Roofing Contractors Can Create Leaders by Investing in Their Foremen

As a roofing contractor, what investments will yield the most significant returns to your company? New equipment? A better facility? Increased marketing efforts? In fact, investing in a trained labor force may prove the most beneficial.

Consider the following statement from Ethan Cowles, senior consultant with FMI, Raleigh, N.C.: “World-class contractors all have incredible talent at the foremen level. That is not to say company leadership, business strategy, project management, etc., are not important, but operations without great foremen always struggle to achieve anything but mediocrity.”

This quote resonates with what NRCA has heard from its contractor members, as well. Tom Shanahan, NRCA’s associate executive director of risk management, states that after asking hundreds of contractors throughout the years how much of each dollar flowing through a company is affected directly by foremen, he has safely landed on 85 cents of every dollar.

Foremen drive your trucks, use your equipment, manage your labor, direct quality control, affect insurance rates and often are the face of your company for customers.

It makes you want to ensure your foreman perform at their best, doesn’t it?


NRCA has been focused for years on providing education for roofing foremen. Recognizing that most foremen are promoted to their positions because of their roofing skills and work ethic, rather than for their leadership prowess, NRCA’s For Foremen Only training program has provided a venue for training thousands of foremen about leadership and communication during the past 15 years. Now – packaged within a larger ProForeman initiative, NRCA’s For Foreman Only classes provide a cornerstone for a well-rounded experience aimed at helping roofing contractors achieve world-class excellence.

Foremen need to be leaders, not just crew managers; therefore, they need to understand the whole picture—the process of selling and installing roof systems, their role in keeping employees safe, outside forces that necessitate compliance and more—if they are to understand the importance of their roles.

The ProForeman program helps roofing foremen shift their perspectives of their roles from being roofing installation managers to company leaders. As leaders, the burden of responsibility is greater and, when understood, frees them to think differently about how to work with their crews and supervisors.

The program comprises six main topics: general education, roofing technology, construction/business practices, leadership, safety and training others.

General education

General education addresses reading comprehension and math. Foremen should be able to communicate in writing with company personnel and customers. They need to comprehend instructions and other communications on memos, emails and orders. Math skills are required to understand material quantities, production goals and purchasing.  

Roofing technology

Understanding foremen already are knowledgeable about roofing and are experts on the systems they install, this program does not address roof systems or installation skills but rather focuses on understanding the reasons for decisions and trends in the industry. Exposure to codes and expert industry updates are two aspects of this topic.


Construction/business practices

Foremen receive a better understanding of their company and the roles others play and look at best practices.


NRCA believes leadership is the most critical and often least developed skill of most foremen. Activities within this topic help foremen to see crew members as people to be trained and motivated rather than production tools. Foremen learn production is more likely to increase when they focus on leading their people rather than striving to achieve an outcome.


It is nonnegotiable for field managers to be safety experts. Helping hard-working men and women return home at the end of the day is the beginning of motivation and trust for leaders and companies.


This section is an emphasis on foremen as trainers. Foremen need to be able to teach, train and coach their crews to achieve excellence in their work.

Elements within each section overlap to form a cohesive program aimed at developing excellent field managers. The program’s final element is a conversation with a member of the ProForeman leadership team who will help a participant define overall takeaways and discern his or her growth during the course of the program.

For more information, see

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One thought on “Roofing Contractors Can Create Leaders by Investing in Their Foremen

  1. James Taylor says:

    I appreciate your work, yes its true that foreman plays an important role in managing your team. I am also a roofing contractor so knows the value of foreman. Thanks for posting this valuable post, I love to read it again and again.


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