LOS ANGELES — Latino roofing contractors from the West gathered for education, networking, and fun at the GAF West Latinos in Roofing Summit and Expo in Los Angeles on June 21-22.

Whether they were knowledgeable roofing veterans with decades of experience or relatively new in terms of roofing pedigree, attendees were exposed to a series of insightful speakers on various topics during the day-long power conference at the Omni in downtown L.A. All the events and breakout sessions were conducted in Spanish. 

GAF launched the initiative last year to elevate Latino contractors through education, networking and sharing resources that can help entrepreneurs in the Latino community overcome some of their unique challenges in their respective markets.

The staggered breakout sessions, which covered subjects ranging from in-home selling and storm restoration to financing and solar roofing, were well attended. The speakers, including multiple roofing contractors, engaged the audience with candor and honesty during 50-minute interactive presentations.

“We are an industry and a culture that needs growth, but above all, we need information to continue to grow,” said Felipe Bucio of Side-By-Side Home Improvements. The Fresno, Calif.-based residential roofing company sent 30 people to the event.

GAF "SAVE the Date" notice (image).“For us it’s very important that they’re here and that they know that we can grow to a level we’ve never seen,” he said.  

When they weren’t in the sessions, contractors squeezed through the hallways lined with event sponsors from roofing distribution and other companies looking to engage with Latino roofers. 

Alan Lopez, who leads GAF’s Latinos in Roofing initiative, closed the education portion of the event with a powerhouse panel of Latino roofing company owners and an adjuster who answered questions ranging from operational pain points to working with family.

Attendees received first-hand access to products and programs designed to improve roofing operations, networked with other top-tier roofing contractors certified by GAF and earned CARE credits toward GAF’s annual training goal. 

They also were exposed to contractors with high-level leadership skills in the roofing industry, which is a point GAF is trying to cultivate through its education and business services programs industrywide. 

Latinos comprise more than half of the current roofing workforce but are significantly underrepresented in company leadership roles. Those in attendance recognized that this is going to change, whether the industry as a whole is ready for it or not. 

“The way I’ve looked at in my 14 years in roofing is that it’s not possible that we can be the majority in the roofing industry, yet the least advanced or progressive in the industry,” Alan Lopez explained. “Hispanics are the future of the roofing industry, and why not help them be prepared and help them be the best they can be?”

Each night was capped off with memorable social events, including a welcome reception with live mariachi music and a DJ, and admission to the Los Angeles Dodgers game against the cross-town rival L.A. Angels.