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Coffee Conversations - NCCER Apprenticeship Training - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Coffee Conversations - NCCER Apprenticeship Training - Register
June 2, 2022 at 10:36 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Steve Little of KPost Roofing and Waterproofing, John Esbenshade of NRCA, and Henry Staggs of NCCER. You can read the interview below, watch the webinar, or listen to the podcast here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Welcome, everyone to Coffee Conversations from RoofersCoffeeShop. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and I am proud to be here today for this amazing conversation with your questions and this awesome panel to talk about training, apprenticeships and the future of roofing but first let's go over a few little housekeeping initiatives. This is being recorded. It will be on demand for you within the next 24 hours but this is all about everyone who's coming on to Coffee Conversations and your questions. Please be active. Ask questions. We have our podcast producer, Megan Ellsworth, in the background who will be chatting, helping you get your questions out there. Use the chat box and we are going to have an amazing conversation this morning.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Today, as I had mentioned, we are going to be talking about NCCER apprenticeships and training but first I want to thank our sponsor. Leap is an end to end contractor sales software application that digitizes every stage of the sales process. When you think about training, I want you to think about Leap also and think about the technology that's out there, the softwares that are helping with the training on every level. And when you talk about this kind of sales training, you're going to be talking financing, contracting and estimating, aerial measurements, you name it. Thank you, Leap, for being not only a sponsor of today's Coffee Conversation but for being a leader in technology and training in the roofing industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Let's go. I am so excited to introduce this panel, I have to tell you. First of all, I would like to introduce Steve Little, head coach of KPost Roofing and Waterproofing. Steve, welcome to the show.

Steve Little:
Thank you, Heidi. It's great to be here with you and the other guests.

Heidi Ellsworth:
This is great because we've been doing a lot together over the years and I am excited for this conversation. Before we move on, I'd love for you to introduce, tell everybody out there who maybe the few, one or two people who don't know you.

Steve Little:
Oh, please.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Tell them a little bit about yourself, about KPost and just overall your roofing experience.

Steve Little:
Well, I guess the brightest part of my life is I've been married for 47 years to Pam. We celebrate a week from Friday and I'm hoping she renews my contract. That's the exciting thing that's happening going into summer.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Awesome.

Steve Little:
I have a 42 year old son who just became master chief of the Navy and a 37 year old daughter, who is a professor at the University of North Georgia, four awesome grandkids. And we love to when we're not working and doing things in the roofing industry, to go sailing in the British Virgin Islands and the Caribbean. I've been really fortunate in my 20 plus year career in the roofing industry to be involved with some awesome folks like yourself and the folks that are on this panel. We've had fun creating different new items, whether it be in the MRCA or National Women in Roofing or the NRCA, the ABC, the local association of general contractors and just having fun, being a renegade kind of thing. And just trying to be a disruptor and differentiator, and try to have people see things maybe from a different perspective because I wasn't fortunate enough to grow up in the roofing industry and to be somebody's son of a second or third generation so I'm always fascinated by the family dynamics in that.

Steve Little:
I came from the business world. I actually came from the sports world and I was involved a lot with deliverables to Super Bowls and World Series and PGAs and Olympics and stuff like that. Got in the industry 20 plus years ago and I've got a few years left before I go off to the blue ocean. And I'm very pleased and fortunate to be here with you today.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That is great, Steve. I love that. I love that you started out with Pam and the kids. Most important always, always.

Steve Little:
I hope she renews, Heidi. If you could call her, that'd be great.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I'll give her a little nudge. I'll help you out there. Well, I would also like to introduce someone who I've just gotten to know in the last year, who is really, talk about the future of the industry. John Esbenshade is the director of workforce development at NRCA. RoofersCoffeeShop is a One Voice member. I am thrilled to be on the committee with John on CTE and he's just been doing amazing things. John, welcome to the show.

John Esbenshade:
Thanks a lot, Heidi. I appreciate you having me on. Thanks again for coming on to Workforce Wednesday last week, I think this is maybe a little bit more tame of a crossover than Letterman going on Carson but I still very much appreciate the opportunity and the platform to speak to your audience.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Don't sell us short, John.

John Esbenshade:
Well, then we got to discuss who's Letterman and who's Carson. I think you're probably more Carson.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And do everybody even know who they are. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about yourself?

John Esbenshade:
Sure. Prior to working with NRCA, I actually worked for NCCER. I helped them develop this new roofing curriculum that we're going to be talking about. And we were blessed to not only have a great team internally, with Lauren Corley and Natalie Hasty and Karyn Payne, but we were also blessed to have overwhelming and universal support from everyone we talk to in the roofing industry. When we were talking about building a program from scratch, something that was going to be important to what the industry was trying to do in the future, I was very honored to be project manager of that team. In terms of me personally, I reside now in Chicago. I miss Florida weather for golf and Publix. But apart from that, Chicago's not a bad town to call home. I'm honored here to be taking on this next professional chapter and I'm incredibly grateful for Steve and Henry and you and the rest of the community around NRCA have made me feel so welcome and really, really energize the work that we're starting to do here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That's great, John. Thank you so much. And last, but certainly not least, one of someone who I see on so many of our Coffee Conversations that I'm just so happy that Henry is here today. Henry Staggs, NCCER master trainer, also with the Arizona Roofer and also the upcoming Arizona Roofing School. Henry, welcome to the show.

Henry Staggs:
Thank you. I'm humbled to be here. I feel like I'm in a room with giants so I'm just a little guy trying not to get stepped on.

Heidi Ellsworth:
No stepping. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Henry Staggs:
I was born in a military family in Kansas. Grew up right next to Fort Riley. I was a military brat. When I was in my early teens, home life wasn't so great and my home life became more of a street life than home life, couches and things like that. But I was introduced to roofing by a contractor, driving down the road who saw me and wanted to know why I was so lazy. He put me to work, taught me about subcontracting. Next thing you know, I'm a roofer. I owned a couple houses. I had six trucks, a bunch of guys that worked for me and it was a pretty big change from where I had come from. And then I turned 21 and got to go work as a second tier contractor on a military base and I learned an awful lot about the industry in that way and just kept on pursuing.

Henry Staggs:
Now I did try to escape a few times and I went to university for psychology. I had an ambition to be either a drug and alcohol counselor or a hospital chaplain. And so I spent time as a hospital chaplain and I got to work in a behavioral health department while I was in university, doing group therapy with the adults and the children. I decided I didn't want to do either one of those things after I had some experience with it and came back into construction. And so my ambition right now is to help young people find their foot in the door in the right way so that they can become productive, earn a good living, have a nice career path in front of them and not have to suffer through a lot of the injuries and indignities that we can suffer if we don't have proper training.

Henry Staggs:
For example, I've got an injury in my back, I've got to get treatment for and that's because I wasn't taught at younger how to properly climb a ladder and I used to carry those rolls up on my shoulders and stuff like that. Anyways, I don't know what else to say but I'm just happy to be here and be a part of this.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I am so happy you're here. And I just want to, we already are getting some amazing comments coming through here on the chat. We're going to go ahead and do a little bit of groundwork here on what's happening on NCCER and then I'm going to get back to these chat questions. But I do want to say everybody is just thank you for being here. That's what they're saying right now. This is great. Let's start out with where we are. Where we are and what we're seeing. Steve, I'm going to start with you on KPost. Just a leader in the industry, an amazing company but what are you seeing when it's coming to skilled labor and the next generation?

Steve Little:
Well, thanks for those comments, Heidi. The pandemic was a real impact to us as a company. We were all essential businesses during while that was going on. We all stayed really, really busy. And then when supply chain hit and some of the office buildings and manufacturing facilities closed and didn't allow us to actually come work on their buildings at the time, we had a real dilemma. We were very fortunate that they had the PPP funds that were out in the marketplace that helped us sustain employees and allowed them to do different things. We had 60 employees at any one time pouring concrete out in our field that we have here so we could improve the facilities and things like that. But the reality is, is that we've lost about 15% of our workforce that has actually left and gone to a different industry.

Steve Little:
There are sexier industries around than roofing. If you can work in Amazon and get $17 an hour and be part-time and get health insurance, although it has a different stress load than maybe working on a roof, the pay can be better if you're in the labor side of the business. The work from home scenario that's transpired, the home offices has impacted our ability to be able to recruit people that we want to work in the office. There's real dynamic change that's transpired, affected by what I call environmental conditions is that we have no control over that happening. We have a fantastic company and have some great opportunities and have the good fortune of being successful and being on some good projects and having some great people but when the pandemic hit, it was really an impact to our company.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And that's what we're seeing everywhere across the country that's being echoed. Henry, what are you seeing in Arizona around skilled labor and the lack of it?

Henry Staggs:
Well, I think we have probably around 15,000 job openings in roofing here in Arizona. And when I talk with students and I'm lucky that I get to be in front of students in different schools and environments, when they learn there is an actual career path they can follow, then they become more interested. I focus a lot of my presentation on that. And sometimes bringing people in from different segments helps as well but that's kind of what I'm seeing, if we can illustrate that this is not just cleaning nails out of somebody's driveway, that there's a legitimate path to tremendous success, really. And then when we talk about dollar bills, obviously, we get their attention then.

Henry Staggs:
The industry itself, little skepticism. People are kind of on the fence about what's going on and then I understand that because we're bringing academia into a world where it hasn't been previously. A lot of people are kind of still going over the learning curve. It's frustrating for me because I'm ready to roll, but not everybody is. But sooner or later everybody will get on board because what we're doing is necessary. And if we don't do it, someone else will do it because it's necessary. We just happen to be the people right now pushing the cart.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes, exactly. That's so true. John, coming from NCCER and we're going to talk about that in just one second. I want you to kind of tell everybody what that is. And then coming into NRCA, I know one of the first times I met you was at a show and you sat down and said, "Heidi, tell me what you're seeing." You've asked so many questions to so many people. What are you seeing across the country?

John Esbenshade:
Well, I'm seeing a really interesting shift start to happen. From the conversations I've had with people who have sort of been at the effort longer than I have, they all describe this change happening within the last five years, which is how do we approach training? Because historically it was individual contractors developing a training that was right for them, by developing recruiting practices where they're just basically trying to poach people from other contractors who have training in their area.

John Esbenshade:
And there's a schema shift happening where everyone's kind of coming to the realization simultaneously where not only do we need to have a standardized set of curriculum standards, we have to have performance verifications that are standardized everywhere in the country but that the solution for the workforce is not one of these things where we need to be cannibalizing these people going back and forth from one side of town to the other. That's not the thing that's going to benefit this industry in 5, 10, 20 years. And so to sort of see that realization happen with some of the largest contractors and largest roofing companies in the country, everyone's kind of having this realization at once. And so that's something that's been really interesting to be a part of.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. Yeah. So true, all of this. And I keep thinking about over the years as we've been talking about this and now watching it actually happen is just so exciting. John, I want to start with you. Just first of all, what does NCCER stand for? And what is it?

John Esbenshade:
Yes, it is quite a long acronym and when I start saying the name, it takes me about a full breath to get through it but it's the National Center for Construction Education and Research. It was initially founded through some grant money and participation through the University of Florida. Go Gators.

Steve Little:
Go Gators.

John Esbenshade:
Go Gators. But what it was is to create apprenticeship standards, to create apprenticeship models and a curriculum for preparing people for apprenticeship certification, journeyman, but how to take someone from day zero into a craft, to being able to be a journeyman. Though it founded in 1996 with just, I believe five crafts, carpentry, HVAC, plumbing, electrical and maybe masonry. But now they've grown that to over 70 different craft areas and much like your sponsor Leap, you said end to end. Well, that is what NCCER's curriculum is designed to be, end to end. A turnkey curriculum for contractors or CTE schools or correctional facilities to just be able to deliver this directly and to benefit from everything that NCCER is able to build around that curriculum. Because well, as people who design training programs know, developing curriculum is tough. It is time consuming, it's expensive. And so NCCER has the advantage of being specifically designed to be for curriculum development. That is the only thing they do and they do it pretty well.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And I actually was there at some of the NRCA meetings and I know Steve, you were too, when the whole topic of NCCER and where we were at as a roofing industry because to just be super honest, we were a little late to the game. There was very old roofing curriculum on there and NRCA has stood up and really, along with some other organizations we're going to talk about, has taken the leading drive to change that. Steve, maybe you can talk just a little bit about that history of NRCA and NCCER.

Steve Little:
Well, how ironic that the NCCER office was across the street from a screen printing embroidery house company that I owned in Gainesville, Florida when I had graduated the University of Florida or didn't graduate, almost graduated out of the University of Florida. And so to see now, 50 years later, I guess that's unfair to say, 40 plus years later, to actually be promoting their program and trying to help distribute the apprenticeship type programs that they have throughout the industry in our roofing industry is really cool. I just want to kind of plug that in there.

Steve Little:
And the NCCER offers a format that allows for a career path for trade school kids, as well as high school kids, as well as folks that have been in other trades that want to learn the roofing trade to follow. And it's so cool that the NCCER and the NRCA got together and they said, "If we're going to do this, let's use the National Roofing Contractors Association's standard for technical. And so to be able to put that program together and now to be able to offer it and we'll talk about a little bit later about the first class and some of the stuff that Henry's doing out in Phoenix, it's really good stuff, Heidi.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, it's really good. And to that point, Henry, I remember talking to you and I had just started, I had just kind of been hearing about the NCCER and the training and what was going on and then you and I had a conversation, you're like, "I'm doing this, I'm bringing NCCER to Arizona. I'm putting it together." Talk about how that happened.

Henry Staggs:
Okay. I was talking with the folks at Eagle Roofing, they're my partners down here, Eagle Roofing Products, they make concrete and tile. And we were talking about a recruiting program but once we have them interested, where do we point them? And I didn't know what the answer to that was, except for the parking lot training culture that we have already. And so I went to the office of apprenticeship and met with the director there and after a few meetings and he finally decided to trust me, which was a kind of a jump is all over that. But he said, "You got to become a master trainer with the NCCER and lock it in with them because they provide everything you need, that they will provide you the standardized curriculum that you need." But when I went to do that, there wasn't really any roofing thing going on at the time so I found John's email address and started harassing him for a very long time and other people too, John, not just you. I was harassing a lot of people at that time.

Henry Staggs:
But it was important to me because I could see being a consultant and seeing the work that was going on, I saw there's a really serious need for standardized training. We're finding the same kind of myths in installers' errors all over the place. And almost a 100% of it could be resolved with standardized proper training, with assessments and verifications. And so that's when I set up on that path and started working towards this goal and I actually started working for my master trainer certification before there was the roofing program even in place. I was kind of behind the cart there for a minute but thankfully everybody put up with my insanity and here we are now.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And the master trainer, ahead of the curve, you weren't behind the curve, you were ahead of the curve.

Henry Staggs:
That's not what it felt like.

John Esbenshade:
Henry was. When we go to sort of onboard our subject matter experts before you get started doing a curriculum revision, there's a master list that populates and Henry Staggs was the first name that I saw on that list that said roofing next to it. It was really exciting. It's like, oh man, we already got people cuing up to participate as subject matter experts. This is a good omen.

Steve Little:
And John, that's the hardest thing to find as we roll these programs out, is that people that are willing to dedicate their time and energy to help take what's been created and move it along.

John Esbenshade:
Very much so. And NRCA, the first thing they did, one of their primary responsibilities in the partnership was to give us subject matter experts from a variety of different locations across the country with expertise in a number of different kinds of systems. Because as you can see on that map, certainly there's some regionalized specialization over in the eastern part of the country but the fact is, is that not a lot of people are installing slate in Minnesota and not a lot of people are installing metal roof in a state like Minnesota as well. Wait, I'm sorry. They're doing slate Minnesota. They're not doing it in Florida. My mistake.

Henry Staggs:
We knew what you're talking about.

John Esbenshade:
But being able to partner with NRCA and for NRCA to say, "Not only are we going to give you all of our technical manuals that we've ever done so you can have the cannon fodder you need, the research you need to do to create this curriculum but we're going to plug you in with some of the largest and most significant installers of many different kinds of systems around the country so you can get conflicting opinions, regionalized saying, 'Well wait, we don't do this here in this warm place that we have in Florida. It's like, well we'll do do it here in the Pacific Northwest.'" Had to make sure that we don't end up in an echo chamber when we're talking about research and developing this curriculum, it has to be diverse for it to be an efficient national program. And NRCA was a huge help with that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
You know what? I want to go to one of the questions because it goes right into what we're talking about and I want to say Charlie Williams, thank you so much, for putting this in here. He says, "I am a retired Johns Manville roofing division employee who has been in the mentoring space of young people for the last six years. I am a staunch ambassador for construction skill trades, looking for partnerships to grow internships." Exactly what we're talking about. He says, and then to your earlier point, Henry, he said, "That is key Henry, to illuminate the many career paths that are in the 16 divisions in construction. We need more testimonials from those kids." But maybe talk just a little bit, and John, I'm going to kind of bring that back to you. People getting involved like Charlie, here you go. Somebody retired. He's already an ambassador and a mentor. How do they get involved with what Henry's been doing?

John Esbenshade:
Well, this is great because I knew I couldn't go a full conversation without saying the word CTE schools and without saying SkillsUSA. Get ready, I'm going to explain both briefly. But what I would suggest is one, please give me a call or an email and I want to talk about getting a SkillsUSA demo contest going in your area. What we would like to do is we'd like to launch a national roofing competition. That's going to be the installation of a thermoplastic membrane, for a large number of reasons. But for the easiest one, let's just say that we need to break the stigma that roofing is only hammering shingles, which is my experience as a laborer in roofing is only hammering shingles but sort of opening the eyes to a greater population. 300,000 people right now are engaged in SkillsUSA programs around the country.

John Esbenshade:
And so we want to install a roofing contest. We had our first demo contest in Virginia. It was on a standardized mockup, the same one that we use for NRCA's pro certification. When we are talking to the schools, we talk about this program. It's like, "This SkillsUSA contest, this mockup that this student is working on is going to be the same mockup that they take their pro certification on." And as someone who develops curriculum, as someone who's taught before, creating that pathway, in that school's mind, this is where that student starts and this is where they go. If you are local and want to be locally engaged, please contact me because we need more people pushing the cart to get SkillsUSA going. We're hoping to have as many as 23 states have roofing contests in 2023. As a matter of fact, Arizona and Texas are on my short list. I am a betting man but my bet is it's going to be Arizona or Texas or Ohio that has the next student roofing contest. And well, I want to make one happen in your area too.

Steve Little:
Hey John, we need to shout out Sherri Miles. This has been a labor of love for her from J.D. Sons and Daughters, that her just tireless effort to try to make things happen in our industries and apprenticeships and what she's done from calling on high schools, principals, to counselors, to investing time, energy and money from her company to make something happen in her marketplace has really set the stage for this years and years ago. And with your leadership now, really starting to come to fruition in her market.

John Esbenshade:
It's very true. I could start saying nice things about Sherri Miles but I will eat up every second of the remaining 33 minutes we have on this webinar.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, we know. We know Sherri's awesome.

John Esbenshade:
Yeah. She's one of a kind and there's certainly no way that we would have a demo contest in Virginia that happened almost two months ago now without the work that Sherri was doing in her community. Engaging local CTE schools, engaging in local education boards, to order to push the effort. But those are the kind of things that need to be done locally around the country to really start to see the positive change that we're hoping for as an industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, it's so cool. I want to, because I want to make sure we get this in. Speaking of contractors, really kind of finding that space and going, this is what we want to do. Steve, I want you to talk about the initiative with the contractors around the country. And Sherri says, "Hi." Sherri, we're so happy you're here.

Steve Little:
She's great.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Talk about the ABC and the NCCER and the roofing contractors who brought this to the industry.

Steve Little:
Associated Building Contractors, there's 21,000 firms all across the country. They have 69 chapters and 60 training facilities as you just popped up here. They've also been a leader in the construction industry working with NCCER on all 16 different categories in construction but they only had 15 until we had the roofing program that was put into place. Hugely exciting that we were able to get this started working with John when he was at NCCER and now at NRCA. Tony Rader, the national chairman of the ABC and currently vice president of National Roofing Partners is working with me to get this launched. We've incubated it here in the local Dallas marketplace, through a group called Tecta which is like in Arizona, combined AGC and ABC together, along with the folks at ASA. Sorry for all the acronyms but it takes a village, as Sherri just said.

Steve Little:
And we launched our first class using the NCCER curriculum in September with 14 apprenticeships within four companies. And we graduated 13. And one of the things that the ABC group down in Southeast Florida, that started this program with a very, a minimal curriculum to work from. Kudos to those folks down in Advanced Roofing and Tecta that put this together down south. They had to create their own curriculum and they got it approved by the Department of Labor and et cetera, et cetera. And then when John's team came up with this with the NRCA, we now have a program that is also accredited by the Department of Labor. It is in three segments and keeping the kids in the class was hugely important. To graduate the first of the three modules with 13 was fantastic.

Steve Little:
All 13 came back for the second group and they've just finished it and they'll do their third segment in September. And I think you may have another slide here that may show a little bit more to that. Maybe it's farther down in the slide deck. This is level one, which is in the second segment of the group. And it breaks down an introduction to roofing and goes through a lot of the different segments of roofing and even including understanding how to read drawings, which is important.

Steve Little:
And then I think on the next slide that comes up, you'll see that we get into specifics of roofing. The different types, TPO, metal, even a module on service, which is something that John really fought for that was being requested from the team that was working for him because service is such a different business than understanding the different type of roofing systems that are out there. We are currently recruiting for class two that will start in conjunction with the third phase of class one and I hope we get to the point where like FEI, that we can keep talking about this class or that class and they're all have built a nice little group together and a forum together to be able to stay in touch with each other.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I love it. And this is something, so Steve, for contractors out there who are listening right now who are interested in getting involved in doing this, how do they do that?

Steve Little:
This is rolling out from NCCER to 5,000 trade schools in about 30 plus ABC locations in fall of 2022. I think that one of the things that a contractor could do is contact John Esbenshade's office, as well as contact our local ABC and reach out and ask about the roofing program. You've got on your screen right now, the cost summary. This cost of each one of these is what the cost is to the trainee. There are Department of Labor scholarships and grants that offset this cost that's in place. And then we built this program in Dallas, just like the electrical contractors and the HVAC contractors, is that we create a loan with the employee and we as a contractor pay for this and then we get sweat equity back from the employee. They stay with us for a three year period of time, it's completely paid for. If it's for a year, then we pay one third, et cetera, et cetera.

Steve Little:
I have to tell you, the students are off the chart excited about this. They walk out with a certificate, they have a career. We demonstrate a career ladder to them and shown, as they complete each of the classes, what this does for them. We at KPost have tied it to increases in pay. Sorry, to get a little excited about this, Heidi. But what they do is that they are working 2,000 hours a year while they're doing a 144 hours of classes. And so the way we set this course up is that the kids work for the companies on Monday and Tuesday, go to class on Wednesday and work for the companies on Thursday and Friday.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. Sorry, I lost the name here, but we will get, Michael. Sorry, Michael, Michael Snyder just asked if we were going to be able to provide the slide deck after this presentation. Yes, we will have it on the Coffee Conversations where you get it on demand, you'll also be able to get that slide deck. Thank you for that. And we have some more questions coming in but before we do that, so Henry I'd like you to kind of bring it back around on what you're doing because you're also, so we have things happening in Florida, Texas. I'm going to stop sharing here for a minute. In August, you're going to bring into Arizona so tell us about that.

Henry Staggs:
Well, I'm more or less a one guy operation down here. I've got my wife and then a handful of people who volunteer from the industry. And let me say this, when I get the opportunity to bring someone from industry with me to do some of this stuff, they love it. They light up just as much or maybe even more than the students do because a lot of the skepticism is there's no kids in the trade school. That's what I hear all the time. That's not true. They're full. And they're not interested in roofing. Well, they don't know what they're interested in. That's why we all go and present our industry to them but we have been absent from the table. I've been trying to show up at the table and participate in any committees I can get on or advisory councils that they'll let me sit in on. Met a lot of good people there and they've opened the doors to let me talk to the students. That's kind what I'm trying to do here, connect dots and sort of create the vision.

Henry Staggs:
Now, I also petitioned our governor to proclaim June as careers in roofing month because NRCA starts their June with roofing week and I thought that'd be a great thing to piggyback off, which John and I have something planned for the first, as a matter of fact. And so all of June, we're going to be on the radio every Monday morning with somebody from the industry, talking about the industry, what they do, the jobs available in their particular segment, stuff like that. And then the radio station is going to run more than 200 advertisements for us as well. And our ambition is just promote the industry all the way through June. Try to create some excitement that we can then use at the end June for a big old party for our boots on the roof.

Henry Staggs:
Well I've got a committee working on that, and games and food and fun and all that stuff. And then, with all of that hustle and bustle all through June, we can maybe hopefully use all that momentum to move right into a recruiting phase. My plan is to raise funds for a scholarship program, then go into all the CTE places that I've been working with and find students from those. I actually already have a handful in my mind of kids that are ready to get to work and offer them the opportunity to come on, get the training, get their tools and get a job, no real cost to them and maybe there's some opportunities for them to earn, I call it sandwich and gas money while they're going to school so we can keep them there and then send them out into the industry.

Henry Staggs:
And so that's my immediate goal. And we're hoping we, I say we, at Eagle is where we're going to do our training at the Eagle facility here in town. And also I'm working with Mesa Community College as an adjunct professor there. And they're kind of iffy about the whole roofing thing. They're still of the mindset that's part of carpentry and I haven't been able to break that mindset yet but I'm there and they've welcome me with open arms. That's kind of what I'm doing now. And so the idea is we promote all through June, then we recruit from there until August we swing the doors open in August and we have a class full of students that are paid for and ready to get to work almost immediately.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Steve Little:
John, I'm really curious. How'd you get the governor to declare on the month of June roofing month?

Henry Staggs:
He had a roof leak. No, I'm just kidding.

Steve Little:
Time makes everything.

Henry Staggs:
That's usually how you get everybody's attention. I begged and pleaded for about three years. I just kept banging on the door. John's familiar with that.

John Esbenshade:
Persistence is charm.

Heidi Ellsworth:
We have a copy of it, Henry. I'm so sorry and we didn't get it on here, so we will get that on the site so people can see and see exactly your copy from the sign from the governor.

Steve Little:
That's fantastic.

Henry Staggs:
NCCER is named in that as well as build your future initiative. They're named in the proclamation and not just roofing but roofing and every other trade too. Wanted try to encompass everything. But I think it's important to start bringing, we've got to change the image of our industry and that's one good way to do it, we get the governors involved. Those proclamations, they're not hard to get but they're not easy to get either. You got to do a little work but that kind of helps bring legitimacy to what we're doing.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And I love the fact you're going to be on the radio and all the recruiting that you're doing around it too. Sorry, John, go ahead.

Henry Staggs:
Oh man, that radio is scary. I'm shaking every time. But luckily we've had some good folks. I had the director of ADOSH came on with me last time. We talked about safety in Arizona and fall protection and stuff like that. I got the director of our registry of contractors who's coming on with us on the 6th to talk about workmanship standards in our industry. And there are such a thing as workmanship standards legitimately written out, you've got to do this is when you get your license, you agree to follow these standards and some other really great people coming on. I'm excited. And there all that stuff is on my website. You can see all those shows and you can see how good or bad it is but there's some great, great people.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And the website is behind you, tsraz.org.

Henry Staggs:
Yeah. Or arizonacareersinroofing.com, that's another one. That second one will be the one we push real hard during June, so it's a recruiting employment type thing.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And TSRAZ stands for?

Henry Staggs:
The School of Ripping Arizona. My hope is that this'll be a model that other guys can take and use and do it themselves so we can change AZ to whatever state you want it to be.

Heidi Ellsworth:
School of roofing, like the school of rock. One comment that's in here from Christee Holbrook, who is doing amazing things with Graham Roofing but she want to say, "Henry, you are great. You are giant in pushing the roofing industry into this next phase. Thank you for all you do for our industry."

Henry Staggs:
Christee sat in on, I was doing these test run classes, just running through some of these NCCER modules with whomever was interested and she came and sat through one of them. Made it all the way to the end. Kudos to her, she listened to me talk for two hours straight.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I love it. One of the things that I wanted to kind of connect that you all brought up earlier is this path. And so we have the SkillsUSA where we get them in high school, maybe do they do junior high, John? Or is it just high school?

John Esbenshade:
To my knowledge, it is high school, but it's also post secondary. There are SkillsUSA students, I believe up to the age of 25. And then there are, well, there are other competitions that you can enter in that sort of we're in the soft stages of opening those kind of discussions but SkillsUSA I think anywhere from 15 to 25, there's a spot for them somewhere.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And so we have the NRCA and Sherri, people across the country. You're going to get all these contractors who are involved in that. Then we get them into the apprenticeships, which is what Henry and Steve, you're talking about and that, the NCCER really leads, using TRAC and leads right into pro certification. John, I want to talk, so people kind of hear that journey and how important pro certification is as that final step.

John Esbenshade:
Pro certification is it's pivotal. It is something to aspire to when it comes to being an installer. Sort of this pathway, this journey and I've spoken a lot in the past six months all over the country. Ohio and California, I can tell you which one of those is more fun to be in March. But really what we want is we see TRAC, NRCA's Training for Roof Application Careers, as being sort of the entry point. For the sake of the SkillsUSA contest, TRAC thermoplastic is a course that someone can take and they can be ready to participate in the SkillsUSA contest in a mere 40 hours of instructional time. That's 20 hours of hands on and 20 hours of online that they can do on their phone. You have all the problems with those pesky genZ or millennials not getting off their phone. Well, you can at least put the material somewhere where they're going to be at anyway. And certainly if they're working on a crew and it's a rainy day, they can be on it taking those online hours in the truck.

John Esbenshade:
We see that as being the initial point because well, the installation teaching for NCCER's roofing curriculum, it doesn't happen until level two. Waiting a full year of curriculum before someone can participate in SkillsUSA, that's a long time to wait. We recommend starts with TRAC, TRAC and participation with SkillsUSA. Then the next step is NCCER's roofing curriculum, which is going to prepare them to install every kind of system that exists. After completion of that, they're going to have the knowledge point that they need to start getting the field experience for pro certification because for proc certification, if you wanted to take pro cert for thermoplastic, you are required to have two years of field experience.

John Esbenshade:
Even at the end of that NCCER curriculum, you're not ready to sit for pro cert because you don't have the two years of field experience. However, if you are working, you take TRAC thermoplastic, you do NCCER's full curriculum and then you get your field experience. At the end of that two years of field experience, you will be ready for pro certification, as long as you are being trained the proper way you go about everything right. But the idea of creating a way to get someone from day zero, all the way to pro certification, NCCER's curriculum is absolutely the best pathway to get from that place to another and then you add on your field experience and you're good to go. Creating that is something, a very easy track to understand a pathway to understand that takes someone from zero to mastery is 100% something that has not necessarily been in the roofing industry before. It's really exciting that at this point, at this sort of watershed moment for the industry, that's readily available and that is a great thing to be able to say.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Exactly. And Steve you're doing it.

Steve Little:
Yeah, that's really, what's really exciting. Reid Ribble, who has been with the NRCA for five years in leadership, has been pushing this pro certification program since the first day that he came on board and we put at the Dallas IRE three years ago, we put 10 folks, 10 of our best folks through the pro certification and only four passed. I think it's very important to point that out because just because they've been out in the field and have been roofers for 20 years, they're never have necessarily been trained correctly, which is what the NCCER platform provides for that. And the concept behind this was, let's get the roofer certified, not the crew or the company. Let's get the roofer certified and then on the backside Mark Graham and that whole team on technical is trying to push out in the marketplace to have the specifiers incorporate pro certified contractor or workers have to be on the crew to install the systems that these great specifiers are specifying in the market.

Steve Little:
The concept of push and pull through here is a marketer's dream. And then more importantly, providing this career path, there is nobody in any of the industries that is starting with TRAC. They may be starting with apprenticeship or an NCCER portion but they're not starting with TRAC, that 20 hours of online, that 20 hours of actual. If you follow this NRCA process, it is an amazing career. And I think that we don't spend enough time pointing out that we have laborers that are making $40,000 a year. We have foremen that are making $80,000 a year. We have people on the white collar side of the business that are making six figures, folks. This is roofing. 55,000 contractors in the marketplace. This is one hell of a career for people and it's one of the four skills, four items that the building owner will always put money into. Between HVAC, the parking lot, the flooring and the roof. They're always putting money into that so it's a sustainable industry. And it's part of food, water and shelter. Come on folks.

John Esbenshade:
Yeah. The little saying that I've been touting is the structure in which Jesus was born did not have electrical. It did not have HVAC. It did not have plumbing. It had a roof. And very simply put, the roof is the difference between inside and outside. Stands to reason Jesus was a carpenter. He probably would've hammered some shingles at some point.

Steve Little:
I love how you tie this together, John.

John Esbenshade:
It is what it is but trying to advance that industry and advance the cause of standardizing training, of making sure that we raise the bar, we raise the skill level of the average roofer. The top 1% will continue to find ways to develop this industry and to innovate. That's the important thing. We're not lowering the bar, we're raising it across the board and then challenging our top members, our top contractors in this industry to continue to innovate and to find what the next thing is going to be that grows this industry in 30 to 40 years. These are the kind of things that benefit when that's the butterfly effect for doing something like this.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It really is. And I want to encourage everyone, if you have any questions on this, any thoughts, I see the comments coming through. They're great. Everyone loves the fifth wall and Henry, I love Charlie's comment about always be closing and having your website up there is perfect. But I do want to also, I want to make sure that we get a little tactical. John, I'm going to start with you on how. It's great. People hear these panels, they talk through it and everything but sometimes it's just too big. It's like, how do I get involved? How do I do this? Can you kind of, I'd like, actually from all of you, I'd like your advice starting with John on how can contractors get involved across the board? Skills, TRAC, pro certification, apprenticeships, which I know everybody wants to get involved with apprenticeships. How do they do it?

John Esbenshade:
The first thing I would recommend is designate two hours every week to advance the effort. Set it as a recurring meeting on your calendar, put it on a time where you're happy to be working. For me, I would put it on Tuesday afternoons. For whatever reason, Tuesday afternoons, I am really in a flow but just start with spending two hours a week by either reaching out to local CTE schools and volunteering to have a roofing presence, a roofing voice in those decisions. That's the first thing you could do.

John Esbenshade:
The second thing you can do is after you have a contact at that CTE school, you have a little bit of rapport with someone, give me an email and let's all the three of us talk together about what that school can be doing, what that process looks like, who pays for it? Because TRAC is only what? $499 if you're not a member of NRCA. If you tell a school you can add a program for 500 bucks for unlimited students forever, I guarantee you, they look at you like, are you sure about that? And I'm here to tell you, yes, we are sure about that. Just start by doing the little things and making those connections. That would be the first step for me.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That's great advice. That's great advice. Steve?

Steve Little:
I'm going to take it from the contractor side. We all are looking for workforce. We're all looking to make our company sustainable. I think the very first thing you need to do is join the NRCA. There are so many resources at the NRCA to make your business better but if you just join the NRCA to do TRAC, apprenticeship and pro certification, you will look back on this as the best investment that you have ever made in your company specifically because it'll do a number of things. First of all, it gives you a format to be able to grow your workforce. But second of all, it will have you networking with other contractors that have done this and so you're not doing this alone. And third, NRCA thought this was so important that they brought on a person like John that said, look, we're going to have a leader in here that our contractors can call direct.

Steve Little:
You don't have to worry about trying to figure this out or whatever, you just pick up the phone and call John. And it sounds like you call him on Tuesday afternoons. Or you email him and you say, "This is what I need for my company. Can you navigate me through this deal?" And John, if he doesn't have the resources currently at his fingertips, there are a dozen of us on this committee that we have volunteered our time to come in and say, "Be glad to help another contractor raise the level and the standard in our industry so that we can continue down this path of being sustainable and refilling our workforce."

Heidi Ellsworth:
100%. 100%. And I love it. And you know what? It's been contractors and the NRCA but it's been contractors and people, Henry. You being a contractor really see it. It's really come from the ground up saying, "We need this and we're going to develop these and we're going to find the right people to make it happen." Henry, what's your advice? How can people listening out there get their own apprenticeship programs going, recruitment, do some of the things that you've done?

Henry Staggs:
Okay. The first thing I want to say is that roofers want things done fast. We all learn to move fast, get it done fast as the rains come and cover it up. And we've kind of been conditioned to think that way. I caught myself like that early on, expecting things to happen. The first thing I would suggest for every contractor is this takes time. It's like pennies in a jar. Eventually we have a full jar of pennies but we've got to work towards it. What I would suggest is find the people in your area that are doing this, that are already working. They're already pounding down the doors. I promise you, those people need help. They need stuff. They need materials. They need tools. They need equipment. They need time. If you want to get into trade schools, at least what I've learned around here, trade schools need things like hook blades and sandpaper and those little sundry items.

Henry Staggs:
And when I show up with a truckload of stuff, the door's wide open for me and that seems to be the best way to get in because that's what they need. We need to know what they need and bring it to them and then they'll let us in, once we're in and we can get to work. And roofing is so great anyways, all we got to do is get in front of the kids long enough and they're going to become roofers, is how I see it. But so I would find the people in the area that are already working on this, partner with them, see what they need so you can still stay a contractor. Now later, if you decide you want to do the training yourself in your own facility, the NCCER offers training units, certifications that will let you do that. And we do that here.

Henry Staggs:
And my goal is think of growth. I want not one big giant school teaching a bunch of people all the time, I want a 100 little schools all over the place. Whether it's in the manufacturer's area or in a contractor's office or in a trade school or in a high school, it doesn't matter to me where it's at, as long as it's happening. If you empower the people who are already doing it, they will turn around and empower you later to do it as well. And by the way, everyone who's working on this, at least that I know of, the way that I'm doing it is doing it voluntarily. There's no income coming from this so when those folks are asking for stuff, they really need it and it's to get those doors open.

Henry Staggs:
And I want to back this up to say this, want to hammer this point in, we've been absent from the table. When we show up as an industry there, all the other people are already there and they've already laid out their feast for the CTE people. And we're showing up Johnny come lately with very little in our pocket. We need to change that dynamic. Bring stuff, empower the people who are doing it and be willing to volunteer time. That's the biggest, most important thing, get in front of the students. A human being, talking to them, answering their questions and finding out what it is that they want and what they want to know about rather than trying to presume what they want. That's what I would suggest. And then, if you want to become a training unit, the way the NCCER has set things up, there's some hoops you got to jump through but if there's someone like me and I hate to sound boastful but I'm already trying to prep the area here so other people can jump on board relatively easy, accredited, turnkey and nationally recognized.

Henry Staggs:
And then, and I'll say this too and then I give up the floor. This is collaborative. We're collaborating right now. And this whole process has been collaborative. Developing the curriculum was a tremendously collaborative process. I love the collaborative process. A part of having a 100 different little schools is those people in all these different areas can collaborate like we're doing now and learn from each other along the way. We have to keep this as a collaborative type of process and not allow it to become a one entity that's doing it. That's why I like the standardized approach. Now, if a student is with me, let's say, Christee Holbrook took my module and if she got credit for that and then she said, "Screw that Henry Guy. I want to go over and deal with John." She goes and takes John's class, that credit she got for me stands and she doesn't lose any of her work.

Henry Staggs:
If we've got students that are in Florida that move to Arizona, they can pop right into what we're doing and pick up where they left off or vice versa. If they're going to go down and work with Steve, they could just pick up right where they left off. There's no hiccup in the system. You don't have to transfer credits or any of that stuff. That part of this I think is valuable because we're roofers, we need to be quick, fast and easy.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes. I love it. I love it. There you go,

Steve Little:
John, what is that?

John Esbenshade:
If you complete an NCCER module, just a single individual module, you get one of these. This is a craft certification card. It has my name on it and I can scan this at any one of those 6,177 different locations that are offering it and I can prove to a potential employer that I do have my bonafides. I am credentialed. I am certified. And this is the actual physical copies of roofing level one and level two, both are currently available and by the end of the calendar year, both will be available in Spanish as well. What I recommend is start seeing what you can do now.

John Esbenshade:
Obviously we have people like Steve and Henry and Heidi and Christee and Sherri and people all over the country. If you want to act, you don't need to wait. And if you have questions, Henry was mentioning the stuff to talk with the CTE schools. You're right, Steve, I have that stuff very, very close by. It sits in a folder, it's already in PDF and in web base so I am ready to give you guys what you need to engage those conversations and be successful with them.

Steve Little:
Can they contact you Heidi? Can they contact you as well as somebody on RoofersCoffeeShop?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Always. Always. Heidi, as you all know, heidi@rooferscoffeeshop.com, I will get you in connection with all of these folks. Megan has just put all of their emails in the chat. I hope that's okay, gentlemen, to get a hold of them. One quick question here that I want to make sure we get in from Sarah Mueller who's been big on Florida. She's been all kinds of great comments in here, Sarah, thank you so much. But she does want to know, is there a database of students who have gotten certification who may be looking for employment? Asking for a friend in Florida.

John Esbenshade:
NCCER does not share the individual student information, there are privacy issues there. Unfortunately it is kind of the connect with the schools that those students are at. Now, if you ask a school, "Do you deliver NCCER?" That might be a way to say, "Do you deliver the roofing? Carpentry?" But that will be the way of going about it in Florida but they're not going to necessarily pair students with employers or employers with students directly now.

Steve Little:
And Heidi, we put a committee together here locally when we launched this and it's a group of contractors that care about making their company sustainable and helping in the workforce. And we have a written agreement among us that we will not poach different employees that are in the schools to come to work for our companies. This is the same agreement that the electricians and the plumbers and the HVAC people put together, so you have contractors that are working together to grow our industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Gentlemen, wow. We could go another hour. You realize that without absolutely no problem whatsoever. But we are in fact, I'm so enthralled with all of this we've actually gone over by a couple minutes. I apologize to everyone out there but this is just so important. I want to say, thank you. Thank you, Henry. Thank you, Steve. Thank you, John. You guys are just amazing. Thank you for what you're doing for the industry and for sharing all of it today, for being that collaboration.

Steve Little:
You too, Heidi. Thanks for what you do.

John Esbenshade:
It's been a pleasure. Thanks you all.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Thanks. Perfect. And I want to thank Leap. Leap, thank you so much. You are what is bringing this education through software to the platform, to all of the sales people out there, to all the roofing businesses. Please be sure to check out Leap on RoofersCoffeeShop in the directory, NRCA with all the information from John on the RoofersCoffeeShop directory. Steve Little with KPost also has a directory on there and Henry will soon. Henry, I don't think we have you on there yet but we're going to make sure you're in that directory so people can find you for the school.

Henry Staggs:
Awesome.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Be sure to check all that out and be sure to join us two weeks from now. We are going to have a Coffee Conversations that is going to break ground in the roofing industry once again. We are going be talking with Maureen Greeves, Jess Cress and Zeb Sukle about being queer in roofing, LGBTQ and it's going to be celebrating Pride Month. I am honored and I am so excited to have these ladies on the show in two weeks. Please join us. Thank you again, gentlemen, and thank you all for listening. We'll see you next time on Coffee Conversations.

Steve Little:
Thank you, Heidi. Thank you, Megan.



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