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Coffee Conversations - NRCA ProCertification - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

JM - CC - ProCert
May 13, 2021 at 1:19 p.m.

 

 

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Jared Ribble of NRCA and Kelly B. Van Winkle, CEO of King of Texas Roofing. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Good morning, and welcome to Coffee Conversations. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and this is with RoofersCoffeeShop. And today we are going to be talking about probably one of the most important initiatives in the roofing industry, pro-certification. I am so excited about our guests today and the important topic of really what we're taking to this next level of sophistication in the roofing industry. So before I make introductions, I want to do a little housekeeping. So for everybody, this is a Q&A, questions and answers, and we have the right people here, the experts who can really answer a lot of questions for you about pro-certification and what's happening with these NRCA initiatives. So be sure to go to your control panel on the right and ask your questions, and we aren't waiting until the end. We'll be addressing them and hopefully bringing you on the show, either on video, audio, or we'll just ask your questions for you. Wherever your comfort zone is.
So be sure to do that. I do want to let everyone know that this is being recorded. So it will be on-demand so you can share it with everybody else out there. So welcome and let's get started. I am very honored today to introduce Jared Ribble with the NRCA as director of pro-certification. Good morning, Jared.

Jared Ribble:
Good morning.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Good morning. And Kelly Van Winkle, the president and owner of King of Texas Roofing out of Texas. Kelly, welcome, I'm so happy that you're here.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Thanks for having us.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Before we get started, we have some questions that came in earlier, but I would just love for both of you to take a second and share a little bit about yourself, because Kelly, you have such a rich roofing history and so involved on so many levels. Can you maybe just share real quick a little bit about your company and your involvement with the NRCA and all the great stuff that you do?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Sure. I've been very passionate about this industry for a while. I'm third generation. My grandfather started roofing after the depression when he got out of high school and started his business after World War II. Then my father, since the late '70s, he was an engineer, but joined the family construction company. And then here I am. I've really, really taken to it. I love it. I wouldn't have it any other way. I love the family business aspect, but just being able to see things that you've built. Getting involved with the NRCA, I love the association. I think it does many wonderful things for both the contractor owner, as well as the actual working staff, field workers.
And it sends an important message, the NRCA, to the rest of the world about the professionalism of our industry. So I've just been grateful to be involved at the committee level, at the board level, and the executive committee level in the past to help facilitate that message.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well I tell you what, I mean, just having the, again, I'm going to say honor of being at a lot of the board meetings with NRCA and being able to help, I have watched your Kelly, and you are such a leader and have done so much. So I want to thank you for everything you do for the roofing industry and for sharing your story today, because I think it's so inspirational. Jared, real quick. Maybe give us just a little bit of history about yourself and what's going on with NRCA.

Jared Ribble:
Yeah. Well absolutely. Well it's kind of like Kelly, third generation. My grandfather started the roofing company and I think it's kind of fascinating. He started it because he was working for a roofer and he wouldn't go back and fix a mistake. So my grandfather, my grandfather said, "No, we are going to do this right. I'll go back and fix it myself." And then he says, "Forget it. I'm going to just start my own company." And then my dad and my uncle, they took it over and of course here's little Jared. He's 13, 14 years old, beat bopping around in the warehouse. And then eventually he was up on the roof, tearing stuff off and learning the trade, that kind of thing. But now I'm a coach. I'm a high school coach. I coach other coaches. So NRCA brought me on to help bolster their Qualified Trainer program and where we teach how to be great trainers. but also help with certification, get the message out, help those hands-on performance exams happen. So really excited to be here, Heidi. Thanks for having me.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh, it is. I am so thrilled. And I want to also let everyone know that this Coffee Conversation is being sponsored by Johns Manville. And this was Johns Manville idea. So they came and they said, "Hey, We want to see if we can get Kelly and Jared on the show to talk about this, because we think this is so important for the industry." So I just want to put it out right up front, thank you to Johns Manville for everything they do and we're going to hear a lot more about that as we go on throughout the show today. So let's get started. Let's find out. So there may be people out there, and I just want to make sure. So first of all, we're talking about the National Roofing Contractors Association. So as I'm throwing out, NRCA, that is the association that really put together pro-certification. So to start, Jared, what is it? What is pro-certification?

Jared Ribble:
It's a great, great question and I'm excited to tell you. Honestly, Heidi, I am so excited about this, I got my hair cut for this, just for this. Okay. But I got to just tell you really quick about my barber because I think he's fascinating. He's 19-years-old. He learned how to cut hair from his dad. But as I sit in that barber chair, you know what I see on the mirror? Almost every barber has one. It's a little certificate that says that he's a certified barber. It doesn't matter that he's 19 years old. It doesn't matter that he learned from his dad. He is a certified barber, and it gives me some level of confidence, a 19-year-old when he takes the razor to my neck is not going to make a mistake, okay? But you know what else is going on in my life right now? The U.s. government gave all of us procrastinators a huge Christmas gift.
Our taxes aren't due until this weekend, so I'm in the middle of tax season. Well, I'm not actually in the middle of tax season. What do I do? I take all my numbers and I send them over to Ms. Benito Burrows, or Benita Burrows and you know what she is? She's a certified public accountant. So now she has a fancy degree from a fancy university, but at some point she had to take an exam so that the U.S. government can trust her that she knows, she's up on all the tax laws and can handle my numbers the right way. So my barber over here, 19 years old, learned from his dad, had to get a certification so I can trust him. My accountant had to take a certification exam. And she's got all this high dollar education, but she still had to take the certification exam so the U.S. government can trust her.
The barber, 19 years old says, "I am a professional and I can prove it." My accountant says, "I am a professional and I can prove it." There's power in that. And that's really exciting. So we have certified electricians, we have certified plumbers, we have certified chefs. I don't know if you are aware of that, that you're eating at a restaurant with a certified chef. Does that give you a level of confidence? Would you rather eat with a certified chef or not? Okay, so what is pro-certification? Pro-certification is the first ever in the history of rain in the United States, first ever opportunity for a roofer, a roofing installer, to take an exam and get certified, an official certification from a third party company. So now when they go to their spouse's holiday party, they don't have to sit in the corner saying, "Please, don't ask me what I do. Please don't ask me what I do."
They can now say, "Please ask me what I do because I am a certified roofing professional." You see how that conversation changes? It's dramatic. It gets me excited enough to get my haircut, right? So this in a nutshell is what pro-certification is, an opportunity for an experienced installer to say, "I am great and I can prove it." So we'll get the-

Heidi Ellsworth:
To have that certification, that says a lot yes.

Jared Ribble:
So we'll get into the details of how to do that I'm sure, but that's what pro-certification is.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I love Jared, I love how you describe that, because it makes so much sense. I think sometimes when you're so caught up, like we're talking about generations of roofing families and roofing companies that they kind of forget that we just think, "Oh, we got it." And now to be able to really show that certification, that badge, that's just, that's so special. So one of the things, Kelly, and I was there watching a lot of this with you, you were right at the very beginning of pro-certification when it was a brain child, right? Of all these amazing roofing professionals at the NRCA on the board and committees. Can you tell us a little bit about how it came about?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Absolutely. So to my understanding, a lot of the idea was Rich Nugent's. He is a former chairman of the NRCA, has run roofing companies for many years. And to this point of the professionalism of the industry and elevating the industry to a level that we have certified workers that prove skill, proves professionalism, and several other people in the leadership of the NRCA at the time agreed with him. And there was disagreement. Some people thought it was a great idea and some didn't, but over the years it evolved into the program that we have now. It's gone in through a lot of steps and iterations to become a really good program that I believe in very strongly. That's kind of why I put my people in in early stages, because I can see that this program is probably the best thing for our industry at this time, and I'm hoping it goes far.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, and kind of continue that because I mean, a lot of the questions here too are why, right? And I know, I can remember a lot of these conversations as people were talking about, "We know our roofing installers are amazing. I mean, we know that as within the industry we see the professionalism all the time." But people outside the industry don't, and it's kind of like what Jared says. "I want to be, I'm going to show you. Yeah, let me tell you what I do. I'm a master, I'm a certified roofing installer." And with the labor shortage, which the committee's saw many, many years ago, and what are we going to do to help attract people to our industry? Pro-certification was one of those long-term strategies, right?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Absolutely, professional development of the worker has always been a priority and at the forefront of this program. It is such an opportunity to show appreciation for our workforce, to show them that this is not, construction is not a dead end street. That there are many opportunities for personal and professional development to advance their career, to move ahead, to go up the ladder, however you want to phrase it. But that has absolutely been important, the pride that Jared referred to, I see that so much in the people that I have that are certified. Pride, they say, "I'm doing this right. I'm putting on this great system and providing this great quality roof." And I'll tell you the clients notice too, the clients love the fact that workers are certified. It gives them a confidence that their roof is being put on correctly, and that they're getting a high quality system. So it's kind of a win-win for both the worker, the company, and the client.

Heidi Ellsworth:
The client. So Kelly, so you saw all this coming together and I mean, you've been such, you are a leader within the NRCA, but still, that's a little bit of a step of faith to go back to your home office and sit down and say, "Okay, we're going to do this. We're going to invest. We're going to really bring our contractors." So can you tell that story, that experience of kind of bringing the concept of pro-certification to your company and what your employees thought, what management thought, kind of how did that work?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Well, the management, we were all, the owners, we were all very excited about the program. Now, the men in the beginning, not so much. The men in the beginning were questioning why are we being asked to do this. Why are we being singled out? What did we do wrong? They were taking it as a punishment. They thought they were being punished and singled out and they had to do this program, like they were in trouble. They did not see it as a benefit initially. They did not see it as something that was good for their career. And they thought it was a drag. I mean, they really grumbled and they were afraid. They were also very, very afraid of the process. They didn't understand it initially. And they were very skeptical that they could do it. A lot of them didn't have the self-confidence to realize that they could do it. So it was hard to get the workers convinced to participate. The management, we were on board, but the workers were very shy about doing this.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. So, okay. I think this is so important. So let's, Jared kind of take it just a little bit. So what is that process? What kind of, as Kelly is presenting this to our team. What was she presenting? What are you presenting to contractors all over the country? And why is there a little bit of that fear element in there?

Jared Ribble:
Sure. Well, let me just explain the process really fast. It's a three-step process. So first the installer needs to take a knowledge exam. That knowledge exam can be done anywhere, anytime. It does not matter if they're at their house. It does not matter if that's office. They can probably even do it on their phone. It's just, it's a short knowledge exam to just verify that they have basic knowledge in steep slope or low slope. It's not proctored. They can take it multiple times. The part of that exam that's actually really important is it's actually for the employer to verify that this worker has some baseline knowledge, so the employer doesn't push them through to the further steps down the road and that work is not really ready. So it's just sort of a baseline, "Are you knowledgeable in the roof system?"
The second thing is this a simple application. Now this is where the employer verifies that this worker is in fact experienced, so that they have around two years of experience is what you need to have in order to get certified. And then the final thing, and this is the part that makes the worker a little nervous, is they do have to go roof a mock-up. It's a pretty small mock-up. I think we could probably show a picture in a little bit, but the low slope mock-up is just a four by eight mock-up, but that roofer needs to go roof that mock-up for like, there it is on the left-hand side. That's a low slope mock-up. And they're doing a thermoplastic exam.
So you see the details there. You've got the pipe, you've got the curb inside, outside corners. You got the edge, you got to do, flash the wall, and you have to do that in a timely manner, in about three hours. Now, if we all actually step back and go, "Wait a minute, you do that every day You do that every day, it's not that scary." But the fact that it's an exam, all of a sudden we get nervous. We all drive our cars every day. But if you were to take that on the road exam, again, I'm 42 years old. I'd kind of be a little nervous all of a sudden, right? We drive every day. So it's that same sort of nervousness that happens. Ooh, someone's watching. But you do it every day. These roofers do it every day. So anyway, that's where the fear comes in. And really what I hope that we can do during our time here is just demystify this a little bit.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Jared Ribble:
Yes, we understand there's the test anxiety, but when you do it, it's just not that scary. Because it's something you're doing every day. [crosstalk 00:17:58]. And NRCA want's you to be successful. We'll set you up with readiness, resources, send it to you, build this mock-up and practice a little bit. Make sure that you're ready with the inside, outside corners and flashing or anything that you might think you might struggle with. Just do a little practice and you'll get it. There's no problem.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So, Kelly, how did your crew, your employees who went through the certification to Jared's point, how did that process work for them? Did the fear kind of go away in time?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
It did in time, the initial fear for my guys was actually about the computer test. It was, they hadn't been in school in many years. They were, a lot of them are Spanish speaking. They were concerned about language. It is offered, I would like to tell the audience, in English and Spanish, which is very, very helpful. There's audio to listen to if you don't want to read, or you would prefer, your audio skills are stronger than your reading skills. So there's a lot of different options. And as they started to do parts of the program, they did relax. They weren't that nervous about the hands-on, because to Jared's point, they do that every day. But if you want to practice, there's nothing wrong with that. And many, many contractors are hand building mock-ups before the men and women actually test and they are practicing.
And that's a good way to check their skill level before they go to the actual testing date. I think once they saw that it was a benefit to their career and they became very interested. But that was hard. I mean, we had to explain to them that this is for you. This is your certification. You will always be able to have this. No one can take this away from you. This is something that you'll have for your career. And it'll make you go far in this industry. And then once we got that message across, you could just see the nervousness drain out of them. And they were very much more receptive.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And we were talking about this before, but as they were getting certified and then could show their certification, there is just like this great sense of pride, right?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Absolutely. They are so excited now that other people want to do it. We initially bought a pack of 15 people. We did seven first. Then we did eight. We decided to break it up, not to do all 15 at once. So now we've done 15. And we have a line of people now that we're going to start another batch of installers, because they're so excited to say, "Well, he got to do it. How come I didn't? When do I get to do it?" So now they went from dreading it to all on board.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, well you know what, I hate to say it, but it's kind of like the vaccine shot, right? Everybody, no one wants to get a shot and you're asking every single other person, "How does it feel? Is it okay? How sick were you?" It's the same thing is that now you have 15 people who are all like, "It's great. It's great. Don't be scared. Go, get certified." And your line is out the door.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
And I think one gentleman in particular came to me and he said that he was kind of embarrassed that he had acted so terrible about it. And he had been so grumpy about it. He came and said, "I'm sorry." He goes, "Actually it was really not as bad as I thought it was going to be." So it's funny. They'll come in with stories later. One gentleman actually came in and thanked me. He's a single dad with four kids and he thanked me for the opportunity. He said, "No one's ever given me a chance to do anything before. No one's shown interest in me." And so it's really, it helps the bond between the employer and the worker too. I feel like I'm getting along with my guys even better. They're happier. It's just an improvement to the culture overall. So it's, you can't lose.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That is cool. That is cool. So we have a question that just came up, so I want to make sure we get this, this is a great question. And it's from Sandy at CentiMark. Sandy, thank you so much. She said that I should go ahead and ask this question, but she says, "I am looking forward to how to get my certifications for our guys. I believe that would be a great asset. I may even take the classes myself. I am the recruiter. Do you have classes on certifications for that job as well?" So maybe we should talk about what type of certifications are out there right now, so everybody can hear about them.

Jared Ribble:
Sure. So one, I'm thrilled that you're going to go ahead and get your workers certified. This is great. Remember a couple of things about certification, or about the pro-certification. It is for installers. It's for an installer to say, "I am a certified thermoplastic roofer." It's system specific. "I am an asphalt shingles certified pro-certified roofer installer." So 15 different systems, not all of them have been developed yet. Clay and concrete tile is just being released. APDM has been released. Let's see, just off the top of my head, starting to work on modified bitumen. We're working on metal panels, all sorts of different systems, skill-specific systems that you can earn your certification. You mentioned in here training, and I want to be really, really clear here. Extremely clear. I want everybody to repeat after me. Pro-certification is not training. I want to hear everyone say that. Pro-certification is not training.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Pro-certification is not training.

Jared Ribble:
It is for the already experienced worker. Remember my barber and my accountant, okay? It didn't matter where they got their training. It just mattered that they were able to prove that they have the skill. So there's great training. Johns Manville has great training, right? Manufacturers have great training. You can learn from your dad. You can learn by going to university. It doesn't matter how you learn. It just matters, are you able to pass? Can you roof this mock-up? Can you roof any of these mock-ups? That's really what it comes down to. So then I don't want to gloss over. You said, "I am the recruiter. Do you have?" Remember, certification, not classes, or certifications for recruiters? And that I would say we don't, simply because this is for the roofing installer.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And so, one of the things to think about, and Sandy has another question too here, which I think you just, I know you just answered, she was asking, "Does the test consist of commercial and residential?" So it's by system, the tests and the certifications are by system, which are both steep slope and low slope.

Jared Ribble:
That's correct. And beyond that even gets into the nitty, the details of that, asphalt shingles, clay and concrete tile, metal panels. So it's, we know that we have some specialized roofers out there that are really excellent at that system, and we want to certify them in that system.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And one of the things I think we should mention on Sandy's question too is, from a recruiter standpoint, and Kelly, maybe you can talk about this, but from a recruiting standpoint, this is like the Golden Key to get people interested in career and joining your company.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Absolutely. I mean, a lot of people that we interview, they think construction is a temporary job, or they're going to just do it for the summer, or it's kind of a dead end street. But now when they come in and we can tell them that we offer this program, our specific, we've only done the thermoplastic module. I mean, the thermoplastics certification. We are interested in the metal certification, but so we primarily do thermoplastics. They are, and the fact that they can become an expert in that system, that's appealing, and their ears perk up when we interview people and they hear that they can become an expert in a particular system. That is definitely a recruiting tool and we've had a lot of interest that way.

Jared Ribble:
I just want to jump in here real fast too. The Roofing Alliance commissioned a study back in 2019, 2020. And one of the things that out of that study of the entire roofing industry was that millennials and younger, the number two thing that millennials and younger want out of their career and with their company is training and certification. Now say it with me, pro-certification is not training, but it is certification. And so, you want to recruit, you want to be able to bring in the next generation. Showing them that you'll put them on the career path to certification is a powerful recruiting tool. And we have the evidence now to prove that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, and you know what? I wanted to take this moment, because I do want to go on to talking a little bit about training, kind of that, how it happens in front of it, but not we are ... They are not the same, everyone. We've got to make sure we get that across. But I do want to, one of the myths out there is, "I'm not going to certify or help my employees get certified because they'll leave." Kelly, you're finding totally the opposite. Can you share that?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
I admit, that was a concern in the beginning when they were just starting with this program. I thought, "Well, they're just going to leave." Well, the thing is, because the culture is strong at your organization and that's a reason why they want to stay. They want to stay because you respect them and treat them well, because you give them opportunities. And that's kind of why they want to stay.
To your point. I was very happily surprised that now they want to stick with us. They think that they can go to the next stage. In our organization laborers can become mechanics. Mechanics can become foreman, foreman become superintendent. So they see a actual path forward within the organization and they want to stay.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, and it's just, it's adding. I love how you said that earlier. It's added to our culture. Our culture is richer because of this, which is, we all know culture is what keeps people and makes retention. So we have another question, and I'm going to do a two-parter. So one, and you kind of answered this, Jared, but you might want to touch on it again, Sam Bagnose, Sam, I hope I said your name right, with GSM, I hope I said your company right, is asking, "I would also like to know when if a sheet metal roofer course will be created?"

Jared Ribble:
Sheet metal course. Okay, so I just, we're going to make sure that we're clear here. That I'm assuming you're talking about when is the certification going to be ready for sheet metal? Not when training and teaching how to do it. Okay, so this is experience not training-

Heidi Ellsworth:
We're talking certification.

Jared Ribble:
When is that going to be ready? I would say, there's several different types of metal, right? There's architectural metal and metal flashing and details, then there's metal panels. So there's actually separate certifications for those different metal skills. So I'm not exactly sure what he's asking as far as the metal, if we're just talking about metal panels, that's coming out in the next year, about next probably 12 months or so, please do not quote me on that and then call me up and berate me if the date is not exactly right. But we are in the process of building our certifications for metal right now. So within the next 12 months I feel fairly confident to say those systems are going to be ready.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Perfect. And then so Sam he said, "Yes, certification." That's what he was asking. And he was also asking, and this is where I'm going to actually, we're going to bring in some folks to help with this next question, but Sam, sorry, I'm finding your question here, Sam. He basically wants to know where to find assessors. So perfect, Sam, I didn't even set you up. You were awesome. Thank you. I would like to bring on ...
You are awesome, thank you. I would like to bring on Todd Nathan and Cody Butler from Johns Manville. Good morning gentlemen.

Todd Nathan:
Good morning.

Cody Butler:
Good morning.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So, one of the, I think, early challenges was out there was how do we get enough assessors? How do we get people to help with the certification to make sure people are certified? And Johns Manville just stepped right up to get everyone trained. So Todd, can you tell us a little bit about that, how you've been getting your assessors trained?

Todd Nathan:
Sure. Well, to take a step back, we've been working with Jared and the team and Jonas Houchin and myself have attended some of the workshops to develop some of the exams, so we kind of knew what was going on and we've been involved to understand, and we were on board 100% from the get-go. But then last year, COVID hit, all of a sudden, I had to pull my entire field services team out of the field for a period of time till we could get safety protocols put in place to make sure we were working safely. And during that time, John Schill called me and asked me would I want to get a bunch of my people certified to be assessors.
And it made perfect sense to me, so at that time, we certainly had the time to do it. And we decided to take all the tech reps that were qualified and have them attend the assessor training course and get certified. So that's how it come about. I think today, we have 28, maybe 30, of our folks approved to be assessors. And we have offered that service through our Peak Advantage program. So, that's kind of how we ended up working with the contractors to do that. And we're very supportive of it and we have agreed to take that time for our tech reps to be able to perform those services because we feel so good about it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That is so cool, I love that. And so, to answer Sam's question, Jared, where can he go? His question is, how can I locate Qualified Assessors in my area?

Jared Ribble:
Sure.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And maybe I can... Both, Jared first, and then Todd, you could add to that.

Jared Ribble:
Yeah. So, on NRCA's website, there's a whole ProCertification section. And at that section, there is a list of every Qualified Assessor in the country and they are all over the country. Now I will also tell you though, as you go through the process of certification, NRCA is right there guiding you step-by-step. And when you get through your application process and you've passed your knowledge exam, NRCA will help point you to an assessor near you. And just kind of like Todd was saying, most all of our assessors will travel to you. I mean, they will come to your shop and they will do your hands-on performance exam right there at your shop.
I would also like to add this to that conversation though is that if you're a company, you don't want to build the mock-ups, you just want to be able to send your guys to a location, we are doing testing events all over the country. So we've got, right now, I mean, next week, we've got a testing event in Tampa, Florida, where we've got assessors and mock-ups there. Now, you have to apply, you have to pass your knowledge... There is that process there. We're doing exams at IRE, right on the convention floor at IRE. If you apply and get accepted, you can come to IRE and take your exam right there on the floor. So, Johns Manville has been awesome about all the assessors they've put in the program and they'll come to you, but you can also go to an event and have your exam done right at an event as well. So lots of options. And NRCA, as you go through the process, we're going to hold your hand and direct you to the next step.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Great. So, I would really like to continue that train, so Kelly, how did that... I know I want to get Cody in here, so I want you two to talk a little bit about how did that work for your company, working with Cody as a certified assessor, and working with your team?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Sure. Back to what Jared said quickly about the NRCA being helpful, the NRCA is very helpful, I want to get this across to the audience, and the manufacturers, the assessors, everyone is so helpful in this process demystifying it for us. It ended up being a lot more user-friendly, the program, than we thought. They were there to guide us every step of the way, you know, step one, you need to do this, step two, step three. So it was very, very clear to us, we never had a lot of confusion, and the NRCA helped get us connected with JM and Cody.
And I have to say, it was a very, very easy process. Cody was able to come to our place of business and conduct the hands-on examinations with our workers right on our yard, in our property. And that also helped the nerve factor. It helped them not be nervous that they had to go to a public place with people they didn't know. And they were much more comfortable doing it at our shop than having to go out into the community to find a testing. I think that's an important point. And JM has been wonderful, they're very fair, they're very professional. I can't say more good things about the assessors.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So Cody, how was that experience for you, coming in and working with King of Texas?

Cody Butler:
It was a very positive experience. There was a couple of phone calls and emails back and forth to get things set up and figure out the number of candidates that we were going to be assessing. In the particular case with King of Texas, four of the candidates the first time, or six of the seven candidates the first time, were all Spanish speakers and their safety coordinator, Refugio, stood in and offered translation as needed, which was very helpful during the harness demonstration, which is the first part of the hands-on demonstration. Where he could speak to them and ask the questions in Spanish, they could reply back in Spanish. And those of us that were scoring the exam would assess that appropriately by scoring whether they had their harness adjusted properly, demonstrated how to use the fall protection in the lanyards, et cetera.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. So, I think, as we're kind of looking at this, and we have a lot of people here, they're just like... First of all, I just want to give you guys back the comments that everyone just loves this and great conversation. I think, one of the things that I want to be sure that we touch on too is that with Johns Manville, and maybe Todd, you can talk about this just a little bit, is that you also provide, which we know are two separate things, you also provide training for companies. And then, as you get the training done, then you're able to do this certified assessor for ProCertification. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Todd Nathan:
Yeah, and Johns Manville does it in a few different ways, and before COVID, we had our training center in Rockville, Illinois, just outside of Chicago, and we had modules wrapped around, thermoplastic, EPDM, the low slope roofs, where it was all hands-on training, so we would actually do hands-on training. And we did similar to the mock-ups that you're looking at, we actually did the same thing during our training. We would have teams [inaudible 00:39:33] mock-up in our training. So that's one way COVID has kind of made us take a step back a little bit.
Right now, our field-type organizations will train in a couple of different ways. They'll get right up on the roof and do training whenever they can do that. And if a contractor wants to set up training at their facility, we will come into their facility and do that same training as long as our COVID protocol are met. So, there's still the opportunity to get training. And a lot of times, same thing as the testing or the certifications, sometimes being at their own place and doing that training, they get a little more comfort level and it's easier for us to work with them. So, we can do training in many different ways. And I would just say, reach out to your local tech rep or sales rep and we can get that coordinated.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And I want to make sure we touch on this too, without causing confusion, but we've got to touch on it. So Jared, there is amazing training opportunities with NRCA.

Jared Ribble:
Yeah, and I appreciate you bringing that up. ProCertification, for the experienced installer, but for the new worker, for the novice, or maybe you're switching into learning a new roofing system, let's just say, we have a program called TRAC, T-R-A-C, Training for Roof Application Careers. And this is an incredible program that's all done virtually online, modules that your worker can watch that takes them through the very, very basics of the roofing industry and all the way through the details of a particular roof system. So, it's modules, online modules.
So the idea, what we hope, and Kelly, her company has a Qualified Trainer that they've put through our Qualified Trainer Conference, what we want them to do is that Qualified Trainer who is in charge of their company's training says, "Hey, we've got a new worker? Great. Let me set you up into TRAC and I want you to watch these first three modules. And then, I'm going to take you out in the shop and we're going to practice what we just learned. And then, I'm going to get you ready for the foreman and what the foreman's going to have you do up on the job," okay?
So TRAC paired with a Qualified Trainer gets a brand new worker ready and comfortable with some confidence up on the roof. How much more do our foremen appreciate workers showing up on the roof that have some level of competency, okay? So TRAC paired with a Qualified Trainer does that. But that doesn't make you ready for certification. That worker still needs to have a couple of years, about 24 months, of experience before they are going to be ready to sit for their certification. So, NRCA has those two things. We have stuff for the novice worker, we have stuff for the experienced worker, but we really want to make sure they stay separate.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Yeah and if I can echo that just to provide a concrete example, we invested in both TRAC and the Qualified Trainer for the novice workers, and then the more experienced guys, to his point, in the ProCert. The people that we put into the ProCertification program had minimum two years eight months up to about 23 and a half years. So those were the kind of individuals, so people with experience, that we put into the ProCert program. The people that we put in the TRAC program were people that either were fresh right into roofing up to about a year and a half of skill. So just to show you a concrete example of how we divided the experienced groups, one for ProCert, one for TRAC.

Jared Ribble:
And again, just to be really clear, my barber example, my accountant example, it didn't matter where they got their training. Yes, we want you to use Johns Manville's training. Yes, we want you to use TRAC and have a Qualified Trainer inside your company. Of course, we want all that because we know it's good solid training. But you do not have to use those training programs in order to become certified, okay? I just want to make sure that's very, very, very clear.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Right.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right.

Jared Ribble:
We want you to use them, but it's not a requirement.

Heidi Ellsworth:
There's a lot of people out there who... A lot of roofing installers, professionals, many years of experience who can do this who already know and are able to pass the test, no problem. And we want to celebrate them.

Jared Ribble:
Exactly.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And that's what certification's all about. You know what? I think a really interesting thing is, and first of all, I just want to say Lorna Rojas is on here and she's working with Bilingual America, and so Lorna, thank you for being on, but she just wanted to say it is about giving them a reason to stay, so talking about retention and about the employees, and she said, "What Kelly mentioned is what I heard a million times from field staff, "No one gives me an opportunity." This is a great conversation, thank you." So, I think it is about opportunity. I mean, that's just such a great way of putting that Lorna. But I think there's also an opportunity there that talks about, and let's talk about this, maybe start with you Kelly, of what if someone doesn't pass the test? I mean, that's kind of scary too.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Sure, and that's nothing to be too upset or too scared about. You can take the test again. And the NRCA, when you do the hands-on test, gives you feedback from the assessor, feedback for each person who took the exam, you know, "John lost some points here, Sam lost some points here." And it shows you what they need to work on so that you can practice and come back around if you'd like to do that, or just, I mean, even for people that do pass, they still get the feedback so that you can work, the employer, with the test taker on what they need to improve and where areas need work. So, I think that's a great tool, it's a great tool for both the worker and the employer to get that feedback from the assessor, from the NRCA, about where they may have lost points on the examination because that's a great way to keep helping them move their skill forward.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So even when they do pass, you're still getting feedback on areas that maybe are not as strong as others.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Yeah, the computer exam you can go back and take again if you don't pass it the first time, I've heard of cases where people maybe take it two or three times because they were very, very nervous the first time. And so, yes, there's nothing wrong with that, that's definitely allowed and shouldn't be anything to be too upset about.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Amazing. Cody, I mean, you are the technical manager for the Southwest for Johns Manville, so you're working with a lot of different companies doing a lot of assessments. What are you hearing across the board? I would like to say that the only company you're working with is King of Texas, but I don't think so, so what are you hearing across the board and from both owners, companies, and roofing installers out there?

Cody Butler:
Well, there's been a good bit of interest across the board. I've had several contractors that have located us through the NRCA's website, their list of certified assessors, and they've reached out in asking us when and where and what the process is like and what we can do to support them in that. And we're trying to accommodate those whenever possible. As far as the assessors being comfortable in that role, I know that we have around somewhere in the order of 10 assessors that are also bilingual. So, we were able to utilize King of Texas's, of course. And so, with Johns Manville specifically, Spanish speaking should not be a barrier because we have different Spanish-speaking or bilingual assessors scattered throughout the country.
And the main thing is being flexible. The contractors are busy, we've got to maybe make some bins in our schedule, I know that we did some of these on a Saturday. And then, I know we did some on a little bit of short notice because we had rain in the forecast on Friday and we were trying to find a day where we could make this happen, and so Monday morning, they reached out and we were like, "Okay, well." I talked to two of my assessors that were there locally in Dallas-Fort Worth and they were like, "Okay, I think we can pull this off." And we made it happen later that week.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I think that's important because as we are hearing out there, there's backlogs. I mean, Kelly, I'm sure, I mean, you're busy, right?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Yeah. And they were so helpful with the scheduling. It's not that we were trying to be difficult, it's just we didn't have really any free days before. The applicants were really free, but on a rainy day or a day maybe that you don't have as much to do, that would be a great opportunity to do that. They were helpful offering some Saturdays, which was nice. It didn't take away from their time that they needed to be working on the roof. So, just very, very easy to work with, they were. And I just really appreciate everything. It takes a team, but between the actual NRCA, the manufacturers, the contractors, and the workers, I think they've all done a great job in this program coming together to make this ProCertification program work. It takes everyone working together to create a great program.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I think the thing that's so cool about that too, and Kelly, I can remember everyone talking about this, is the board, the NRCA executive board, the ProCertification committee knew that. Remember how much you talked about that, you talked about, it's going to take manufacturers, distributors, contractors, and then getting out to the building owners to let them know how important it is to use... That's a differentiator when you have certified employees and installers. What are you seeing from the business side of it? You mentioned this early on, but what are you seeing with building owners on what they're saying?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Building owners, general contractors, depending on whoever you're working for, everyone is very pleased about this. They're happy to see that this finally exists. Some of them have said, "Well, it's about time," and they're happy that we finally have this because it shows them that the worker is qualified, that they're getting the good roof system. When they hear the manufacturers are involved in the program, they're thrilled because they know they're getting a great quality roof as far as the parts that go into the roof. And I think it is a differentiator for people that get certified, that have certified workers. It's something you can say to the customer, "Hey, we have certified workers," and it helps you be a step above the competition. It's a great talking point when you get into final negotiations with a client, bring that up. And sometimes, if there's two or three people competing for a job, maybe they'll look at your company because you have certified workers and the other people don't. So, it is a differentiator in the business market.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And everything. Todd, I know Johns Manville does so much on a national level with national accounts and working with the contractors. What are you hearing back kind of overall on ProCertification and the influence it's having with, like we were talking about with Kelly, with building owners, but also just overall in the industry through Johns Manville and your involvement?

Todd Nathan:
Well, I think for the biggest thing is, from a building owner, you're going to start seeing some of the national-type accounts that have multiple buildings really grasp onto this because, once again, you have certified workers, you may have contractors in different areas, but the one thing they can put in common is the certification process. From us ourselves, mainly our team works with the contractors, but we're getting good feedback and we're starting to see more and more requests come in, so I think the contractors are really starting to grasp ahold of it. And in my opinion, any time we as an industry can go out there and promote the professionalism of the role and of the job, we do everybody a good service. So, that's what we're here for and that's why we support this so much.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. Okay, so let's get down to brass tacks because we want to make sure that everybody knows how to do this. So, Jared, I'm a contractor, I have listened to this program today and I'm in, I want to do this. What do I do?

Jared Ribble:
Yeah. The first thing I want you to do is I want you to go to NRCA's website, to the ProCertification area, and have your worker take the knowledge exam, take it right on our website, okay? That's the first thing you do. And then, when your worker passes that, and you as the contractor say, "Yep, I feel confident to start putting you into this process," okay? Then you as the contractor fill out the application for that installer. And the application, like I said, it's you the business owner verifying that this worker does, in fact, have the experience. It's just another check that you can check off that this is the right person. And then after that application is submitted and accepted by NRCA, because we review every application and determine, "Yes, this worker is ready." We want that worker to be successful, okay? Then, NRCA will help pair you up with a Qualified Assessor. And just like Kelly was describing, she worked out the schedule with Cody, the Qualified Assessor, to come out at the right time for their company and do the exam.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Excellent. So, now, there's some costs involved. Let's talk about that a little bit.

Jared Ribble:
There is some costs involved, absolutely.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Jared Ribble:
So, the costs involved are, if you are an NRCA member, $799 for that application, if you're an NRCA member. If you're not an NRCA member, it's a little higher, I think close to that 1400, 1499 range. And I'll tell you, right now, I think there's probably some people out there going, "I have 100 workers. Oh my goodness, I can't do that for 100 workers." Remember, not every one of your workers right now is at a spot where they are eligible to be certified, all right? It's a worker that's experienced, that has about two years of experience at least, right? So, not everyone at your company is ready. But you know the trajectory that you can put them on, okay? And I will say, Kelly had said, "We bought a package of 15 or so," there is quantity discounts that we do offer. And I'm not in the sales department, that is not me at all, I don't know what those breakdowns are, but just giving you a little tip. If you do have a group or a certain number that you want to certify, we do have package deals, if you will, for the applications.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I was going to say all that information is on the website that you're seeing right now. Talk to them. I know Brad Martz is on here right now, I saw his name on there, he is an amazing young man who works with NRCA. And that team in there, they just are constantly helping contractors find the best thing. And to Kelly's point, and to yours Jared, start with seven, start with one, see how it works.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
And I was just going to point out, while we initially did kind of bite off a big section with the 15, we ultimately decided to break it in half, do seven at one time, eight another time. Doing lots of people at one time, in our experience, was a little bit much. So maybe you just start with two or three, see how it goes, if you like the process, then you can always add more people later. And you have time, I would like to point that out too, you have time to do it in an organized way. It's not a rush rush rush. I mean, it was over several months that we did the computer, then we scheduled the hands-on. So, there's time for them to take a breath and do it in an organized way. It's not just a rushing kind of program.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And I would also say, I would recommend anybody out there, Todd, they should talk to their manufacturer, right? Because you're helping on this end.

Todd Nathan:
Yeah, and other manufacturers have qualified assessors as well, so I want to make sure everybody understands this throughout. Like I said, we took the approach to get anybody we could qualify to be an assessor, to be an assessor, so we can provide that service. And for us, contact your local tech rep or your local sales rep. And like Kelly said, Cody said, then we could start having a conversation and understand how to do it. And I think Cody would echo what Kelly said, maybe on the first one, you only do a couple to start. There is a process and you get used to it. In even our folks, I've seen that. The first time around, a couple's a lot easier than doing four of them or something. But certainly, we'll make ourselves available to do those trainings, or assessments, sorry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, I want to say thank you to all of you. And I want to just... This is a program that is really hugely making a difference. I want to say a huge thank you to Johns Manville. Thank you Todd, thank you Cody, thank you Chelsea, she's on here, for everything you're doing all the way across the board. I see a number of Johns Manville folks. I would recommend, as contractors, if you have questions, reach out to your manufacturers and see how they're getting involved with ProCertification because they are such a huge resource. And really look at getting ahold of Jared at NRCA. You can get to the page and you can find all kinds of help there. And Kelly, you're amazing. Thank you for sharing-

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
And if anyone has any questions, they want to talk to a real contractor that's actually done this before, give me a shout, absolutely.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Perfect. And we'll have Kelly's information out there, you can always find it. I have all kinds of people saying thank you. I'm going to say thank you because we're right at the top of the hour. But I do want to also mention to everybody on the call that the next Coffee Conversations is May 27th, it's our last one of Season 2, then we'll take a summer hiatus. But the last one is a feel-good, it's going to be all about Caught Doing Good in the roofing industry. It's sponsored by ABC Supply who is constantly doing great things for the industry. And we're going to really focus in, we're going to be meeting with Lynn Johnston with the RCA of South Florida and everything they've done with their fishing tournament and Make-A-Wish Foundation, so it's going to be really feel-good, almost as good as I feel good with you guys here today. This is awesome, so thank you all for being here today.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Thank you.

Todd Nathan:
Thank you.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Thank you.

Cody Butler:
Bye.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And this will be recorded, so please share it, and we'll see you on May 27th with Caught Being Good and ABC Supply. Thank you so much. Have a great day.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Thank you.

Cody Butler:
Bye bye.



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