I believe it was Thomas Palmer, an American educator in the mid-19th century, who said, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” And I just thought retiring was so much fun I would do it twice.

My first retirement came at the end of 2016 when I exited a 32-year run in the roofing supply industry. Following more than 40 years of involvement in roofing-related trade media, I am retiring again. 

I have been studying and reporting on exit strategies for roofing contractors for decades. What first grabbed my attention was the lack of attention many roofing contractors paid to what ultimately became a very important topic for them: moving on. 

Rick Damato at the 1976 National Roofing Contractors Association convention

Rick Damato at the 1976 National Roofing Contractors Association convention. Damato plans on remaining active with the NRCA in retirement.

City Park Stadium

Rubbing Presidential Elbows
Damato with President Jimmy Carter in 2002. Damato has volunteered with Carter's Habitat for Humanity efforts for many years.

City Park Stadium

On Location
Damato interviewing Habitat for Humanity International Co-founder Millard Fuller in South Africa.

I watched as a number of my good friends arrived at the end of their careers and simply shut down their shop. Some had worked decades and built up small but respectable roof-contracting businesses with no plan for succession. They did not see their roofing business as a business but as an extension of themselves.

Many of them walked away from businesses that were arguably worth millions because they did not recognize the value of their accomplishments. But I have never been a contractor or owned a business employing anyone other than myself, so what does this have to do with me? 

My good friend, Kevin Kennedy, Founder & CEO of Beacon Exit Planning, always said that the most challenging thing about executing an exit plan and moving on, even in the best circumstances, is the emotional aspect. It is the same as if I were separating myself from a long-held roofing business.

Now that I have reached this place in my 50-year tenure in the roofing industry, I am coming to fully understand what Kevin has been telling me for years. We all tend to identify ourselves with our work. Working in service to roofing contractors for many years has become part of my nature.

Now, what the hell am I going to do?

Fortunately, having been “retired” once, I have had a few years to consider this question. Bear with me here; this is not just about me. I still have this last chance to serve you, my friends working in roofing. You will all move on someday.

Over the years, I have read many books on business and life. My favorite authors include Seth Godin, Adam Grant, Simon Sinek, Jim Collins, and others. One bit of wisdom I subscribe to comes from Stephen R. Covey and his most popular book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” It is Habit No. 2: “Begin with the end in mind.” 

This is why I am ready to step away from the publications that have been part of my life since Danny Carson, the founding publisher of Roofer Magazine, reeled me in to write about roofing equipment back in the early 1980s. I have been thinking about this moment for a very long time, so I find myself comfortable in it.

So, even if you are far too young to retire or sell your roofing business, this would be an excellent time to begin at least casually considering what it would look like for you. 

My plan is to continue some of the volunteer work I do for the NRCA, including the support of Roofing Day, April 16-17, in Washington, D.C., where we speak with one voice on Capitol Hill. I’m also staying involved with the Roofing Alliance and the National Slate Association. I still enjoy the work and the fellowship with all the people in these industry groups with whom I am proud to share membership.

At least for now. I will move on from all these things when it is time.

And if you will indulge me just a little further, I must add a word of thanks to all the people I work with at BNP Media, publisher of Roofing Contractor and Roofing Supply Pro. I must especially thank Tagg Henderson, BNP Media Co-CEO, for buying Roofer Magazine and making Roofing Contractor part of the BNP family. 

And to Jill Bloom, my dear friend and publisher of Roofing Contractor, thank you for having my back for over two dozen years. There is not enough room in this column to express my most profound gratitude for you in my life. 

And to all my readers and supporters: so long, y’all!