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S2:E42 Julissa Chavez - Celebrating Spanish Heritage - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Roofing Road Trips with Julissa Chavez
October 26, 2020 at 3:40 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Julissa Chavez, Program Manager and Latino Marketing and Sales Director at SRS. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.

Heidi Ellsworth: Hello, and welcome to Roofing Road Trips with Heidi, part of RoofersCoffeeShop, our Read, Listen, Watch initiative, where you can listen, read, watch, whatever you like, and these podcasts are the best part of it. Really getting to sit and visit with amazing people in the industry. Today I am with Julissa Chavez. She is the Program Manager and Latino Marketing and Sales Director at SRS. I have to tell you, anyone who's listening to this podcast, you are in for a treat. Welcome, Julissa, to the show.

Julissa Chavez: Thank you so much, Heidi. I'm so excited to be on your platform today. So, I just want to start with thanking you for hosting me today and this great podcast that I've been very excited and fortunate to be part of today.

Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you, Julissa. I am so excited to have you on the show today. We've been doing so many great things together, and this is just like now we get to talk about all of it.

Julissa Chavez: I know. I can't wait to spread the word and share these exciting things we've been working on.

Heidi Ellsworth: I know.

Julissa Chavez: So, I'm thrilled.

Heidi Ellsworth: So, you know what? Tell us, tell everybody out there a little bit about yourself, what you've been doing in your new role at SRS, and your initiatives.

Julissa Chavez: Thank you so much. Absolutely. So, I have been in the roofing industry going on for five years. I started with SRS Distribution as a territory manager in the Atlanta, Georgia market, and I've been doing that for the last couple of years. Last fall, SRS launched a Latino Forum, which is incorporating Latinos from all levels at our company. So we have drivers, we have salespeople, branch managers, that are all creating this Latino Forum internally. Through the forum, we all came to a consensus that we needed a Latino Program for our bilingual contractors. Fast forward, since the beginning of this year in 2020, the Latino Program has been a very strong focus for SRS Distribution. Therefore, the Program Manager Latino Marketing and Sales position was created and filled. In this new role, we want the roofing industry to know that SRS is committed to providing education and business resources to Latino contractors, businesses, and workers.

Heidi Ellsworth: That is cool. That's cool. The NRCA came out with a study and I don't if you've seen it yet, Julissa, but it had the demographics and it was about 30% of our industry is Latino. You and I were kind of talking about it a little too, the new term, Latinx, which is for Latino and Latina, because [crosstalk] roofing, right?

Julissa Chavez: Yes. Yes. That is the new term, which it's a new learning curve for all of us. Oftentimes I get asked, "Hey, what is the difference between Hispanic and Latino, and when do I use each word in what tense?" So, Latinx is the new new that we were just talking about before we started this podcast. So again, it's a new concept that I think a lot of you will start to embrace and really get to know what the Latinx means.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.

Julissa Chavez: So, just a quick [inaudible] as well, with you.

Heidi Ellsworth: Well, and I love it because it's inclusive and that's exactly what you're doing. The industry is understanding how important inclusivity is and including all genders, all races, we got to celebrate the richness of our roofing industry, and so I really like that Latinx. It brings both the male and the female, and it brings us all together.

Julissa Chavez: Yes, I agree. It's the gender neutral appropriate way of how do we address women and men, because women have jumped into the roofing industry in great numbers. That's what we're seeing the most growth when it comes to demographics, as well as the emergent of National Women in Roofing. Which was when I started in roofing in 2014, we didn't really have any associations for women in the male dominated industry, so the fact that we're now having so many women participate in the industry is just so exciting.

Heidi Ellsworth:  It is, and that's where you and I met the first time was at a council meeting.

Julissa Chavez: Yes, it is.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yep, in Atlanta. Well, okay, so let's talk a little bit more. So what are you seeing with this next generation of Latinx contractors and their opportunities in roofing?

Julissa Chavez: Sure, Heidi. This is a great question. Historically, as we know, the majority of the roofing labor has been Hispanic. What I started to see in Atlanta as a territory manager was that the second and the third generation of children from these laborers have been aware and are accustomed to the roofing industry, because often at job sites they're riding with their dad, they're working during the summer, seeing all that the roofing labor entails, so they're very familiar with the technical aspect of the roofing world. Fast forward, these kids are now comfortable because they've grown in America in the United States. They're comfortable with the English language and the way that business conducted in America. They're more entrepreneurial, as well, compared to their parents, due to the confidence and ability to understand and speak the English language. Some parents are not as comfortable in their experience being in the United States. Today, these kids are creating their own roofing companies and embracing how great the industry truly is. I have met companies that are Latino from the bottom up. Labor crews are Hispanic, door knockers, salespeople are Hispanic or Latino, up to the company owner is Latino. This is the trend that I believe we'll continue to see in the roofing industry for more years to come and in the future.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. You know what? I think that's so true. You would think as a society, we would have already figured this out. So for example, five generations ago my family came from Ireland and I was in the fifth generation. It took us a little bit longer, but I was the first one to graduate from college. The generations are just this beautiful melting pot, and these children who are coming up, this next generation, they're just going to rock it when it comes to business. I mean, they've seen, they know, and they have had the education. I agree. I think we're going to see some amazing minority businesses, which is going to also be a huge asset for them, too.

Julissa Chavez: Absolutely.

Heidi Ellsworth: So, [inaudible] kind of thinking about this, I think you have a huge challenge with your initiatives, in that you're obviously speaking to second and third generation, very fluent in English, that's not even a thought, but then you also have immigration, even though that's a lot less, and you have first generation coming in. So you need to be able to provide it in Spanish and in English, and you need to be able to kind of bring it all together. Tell us what you're doing with those communication initiatives in SRS?

Julissa Chavez: Absolutely. I would love to. Thanks for the question. So first off, we have the SRS para Latinos Facebook page that we started actively posting every week, since June, Father's Day, where our contractors can stay in the loop with our training events, educational webinars, and positions that we're hiring for available within our company. The Latino program goals are to be the number one distribution choice for roofing contractors, and to be the number one distribution company that employs Latino talent in the roofing industry. Aside from the SRS para Latinos social page, we are also translating every communication/promotion into English and Spanish as the new standard at SRS Distribution. So we're definitely like, okay, we're going to create this as moving forward now that the Latino program is here, this is what we're going to do, both languages with anything that we have to announce or say to our customers or our employees. I think, like you said, you have many generations that we're trying to communicate with, so it's not just as easy as saying, "Okay, here's my message, and I'm just going to put it on Google translate and think that that's going to work." Right? So what you really need is just that tactile to know how does this message resonate with number one, the Latinos, the language, and how does this message also come across multiple generations, which is where we're at today? So I think it entails a little bit of more attention and somebody who is understanding of the culture in order for us to be able to have the best communication that resonates with our customer and that market.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yes. I think that is it exactly. We've been trying to do the same thing at Roofers Coffee Shop, and you and Monica did this awesome video for RCS, and we're doing the same thing. Monica is really helping us to ... It's like being a woman in National Women in Roofing, you need to be able to kind of understand and understand the language. I wish I was bilingual. Oh, I wish. Maybe someday.

Julissa Chavez: It's never late.

Heidi Ellsworth: It's never too late. That's right. That's the great part. So, I'm really curious on kind of some of your viewpoints on what you think the roofing industry should be doing to recruit more minorities, specifically Latinx professionals into roofing, both in the office and on the roof. As an industry, what do you think we need to be doing different, or what do we need to be doing more?

Julissa Chavez: Great question again, Heidi. I think if I had to narrow it down to three things, I'm going to say number one and the most important is just having a cultural understanding. It's important for employers to get familiar and understand Hispanic culture and be sensitive to what are those values that we value a lot, such as being hardworking, such as loving the family setting. Those are very important characteristic traits of who we are as Latino culture. So, just leaning in and getting to know a little bit more. Like for example, it's Hispanic Heritage Month right now, which is why I'm to be doing this podcast with you because we're [inaudible 00:11:55]. For example, this is what we're doing. We're leaning in and we want to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, so it's just like knowing those little things. It doesn't necessarily mean you have to be the professional who knows anything and everything about the culture, but just basically learning basic things such as September 15th through October 15, that's the month that we celebrate. That would be the first and foremost. My second tip would be the flexibility. So like the non-Hispanic workforce, offering flexibility is crucial to attracting and retaining your employees. Which the roofing industry is a great industry for flexibility for many roofing professionals that are in the door knocking sales and home selling roles. I've met many Latinx people that tell me the reason why they love door knocking and selling roofs is the flexibility, because oftentimes when they're door knocking it's typically during the evening hours and you can do it with a friend, which is great and fun, right? You get to work with your friend and door knock in the evening, and then basically earn a great amount of money with your commissions. So, I think the flexibility and just ability to give people the knowledge to know these are the things that you could potentially do and how you could make a career out of this is definitely important. Then, thirdly, I would say benefits, communication, developing people is key, too. Communication is key to employees having a developmental program or plan, what is the next level for the employee within the organization? Offer career paths to create loyalty, especially when you have a great talent within your workforce or in your company. The reason why I've heard people who are working for a roofing company oftentimes leave is because there's no new challenges for them. They've been doing the sales, they've aced it, now they're kind of at the place in their career where they're like, "Where is that next challenge for me?" There's no new challenges. There's not a path to say, "Hey, you've done great in sales. We think we're ready to partner up with you and create a second division of this company," which is another growth path. If you do find that individual that's a great employee for you, then help them grow in that entrepreneurial mindset. The third thing would be the mentorship. In roofing, people make a great amount of money, but there's not really people that will mentor you. So having a mentorship program where you take somebody who's a new person joining the company, partnered them up with someone who's been with the company for a couple of years or has more experience, and let them learn off each other. I think that's important, as well.

Heidi Ellsworth: I do, too. I love that list. That list is perfect. In fact, we're going to make sure we take that off and put that into a blog so that people who want to read about that in the transcript or on a blog can have those tips. And it's not just for Latino. That is for everyone. Like you said, it's just common ... Building a strong culture, valuing people, and creating amazing richness in diversity and then being inclusive. I love it.

Julissa Chavez: Thank you.

Heidi Ellsworth: That is so cool. I know that we've been doing a lot together. We did the video for Roofers Coffee Shop. I shouldn't say, "We." You and Monica did, and it is awesome.

Julissa Chavez: Thank you.

Heidi Ellsworth: Then you also have been doing some ... I mean, there's just a buzz, Julissa, around you. I've been hearing all these different people like, "Hey, have you met her?", and what are you doing? You've been doing a lot of really cool webinar series, partnering with a number of thought leaders and just really amazing people. Can you tell us a little bit? I mean, specifically I know you just did some great stuff with Cotney Construction, and also with Owens Corning. Tell us about that.

Julissa Chavez: Yes, Heidi. So thank you so much for sharing the buzz that we're generating [inaudible] this. I think it all started when we listened. It all starts with listening to what the issues or problems are for our Latino roofing communities, because we're listening and we're tapping into what is your need. In a deeper way, we're uncovering problems that a lot of the same companies are having. So for example, one of our territory managers in Atlanta reached out to me about a month ago and he said, "Hi, Julissa. I need a referral to legal counsel due to an issue of nonpayment after labor was rendered." This happens to be a very common issue that not only did this territory manager uncover, but I also remember in my experience as a TM in Atlanta, I would often get asked for legal referrals on, "Hey, I have this situation with the contract or this homeowner doesn't want to pay me, or I've done the work and I'm not getting paid for the labor." So this is a very common situation in the Latino roofing labor community and owners, as well, so therefore it just kind of sparked my interest to reach out to Cotney Construction Law Group and ask them if they would be willing to participate in an informational session to share some insights as to what contractors or laborers can do in these common situations, and they agree to it. So I'm very excited to be able to have worked with the Cotney Construction Law Group, and they've been working in the roofing industry for a long time and are part of the NRCA. I know they do a lot with you too, Heidi, at RCS.

Heidi Ellsworth: Oh, yeah.

Julissa Chavez: So, I'm very excited to be able to get that out pretty soon once we finish the editing process onto that video. So, it just kind of started with how do we help somebody?

Heidi Ellsworth: Well, and Jacqueline is bilingual. She speaks fluent Spanish.

Julissa Chavez: Absolutely.

Heidi Ellsworth: That's the thing I love about Cotney. A Lot of our companies are really trying to expand and have that bilingual opportunities. We're doing tons of that on Roofers Coffee Shop. So yeah, I think that is really key.

Julissa Chavez: I think so, too, because I think ... When I reached out to Trent, I said, "Hey, do you guys offer bilingual legal services?" And he said, "Of course." So I think that's the key, again with that legal group, that they have somebody that can speak the language and now the Latinos that need these legal services can basically ask the questions that they want to ask, get the answers in their own language, and that just makes them feel so much more comfortable than having to rely on somebody to translate the message back and forth. So, that's so amazing that Cotney Construction Law has Jacqueline [inaudible] on the team that can speak the language and help people, and help my people with [inaudible] that they're facing.

Heidi Ellsworth: Well, the thing is understanding legal issues and understanding law and all of that is hard enough on its own, and I think Cotney makes it really easy. They really bring it down to a level to help everybody understand, but then to be able to make sure that they're speaking in the language. I know they also have lawyers there who speak French, and so yeah, now we're getting global. Now we're really kind of reaching out, so it's pretty cool.

Julissa Chavez: Yeah, it is. I thought that was really cool how they're multilingual when it comes to operating in Canada, the United States. Having that representation of bilingual lawyers that can assist our community, I think they're on the right track with the whole inclusion and diversity and just embracing how we can all lean on each other.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I was just so lucky to work with a lot of the same people at a different company, Owens Corning, and I was [crosstalk] it a couple of different times on diversity and really kind of more from the National Women in Roofing angle, but tell me what you're doing there. I know that's more of a five parter. You have a lot going on. That's pretty cool.

Julissa Chavez: Yes. So Owens Corning, again, is another great partner for SRS Distribution. Like you said, we're currently developing a five part webinar series called SRS Distribution and Owens Corning Present a Roofing Contractor Journey, Helping You Take Your Business to the Next Level. The content we will share will be regarding multiple topics such as leveraging partnerships for growth when it comes to distribution partnerships, manufacturing partnerships. Really highlighting the triangle importance of the roofing contractor business when it comes to the contractor being at the top and your foundation, which is your distribution relationships and your manufacturing relationships. Why the Roofing System is another one that we actually have coming up this month, October 21st. This one, we're basically going to talk about the benefits of why the roofing system. How do we educate the homeowner and understanding what all parts come into your roofing system, and what does that create for you and your business as the differentiator on how you're different from your competition? We have other topics such as a shingle bootcamp. How do we sell good, better, best? Which is coming in November. We also have one in December, Powerful In Home Sales Tools to Help Close More Sales. So again, in here we're basically guiding the door knocker who's doing in home sales presentations for the contractor on best practices on basically how you can close more sales when you're doing in home sales presentations. And then our fifth installment of the webinar series will be Third Party Business Services To Help Build Your Business. So we kind of started from the beginning beginning of the relationship part, to the aspect of the end where you're actually getting to utilize financing in your business, utilize marketing companies that can help you with your search engine optimization, CRMs and their importance for our roofing industry business. Those are all the topics that we're going to hit on, so I'm super excited to be partnering with them and some of our other top vendors to create more content around how do we help the Latino business owner grow their business to the next level?

Heidi Ellsworth: That's amazing. I love it. I love it. Just in kind of talking through this to you, you've really made me think, Julissa, about how important it is that contractors have really good relationships with their distribution partners, with their branches, and that they can talk about credit, that they can talk about material allocations, they can talk about all those kinds of things and really have a ... Because that gives your business a differentiation. It gives you an advantage. So how are you seeing that? I mean, is this kind of helping to start maybe giving more confidence in some of the company owners to start developing stronger relationships on the branch level?

Julissa Chavez: Absolutely. That is the whole purpose of the first webinar, was to say, "Hey, when we look at the triangle and the importance of the triangle, it's all about relationships." This is an industry that's very heavily focused on relationships.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yes.

Julissa Chavez: And without those, we can't grow to the next level. We can't expect that we're going to outgrow our projections. We can't think that we can do it alone. So, I believe truthfully that relationships are everything in this industry

Heidi Ellsworth: That is so true, and boy, are you doing the right things to bring those relationships together. I love it. That is so awesome. How can our listeners, how can the roofing industry ... I know you answered this a little bit later, but maybe just kind of just bring us home with how can they look at the culture and make sure they are being inclusive and welcoming to all minorities and all genders to help them build their businesses? What are some of your last thoughts on that?

Julissa Chavez: That is a great last headway for us to finish, because I know John de Rosa and I are going to work on a webinar geared towards the same topic of how can roofing companies hire, retain, and recruit Latinx talent. I'm very excited to be able to be part of that with John de Rosa at a later webinar. To answer your question, I would just first and foremost be [inaudible] to the culture. And number two, let's share the word on all the career possibilities in the roofing industry, from being a laborer, to having a sales career with a manufacturing position, with a door knocking position, to owning your own company and being your own entrepreneur. Most people only see the labor side of things when it comes to the Latino market, which is not so appealing to the newer generations of people, which is why we're struggling how do we get younger people in the industry and how do we attract those people? So, people oftentimes think, "Okay, roofing. I don't want to be on a roof. That's too hard. I just don't want to even look into that industry." But the sales side or the company ownership does sound a little more lucrative to the entrepreneurial person or roofing industry professional. So I would say I think bringing the awareness of all the different career paths that we can take in the roofing industry, and communicating those well.

Heidi Ellsworth: I agree 100% and really playing to people's strengths, because I know there's a lot of people out there who would never want to work in an office, who love driving a truck or working and building these beautiful roofs and installing them and doing all that, and then there's a lot of people who just want to do technology. There's lot of people who just want to do office, be in there, and sales. So you're right, there's just so much opportunity in this industry for every type of person.

Julissa Chavez: Yes, I agree. I hope that our roofing industry leaders are able to communicate and articulate all the opportunities in this great industry.

Heidi Ellsworth: Well, I think you and I are doing a little bit of that right now, so that's pretty cool.

Julissa Chavez: [inaudible 00:27:51].

Heidi Ellsworth: We're getting it out there. Well, that's great. So Julissa, I would encourage everybody out there to look for Julissa's work. You're going to find it on Roofers Coffee Shop under the SRS directory on our Spanish page, where we collect, we find all this great stuff. Julissa sends it, all of our partners send it, and so we have a full page in Spanish for resources, for articles, tools, podcast, and then of course all the directories, the great stuff that SRS is doing. I mean, so many amazing initiatives from the Latino to the Raise The Roof Foundation to honor their heroes right now. I mean, you just do not let grass grow under your feet over there.

Julissa Chavez: It's so exciting. There's so much to do and I'm just enthusiastic about the future of the roofing industry and where we're going to go in the future.

Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I'm very excited about the leadership that I'm seeing coming out on diversity and inclusion, and SRS has been right at the forefront of that, and obviously with the concert at IRE next year, they're really putting the priority of diversity out there, and I love that. Thank you so much for being here today. Thank you for all your wisdom, and we will see you back here again, I'm sure, because we're going to have a lot more to talk about.

Julissa Chavez: Thanks, Heidi. I appreciate it, and I look forward to doing a lot more with Roofers Coffee Shop. Thank you for your support, and I'll look forward to growing with you in this new journey.

Heidi Ellsworth: We are going to have fun. This is going to be great. I want to thank all of you for listening and to really spending this time with Julissa and I to learn more about this great Latinx initiative by SRS, and from the industry overall. You can find all of this under our Read, Listen, Watch, along with many other podcasts, webinars, and resources that can help you and your company grow. Thank you again, and have a great day.

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