The phone call was followed by a fax with some details telling me that Charlie Raymond, 87, had passed away. I was unable to make it to his funeral, which was held in his home church in South Florida.

Charlie Raymond

The phone call was followed by a fax with some details telling me that Charlie Raymond, 87, had passed away. I was unable to make it to his funeral, which was held in his home church in South Florida.

I just wrote the editor’s note for the October issue of Roofing Contractor as somewhat of a tribute to Charlie; a gentleman whom I am extremely proud to have known and called a friend. You can read a little more about the man and what he meant to me when that is published.

Charlie Raymond will be sorely missed by the roofing industry and is one of those people who will simply never be replaced.

Below is the feature article that I had the honor of collaborating on with Charlie (published in the November 1999 issue of Roofing Contractor). It was and is his story for the roofing industry. It is not, by a long shot, the entire story of Charlie Raymond. He was awarded nearly every accolade the roofing industry offers and the membership award for two roofing associations (FRSA & NRCA) bear his name. I remember him as much as a dancer and storyteller as a roofing contractor and leader in the industry; and that is not to mention his work as a brother, husband, father, and grandfather.

Trade Associations in the Roofing Industry

By Charlie Raymond with Rick Damato

In 1953, my brother, Steve, was president of the Florida Roofing, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors Association (FRSA). Steve was operating Giffen Industries, Inc. of Coral Gables, Florida. At that time I was running the company’s branch in Jacksonville, Florida. That year the FRSA held their annual convention in Miami. It was to be my first of many experiences with trade associations in the roofing industry.

I later took Giffen over from my brother, and have since retired from the roofing business. Not from the roofing association business, however, as I still function as a representative for FRSA at other industry conventions, such as the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). After all these years, there is much work yet to be done with both of these fine organizations.

From that first convention, I went on to serve on the board of directors for the FRSA and NRCA. In 1972 I became president of the FRSA, and in 1974 was honored to serve as the president of the NRCA.

Those were exciting and challenging times for our industry, as well as for our trade associations. Roofing was becoming more and more complex. New roofing systems were being tried that did not all exactly perform as advertised. Government regulations, including the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) began to make life extremely difficult for roofing contractors. These are some of the reasons that I believed so deeply in the mission of these trade groups. The individual roofing contractor, especially the smaller operators, did not have the resources to handle the wave of new costs and complexities. By joining a trade association, the roofing contractor gained the ability to reach out to the association for answers, and to reach out to other roofing contractors who were experiencing all the same challenges.

I believed in the associations then, and I believe in them now. The key to my several administrations was the building up of the membership in the organizations. It was important to get the word out to all roofing contractors that they were not alone, and that the associations existed for their benefit. While serving on the NRCA board, we took the membership from 357 to 1,000. When I became president of NRCA in 1974, we raised the membership to 2,000. Today, the NRCA’s membership is over 4,300, and there is a campaign underway to raise that to the 5,000 mark.

Why have I been such a proponent of trade associations in the roofing industry? Two reasons: I believe in the power and strength of these trade associations, and because I have to talk about something. I was vaccinated with a Victrola needle at a very young age. (For you young people, that means I like to talk a lot). There is one more reason: this has always been fun for me. For example, in 1961, when Dave Hess was president of the FRSA we put on a talent show called “Miss Roofer” at convention. We dressed up a number of roofing contractors (in drag, of course) and lip-synched to the oldies. You had to be there, but believe me, it was a hoot!

There was the fun, but the work has always been serious. Over the course of this century, there have been many significant advances by these two trade groups. There are, of course, many fine associations of roofing contractors across the country. To name them all and their accomplishments would literally take a book. These are my groups, and these are the things that I have seen and been a part of in my professional life.

To put this article together, we spoke with some of the persons responsible for running the day-to-day operations of the FRSA and NRCA. We asked them all what they thought were the association’s key achievements and challenges. To me, I think one of the most important things the NRCA ever did was assisting in the establishment of the National Legal Resource Center. At the time, the industry was facing major litigation in the wake of sweeping failures of two-ply coated felt BUR systems. The center brought nearly all the players to the table to work toward solutions that were acceptable to all concerned. The establishment of the Alliance for Progress was also begun from the NRCA, and is going to be a vital part of filling the need for trained workers into the next century. The FRSA self-insurer's fund for worker's comp was definitely a major event, not only for Florida, but for many roofing trade groups to follow.

Fred Good was the senior staff executive for NRCA from 1957 until his retirement in 1990. Prior to 1957 the association had been run by Mr. Carroll Figge. Fred had been working with his father, Ray Good, whose company managed a number of trade associations, including the Chicago Roofing Contractors Association. Ray went on with his business, and Fred took over the NRCA office, a job he would hold for another 33 years. From his executive position with the NRCA, Fred Good bore witness to sweeping changes in trade associations, in our industry, and in the world.

According to Fred Good, his proudest achievement was that, “We were able to initiate activity.” These “activities” are even too numerous to mention here, but include: The idea of and need for a technical committee; Roofing superintendents conferences (originally held at Purdue University); publication of literature on labor relations (in the 50’s, the NRCA membership was 50% union); With Bill Cullen, started the idea of technical conferences, which later became international conferences, resulting in key relationships with European trade groups; Addressed safety issues, especially after the establishment of OSHA; Initiated insurance packages for roofing contractors through a major national vendor; With George Burris, Bob Bubenzer, John Harman, and others, undertook to put together the first roofing manual (which has grown to be a nationally recognized standard used by all manners of construction industry professionals); Project Pinpoint, a forum for discovering problems experienced by many roofing contractors; Following the energy crisis of the 1970’s, came up with the “Energy Manual”; During the term of Melvin Kruger, started the National Roofing Litigation Center as a separate entity; Also under the guidance of Kruger, aided in the beginning of the “Roofing Industry Educational Institute (RIEI); In the early 1980’s established an Education Department within the NRCA.

Fred was succeeded by his son, Bill Good, who is now the senior staff executive with the NRCA. Bill cites a number of issues that have been crucial in this century, and continue to make an impact on the roofing industry, including education of business professionals. Bill says, “We have more sophisticated professionals… because they are smarter and better educated, they want better educational programs from their trade associations.” The growth of communications technology has allowed trade associations to play a much more critical role in information delivery. The growth of government has created a market for associations to respond to government by creating lobbying and advocacy organizations. The growth of technology has created the need for research and for standards, both of which are natural roles that are filled by associations.

Steve Munnell is the senior staff executive for the FRSA. The formation of the FRSA in 1922 by as small group of roofing and sheet metal contractors was the beginning of what is now the oldest construction industry trade association in the State of Florida. The group has grown to membership of over 600, and their annual trade show is second in size only to the NRCA’s. Steve cites the 1981 establishment of the FRSA Educational Foundation as a highlight in the history of the organization. The Foundation is now giving annual scholarships totaling between $5,000 and $6,000. An outgrowth of the Foundation is the Earl Blank Endowed Faculty Fellowship at the University of Florida School of Architecture, presently valued at around $200,000.

The FRSA is one of very few trade associations that sponsors a Credit Union. The FRSA Credit Union offers its members a full slate of banking services that includes equipment financing. Employees of FRSA member companies are also eligible to take advantage of the Credit Union services. FRSA has worked for years with the National Roof Tile Manufacturers Association (NRTMA) to publish standards for the application of concrete roof tile. The manual, which is in its second printing, is used nationally.

Perhaps the largest endeavor of the FRSA this century was the previously mentioned establishment of the FRSA Self Insurers Fund (FRSA/SIF) in 1955. Tom Drake heads the fund for the association, which is regulated by the State of Florida, and is guided by a ten member board of trustees. The FRSA/SIF was established as the second such fund as allowed by the state, following the Hotel and Motel group. The fund has been through the good times and the bad, but has always “been there” for the roofing contractor members of the association. According to Drake, “The uniqueness is that it is for the roofing contractors… and the owners (the insured roofing contractors) are making it work.” Over the years, the FRSA/SIF has provided a stable market for FRSA members. At times, commercial insurers are attracted to roofing, and at times they will not even write insurance for roofing contractors. The fund has enjoyed success because it has been conservatively run by “a group of people who pay attention to detail.” Drake also feels that the fund has superior risk management capabilities since it has can focus on such a limited clientele. The FRSA/SIF has served as a model for many other associations, including those in Alabama, Georgia, Virginia and the Carolinas.

As the new century/millennium begins, the roofing industry faces some new challenges along with some that have been around for a while. Fred Good feels that since we are in the midst of a technical revolution, associations must work, “To handle in an efficient and meaningful way, all the information that is available.” He goes on, “The relationships internationally are changing… all of them (trade associations) are going to have to look at this… this process has to be invented… how do you get these groups together?”

Steve Munnell predicts that the labor situation will continue to be a key issue, along with education. Growth will be a challenge for trade associations. Finding ways to gain the “Total use of the Internet to communicate with contractors and consumers.” Steve expects increasing regulations to continue to widen the gap between licensed, legitimate roofing contractors and unlicensed and uninsured individuals operating as contractors.

Bill Good says of the coming challenges to trade associations, “It is what it has been for the past 25 years… which is keeping good people engaged in the association work. There is so much demand on peoples’ time today that the only real hope we have in the association world is to make sure that the best and the brightest see value in what we do, and see value in what they do as participants in the process, because without active members the associations don’t become very meaningful.”

To me, trade associations are what people make them. Trade associations in this industry need to do a better job with the roofing contractor, especially the small operator. The individual roofing contractor is the heart of this industry, and as the world becomes more complex, it is this individual business person that needs the help of trade associations the most. We need programs to bring in members at a cost they can afford, and continue to help them stay involved as their business grows.

So stay involved. If you aren’t involved with your local, state and/or national association, get off your butt and get involved! In the meantime, I’ll see you at convention.

Editor’s note:
Charlie Raymond not only presided over the NRCA and FRSA, but has earned the highest recognition from both groups. He was the recipient of the Bob Campanella Memorial Award (FRSA) and the J.A. Piper Award (NRCA). The annual membership recruitment awards for both associations are named after the greatest cheerleader this industry has ever known -- Charlie Raymond. He is in active retirement in South Florida.

(Story originally published in the November 1999 issue of Roofing Contractor.)