A report generated last year by the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative at the Stanford School of Business in Palo Alto, Calif., titled “State of Latino Entrepreneurship,” offers up some noteworthy takeaways beginning to impact the roofing industry.

Among the report's findings, more than 3 million people in the United States are employed by nearly 350,000 Latino-owned businesses, which also happen to be the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. business population.

From 2007 to 2019, Latino-owned businesses grew by 34% compared to a decline in overall business creation for the white majority. Between 2019 and 2022, Latino-owned companies reported a median growth of 25%.

Latino and Hispanic Events at IRE 2024

Title: Latinos in Roofing [Presented in Spanish]
Speaker: Alan Lopez, Latinos in Roofing lead at GAF
Date: Noon-12:45 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7
Room: GAF education — Booth No. 4207

While the Stanford survey, conducted annually since 2015, provides some insights, there is no comprehensive data available about the impact of Latino roofing company owners. Yet it appears to be growing as more suppliers and manufacturers gear programs specifically to them, and organizations intended to help support them from different locations.

Within construction generally and roofing specifically, Latino representation in the U.S. roofing industry has grown significantly over the past decade. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 1990 and 2000, Latinos accounted for 36% of all new labor force growth; from 2000 to 2010, it increased to 54% of all labor force growth within roofing. By 2020, the last year BLS statistics were available, that number ballooned to nearly three-quarters of all new labor in roofing.

Similarly, Latino contractors employing roofers has grown: a 2023 Zippia report cited that 21.3% of roofing contractors in the U.S. identify as Latino or Hispanic; statistics from 2013 couldn’t even be found, and that absence is as good an indication as any that the number of Latino roofing contractors is on the rise.

Reaching Out

As Latino roofers and contractors continue their upward trajectory, the industry has changed to reflect that growth, and you need not look further than the inclusive changes and programming taking place at this year’s International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas. 

Now in its fourth year, SRS Distribution’s Para Latinos Lounge has quickly become one of the most popular spots within the expo’s expansive vendor arrays — and a well-equipped bar in the back that transcends language — the lounge offers numerous talks by industry insiders on best practices and other useful information for Spanish-speaking attendees.

Last year’s IRE in Dallas, in addition to the Para Latinos Lounge, had one breakout session specifically geared toward Latino roofing professionals; in 2024, there are three, including a GAF-sponsored workshop presented in Spanish (see breakout chart for descriptions of all offerings).

Latino and Hispanic Events at IRE 2024

Title: 5 Keys to “Sell” Safety to Latinos
Speakers: Charlie Echeverry, CEO and marketing director, Black/Brown; Octavio Vazquez, Latino program lead at Owens Corning
Date: 9:30-11:30 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 8
Room: N233

Three offerings in isolation may seem small, but it still represents a 200% increase in Latino-specific programming from one year earlier. Beyond the classroom, the number of networking events and participating organizations collaborating on diversity training, inclusion, and focusing on Latino interests during the 2024 IRE has more depth and breadth than any year prior.

Informa Markets, the producer of the IRE, in collaboration with Latinos en Roofing, the National Roofing Contractors Association — the principal IRE sponsor — and National Women in Roofing, or NWiR, scheduled an hourlong reception on Tuesday called “EmpowerAll Together” that brought together attendees to foster conversation and networking opportunities.

Getting Organized

Representation by advocacy groups dedicated to Latino business interests has also germinated and begun to sprout, with organizations like Latinos En Roofing gaining significant visibility at the IRE and, more broadly, including a working partnership with Roofing Contractor magazine.

During an interview recorded live last fall at the Western Roofing Expo, which also happened to take place in Las Vegas, Amparo Sancen, founder of Latinos en Roofing, and her daughter, Jackie, who is the group’s marketing coordinator, discussed the advances made to accommodate and integrate Latino workers and contractors within the last few years.

“We are working so hard, but sometimes the language is a barrier to communication,” Amparo Sancen told RC Publisher Jll Bloom. “We want to make sure all … companies have the tools and knowledge [as to] how they can communicate with [Latinos] working for them.”

Latino and Hispanic Events at IRE 2024

Title: 5 Keys to “Sell” Safety to Latinos
Speaker: Luciano Perez, safety director, KPost Company
Date: 7:45 a.m.-9:15 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 8
Room: N219

Jackie Sancen also discussed how Latinos en Roofing disseminates its communications and offerings, particularly the group’s inventive employment of social media to expand its reach and ensure its audience remains connected.

“I enjoy … that creative side [showcasing] the purpose of Latinos en Roofing, [its] mission … and being able to portray that on Instagram and Facebook, keeping people connected to what we're doing and seeing the purpose of it,” Jackie said. “I think that's very valuable.”

She also has a point in referencing social media's value in communications reach, particularly for the Latino audience.

The 2023 State of Latino Entrepreneurship survey asked how businesses reach their customers and advertise their products and services; the study found that Latino-owned businesses are more likely to advertise using a range of channels, including social media, websites and blogs, email, flyers, and search engine optimization and marketing.

“Latino-owned businesses are more proactive in product differentiation and service differentiation than White-owned businesses and Latino-owned businesses use social media across all platforms more,” Barbara Gomez-Aguinaga, the associate director of SLEI and one of the report’s authors, said.

And, with the growth and positive headlines, headwinds remain: Access to capital remains an obstacle for Latino entrepreneurs. In 2022, Latino-owned businesses were 50% more likely to seek financing than White-owned businesses.

Communication is Key

Whether you communicate in Spanish or English, IRE organizers prepared resources for a seamless IRE experience.

“We recognize the unique challenges [Latino contractors] navigate as a business owner,” said Rich Russo, IRE show director with Informa Markets. “The IRE is dedicated to being the go-to marketplace for all contractors, including those within the Hispanic community.”

Spanish-speaking contractors are invited to explore the ¿Por Qué Asistir? (Why Attend?) page in Spanish for easy registration. For non-Spanish speakers, the “Why Attend” page in English is where you can register hassle-free.

Other features designed to enhance the IRE experience for Latino roofing contractors include:

  • On-site bilingual registration personnel and signage
  • Identification ribbons or buttons for easy recognition of Spanish speakers
  • Exhibitor signage or ribbons highlighting Spanish-speaking representatives
  •  Expanded partnerships with organizations and industry leaders dedicated to supporting the Latino community:
    • NAHICA – National Association of Hispanic Contractors, led by Sergio Terreros
    • Latinos En Roofing o Labor Central
    • Southeast Contracting Services
    • Latinos in Roofing Association
    • A dedicated area at the Welcome Party, in collaboration with NWiR and NRCA's Diversity and Inclusion Committee
    • The SRS Para Latino Lounge