When the Job Ladder is an Actual Ladder

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200,000 construction jobs and still no takers

A Guest Blog Post from GAF

First posted in June 2017, this article has been updated with 2018 data including findings from the GAF Contractor Labor Shortage Survey conducted at the 2018 GAF Wealth Builder conference, current industry trends, and insights from NRCA CEO Reid Ribble.

It seems everybody wants to climb the job ladder, but no one wants to climb a ladder on the job.

According to a Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, roughly 200,000 construction jobs sit unfilled in the U.S. The demand for residential homes is far outpacing our capacity to build them. A recent survey by HomeAdvisor lays it out in bleak terms: Of the firms surveyed, 93 percent said they believed the labor shortage is standing in the way of their growth.

Those findings were precisely echoed by the GAF Contractor Labor Shortage Survey, which found only 7 percent of contractors surveyed reported the labor shortage was not having any effect on their businesses. The biggest issues identified were finding talent and project delays.

GAF Graph 1

Today, thousands of small businesses from coast to coast are feeling the effectt. Of the more than 1,000 construction firms participating in the 2018 Construction Outlook Survey, 75 percent predicted a need to expand their headcount in 2018 — up two points from 2017. Unfortunately a majority of firms expect it will either become harder or remain difficult to recruit and hire qualified workers in 2018.”

In other words, three out of four of these firms see opportunity on the horizon, but only one in five believe they’ll be able to hire enough professionals to capitalize on it.

The GAF Wealth Builder survey suggests a similar trend. More than two-thirds of responding contractors reported the labor shortage has had a moderate or significant impact on their business. Difficulty finding talent and project delays were the biggest negative impacts.

Because there are so many more roofing jobs available than crews to install them, it has become, in many ways, a seller’s market for labor.

Where have all the workers gone?

There are possibly as many theories about the vanishing labor force as there are jobs waiting to be filled. But labor and industry experts often cite these three factors as driving the phenomenon:

  • The Housing Bubble – During the housing crisis of 2006-08, the construction industry lost approximately 40 percent of its workforce to other career paths, and those workers have, for the most part, not returned. Despite steady growth in demand for new houses, there is a lingering perception that construction — and residential construction in particular — is not a stable career choice. Making matters worse, when a million professionals walked away from construction, they took their hard-earned expertise.
  • Youth Perception – In recent decades, the perceived value of craft careers, and the training they demand has suffered a dramatic downturn. Not only has vocational education funding dried up in schools across the country, but the emphasis on “college for everyone” has created an impression that the trades are somehow less worthy career paths. Despite the popular desire for every young person to earn a college degree, more than 30 percent of U.S. high school students never complete four years of college. That means they enter the job market with neither a college degree nor the skills-based training they need to thrive in roofing, construction, manufacturing, or other non-degree careers. And the general dismissal of craft occupations appears to be self-perpetuating. The fewer people we prepare for careers in the trades, the less attractive those careers become. According to a 2017 poll of 2,001 young adults, ages 18 to 25, conducted for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), only 3 percent of those with career plans saw themselves working in construction. When asked what motivated respondents to choose a career, 76 percent overall said the career was something they were interested in and 48 percent said it suited their skills and abilities. Could this explain the lack of enthusiasm for craft careers? Can we expect students to dream of using skills that we no longer teach in their schools?

When asked what can be done to help the labor shortage, contractors participating in the GAF Wealth Builder survey most often indicated that focusing on trades in high school would be valuable.

GAF Graph 2

When asked to rate their agreement with ways to improve the labor issues, shifting the perceptions of roofing with young people had the greatest level of agreement among respondents.

  • Changing Demographics – As political and law enforcement spotlights burn brightly on the complex challenges of the U.S. immigration policy, one fact remains indisputable – as the Baby Boom generation ages into retirement, new immigrants currently account for all of the growth in the labor force. Research from NAHB indicates nearly 30 percent of the U.S. construction labor force is foreign-born and even higher for roofing workers at 43 percent. NAHB’s findings show overall 53 percent of the immigrant labor force was born in Mexico. Yet immigration (authorized and unauthorized) has slowed significantly in recent years, putting additional stress on employers looking for skilled construction labor.

National challenges demand national solutions

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has been confronting these issues aggressively under the leadership of CEO Reid Ribble. As a former roofing contractor and former U.S. Representative from Wisconsin’s 8th District, Ribble has studied the problem from professional and policy perspectives.

“Listening to some of the national rhetoric about immigration some have a tendency to demonize the immigrant who wants to work here,” Ribble says. “I understand the difference between an undocumented immigrant and one who comes here legally. The latter — the one coming here legally — came here to work. And that’s a good thing.”

Ribble adds when sheer demographics are considered, 10,000 U.S. workers are retiring every day, and the workforce must be supplemented with immigrant labor. Combined with declining birth rates, there simply will not be enough workers to grow the economy without them.

He also has made industry perception a key focus of his work, recently concluding a nationwide tour of allied industry groups, trade gatherings such as the International Roofing Expo, and manufacturer conferences. His consistent message has been a call to reevaluate how we see ourselves.

“We can’t expect anyone to respect what we do until we respect what we do,” Ribble says. “As we begin to shift our own attitude on what we do and the importance of our work, the marketplace will automatically begin to follow us.”

Ribble is calling on the roofing industry to change the way those in the U.S. think about roofing.

“When you walk into a room and flip a switch, you just expect the lights to go on. When you flush a toilet or turn a tap, you expect the plumbing to respond. And when you call an electrician or a plumber, you look for a certified contractor,” he says. “We expect our roofs to perform, as well, so why don’t we look for master-level certification of our roofers? The roofing industry needs to increase the perceived value of what we do.”

To that end, NCRA is spearheading an effort to establish a nationally recognized professional certification program, with uniform standards, for steep- and low-slope roofing workers.

“Our goal is to be on par with our professional competitors in the other contruction-related fields,” Ribble says. “And we’re decades behind them in this regard.”

This year, Ribble and NRCA are embarking on a campaign to promote the good things the industry does.

Ribble points out the only time people hear about roofing contractors is when there’s a fall or an accident. People become aware of roofing when there’s a rainstorm and the building leaks or a snowstorm and the building collapses.

However, the facts about roofing professionals and their proud industry are less dramatic but far more positive.

“Many of our people are roofing the most prestigious buildings in the country,” Ribble says. “Some of our members are the most philanthropic businesspeople in their communities. We need to begin to tell their stories.”

This is not just a public relations effort, according to Ribble. Instead, it is a mission to elevate the industry — including its own self-perception — to the level it has earned through skill, hard work and professionalism.

“As roofing professionals, we’re a self-effacing, almost self-deprecating group of folks. We tend not to talk too much about the good things we do,” he says. “As a result, the public will see a story about a roofing fire but won’t hear about the contractor who quietly donates a roof to a church or puts up four or five roofs to support Habitat for Humanity. Those stories go untold because we are not sharing them. As we begin to tell the positive stories, collectively we will begin to reshape the perception of who we are.”

To catch more fish, cast a wider net

The construction labor shortage appears to have grown out of a complex mix of political, economic, demographic and educational factors. This means there might be no quick fix. But that’s not stopping the roofing industry from doing what it can to help build bridges between underemployed workers and open opportunities.

The skills and temperament necessary for roofing success can be found in any number of other professions.Thanks to creative outreach and training programs, military veterans, oil and gas workers, and former white collar workers are discovering fulfilling second careers on roofs.

Getting the message out

The current labor shortage is not a short-term glitch and won’t be solved with a specific program or campaign. Training programs can help as will elevating the professional standards expected of roofing crews as championed by NRCA.

Skilled, underemployed craftspeople need to be made aware that good-paying, steady work is waiting for them. The next step on their career ladder is a rung on an actual ladder. And from up there, the sky is, literally, the limit.

 

 

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Venture Construction Group of Florida Raises Awareness for Domestic Violence with Annual Fundraiser

VCGFL- Kendra Scott Event for Gemma's Angels and AVDA - December 2017 (002)

In 2013, after fighting in a violent domestic dispute to protect her children, Boca Raton, Fla., resident Gemma Burkaloff lost her life at the hands of her husband.

This tragedy struck NRCA member Venture Construction Group of Florida (VCGFL), Boca Raton, especially hard. Operations manager Sandra Lawson is Burkaloff’s sister. She now is the co-founder of the Gemma’s Angels Foundation, which launched in 2014. It is dedicated to raising awareness to end domestic violence in honor of Burkaloff’s heroic fight to save her children.

Each year, VCGFL hosts a fundraiser to benefit the Gemma’s Angels Foundation as well as Aid to Victims of Domestic Violence (AVDA).

AVDA provides a state-certified domestic violence shelter, offering a comprehensive array of services for victims of domestic violence, including a 24-hour crisis hotline, emergency and transitional housing, advocacy, counseling, and support to help them live violence free and self-sufficient lives.

The fundraiser, The Kendra Gives Back Party, took place on December 13, 2017, and was co-hosted with leading fashion accessories designer Kendra Scott. The party was open to the public and included a shopping event featuring Kendra Scott accessories. Twenty percent of all sales proceeds went to benefit Gemma’s Angels Foundation and AVDA. The event raised $5,000 with $2,500 donated to each organization.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, more than one in three women and more than one in four men in the U.S. have experienced physical violence and/or stalking by a spouse or significant other in their lifetime. The National Coalition of Domestic Violence states domestic violence is prevalent in every community, gender, race, religion or nationality.

“It is so important to continuously raise awareness about domestic violence. This is a tragic and pervasive issue that isn’t going to magically disappear,” Lawson says. “It doesn’t affect one person. It affects an entire family.”

Plans for a 2018 VCGFL Kendra Gives Back Party are currently being finalized and will take place later this year.

In addition, VCGFL and Gemma’s Angels will sponsor and participate in the Take a Stand Against Domestic Violence Walk in Marco Island, Fla., in October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. VCGL is planning a toy drive to benefit children living at AVDA in December. For more information, visit http://www.vcgfl.com.

Kalkreuth Roofing’s Annual Golf Outing is the Largest Fundraising Event for Local Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center

rwp savannaFor NRCA member Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal, Wheeling, W. Va., its 11-year partnership with the Edouard S. Ziegler Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center has always made sense.

“It’s a remarkable organization with a heartfelt commitment to serve those living with disabilities in our local community and beyond,” says John Kalkreuth, president and CEO of Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal. “We are humbled by the opportunity to provide a donation that continues to grow each year.”

Their annual event, the Kalkreuth Amatuer Golf Classic Benefiting Easter Seals at Oglebay Resort’s Crispin Golf Course, raised more than $22,000 for Easter Seals in June 2017. Overall, the golf outing has raised more than $60,000 since the event’s inception.

This year’s event will take place July 14-15.

In recent years, Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal’s national vendor partners include ABC Supply Co. Inc., Beloit, Wis.; Johns Manville, Denver; Beacon Roofing Supply Inc., Herndon, Va.; Firestone Building Products, Nashville; and Allied Building Products Corp., East Rutherford, N.J. Sponsor support has provided extra revenue that has significantly increased Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal’s annual donation to Easter Seals.

“It’s our biggest third-party fundraising event,” says Melissa Marco, community relations krsm.jpgdirector at the Edoard S. Ziegler Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center. “The funds they raise are huge for our organization.”

Easter Seals provides children and adults with special needs with services that include medical rehabilitation, speech therapy, physical therapy, mental health services, day care and autism services.

The Edouard S. Ziegler Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center currently serves more than 2,000 children and provides nearly 20,000 home visits per year. No child seeking Easter Seals’ services is turned away.

The support provided by Kalkreuth Roofing and Sheet Metal has played a significant role in furthering Easter Seals’ mission of creating solutions that change lives for children and adults with special needs.

“Without Kalkreuth Roofiing and Sheet Metal’s continued friendship, the good work that happens at our center each day would not be possible,” says Jay Prager, CEO of the Edoard S. Ziegler Easter Seals Rehabilitation Center. “Their involvement helps Easter Seals to continue providing services to the many children and adults with special needs and their families in our area.”

NRCA Urges Consumers to Recognize National Roofing Week 2018, Identify Local Contractor in Preparation for Summer Storms

NRW Thunderclap-Graphic

NRCA is urging communities to recognize the significance of roofs to every home and business during National Roofing Week, which takes place June 3-9. NRCA also is reminding consumers National Roofing Week comes at the beginning of summer storm season and encourages them to prepare for severe summer weather by identifying a local roofing contractor before a storm hits.

Severe summer weather often is followed by fraudulent contractors who show up and attempt to prey on the emotions of homeowners and business owners whose roofs have been badly damaged by a tornado, hail storm or hurricane.

During National Roofing Week, NRCA is urging consumers to research and find a reputable local roofing contractor ahead of the storm. Having this information in advance will protect storm victims from also becoming the victims of a fraudulent contractor.

“National Roofing Week comes at a time when knowing your local roofing contractor is more important than ever,” says Reid Ribble, NRCA’s CEO. “Homeowners and business owners should protect themselves by putting their roofing contractor’s phone number on their refrigerator or in their cell phone in case of emergency.”

The roof is one of the most important components of a structure. It is the first line of defense against natural elements such as rain, snow or wind, yet it is often taken for granted until it falls into disrepair. During National Roofing Week, NRCA also encourages its members to participate by engaging in their communities and informing the public about the essential role roofs and professional roofing contractors play in every community.

NRCA will recognize National Roofing Week by highlighting the work, training and good deeds of its members and their employees on its various social media outlets.

Additional information about National Roofing Week can be found at www.nrca.net/roofingweek.

To find a local roofing contractor in your area, visit NRCA’s consumer website at www.everybodyneedsaroof.com.

Reliant Roofing Provides Free Roof Systems with “Every Shingle Heart” Initiative

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Three recipients from the 2017 “Every Shingle Heart Initiative” upon learning they each will be receiving a new roof system donated by Reliant Roofing.

When Sean Shapiro and Cameron Shouppe founded Reliant Roofing in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2015, they knew they wanted community service to play a large role in their operations.

“We live in a community- and- people oriented area,” says Shapiro, CEO of Reliant Roofing. “Helping our neighbors was something we knew would play a big role in our company.”

After Hurricane Matthew hit the Jacksonville area in September 2016, it became clear there was a great need among residents for roof system repair and replacement, but many could not afford it. As a result, in 2017, Reliant Roofing fulfilled its goal of helping their neighbors in need by launching its “Every Shingle Heart” initiative, aimed at donating a free roof system replacement to a Jacksonville family.

Jacksonville residents were encouraged to nominate someone, such as a family member,

Reliant

The home of a “Every Shingle Heart” recipient after completion of their new roof system.

friend or neighbor in need of a roof system replacement. Shapiro and Shouppe initially had intended to donate one roof system, but after hearing the many heartfelt stories from nominees, they decided to choose three families to receive new roof systems.

“People don’t have homeowner’s insurance or have been denied on their claim,” Shapiro says. “They will put a tarp on their roof, and that’s the way they live.”

This year’s nominations for “Every Shingle Heart” are being accepted through July 31. Reliant Roofing once again will choose three families to receive new roof systems. All the work is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

“What we’re really good at is roofing. And that’s what we can give back to our community,” Shapiro says. “Seeing a family’s reaction and the relief they feel from finally having a new safe, dry roof system only reinforces our commitment to Every Shingle Heart.”

To nominate someone for “Every Shingle Heart,” visit www.reliantroofing.com.

Texas Roof Management Restores Roof System of Historic Dallas Mansion

IMG_0589Built in 1904, the Alexander Mansion is a historic Dallas landmark and the last remaining house in its original form along Ross Avenue, which was once lined with stately mansions. In 1930, the mansion was purchased by the Dallas Woman’s Forum, the first woman’s departmental group in Texas. It has been home to the historic women’s group ever since.

The Dallas Women’s Forum’s mission during the past century has focused on servicing the needs of the community, especially women, children and those who cannot always help themselves. The Alexander Mansion also is used as a meeting place for other non-profit organizations, educational and historical tours, and for community events such as recitals and concerts.

In recent years, the Alexander Mansion has fallen into a state of severe disrepair that included a 50-year-old roof system in dire need of replacement. Over the years, multipleIMG_0505 leaks in the roof had caused extensive damage to the inside of the building, including a wall that was cracking and about to fall away from the building, partially due to the moisture.

Without a roof system replacement, the mansion would have deteriorated to the point that it would need to be demolished. However, The Dallas Women’s Forum didn’t have the funds to pay for the $178,000 replacement.

NRCA member Texas Roof Management Inc., Richardson, Texas stepped in to remove the existing roof system and replace it. The roofing work included a deck replacement, parapets wall repairs and installation of a vapor barrier. They also raised the insulation to R-25 and applied a two-ply polymer-modified bitumen roof system for code compliance.

Texas Roof Management viewed the project as a unique opportunity to work on a project of major historical significance to the Dallas community.

Now that the roof system of the Dallas Women’s Forum has been replaced and the leaks have been eliminated, the organization is able to proceed the remaining repairs to the building’s structure.

“Without the incredible support of Texas Roof Management, we would have been unable to repair and preserve one of Dallas’ rare jewels,” says Wanda Hensley, president of the board of the Dallas Woman’s Forum.

Once restoration of the Alexander Mansion is complete, the goal of the Dallas Women’s Forum is to open the mansion to the community and school children as a resource for learning about the history of Dallas.

Tri-County Roofing and Sheet Metal Provides Consistent, Significant Support to Maryland’s Veterans

Tri-County Roofing and Sheet Metal

In 2014, when Todd Mitchell, director at Business Advocates for Veterans, Westminster, Md., needed assistance with his organization’s charitable efforts, he immediately thought of turning to Michael and Rebecca Drayer, owners of NRCA member Tri-County Roofing and Sheet Metal Inc., Westminster, Md.

“They have a strong reputation for giving back to their community,” Mitchell says. “They are wonderful people.”

Business Advocates for Veterans is a volunteer organization that promotes the hiring of veterans, assists them in obtaining employment and supports community projects to benefit veterans. In the three years since Mitchell approached the Drayers, they have provided consistent and significant support for the organization.

Most recently, Tri-County Roofing and Sheet Metal donated the repair of the roof system of a struggling veteran family with two children, provided monetary donations to numerous veteran families who were in need and supported the American Legion’s Adopt a Family at Christmas initiative by sponsoring four needy families.

Over Memorial Day weekend 2017, Tri-County Roofing and Sheet Metal played an instrumental role in honoring fallen veterans by purchasing 9,000 U.S. flags for a Memorial Day service with the purchase of 9,000 flags. The flags represented the Maryland service men and service women who have died in U.S. wars and conflicts since World War I.

In addition, the company donated a crane and light set to display a 30-foot U.S. flag that hung above the 9,000 smaller flags.

Because of the company’s generosity to Maryland’s veterans, Tri-County Roofing and Sheet Metal was recognized in 2017 as the Carroll County Veteran Friendly Employer of the Year in honor of all it has done to improve the community.

“The impact of their support and contributions have been incredible for a small family-owned business,” Mitchell says. “Our community is blessed to have people like Michael and Rebecca Drayer.”