It has been a busy fall. Things heated up in the lead-up to Roofing Contractor’s sixth annual Best of Success conference.

It has been a busy fall. Things heated up in the lead-up to Roofing Contractor’s sixth annual Best of Success conference. Our publisher, Jill Bloom, handles the important details of the conference including setting the theme and content and lining up speakers. Running this conference is way more complicated than that, but this is the part of the planning process that arguably demands the most creativity and experience.

As usual Jill had lined up an amazing syllabus to be presented by a very strong slate of industry professionals. At the last moment one of the speakers had to back out due to a family emergency, so Coach Bloom had to call an audible. Without missing a beat, she assembled a panel of experts who shared valuable information on new media marketing for roofing contractors.

New media and high-tech tools developed as themes for the conference. And in spite of the fact that I try to stay ahead of the curve on the topic of new media, I was wowed by some of the things learned from roofing contractors putting new media to work in their businesses.

The other take-away from listening to contractors and others speaking about the new ways we market roofing businesses these days is that sales and marketing in the roofing business is still very much old school: focusing on building relationships and understanding customers’ needs. Educating consumers remains a big part of the job, and with high-tech tools it can be done now better than ever via satellite imagery, infrared scans, digital photos and video. A complete report on the conference will be presented in our December issue.

A few weeks after that I joined my good friend, David Stewart, for a week of building with the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project in Birmingham, Ala. Change struck again the day we arrived. David and I were supposed to complete construction of a new home, but the project had been completed by teams of local volunteers before we arrived. So the head coach of the project, Johnny Roberts, called an audible and dispatched us to spend most of the week working on re-roofing projects. For some reason we wound up on all the flat decks and other more challenging jobs. It was challenging but great fun at the same time.

We discovered other changes that set this Carter Work Project aside from others we have attended. This was not just volunteers and homeowners getting together to construct new homes - it included retrofitting older homes as well. The mission of Habitat, while still eliminating substandard housing in the world, is expanding beyond new construction to include rehab work.

This is a good thing, especially in places like Fairfield, Ala., the small city in the Metro Birmingham area where we spent our time working. The work on the Carter Project is part of a larger effort to rebuild not just a few homes, but an entire community. Roofing Contractor will present more on the project in an upcoming issue.

Besides just being busy, change seems to be in charge of this fall. Changing demands of roofing consumers and learning new ways to discover and meet them. A changed housing market and new ways to rebuild communities in a time of economic difficulty. And through it all, the old school practice of “listening” remains the formula for success. Listening to the needs of consumers and communities produces better results for our businesses and lives.