As a consultant to the National Roofing Contractors Association for more than 20 years, Karen Cates is very familiar with the industry and its challenges – one of which is the shortage of labor. She began conducting some initial research to try to determine why young people are not entering the industry or even considering a roofing career.
Cates was hoping to conduct research with high school students but quickly discovered that talking to students in high school or even middle school is too late. “When children are exposed to professions at a young age, they are much more likely to go into that profession – hence the reason so many kids say they want to be firefighters or ballerinas,” she explained.
Cates began looking into what books existed that could educate kids about roofing. She found some books related to construction but there wasn’t anything specific to roofing. That’s when she decided to write one herself.
“Is This a Roof?” tells the story of Talia Turtle, whose older brother Tucker happens to be a roofing contractor. When Talia tries to visit Tucker at his job site, she learns she doesn’t have the proper safety gear in order to go on the roof. Instead, Tucker takes his sister for a walk to learn about different roofs including low-slope and steep slope roofs as well as solar and green roofs. By the end of the story, Talia is excited to build roofs too one day.
“I wanted to be able to manage the roofing discussion that this book starts without excluding anyone so I made the main characters into animals – one male and one female,” said Cates. “My illustrator (Kirsten Ittner) took the concept a step further and incorporated many different animals into the crew, including an elephant, hedgehogs and a pig. The point is that anyone can be in roofing, there is no stereotype fit. If you are excited about it, you can do it!”
The book was completed in late 2016 and recently made its debut at the 2017 International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas. The NRCA was giving away copies at the show and Cates began sharing copies with students in the Future Executive Institute classes she teaches for NRCA.
Cates says the reception to the book has been phenomenal so far. One contractor liked the book so much he bought copies for each of his employees.
Available in both English and Spanish, the book can be purchased through the NRCA bookstore for $6 each. Learn more about the book at www.isthisaroof.com.