By Karen Edwards, RCS Editor.
Many of us in the roofing industry know Shari Carlozzi as the National Sales Manager of the Roofing Division at Hapco, Inc. But did you know that she was part of the inception of National Women in Roofing (NWIR) and was just elected as the new chair of the organization?
That’s right. Carlozzi was with the Coffee Shop’s Heidi Ellsworth at a Midwest Roofing Contractors Association board meeting a few years ago when they were talking about the need for an organization that supports, educates, empowers and mentors women in the roofing industry. From that conversation, they decided to see what the interest level would be from other women in the industry. Fast forward to today and NWIR has surpassed 1,000 members and boasts more than two dozen local councils with a goal to grow that number to 100 over the next few years.
A day on the beach.
“It literally started on the beach,” explained Carlozzi. “Heidi and I were sitting on the beach while attending an MRCA Advisory committee meeting, comparing notes on women in the industry. We decided we needed a platform, a place where women could go to talk to someone else without fear of reprisal or being labeled as a troublemaker.” The two were brainstorming ideas and Heidi decided to ask Steve Little, then president of MRCA, if the organization would incubate the group, and the Women in Roofing group began.
“It turns out the topic was infectiously positive,” remarked Carlozzi. “We decided to host a networking event at the 2015 International Roofing Expo in New Orleans. We had 75 women and men attend and the following year in Orlando that number increased. We realized we were on to something.”
“We built a leadership team out of that 2015 New Orleans IRE event and devised a plan of what we wanted to do – educate, mentor, network and recruit. We’ve stayed true to our mission and our pillars, which is a difficult thing for many organizations to do without modifying their approach or goals in order to grow and sustain members. Everything we were initially built on is part of our strong foundational base,” stated Carlozzi.
In 2016, National Women in Roofing was launched at the IRE in Orlando with over 150 women and men attending the networking event. Membership was launched in June 2016 with the support of 28 Founding Sponsors of the NWIR. As of today, NWIR’s 1000+ members represent women and men in all stages of their careers, from the rooftop to the boardroom, empowering women and actively recruiting the roofing industry as a rewarding and lucrative career choice.
Her start in roofing.
Carlozzi began working with Hapco, Inc. as their marketing and advertising company in 2007. “I had no idea what these tools were or anything about a roofing industry,” she said. “As I was putting together the marketing and advertising my boss said, ‘why don’t you just sell the stuff?’ I said no thanks, but he emphasized I should give it a try.”
She knew that to be successful in sales, she needed to learn as much as she could about the industry, so she went online and learned. She read articles and watched videos about built-up roofing, modified bitumen, green roofs, single-ply and more. Hapco had a reputation for being experts in the field and Carlozzi wanted to be sure that didn’t change, and that she was able to understand what people were talking about when they called in.
Learning about roofs wasn’t the only challenge for Carlozzi, she had to prove herself in the field to the mostly male crews that she was working with. “As women, we are always challenged a lot more than our male counterparts, “explained Carlozzi. “I went on a rooftop to train a crew and demonstrate the products, and upon seeing me they groaned, ‘geez they sent Barbie and we wanted a trainer.’ But guess what? At the end of the day those guys were high fiving with me. It was a proud moment when the owner called me and said they would buy the tools, but his guys had a request – they wanted me to be there for the first day.”
“We built our culture on customer service, being the expert and giving people the service, products and attention that they deserve because they weren’t getting it – and people liked it,” said Carlozzi.
Sales turned out to be a good fit for Carlozzi and the company began to grow. In 2010 Hapco added a sales & distribution office in Texas, and in 2013 they added California and Canada. The sales force has increased from 1 to 4. “We sell a multitude of welding products for many industries but my most favorite is the roofing industry,” said Carlozzi.
“It’s one thing to have a good product and another thing to have good service, but it’s really special to have both. We’ve got the best sales team I’ve ever had. I credit my boss in affording me the opportunity to run the roofing division and to recognize the importance of NWIR. Hapco came on board as a Founding Sponsor of NWIR and allows me to give my time to help lead and grow the organization,” she concluded.