By Karen L. Edwards, RCS Editor.
Reid and McKay joined RCS Partner Heidi J. Ellsworth for this week’s Coffee Conversations and it was great to hear from two leaders in our industry who have the pulse of what is happening in the industry. Heidi opened the conversation with the question on many minds – is roofing an essential business?
“It depends where they are from,” said Reid. “Various states have adopted guidance on whether roofing is an essential business. We are seeing the degradation of residential roofing needs coming in and we expect it to continue through the crisis. It will create a level of pent up demand as we come out of this crisis.”
McKay shared that there is heightened level of uncertainty. “Regardless of circumstances or backlog, this crisis is unfolding at a record pace. We keep getting questions – what may be coming next?”
One of the challenges that contractors are facing is that right now they are competing with unemployment for their workers. “The CARES Act did two things to protect workers, one of which is the $600 plus up,” explained Reid. “Every state has its own rules but in Illinois, 47 percent of gross wages is covered. With $600 plus up per week, anyone earning $52,000 or less a year would be earning more money on unemployment.”
Contractor Mike Hicks kicked off the Q&A sharing that his first sizeable contract was canceled, asking, “Is this the first of many, first of all of them? What are you hearing?”
Reid said that he spoke to 50 contractors last week. “Cancellations are rare but increasing in frequency. Most of what we are seeing is suspensions. People are requesting that the contractor delay. We are seeing cancellations mostly in retail and restaurant.”
“When economy recovers we are going to be right back into worker shortage. You need to try to maintain the workers that you have,” said Reid. “Contractors also need to pay very close attention to their own accounts receivables. Make sure you get paid for materials and whatever work in progress you have completed.”
RCS Influencer Wendy Marvin was on the call and asked Reid and McKay to talk about the SBA options of the Economic Injury Disaster Loan and the Paycheck Protection Program and if NRCA is staying ahead of this since there are not going to be enough funds for people who have applied.
“We weighed in yesterday with house and senate leadership,” explained Reid. “They are likely to vote soon on adding an additional $250 billion to the relief package. We had one member apply on a Friday and check was in his account Tuesday. If you are in a smaller community it may go faster because the banks can better handle the volume.”
McKay noted, “The currently appropriated money is going to run dry but by mid next week you’ll see it increase. Getting in early and staying vigilant on the application process is important.”
Reid also recommended that contractors talk to their accountant or tax attorney. The CARES Act created a variety of options for small businesses that allows them to go as far back as their 2015 tax return to possibly find some relief there.
In response to a question about increases in institutional work from Asphalt Roofing Manufacturer’s Association Executive Director Reed Hitchcock, Reid indicated that he was hearing the same thing. “All over the country school districts are moving roofing work forward as are hospitals and universities.”
In light of Roofing Day in D.C. being canceled, the question was posed as to what we can be doing to make a difference. “Keep having conversations like this,” said McKay. “We’ve seen a transformation of live in-person meetings, no one is getting on an airplane any time soon. We are all online and that includes your elected officials and their staff. Communicate with them via social media. They will likely see that and other people in your online social community will see it. Send both a public message and a private message.”
Reid added that NRCA is working on a campaign called Roof the Recess. “We want to get every member of House and Senate invited to a roofing company in their state. We need them to meet our workers. Look for that information coming out once we know more what their schedule looks like.”
This is a great opportunity in an election year for those members to meet voters in their districts and state, and for members of the roofing industry to have a chance to share especially during COVID 19 and what they need for recovery,” Reid added.
There was so much great information shared that I can’t fit it all into one article. I encourage you to watch the recorded session for the latest information from our industry leaders. Also – plan to attend the next NRCA Town Hall phone call set for April 14 at 3:20 pm CT.
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