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Kelly B. Van Winkle - A Change in Leadership for the Roofing Alliance - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

RA - Kelly B. Van Winkle - POD
September 24, 2021 at 1:24 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Kelly B. Van winkle from King of Texas Roofing. You can read the interview below, or listen to the podcast. 

Speaker 1:
Welcome to Roofing Road Trips with Heidi. Explore the roofing industry through the eyes of a long-term professional within the trade. Listen for insights, interviews, and exciting news in the roofing industry today.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Hello and welcome to another Roofing Road Trips from Roofer's Coffee Shop. This is Heidi Ellsworth and I am here today virtually road tripping down south to Texas to meet up with one of my very dear roofing friends, Kelly Van Winkle. Kelly, welcome to the show.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Thank you for having me.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh, it's so great to have you on the show today. And for all of those of you who may not know Kelly, Kelly is with King of Texas Roofing Company and she is also the vice president of the Roofing Alliance, the first woman in a vice-president and soon to be president role. So Kelly, wow. Congratulations.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
It's been a fun trip. I really enjoy this industry and I feel very lucky to be a part of it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. You have so much to share. So I would really love to start with maybe just a little bit more introduction than I gave to you, a little bit about you and your company, and then I would love to talk a little bit more about how you got into roofing. I just think this is going to be so interesting.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Well, thanks for asking. Our family is actually a third generation roofing company. The original contractor in our family was my maternal grandfather. He started roofing when he got out of high school in the great depression and it started as a residential endeavor in Erie, Pennsylvania on Lake Erie and it turned into snow shoveling and by the '60s it had turned into more of a commercial company. In 1982 my father started our company in Texas with the original airport job, one of the original terminals at DFW airport is what brought us from Pennsylvania to Texas. And I joined the company in 2011 and co-led the company with my father for many years and now the president since 2019.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Again, congratulations. That is so impressive. And it takes a lot to work in a family business.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Oh, it's very interesting. There's my father, my husband is in the business now as well as me and you know what? We all get along quite nicely because we all have different strengths and we're working on different things so we don't butt heads too terribly often.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That's cool. I think you know too, my family works with Roofer's Coffee Shop. When you have that great synergy between the family members and the leadership of the company and you all see each others strengths, I think that's a great way of putting it. It really is fun.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
It really is and continuing the legacy of grandfather and my father is something that's very important to me. It really strikes a chord with me. I'm quite proud to be a part of a family business.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. That is great. So tell us a little bit, one of the things we really want to talk about during this podcast is your involvement with the Roofing Alliance and your position as vice-president leading the Alliance. And for those of you who just maybe do not know, the Roofing Alliance is the Foundation of the National Roofing Contractors Association, the NRCA. So it does amazing things. Before we get into all those amazing things Kelly, maybe you can tell us just a little bit about how did you and your family get involved with the Roofing Alliance?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Good question. So my father was one of the founders 25 years ago. I believe it was 1996. And he and a group of other gentlemen contractors had gotten together and decided that it was important for the industry to be involved in philanthropic endeavors and scholarships and continuing education. So this is really how it started 25 years ago. I got to be interested in it years ago. Gosh. I came to a lot of the events with my father and mother. And then when I was new to the business I kind of jumped in with two feet. I thought it was a great organization and over time I kept accepting more responsibilities with the Alliance and watching the Alliance flourish.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
One of the things that brought me a great fondness for the Alliance is a program that the Alliance has, it's called helping our own. One of our employees benefited from this program. We had an employee a few years ago who had a wife that needed some experimental medical treatment. And she was able to receive the experimental medical treatment because of the Alliance funds from this helping our own program. She survived and she would not have survived had it not been for the Alliance and that is a true story I can tell you today. And so forevermore, I've been grateful to the Alliance ever since that day.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That's such an inspirational story and I don't think enough people know about that program, helping your own, because I've seen the different things that the Alliance has done and it has saved lives or made lives so much better across the country.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
It really has. A few years ago when there was the Boston marathon bombings, I believe there were a few roofers who were in that that maybe lost some limbs. I believe I heard that the Alliance had helped some of the roofers who had been in that bombing incident in Boston.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes. Exactly, exactly. And I know they also helped a young girl who was looking for artificial limbs and she was doing some special things with a roofing family out of Florida. So all different kinds of things that really have made a huge difference.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Absolutely. And there's so many other wonderful committees and work that the Alliance does. Mainly the Ronald McDonald house is very, very fun. RNB roofing and King of Texas Roofing collaborate together in Dallas on one of the Dallas Ronald McDonald houses. And I know almost every Alliance member has adopted a house around the country to provide free roofing services, whether it be repairs or a new roof on the 165 Ronald McDonald houses that we have in the US.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love that program. And you have been right in the front with that, supporting it and then has made such a difference because the roofing contractors and manufacturers and distributors, because the Alliance membership is all of the above, they all are getting involved with donations and really making a difference for those homes.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Yes. The manufacturers have been so wonderful donating materials and that's what I like about the Alliance because it's not just contractors. We have distributors, we have manufacturers, and we're all working together hand in hand for the good of our industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. That's what I see too. Okay. First of all, I have to just go back and say it's so cool that your dad helped to start the Roofing Alliance 25 years ago and on the 25th anniversary you become the first woman vice-president. That's really cool. That just says a lot about our industry.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
It is exciting. I'm very honored to have been asked and I hope that I can be a good contributor and there's so many wonderful female contractors that are in the Alliance now and everyone is so generous as a group, the NRCA. I really feel like this is going to be a good year ahead and the next 25 years for the Alliance are going to be hopefully just as good, if not better, than the first 25.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I think so too. Well, I have to say, you're right. We have watched, and I'm going to say, it wasn't that women weren't in the industry because we know they have been, we know how many women have been working in the industry, whether company owners or just in the industry like well I've been here for a long time, you've been here since 2011 with your family so much longer, but we have seen a change and we have seen more women in leadership positions. How do you feel about being that first woman to really kind of get in that position for the Roofing Alliance and how do you kind of feel about the overall diversity? I mean, it seems to be just like we're doing the right things. There's so much growth.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Well, I think it's great. I'm very honored that I am the first woman, but I also feel like it's important that I'm a younger individual. So I think age diversity is a great concept as well as gender or race. Bringing this younger generation into the workforce, into the roofing industry, and into the Alliance. Grow the Alliance with the next generation and continuing the enthusiasm of the founders, our fathers and mothers, continuing that enthusiasm to the current day. And I think that our generation, the younger generation, is very charitable and very interested in education and I think all of the ideals of the Alliance run right hand in hand with the younger generation.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I love that. I love that Kelly. I think that's such a good point because we talk about recruitment, we talk about the future of roofing and professionalism, and it is all surrounded by bringing the next generations into leadership positions and being a larger part of the industry.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Definitely. I mean, we're seeing that even with some of the endeavors that the Alliance is working on, we're working with Clemson right now and that's been wonderful. Establishing a curriculum, three semesters of curriculum with Dr. [Neeraj 00:10:16] from Clemson that the students are enjoying and various Alliance members have gone to Clemson to guest speak in the classroom, in Dr. Neeraj's classes and getting the college students interested in roofing at the younger level so that when they come out of construction management school, they don't necessarily just go to work for [inaudible 00:10:39] Maybe they'll come to work for a manufacturer or for a subcontractor such as a roofer.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I was so lucky. I just was able to interview [Deval 00:10:50] yesterday on a podcast too. So these podcasts are going to be coming out pretty close to each other. And to hear what they're doing in the school and the excitement of those students and the fact that Clemson won the student competition put on by the Roofing Alliance. It really is creating so much excitement.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
It really is and Texas A&M is also doing a good job. They won, I believe it was a year or two ago, they won the student competition and we had an intern working for us from the Texas A&M Construction Management School. He worked with us a year and hopefully will rejoin us again next summer. I just love the excitement. He's excited about the roofing industry and excited about family business kind of organization. So just seeing the excitement of this younger generation and the various schools. I'm all for these universities putting forth roofing curriculums. I think it's a great idea.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I know. To be able to get the roofing in there. Whether a student goes on roofing, which we want, but also that they go to work for a GC. At least now they understand the roofing systems and the importance of the roof. So it's really either way, it's making a difference.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Yeah and they're quite good. I mean, these schools are preparing them well. The young man that we had from A&M, he's incredible estimator and he's only 23 years old. I'm just shocked. I mean, it's really working. These construction management schools are putting out excellent, excellent well-trained men and women.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. That's what [Deval 00:12:31] was saying yesterday too. That is a lot of the feedback that's coming is because of the Roofing Alliance funding this initiative, funding the classes, the curriculum, and then also funding, obviously the student competition for many years that what's happening is you're bringing in the next generation highly trained. They get it. And so when they're coming in, it doesn't take as long. I mean, I know that's part of probably what you've seen, but really trying to get as many people in the roofing industry, especially roofing companies to start working with their local construction management schools.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Absolutely. And the high schools too. We have not gotten too involved with the high school level, but I know some Alliance members have gotten very involved with local high schools and maybe local vocational or trade schools. That's also a great route as well to secure new men and women for the industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. It's really good. So, Kelly, I know this year you're vice-president, but next year, next June, you'll take over the president of the Roofing Alliance. What are some of your top initiatives that you would like to see grow or maybe start for the Alliance?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Well I would like to see more of this that we're doing with the colleges, establishing curriculum, Alliance members to get speaking to the younger students, I would like to continue some of the research projects that we've been doing. One that started recently was the heat stress awareness task force. We're working with a university to look at the impact of heat stress on workers during the summer. That's going to be an important endeavor as we move forward. Of course, scholarships, continuing that for the worthy recipients and this Ronald McDonald's house thing is such a [inaudible 00:14:38] continuing our good work and then looking at any new projects that might come our way next year.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And there's so much with what we've gone through with the last two years now and what's all happening, bringing the manufacturers, the distributors, and the contractors together to really look at new funding or new ideas that might help with some of ... I mean, I am sure your company, it's been tough. It's been tough dealing with COVID, dealing with now the material shortages. There's a lot there. So kind of share your thoughts on how important it is to have these networks and to have the Alliance, even though it's not involved with that, but it still is bringing such great thought leadership to the industry.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Well it's very, very true. I mean, it's no secret that we're all struggling in the industry right now to secure materials in a timely fashion and at a fair price. So it's kind of great to have comradery knowing that everyone else is going through the same thing and it's wonderful for the peer-to-peer sharing that we do, since we're not necessarily competing with each other, many of the Alliance members enjoy peer-to-peer sharing and getting to meet high level representatives of the manufacturers. The networking is absolutely fabulous. And to work together for the good of the industry. The industry has been so good to all of us. I think we all want to give back to the industry and the Alliance is a great vehicle for us to be able to give back to the industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I hear that a lot. And that's really the sentiment overall, give back that you hear from every Alliance member. It always makes me so happy because this isn't just about what you can take, it's about what you can give and that is so evident every time we go to one of these meetings, one of the Roofing Alliance meetings.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Yes. And I think it's the cream of the crop. The Roofing Alliance members are really at the top of their game. They're all coming in to do high quality work that are very ethical. It's just a great organization of like-minded philanthropic thinkers.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes. It is. And so one of the things I wanted to talk about, just to let our listeners know too, is that the Roofing Alliance loves to consider new funding projects. So new initiatives with us, research. I was just so fortunate, I guess it was seven years ago now, when I presented to the Roofing Alliance for the National Women in Roofing. And they were the first platinum sponsor, founding sponsors. And that just says so much for the Roofing Alliance. They really support the things that need to happen in the industry. Can you talk a little bit about just how people can maybe get in touch with you or other members of the leadership to talk about what they see as needs or funding?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Absolutely. We have a great mechanism for that and we are very open to considering all types of requests, whether it's a request from the Ronald McDonald or whether it's helping our own kind of situation with a worker in trouble, whether it be for a scholarship or for an educational endeavor. We're open to looking at all kinds of different projects. Dave Lawlor, who is the current president, Bennett Judson works with the Alliance, or me, please come and tell us any ideas that you have. Not only are we open to ideas, but we kind of expect the Alliance members to give ideas. It's highly encouraged and we need everyone's input to be a successful organization.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And anybody can submit funding. So what's really cool is you have these professors from universities around the country who are seeing like the heat stress or the Clemson class who are presenting these funding initiatives, but it can be anybody from the roofing industry. I know our T3, we're talking about it right now. Like where's the need and what needs to happen? And Roofing Alliance really steps up to those needs and looks at them to see what they can do.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Yeah. It's an education, I think just personally, is the way of the future. So anything with educating workers or educating current employees or future employees, I think, is the way to go. When we stop learning is when we get stale. So anything that the Alliance does to support educational opportunities, I think, is definitely at the forefront-

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
As well as our philanthropic endeavors.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right. Right. No. And it's very evident. You can see it. And in fact everyone listening, it's roofingalliance.net. You can see all of the initiatives, the funding initiatives, along with the awards for most valuable players, for gold circle awards for projects, the student competition. There's just so many things that the Alliance does. It's well worth looking, taking some time on the website just to see what's out there. And one of the things you can find on the website and that I would love you to talk about Kelly is how can people get involved with the Roofing Alliance if they're not already members and they're thinking about this, how do they do that?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Well, please reach out to any one of us. I would love to invite you to an event, whether it be a meeting or a gathering. We would love for you to attend and learn more about our organization. It is something that's really rewarding. I promise you if you come, you will feel a part of the group. We're warm and welcoming and it's rewarding to be involved in our industry. So I think that everyone is welcome and you will enjoy being a part of the Alliance.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So I'm curious to how you and your family, now having been involved in the Roofing Alliance for 25 years, what do you think that's done for your business? How does that help really the day-to-day business by being involved on this level?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Well, I know people first name basis, whether it be other contractors or manufacturers. I can call up people across the country, going back to what I was talking about, the peer-to-peer sharing. I can call up somebody and bounce an idea off of them or ask a question and it's not necessarily threatening because we're just friends from the industry. So it's not only friendship, but way to learn from each other. And I think that that's benefited. Of course, I told my personal story of our employee that was helped by the Alliance. So there's many ways that our company has benefited. And also we're benefiting from these well-trained construction management school applicants.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
So many different ways that we benefit, but honestly, it's not about what we receive. I still feel like it's about giving back to the industry. Even if we were to receive no benefit, I would still be involved with the Alliance because I think it's the right thing to do and I think it's fun to be involved in our industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
All right. And that is why you are the new leadership of the Roofing Alliance. That is perfect. The whole give back and Kelly, congratulations again. What an accomplishment and I think the industry just owes you and your family a thank you for your leadership.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Oh. And thank you for all you do. Thanks for making this fun and that you've done a great job helping the Alliance. So thank you for all you do.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I love the Alliance. I will talk about it all day long just like you. We share that very much. So Kelly, we are coming to the end of our time on the podcast, but I want to say again, thank you. Any last thoughts or anything else you want to share with our listeners?

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
No. Just once again, please join us. We'd love to see you at the next Alliance event.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Perfect. That is exactly. We'll be in the IRE. They have the student competition. There's all kinds of different things happening. There's also a fall meeting. So if you are interested in getting involved, now's the time and through the Roofers Coffee Shop, you can find all the information on how to get involved on the Roofing Alliance directory or going straight to roofingalliance.net. So Kelly, one last time. Thank you very much for being here today.

Kelly B. Van Winkle:
Thank you. Thank you so much Heidi.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Okay. And thank you all for listening. Again, you can listen to all of our podcasts on Roofer's Coffee Shop under the read, listen, watch initiative, but more important, please sign up on your favorite podcast channel, subscribe, and also subscribe to YouTube. We have all kinds of great stuff that's happening out there. Thank you for taking time today and we will look forward to seeing you on the next Roofing Road Trips.

Speaker 1:
Make sure to subscribe to our channel and leave a review. Thanks for listening. This has been Roofing Road Trips with Heidi from the rooferscoffeeshop.com.



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