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Coffee Conversations LIVE from FRSA: What's Hot in Florida with Industry Experts! - Sponsored by SRS - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

SRS - Coffee Conversations LIVE from FRSA: What
July 26, 2022 at 1:29 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Trent Cotney of Adams and Reese, Kyron Schuch of Polyglass, John Kenny of Cotney Consulting, and John Lombardo of Estimating Edge. You can read the interview below, watch the webinar, or listen to the podcast here.

Kyron Schuch:
I'm the Southeast Regional Manager for Polyglass. This is a very important show to us because it's our strongest market, also where our corporate headquarters is, so very excited to be here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I did a little bit of marketing with Polyglass over the years, so you guys are definitely a fave out there. Everything you're doing, all the new cool products, just some really great ... and the fire. I mean, really stuff cool stuff-

Kyron Schuch:
[inaudible 00:00:25] product is catching on so quickly. It's one of our most exciting products we have out there.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, it is. I love it. And back again on Coffee Conversations, Trent Cotney, thank you for being here.

Trent Cotney:
Heidi, it's always a pleasure. Glad to be here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
For those few out there who don't know you, do you think you might be able to introduce yourself and talk about your new company?

Trent Cotney:
Sure. Sure. So I'm a partner and construction team leader at Adams and Reese LLP. I also serve as FRSA general council and NRCA general council.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. And you have a few more on those general councils there too.

Trent Cotney:
I do. Yeah. Absolutely. Western states, Chicago.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I know across the ... we see each other at a lot of different places.

Trent Cotney:
We do.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I know. I love it. And John Lombardo, thank you for being here. Welcome back to the show. You were here last year with us.

John Lombardo:
I was. Thank you, Heidi. It's great to be here and see all of us together again-

Heidi Ellsworth:
I know. I love it. Well, can you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Estimating Edge?

John Lombardo:
Sure. Estimating Edge, been around for 35 years approximately, we sell estimating software. And just recently we were bought in January, with Foundation Software, we're now expanding into many, many products to provide excellent solutions for our contractors, residential, commercial, industrial. So it's been great.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Great product, Foundation, what a great company. You guys are really making some moves.

John Lombardo:
We are. Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It's fun to watch, and be a part of.

John Lombardo:
Thank you. Yes.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. And of course, John Kenney with Cotney Consulting. John, thank you for being here so much.

John Kenny:
Oh. Thank you for having me. I love being here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I know. Well, can you share a little bit about yourself and Cotney?

John Kenny:
I'm John Kenney, I'm currently CEO of Cotney Consulting Group. We specialize in working with roofing contractors. I do training and help them with all their business needs. And I spent 45 years as a contractor, roofing contracting side, and FRSA has always been near and dear to my heart because I spent 22 years of my career here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And we had a special little press release go out this week about you John.

John Kenny:
Oh, interesting.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Something about being an RCS special contributor.

John Kenny:
This is true. There's nothing I like more than working with you guys.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, I have to tell you, for everybody listening, John is just prolific when it comes to articles, much like Trent, and we're getting all these articles, all these great things. So thank you so much and-

John Kenny:
You're welcome. My pleasure.

Heidi Ellsworth:
... we're excited to put that press release out this week. Okay. Let's get down to it. We got to talk about what's going on in the industry. So we're going to start out with just an overall, what do you see that's hot, trends, some things to be aware of in the Florida market? Let's start with Kyron.

Kyron Schuch:
So the Florida market is very dynamic. The trend of people moving into Florida, it's not really slowing down. As the country is borderline on a recession here, I think Florida's going to be the last one to really feel the impacts on the construction side, which is a great thing for us. A few dangerous things out there right now, like the concrete shortage. It's a big concern, from new construction, just getting the infrastructure pay for new developments. On the tile side, the lead times on concrete roof tile are really getting stretched out there-

Heidi Ellsworth:
Again?

Kyron Schuch:
Yeah, so it's a challenging year, but it's staying strong, the market's good.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I was amazed, we're here in Daytona Beach and you're looking up and down and there are so many cranes.

Kyron Schuch:
There are.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I mean, condos are going up, construction's going. So I know there's a lot and we all need to be aware of what's over the horizon and what's coming, but construction's strong.

Kyron Schuch:
And Florida is so built out along the coastlines up and down, and as you start to go into the inland areas, Myakka and places that historically haven't been built out, you're starting to see a lot of new development out there, and there's going to be very few pieces of land in Florida that are not developed kind of soon, which is good and bad, but the growth is going to continue for a long time in Florida.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. There's still a lot of green spaces out there it seems like. A little bit. Yeah. A lot of swamp. Yeah. Trent what are you seeing? I mean, you live in Tampa and you're right in the midst of the Florida market, what's happening?

Trent Cotney:
So yeah, the Florida, market's going to continue to boom for a long time. I think we've got a significant backlog in both residential and commercial. There are a few things that I'm concerned about, some warning signs that kind of cause me some concern, whether it's inflation, increased interest rates, I think new construction's going to be affected. I'm starting to see and I've talked about it a little bit this morning in one of my seminars, the uptick in lien claims and payment bond claims, which suggest that roofing contractors out there are starting to get slow pay or no pay type situations happening. So I do think that there may be some rough waters ahead, but I think Florida is going to be insulated to a certain extent, just because it's one of the few places you can work 24/7, 365.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right. Right. And collections, collections always is an indicator, just staying on top of those.

Trent Cotney:
Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, cash king and AR is the key to that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, it really is. So John, what are you seeing down there in Miami, the Estimating Edge main corporate office is in ...

John Lombardo:
We're in Boynton Beach, Florida.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Boynton Beach. That's what I was trying remember. Thank you. So what are you seeing in the Florida market overall?

John Lombardo:
Just like all of these gentlemen that just spoke, it's expanding and it's a good thing for contractors. I think they're working smarter, just making sure they're caught holding the ball in the hand, without having some other alternative solution. What I'm saying is that they're smarter today than they were 10, 15 years ago. Florida isn't for snowbirds anymore, it's for people that want better lifestyle, better roads, better just everything, retail, everything, schools. I think it's positive for Florida and like I said, I don't think there's any slowdown coming.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Anything?

John Lombardo:
None.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, I love it when Adam Oaks, your CEO, has come on Coffee Conversations a couple times, and you were able to pull data actually on new construction and estimates and bids, and what's happening, what are you all seeing there? It's still growing?

John Lombardo:
It's still growing at a fast pace. At a fast pace.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That's great.

John Lombardo:
The only thing we're suffering is material shortages.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And a little bit of labor.

John Lombardo:
And labor, of course.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And labor. I know. John, what are you seeing? You're talking to so many contractors out there all the time.

John Kenny:
Yeah. First, I got to agree, Florida historically is always the last into recession and usually the first out. The only exception was '08 years but that was a totally wild, once in a lifetime event that hopefully we'll never see again. But right now everybody has a good backlog. There is a problem with labor, it's getting worse. I think that's what I've heard from talking to people on the floor, that they could do more work, they can't even keep the people they got because of the labor wars back and forth for more money, it's going to continue. I think the supply chain issue is still a long ways off from being solved by any means, so we're going to continue with that. Trent brought up a great point, cash is king. Working with a lot of companies and that's the whole thing that they're suffering with right now, is the delayed payments or payments not being made or longer retainage. You got to tighten up whether recession is going to be deep, short, not lived at all, you still want to keep your cash as number one.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Yeah. As always. Well, John let's have you keep going, and that's the next question we all wanted to talk about was material shortages, and Kyron was saying concrete, we'd see tile out there. What are you seeing overall on some of the .... and sorry, I'm going to add one more thing to that, is what are you seeing on what the contractors are ... how they're changing to bring in other products because of material shortages in certain areas?

John Kenny:
Yeah. So it's sporadic. When it first was the material shortage, it was pretty much everything. Now it's not everything, but it is key components yet, that stopped the systems from going down. So I don't really know what the solution is to that because in talking to the contractors, there's not really a substitution for certain things because if you just can't get it industry wide, so they would go to alternate type systems. I know a lot of people have been concentrating on that repair work to hold it over for a while, I know coatings have been a huge growth market here in Florida, for sure, as other parts. But again, I don't think it's going to be solved quickly, so I think as we've always been a very good industry at adapting, I think our contractors have made it a norm now, not a likable norm, but they realize they got to do it and they're starting to work in conjunction with what's happening every single day.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And it's interesting because I'm going to be actually ... one show's not enough in a week, so I'm actually going to be heading up to the Roof Coatings Manufacturing Association meeting for tonight, early tomorrow morning. And they are seeing huge increases in sales. And Kyron, I want to talk about that too, because I know you guys have coatings and we're seeing just that spike that way.

John Kenny:
The only other thing I'd like to add into this, that's a third monkey wheel in this one, the gears are grinding, theft is up.

Heidi Ellsworth:
No.

John Kenny:
I've talked to more contractors that have loaded roofs and they've gone back out the following day or a Monday, and their material is gone. Now they're not taking all the installations, that's too hard, but if it's a single ply, the rolls are off the roof. I mean, we're not talking about 5,000, I've talked to contractors that have lost up to $100,000 worth of material in a three day weekend, over a long weekend.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. You can tell from my face, this is the first I've heard this. This is huge.

John Kenny:
It's up. This isn't one contractor, I've heard this from more than a dozen here locally in Florida.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Kyron Schuch:
We're hearing the same with distributors as well.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Really?

Kyron Schuch:
Thefts are going up for them too, and people are taking more risks than they had previously, and it's a tough situation.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So they can't get materials so they're coming in and stealing them basically, or reselling them.

Kyron Schuch:
Yeah, exactly.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. John, what are you hearing? I mean, materials, because with the estimating and I mean, you have to see how they're just changing.

John Lombardo:
Well, Heidi, I think the only things that I find people are having trouble getting is fasteners and insulation. So they've learned to store them in their warehouses, where before they weren't because they were ready to just drop ship the stuff. I don't know if that's global, but that's what's going on, at least with the contractors I hear. And they've gotten smarter with preparing their quotes and their bids, so they're getting pricing from suppliers, they're documenting it, then they put in their quotes that they're going to send another price list back to them when they first get delivery of the product. So the transparency's becoming much more available to both sides.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Back in the day, I can remember every contractor had a warehouse and it had all their fasteners and it had their iso and everything, then that went away because they could just get it delivered, and now it's all coming back again. Everything seems to cycle. So Trent, I'm curious about when we're talking about material shortages, I've been talking to a lot of contractors lately who, I talked to one just yesterday and they said, "Yeah, we've moved to lightweight concrete. We're doing just a lot more lightweight concrete." So they're looking for these alternatives, but a lot of this is already specced by the building owners, the architects, so there's some risk there as they're making these changes. What have you been hearing that way?

Trent Cotney:
Sure. So one of the biggest issues that we've seen is just like you said, where you can't obtain the material in the time it's required for the contract. So as a result, what contractors are having to do is they're having to use substitutions for those purposes, and there's a lot of different legal issues that people need to be aware of when it comes to that. So what I always say is if you're going to substitute a product, the first thing that you want to do is get approval upstream. And what I mean by that is get approval from the architect, engineer, design professional, that it's okay to do that, in writing. If you're a subcontractor, get approval from the prime, get approval from the owner, get approval from whoever you can upstream. Next thing you want to do is get approval downstream, so make sure that your system manufacturer signs off on the approval.

Trent Cotney:
There's nothing worse than replacing an adhesive or whatever you're going to replace, just to find out that the system warranty's been voided. So talk to your tech rep, talk to someone to make sure that you're going to be okay there. Last thing that you want to do is make sure that whatever substitutions changed, that you're still in compliance with whatever the local code requirements are. Florida has a very robust building code and NOA process, HVAC, hurricane requirements, all kinds of stuff. So as soon as you start tweaking and mixing stuff up, you potentially run into a problem. Bottom line, get signed off on everything, party with the best paper ones of the day.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I love that. The party with the best paper, you always say that and I'm like, "Get everything in writing. Everything in writing." So Kyron, you are on the front line, you're on the front line working with contractors every day. I know this last year could not have been always easy in Florida. So what are you and Polyglass seeing on material shortages and some shifts?

Kyron Schuch:
It hasn't all been bad. Modified bitumen is a big part of our business and the industry's coming back to it, because of the single ply shortages, a lot of contractors that had gone 90% or more to single ply, are starting to retrain their crews, get back to doing mod bits. So that's been wonderful for us. On the shortage side, you nailed it by saying it's components. So fiberglass is a product that goes into a lot of membranes, and there's shortage on that, and it affects it in the way that fiberglass and polyester are the two reinforcements, so fiberglass shortage, everybody's moving to polyester. Well, that's going to cause polyester lead times to start going up and the price strains. Same thing that happened with the iso and the lightweights on concrete, the lack of iso has driven the price up of lightweights on concrete. So it's a very dynamic situation we're all facing right now, with the shortages, and there seems to be a new one every couple months.

John Lombardo:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
A new different thing that you need for your manufacturing and then all of a sudden, now it's hard to get. Whether that's coming from out of country, the shipping containers, just weather.

Kyron Schuch:
100%. And going back to what Trent was talking about with the substitutions, I think this has permanently changed our industry, because specifiers historically would hold the line and the spec is the spec, and they're forced to be so flexible in their decisions just to get a roof put on. So I think moving forward, even after things get caught up, our industry's going to be a little bit different.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I think so too. Following in that frame, I've heard a lot of contractors as I've been talking to them, who are like, they feel the loyalty, the scene has changed, they are switching loyalties on what happened with their manufacturers, with the distributors and everything else. So it's not quite ... it really has ... I don't know if I'm saying that the right way, but we've been seeing it.

Kyron Schuch:
You're spot on. And there's more partnering right now than I've seen in my 18 years in the industry, where people are picking their horses, you can't keep everybody happy right now, so you're having to strategically choose a few people that aren't going to be able to get products, and it's a very tough thing from the top down, especially with the end user, and a lot of national accounts are being faced with that. Do you take care of the Amazons and those big facilities, or are you taking care of your smaller everyday guys? And the decisions that everybody's making right now are going to really have an impact long term on our work stream.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Because we know this industry has a very long memory.

Kyron Schuch:
Very much so.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It's always that way. So let's talk a little bit about the state legislation and stuff that's going on there. I'm really interested in it. We just did two podcasts, we did one with Matt Chriswell and one with Joe Burn, they're both going to be on tomorrow's Coffee Conversation, but they're talking about what's happening with the insurance companies, the denying coverage to roofs, then also telling them they need a new roof, when maybe they don't. There's a lot going on that way. What are you seeing?

Kyron Schuch:
Well, our industry created this mess. We allowed so many roofs to get replaced fraudulently for so long, and everybody's wondering when the gig was going to be up with the insurance companies, and they've gone the extreme way now, where people are getting canceled, that shouldn't be getting canceled. A lot of insurance companies are really taking a hard look at their risk and making some knee jerk reactions, and you tie that into the concrete tile shortage right now. People are getting cancellation letters, that if they don't fix their roof in 90 days, well, a lot of concrete roof tile is 25, 30 weeks out. So you if live in an HOA community, you don't have the option of going to metal or shingles or something else, you're stuck. So it's a very concerning thing going on with the insurance companies right now.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And I know the FRSA is doing a lot, they're right on the front edge of it. And Trent, I know you're a lobbyist, along with being a lawyer and you do a lot in Tallahassee. Tallahassee, right? Yes. What are you seeing with this?

Trent Cotney:
So it's a difficult issue. I mean, the problem that I think where Florida is unique is because of the number of storms that we have, a lot of our insurers are pulling out, and it's consistently been a problem. So a lot of the recent legislation that we've seen has tried to address that and tried to curtail the idea of the disposable roof system, which is every time there's a hail storm, every time there's anything, the roof has to be replaced like that.

Trent Cotney:
Now don't get me wrong, there are certain instances where roofs need to be replaced if there's damage. But I think one of the things that our legislators are looking at is trying to figure out how to come up with that good synergy between keeping insurance companies happy, but also protecting consumers. And then there's sort of, the tripartite there is the roofing contractor, how do they fit in, how do we make sure that our industry continues to stay strong despite these regulations? Every single session, there's at least a handful of insurance related things that come out, we just had a special session where some more regulations came out. So stay tuned for more because it's going to be an ongoing situation.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And I've been involved with, since I started with Malarkey, they were working with State Farm to have a better product on the roof, and then working on EagleView obviously, with a lot of insurance. So this has been brewing, it feels like, for many, many years and continues to get a little bit more tension as we get closer. John, what are you hearing along that line? Are you hearing too much?

John Lombardo:
I don't hear too much on that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Because I mean really on the commercial side, you're not seeing that, this is really more all residential or some commercial properties that are [inaudible 00:19:33]. John, what do you hear from your contractors?

John Kenny:
Well, I've heard one thing, it's disturbing, a lot of them say the phone has slowed down calling from residential contractors since this law took effect, and it's not because they were doing anything wrong by trying to force replacement, everyone's confused. Homeowners are confused and contractors are confused. Not from a legal standpoint, I'm even looking at this. I'm just looking at it as a consultant, working with a client, that we look at this law and yeah, they can't force you to replace your roof like they did before, but they can, if you don't, now they can raise your premium, they can still raise the deductible. And then for the roofer, we already had laws how they can solicit, how they can't. So I don't know, it's probably one more law that was not launched very well to get the information out, and I think that's what's got the industry very confused right now.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It does. In talking to Joe Burn, who is the president of the FRSA this year, an absolutely amazing guy, he was saying that he's been actually, he's a consultant now and doing consulting work, and he's working with contractors out there to write notes, not notes, write letters to the insurance companies, trying to get them to help the homeowners because there's just so much confusion.

John Kenny:
Oh, it is. Something has to happen because no one knows what to do right now.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. That's crazy. So what do you see, what are some of the things that FRSA is doing? I'm going to bring this back to you Trent. What are some of the things that FRSA are doing to help this problem with your contractors?

Trent Cotney:
So FRSA is a tremendous outreach through their lobbyists, through all the committees and through the executive committee that works really hard to make sure that we're on top of all the different issues as they come out. So that's one of the best things about FRSA, is that regardless of whether it's at an executive level in front of the Department of Professional Regulation, or if it's this insurance related issue, or if it's anything at the legislator, they've got somebody there to make sure that you're covered, and it's a really proactive association that's looking out for its members.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Okay. So I always have to give a plug, everybody should be a member of FRSA. This is where everybody comes together to help work through those things. So one of the things that ... I mean, when we're looking at celebrating a hundred years of the FRSA show, licensing has always been one of the top issues for FRSA, to make sure all the contractors are licensed, and in Florida, you have to be licensed. What are some of the things you're seeing around that, Kyron, just with your contractors out there, in that continuing education, the licensing, working together, what are some of the trends that you see in that direction?

Kyron Schuch:
Having the proper credentials, certifications, it's great for our industry. It's putting a better quality product out there, a safer product out there, and it's a push that the National Roofing Contractor Association has been making from the top down, and it's long overdue. We're becoming more of a professional organization every passing year. For so long roofers have had a stigma of not being that professional and it's completely changed.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right, it really has.

Kyron Schuch:
Becoming a very polished industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
The pro certification program, I was just in Chicago last week and that is a big push, they have some great things happening that way, but it goes hand in hand, and also the FRSA is doing a lot with the apprenticeships and the things that are going on. So I'm going to go to you Trent on that, just some of those around the labor and some of the things that are happening in Florida to improve, help that?

Trent Cotney:
Sure. So obviously licensing is a big issue in Florida, it's one of the most strenuous licensing exams and requirements of any state. And one of the big things was interesting, Trey, that works with me, was speaking earlier, and I'm surprised how many Florida roofing contractors don't know that you can't sub out work unless that sub is also licensed. I mean, people don't understand how rigorous it is here. So one of the things FRSA does is even during this convention, there's a lot of workforce training, there's a lot of other things that are taking place to make sure that you're aware of what those issues are and you're doing everything that you can. I know John and John as well, I mean, you guys are constantly training people on what to do and how to do it right.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And John, I'm going to take this over to you, on the training and the apprenticeship programs that go on, plus I know you're a trained pro certification assessor, right?

John Kenny:
Yes.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And when JJ has all the setups and the mock-ups. So what do you see happening that way?

John Kenny:
Yeah. So pro certification, any kind of training, workforce, admin training, it's very important to keep going in our industry. But on the license activity, Trent hit a really good point. I think the biggest growing segment of unlicensed activity in Florida is with subcontractors, labor subcontractors, it's kind of slipped through the cracks, everyone knows you can't do it, but it seems to be a growing trend. So I know FRSA is taking the lead on that, but again, it comes down to enforcement and it comes down to contractors hiring to make sure they're doing everything correctly. So we have to, again, police ourselves. But the industry's definitely moving in the right direction with more certifications, I would love to see a national license for contractors, I'd love to see a national standard, but probably not in my lifetime, so we'll take it on the local level.

Heidi Ellsworth:
At some point that will come through. Now you said earlier, too, the wage wars that are going on, which I'm sure also affects people like, well, maybe I'll just overlook that they're not licensed because I need the labor so bad. What are you seeing that direction?

John Kenny:
Yeah. So contractors have been in a tough spot for not only a few years, but decades. The industry workforce is shrinking, it's continuing to shrink, as much effort goes into trying to put people back in, it just can't keep up, it's not even close. So when that happens, you got your talented roofers or your semi talented roofers for that matter, that are going to hop around for more money, because if you got work, you need people, you're going to pay.

John Kenny:
So that's always been in our industry, but right now it's a very big hot button, especially if somebody, I heard people complaining that if they couldn't get their material and they didn't have the work for their crews, their crews were gone. They're going to go to who has the material. And then the second part of that is I think on the subcontractors, that is a whole new world that's out there that we haven't really had as much of before, I think you're going to see that grow. I think that's going to grow nationally, where people aren't going to go into just a conventional roofing company where they do everything, I think you're just going to see a huge growth market in labor only roofing companies, to work for other companies.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. We've been seeing that. Yeah.

John Kenny:
But you've also got to remember where's that workforce coming? It has to come out of the existing workforce somewhere, because it's not like people are jumping in to fill it. So it's a very bad revolving cycle that's got a long way to fix itself.

Heidi Ellsworth:
To put it through. And John, on the same topic, what you're seeing as the contractors, I mean, price increases, gas increase, labor increase, I mean, estimating and getting bids out that are going to make it until the material shows up. That's a lot going on there. What are you hearing from your commercial contractors along those lines?

John Lombardo:
Seems like commercial contractors, they've already got their sales already projected, they already fulfilled those. So they're not really bidding as much as they're bidding.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Really?

John Lombardo:
Yeah. They're that loaded up with work and they understand that the shortages are going to keep them from moving forward with that project anyway. But can I go over to these two gentlemen that talked about subs?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

John Lombardo:
Is that the growing trend? How are we going to provide them with a license to perform? I mean, what actions do FRSA and other-

John Kenny:
Well, they have to go through the same licensee process and supposed to, and most of them know it, that a regular contractor does, even if they're supplying, doing the whole thing, service, materials, so it would be taking the same test that I took and other contractors take, you have to have it. So the words out there, but unfortunately economies and things go, it's an underbelly right now and it's going to take a while to get it fixed.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I think the training needs to be there, that's really what we talk about is the training on all levels, whether it's on the national level, consulting, state, I mean, there's just so much, manufacturers, the training to get new people into this industry and get them working is just critical. So I'm like ... get into this, I get so excited. Okay. I am going to ask one favor because my phone and my watch didn't come and I don't want to hold everybody up, but can I ask what time it is, you gentlemen?

Trent Cotney:
It's 12:00.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It's 12:00. Okay, perfect. We got some good time. So one of the things that we wanted to also talk about is, and I really wanted to ... How are we going to, it goes back to this topic that we were just talking about, but how do we keep getting new young people into the industry? What are some of the things that you're seeing that are working, and what are some things that you think we need to do to get ... and maybe not just young, maybe from other industries, however that works. I want to start with you, Kyron.

Kyron Schuch:
I think we're already doing that as an industry. The perception out there is changing, as I was saying before, we're becoming a more polished industry, a lot of people are looking at it as a true career. So I'm in my 18th year in the industry, when I first got into it, there was very, very few young people, the industry wasn't targeting it at any level, and we were quickly becoming an aging industry. Our industry, at so many different levels, from the roofing contractor, consultants, manufacturers, distributors, you can make not just a good living, a great living. We are a tight knit industry that people really stick with, once you get in, there's very few people that leave our industry, it's very rare. My wife's in the veterinary industry, and you see people come and go from that, and sales, you don't see that in our industry, you get in, you're in.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It's a little Hotel California.

Kyron Schuch:
100%, yeah. So I think our industry's already doing that. I mean, you're seeing this shift so much in distributors going to colleges and letting them know that this is a great alternative to whatever path you were going down, you might be able to make a better living, a more secure living. People always need roofs, it's a very stable industry, so I think it's taking place already.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I think so too. And last week we were, Trent and I were both there, at the National Roofing Contractor Association, summer meeting and one of the big things that came up was SkillsUSA. So the SkillsUSA, when you're starting to get down to that level to, I mean, junior high and high school kids, getting them interested in roofing. And I know that FRSA has been doing a lot of the same things, what are you seeing there?

Trent Cotney:
So I think the biggest thing that I'm seeing, as far as trying to get more people into the industry, especially younger people, is embracing technology. I think that's going to be the key thing. And it's hard to attract a younger audience if you don't have that in your workplace. So whether it's embracing automation, drones, software, whatever it might be, that, I think, is a key sort of linchpin to getting interest in the workforce. Obviously it pays well, there's a lot of opportunity for growth and things of that nature, but I think the hook has got to be the use of technology and how to kind of advance that. And I think regardless, and I've said this before, we've got such a huge gap between supply and demand now, as far as skilled labor, technology always fills that gap. So at some point, automation and all that stuff is going to come in and kind of fill a lot of our needs anyway. But in the meantime, we need to do whatever we can to make sure that we're recruiting.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right. We know that that's going to happen, whether it's robots, drones, whatever it is on the roof that's going to kind of fill that in. So John, what are you seeing? I mean, technology is, and I mean, we have young people coming in out of school, construction management majors and roofing's getting exciting for some of them, we see it at the national level.

John Lombardo:
I get a lot of calls and a lot of companies are bringing on these young people and they're letting them work from home, it's giving them the opportunity to be at home with their kids and actually work from their computers or their tablets, and they're being very, very productive, it's working, it's working. So COVID did give us that ability to test it, and it works. The other thing is project managers and foreman are also working with devices in the field to communicate back to the office almost immediately. So they can make sure that they don't go in the red, their forecasting is much better. And drones, like Trent was talking about, that's a really hot topic right now and you need skilled laborers to run those things.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Well, and you even see, like the Mini-Macaden from Soprema, it's basically a robot on the roof. It takes a technician, they're running it through and these kind of machines are ... it's going to take a different skill set of our labor up on the roof as we're moving forward towards that. John, very involved with RT3, what are some of the things technology wise you think are going to start bringing some of the young folks in?

John Kenny:
Well, every time I say this, sometimes I get looks from people, but it's robotics. I mean, you're never going to recruit enough human beings back into our industry to ever fill the void that's already been created. There's just too many people retiring, it's impossible. But to recruit these young people, once you start to get the automation, as Trent said, and more robotics on the roof, you're still going to need humans to manage and run, I think that's where the big attraction's going to be for the younger ones coming out of high school, and the future generations to want to get in because where there's going to be a reason, they're going to have a choice, going to be a technology driven industry and not the same industry that we've all grown up with. It has to happen because there's no way that we can ever convert enough people coming out of school to go into the industry, to do the labor, if we don't change.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And the vocational schools and it needs to be exciting. They were just talking about heat welding, and that the kids come in and they get to run the heat welders and they love it. And so it's something that's really kind of starting to be like, oh, this isn't just mopping something that smells bad. The other thing too, that I think is really important as we look at this, is diversity. We have a huge need to continue to bring in more women and more of everyone, it just needs to have that look. And that was a big conversation also that I've been hearing throughout different associations, is how are we changing the look and the image of roofing and how are we starting to really show more women. Polyglass is a sponsor of National Women in Roofing, you guys have been always on the leading front, but what are you seeing with some of the diversity, more of a Latino culture? It feels like we're making strides.

Kyron Schuch:
Oh, without a doubt. I mean, it's happening organically, it's following the trend of the United States. But our industry has evolved tremendously, and a lot of people that historically did not look at roofing as a fit for them in the past, are seeing people that look like they do and come from a path like they do and say, "Hey, this actually makes sense for me." So it's happening organically.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It's happening. And I can't believe how many women I see, General Council of National Women in Roofing, and one of the many other things, can you believe the difference, I mean, from when you and I first, when I made that phone call to you and said, "Hey, would you help," eight years ago, to where we're at today, the amount of women that are in this industry and just the acceptance and the collusion has totally ... I mean, it's a lot different.

Trent Cotney:
It's absolutely amazing. And sometimes I kind of sit back and go, "Wow." I mean, from 2015 to now, it's crazy. And we're lucky, we've got Hillary Morgan and Ashley Poplin and everyone else from a legal standpoint, that stay heavily actively involved with National Women in Roofing. It's a tremendous organization, I'm looking forward, in fact, they've got something today, right?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes, they have a class today at 3:00, and someone that you all know, Lee Lipniskis, who just walked by, is going to be presenting, along with Michelle Boykin, and it's a great ... I mean, everything I've heard so far is full and we're getting lots of women and men who are all going to be at that event. And that happens at every show, I mean, that's the thing, is that we're now having those discussions every time, which I think makes such a difference. So I'm going to kind of bring our last two topics together, technology and diversity. It feels to me, John, I don't know if you see this too, but it feels like the increase of technology is really what has helped to drive the ability to have more diversity, to kind of even the playing field maybe, as it may be possible. Have you seen that?

John Lombardo:
Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. Since the day I started with the Edge in 1990, to today, I can't even follow the path, it's just amazing, I can't believe I'm still in this thing.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, you're out there still teaching it and getting everybody.

John Lombardo:
And people are accepting it like it's just bread.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It doesn't matter how long we've all been in, we can hang with those youngins.

John Lombardo:
That's right. That's right. And they just want it so bad, they want to just embrace it. We got a lot of young people that joined our organization just recently, and they're doing phenomenal things that if I had to do that back in the day when I started, I would say, I'd never think I could figure this stuff out like they do.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I know. The face is changing, which it needs to, so critical. And speaking of the face changing, John, so you are actually serving, one of the few men serving on a committee of National Women in Roofing, and you're on the membership committee.

John Kenny:
That's correct, membership committee.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That's so cool.

John Kenny:
And I'm a liaison to the mentorship.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes. And so talk about that, because a lot of times I think there's people out there who are like, "Oh, it's just a women's group," but it's really so much more than that, and you have really been right at the heart of that.

John Kenny:
Yeah, no it's called National Women in Roofing, but it is much, much more, as what you said. It's an avenue for women that are in roofing, to get in with a group to help mentor them and guidance. But now let's look at it from the male perspective, this is what I push all the time, you need to get involved because they want you involved, they do, I've been involved and it gives you a chance to work with them and teach them that there is us out there that want to see this diversity happen and move into the industry. And I think it's very important, you got to have both voices.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And for those young people coming into the industry, they want to see that. They want to see those professional groups and they want to know what's going on. So okay, I'm going to switch the conversation just a little bit and we're going to kind of circle on back to FRSA and a hundred years. So I mean, I can't believe they are celebrating a hundred years. Roofer's Coffee Shop is 20 years old. How old is Estimating Edge?

John Lombardo:
35.

Heidi Ellsworth:
35. So Polyglass?

Kyron Schuch:
40 plus.

Heidi Ellsworth:
40 plus, you're having a big anniversary. Yeah. And I know ...

John Kenny:
I'm third generation.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Third generation.

Trent Cotney:
25 years old.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, I know. So okay, all I can say is we're still all babies compared to FRSA. But I would love to share some stories, and so let's just kind of end this Coffee Conversations with some fun stories of why you're proud of being part of the FRSA, being part of the Florida market. And just kind of maybe whatever you want to say about that, but I think there's just some great stories out there. So Kyron, I want to start with you.

Kyron Schuch:
I think the Florida market is one of the warmest groups in the whole country. I worked all over the country, I started my career down here, left and worked up in Chicago and the Carolinas and New England. And after being gone for about a decade, coming back and it wasn't like I missed a beat. I think we've got the best contractors in the country right here, some of the nicest, and you compare that to some other major cities up north, and as you're a sales rep, making a cold call, a lot of times you can't get past the door and that's so rare in Florida.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Really? I love that.

Kyron Schuch:
Our roofing contractors are always willing to let you in, have a conversation, we've got a great group and FRSA pulls everybody together with that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. That's great. Same thing. Same thing, Trent.

Trent Cotney:
So for me, I've had the pleasure of working with FRSA for many years now, and for me, it is like they're my family. I mean, it really is. When I come here, obviously I've got professional obligations, work obligations, things I have to do, but it certainly doesn't feel like it. I see so many people that I've known, I know a lot of these people better than I do my relatives, I've seen them for 20 plus years now, and it's something special. I feel very, very fortunate to be able to share this milestone with them.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, it is, a hundred years, it's pretty impressive. John?

John Lombardo:
You gave me a few minutes to think about this.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I did that on purpose.

John Lombardo:
Okay. I say in my perspective as a vendor, FRSA never disappoints you, and they're always keeping the bar up here and that's really, really exciting, to always be part of it every single year.

Heidi Ellsworth:
They are just amazing. Yeah. So good. Okay, John.

John Kenny:
Well, it's definitely family. I mean, I moved to Florida in '99 from the Northeast industry, and I was welcomed right away. I got here in June and in July that year, the end of June, was the first FRSA conference, and the company I was with brought me here and it was welcoming. I met all these new people who I'm still good friends with today and continue to come here and meet new people. So you're right, it is an industry, I think a lot of areas are not quite as family oriented as it seems to be here in Florida, they'll help you. No matter what your problem is, there's a roofer in this organization that will reach out and find out and help you out, so I definitely go with that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, no, I love that too. And you're also president of the West Coast?

John Kenny:
I actually just retired as president of the West Coast, one of the affiliates. I'm still on the board. I'm trying to get the younger blood moved up through the ranks, which we have. But yeah, that's another great thing about FRSA, we have multiple affiliates around the state, so you do your local meetings and then you get together and you come over here and we always have representation. It's fantastic.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It is. It is so good. I have to just share one quick story, because I think my first, besides I think I went to the ... used to be called the NRCA show or IRA back in the day. But my very first show, regional show was FRSA in 1994, and I came here and I did not know anyone. I'm from Oregon, and I'm here in Florida, I knew no one. And Morris Swoop and his family, and Lisa Payte, who's the executive director of Florida, brought me right in, "Sit at our table, Heidi, we're going to talk to you about Florida. This is great. Why don't you move here from Oregon? You don't want to be in Oregon." And they were just ... to this day now, almost 30 years later, Lisa Payte does an amazing, she was a trade show coordinator at that time, and today she's the executive director and she is amazing. Absolutely amazing. So I kind of have the same welcoming story that went together. So well, gentlemen, thank you. Any last thoughts?

Kyron Schuch:
No, I think this platform is wonderful. I love having the chance to sit down and catch up on the industry. And thank for having us.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Perfect. Thank you for being here. Oh, and Agnes was supposed to be here and you came in for Agnes, so thank you. So if somebody's looking at the picture in the ads and saying, "That doesn't look like Kyron," it's okay, it's all right, they all work together. Trent?

Trent Cotney:
I'm just excited for the show. I mean, I think it's going to be a great show and if you're out this way, come in, stop by our booth, 8:30, I'll be waiting.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Okay. Perfect. John?

John Lombardo:
I love the coffee shop, coffees roofer shop, Roofers Coffee Shop.

Heidi Ellsworth:
We love you. You always are so fun to interview, we always have such a good time. Great. Thank you for being here, it's good. And John?

John Kenny:
Well, I just wish everybody to have a great show, which so far, from everyone I talked to, it's starting out with a bang and this is a great place. It's different, we're usually in Orlando, it's kind of nice being here, it's something a little bit different. And again, I've got two more seminars the next couple days, stop in and see us. One Trent and I are doing tomorrow on the history of roofing, that should be a really good one.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I was going to ask you about that, yes.

John Kenny:
That's tomorrow, so come see us. I think we're 7:00 AM. 7:00 AM, bright and early. Then I'll be here Friday, doing another one in estimating. And you know I love Roofer's Coffee Shop, so thank you for having me here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
We love all of you guys. Thank you so much for being here and thank you for watching. We're coming live to you from Daytona Beach, with the Florida Roofing Show. Our privilege, our great privilege to have these industry experts and leaders on our first Coffee Conversations live. I do want to do a very special, huge shout out to SRS. SRS is our sponsor of live Coffee Conversations at FRSA, what a great group. And here at the show, it's Suncoast, so going by and seeing the folks from Suncoast, they do so much for the industry, they give back every single day, and this is just one of them, wanting to bring this show live to you. So SRS helped us do that. So we will be seeing you later on for some interviews. My partner in crime, Karen Edwards, is going to be taking over some interviews later on today. And then she'll be here tomorrow at two o'clock Eastern, for Coffee conversations with contractors from the FRSA.



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