not enough replacements waiting in line to fill that void. There’s also a hunger for a more diverse workforce to eventually move into leadership roles within their companies and industry.
Innovative ideas from future leaders can be a valuable asset in the continuing growth of the metal construction industry, and roofing in particular. That’s why the Metal Construction Association [MCA] and the producers of METALCON joined forces to launch the first Future Leaders Program – to attract, educate, connect and develop those eventual industry leaders. It offers online and in-person events that become opportunities for metal construction professionals with the desire to develop their skillset.
“The opportunity to leverage METALCON brings great value to the program,” said MCA Executive Director Jeff Henry. “Our objective is to increase the technical and business acumen of those new to the metal construction industry.”
Henry said he anticipates the partnership with METALCON will eventually develop into a broad curriculum available to educate industry newcomers about the nuances of metal roofing. The METALCON team has hand-picked a selection of education sessions that will be beneficial to future leaders attending METALCON this October. The partnership includes additional “future leaders” sessions online through METALCONLive! and dedicated webinars throughout the year.
“Attracting a diverse variety of people to foster community and open their network will be the key to the success of the Future Leaders Program,” said Bridget Jammoul, market manager at Therm-All. “Not only folks from all areas, functions and levels within the industry, but people from all walks of life, too.”
Industry experts say it needs new leaders to enter the industry, whether they're Gen Z'ers just starting their careers or Gen X'ers looking for a career change.
The initiative also shows roofing industry professionals that there are opportunities to learn and grow with the industry by being active in associations. Members that continue to learn more about the metal construction industry are more valuable to their own companies, and believe the goal should be to involve more people.
“What we need more than anything else is to get people new to the industry involved,” said Mark Carlisle, industry marketing manager – construction, with U.S. Steel. “This isn’t an age discrimination thing. It’s good for anyone new to the industry to become engaged with other member companies. It doesn’t matter if they are early in their careers or the middle of their careers.
“Company leaders need to bring these people to meetings and trade shows, put them to work learning the industry. The more they know, the more they can help their company and the industry.”
The mission of the MCA is to promote the use of metal in the building envelope through marketing, education and action on public policies that affect metal’s use. In that regard, the success of one member becomes the success of all.
“Metal construction, or really all construction, may not be as appealing as industries like tech,” said Ryan King, national sales manager with Cidan Machinery. “I think this program attracts new, younger talent into our industry through education, mentoring, networking and more. It will also get those younger people already in our industry to think about their career and company’s future.”
The workforce is also changing rapidly, particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic. Like most industries, roofing’s current leaders are baby boomers and members of Generation X, with most boomers near or getting very close to retirement. Millennials are stepping up, and members of Gen Z are just starting careers or entering the workforce.
Industry Marketing Manager – Construction
“Millennials are already stepping into leadership roles,” King observed. “I believe this program will help shape the leaders of the future and bring new blood into our industry.”
Jammoul said getting involved was an easy decision.
“To me, a future leader has nothing to do with age,” she said. “It’s a moniker that says, ‘I’m passionate about this, I’m invested in this and I’m here to stay.’ A collective group with that mindset is sure to add value to the metal construction industry.”
And the change can happen in small ways through collaborations, such as reverse-mentoring senior leadership members on a topic like the use of AI to increase sales team efficiencies, said Jammoul. She’s looking forward to connecting with people who are excited about the present and future landscape, and in it for the long haul.
“I think the sky’s the limit here,” Jammoul said.
Young or old, the industry will only remain as durable as the metal it touts if new leaders steps up.
“We live in a fast-paced world,” King added. “I think more MCA members need to encourage their hungry and driven people to get more involved. We also need to offer workshops and networking for future members to learn from the boomers, Gen X and others.”
WHEN: Oct. 18-20, 2023
WHERE: Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas
WHAT: Future Leaders Program Education Sessions
Here’s a list of educational sessions relevant for future leaders in metal roofing during METALCON 2023. Future leaders under 40 years of age can save $50 on any METALCON registration package with the code FLMC when they register. All sessions are one hour in length unless otherwise noted.
Metal Roof Installation Training Certificate Program (1/2-day workshop)
Rollforming for the Metal Construction Industry (1/2-day workshop)
RAiNA Installer Training for Rainscreen Assemblies (1/2-day workshop)
Metal Roofing from A (Aluminum) to Z (Zinc) (1/2-day workshop)
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AC472 & AC478 Accreditation for the Metal Building Industry