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Kevin Butler - A Career, Not Just a Job - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Tremco/WTI - Kevin Butler - A Career, Not Just a Job
April 30, 2021 at 11:00 a.m.

 

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Kevin Butler, senior field advisor with Tremco and WTI. You can read the interview below, listen to the podcast.

Announcer:
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. This is RoofersCoffeeShop. My name is Heidi Ellsworth and I am here today with someone pretty dang special. Kevin Butler, a senior field advisor with Tremco and WTI has agreed to sit down and visit today. Welcome, Kevin.

Kevin Butler:
Thank you very much.

Heidi Ellsworth:
You have an amazing history in roofing. You've had an excellent career with Tremco and would love to hear more about that. Share that with the world on just the whole roofing respect, how great roofing is and what a great career it is today. So thank you for being here and sharing your experiences.

Kevin Butler:
Thank you. I'm looking forward to it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Perfect. So why don't we start out? Why don't you introduce yourself and I gave just a tad bit of history, but why don't you give a little bit of your history in roofing and what you're doing?

Kevin Butler:
Well, my name is Kevin Butler. I'm out of the Northeast Ohio area and I actually started in the commercial roofing business in 1983 less than a year out of high school and spent 15, a little over 15 years with a local contractor. And I've been with Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance for almost 23 years now. It's been a journey that's for sure.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. That's impressive. I have to tell you, we're about the same time. That's when I came out of high school too so.

Kevin Butler:
Yeah. We've got a couple of years under our belt that's for sure.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, just a couple. That's why we know what we like. So tell us a little bit about what you're doing with Tremco now. What's your job duties? What are you doing?

Kevin Butler:
Currently, as you can tell by the gray hair, I'm a senior field advisor for Tremco and I am responsible for about 14 counties in Northeast, Ohio, and the upper panhandle of West Virginia, and basic day-to-day duties I am a salesman. And I provide solutions to the problems with our customers and take care of them basically from the ground up from walls, windows, roofs, the whole gamut basically.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That is cool. So tell us a little bit, I know and we have this out there in your bio, but you said you started out working for a roofing company out of high school, then you joined Tremco and through that, foreman, manager. So tell us just a little bit about as you made that journey through roofing, what were some of the things you learned and what kept you in this industry?

Kevin Butler:
Well, right out of high school, obviously I was looking for a summer job, but I didn't know what I wanted to do in life. And obviously that summer job turned into a 38-year long career. And it's been really good to me. I mean, it's the only thing I've ever done. Started on a roof as a laborer right out of high school and moved up to foreman on a roofing crew within two years. And I spent the next 13 years for the local contractor running work for them. And I had an opportunity to come to work at Tremco because the last 10 years of my roofing career, I installed Tremco roofs for the local contractor I was with them for.

So get to the point, there was a gentleman out of the corporate office approached me about coming to work for Tremco. And I finally thought to myself, "It's time to make a change." And Tremco was only my second job out of high school. So I've gone from roofing to roofing and when I came to Tremco again I started at the bottom of the ladder as a technician on the roof doing patch repair work by myself for about the first year. Got to the point, hired a couple of our local guys that I had worked with prior to that. And I moved into a superintendent's position and I moved into the position of the field manager for the patch repair crews for the whole United States.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Kevin Butler:
Yeah. I did a lot of traveling and finally got to the point to where it was time to do something different. And I had an opportunity to go into the sales and I started in sales about 17 years ago now. And it's been a great career for me.

Heidi Ellsworth:
You know, I've done my fair share of sales also, Kevin, and I love it. There's nothing better than being able to provide those kinds of solutions for building owners and for your customers overall to help them be successful. And now maybe you can explain a little bit because I know there's people out there who are listening who have heard about Tremco and have heard about WTI. What's kind of the difference between those companies? Can you explain a little bit just overall to folks who are out there who might be wondering, "What is all this?"

Kevin Butler:
Well, Tremco is part of the worldwide Tremco Construction Products Group. We are the roofing and building maintenance division. The Tremco itself, they actually make roofing and building maintenance products and WTI, which stands for Weatherproofing Technologies, Inc. is the services and engineering division of Tremco. So they actually have a general contracting division, a general services division, diagnostics division. There's guys out there that will actually go out and do the work for customers. So basically we're able to keep it all in-house at that point.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And so when you're out there selling, you're selling both, right? Tremco products and WTI services.

Kevin Butler:
100%. I have built my sales career on using WTI as our right arm basically taking care of a customer. Because we basically do everything through WTI in my neck of the woods anyhow.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. That's great. That's cool. 17 years, you must have some great long-term relationships with customers in that region. Well, I guess not all of the 17 years were there, but in your region right now, how's that work for you with the relationships between your customers, Tremco and WTI pretty longstanding?

Kevin Butler:
Well, some of the customers that I work with currently, I have known a couple of them for 30+ years because I worked with them when I was a roofer, then when I came to Tremco I just continued that relationship. A customer relationship at Tremco is the key to everything because we are a relationship business. And some of the relationships I've built with customers over the years, they've become some of my very close friends, believe it or not. And it's just-

Heidi Ellsworth:
I believe it.

Kevin Butler:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. [crosstalk 00:07:14] There's something about roofing that does that.

Kevin Butler:
Yeah. Well, one thing I am very, very proud to say after all these years I am still a roofer and very proud of it. It's not a job. It's a job if you make it a job. But to me, it's turned into a career and a lot of other people in our area who have followed me down the path have made it a career also.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. So Kevin, as you're talking to the young folks who are coming out of school today whether it's high school, community college, vocational schools, college. What would you say to them on why they should have a career in roofing or in construction overall, but let's talk through roofing?

Kevin Butler:
Well, roofing is a huge part of everything, everything we have in the world. Every house has got a roof on it. Every building out there has a roof on it. Someone has to take care of those and maintain them and reroof them when it gets to that point. And we really truly need skilled labor in that area because it's gone by the wayside. I don't want young people to think that it's a summer job because it's not, you can truly make a career out of it.

I mean, myself, some of the other people local with us have made a lifelong career out of the roofing business and it is a very good career. It's hard work at first. It's like anything else, you've got to start at the bottom of the ladder and work your way up, but it can turn into a lifelong career for you.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I've talked to, I've seen a lot of people. My dad was in the trades. I grew up in the trades and there's just so many opportunities in roofing for no matter what you're interested in. So for the people who want to use their hands, get up on the roof and that, like you said. But there's also other positions available in roofing too for people who might have more technology bent. I think people think it's all one thing, but it really isn't.

Kevin Butler:
Not at all. The one huge benefit to coming to work at Tremco, we're in every state in the United States. So put your application in, come to work, tell us where you want to go. We've got people that I graduated high school with, they're working down in Florida now and it's just all over the place. And it's a very large company, a very good company to work for.

Heidi Ellsworth:
How was that coming from a smaller roofing company to go to work in such a large corporation as Tremco? How did that transition work for you?

Kevin Butler:
That transition at first was a little bit difficult because I went from a very small contractor that was doing three or $4 million a year in business to a company that's now doing $400 million a year in the roofing business alone. And it was a big culture shock for me, but the one thing was it was like I went from that little family as a roofing contractor to a huge family ar Tremco, and there's some very, very good people here. And it's truly a great place to work.

Heidi Ellsworth:
You shared your knowledge and thoughts with the kids who are coming out of school, whatever level that is, but there's also I think a lot of people out there who maybe have been working like you for a roofing company for a number of years, and they're kind of ready for a change. They want to stay in the industry, but ready for that change. So what would be some of your advice to them on making that step from a smaller roofing company or maybe their own business and deciding, "Hey, I want to go work for a large, large, large corporation like Tremco." How do they make that move?

Kevin Butler:
It's a pretty easy move actually because especially the people coming out of the roofing industry, you already have the knowledge base. Some things we do a little different here. We kind of say we're the belt and suspenders of the roofing business. The typical roofing contractor will do the bare minimum to get stuff done. We go at Tremco go above and beyond on everything. So we don't have to worry about a problem down the road. Easy transition from roofing technicians to come to Tremco, we have inspection crews, patch and repair maintenance crews, sales positions, corporate office positions open all the time. We're always looking for good people.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. So it's really just a matter of making that step. And I know I've referred people to the Tremco family many times and it is easy. They get a chance. You see where there's a good fit. One of the things that I've really loved is the apprenticeship program that Tremco has put together and how young people who are coming out of high school can actually get involved and get their college degree in construction management if they want to also.

Kevin Butler:
That is a very good point. Kids getting out of high school nowadays, college isn't for everyone at all. I mean, college was never in my outlook in life. I knew that I was going to get out of high school, go into the trades. Kids nowadays have a huge opportunity to come out of high school, come to work for WTI, learn a trade, and also get their college education paid for going through an apprenticeship program, graduating up to construction management. So a very good opportunity.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I tell you what as a parent, that's pretty exciting to know that that opportunity is out there. I'd like to talk just a little bit because I know with WTI, you're using a lot of technology whether it's the cleaning of the roofs or it's the drones or different things. Can you kind of talk a little bit about that, that move towards technology because I think that's kind of exciting for this younger generation who's coming in?

Kevin Butler:
Yeah. I would say that it's a very good subject because years ago when I started in the roofing business, technology was not even thought of. Now there's infrared analysis work, nuclear scanning work, roof tech, which is a cleaning system. We have a new roof tech 2.0 drying system. I mean, the technology has gone so far and there's still a lot of our competition or other manufacturers out there that are behind the times because we Tremco has always kind of been the trendsetter for new innovations and new products coming out. So it's been very good.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I think as we're looking at the people who are maybe have lost their jobs during COVID who have really been out there and are looking. I've talked to so many women who are looking for a career change, they're looking to get in to a career that is more family-oriented, and you've said that many times. What are you kind of seeing with some of the new people who are coming in and finding this? What are some of the things that they're kind of talking about? What's exciting for them getting into roofing?

Kevin Butler:
Well, it's obviously a totally different trade than what a lot of people are used to it, especially everything that's going on in the world right now and a lot of people are losing their jobs. Tremco's looking for good people every day and we've got a position for about anybody out there. Roofing is just not a man's sport at all. We've got women working on the roof from the bottom levels all the way up to VPs of the company. So it's very, very good for our business.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I've been to Tremco a number of times and I have always been so impressed with the diversity and the talent that is at Tremco. It's just unlimited from what I see. So to hear that women are on the roof. I know that they're reaching out to all different parts of society not really caring. They just want people who want to love roofing and get involved.

Kevin Butler:
Yeah. I was very fortunate in my early days of Tremco many, many years ago, my wife worked for Tremco and I met her there and the rest of it's history. Now she works at our home office. She always likes to say that I work for her, but she truly, I guess I do work for her, yeah. Maybe I should keep my mouth shut and move forward on that one. You might want to edit that one out.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh no, I don't think so. I think we're keeping that one. That's awesome. That was great. And kudos to your wife because she helped us get on this call too so that was pretty cool.

Kevin Butler:
Yeah, she did. Yeah. She's the brains of the outfit I will say that.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It sounds like a good combination. So kind of as you're looking at the industry overall and some of the trends that you're starting to see that might be of interest, like I said, to people making this change to a larger corporation and/or just getting into roofing. What are some of the trends from a roofing... You're out there selling roofing everyday. What are some of those trends that you're seeing that are really kind of exciting for building owners and also just overall for the security of our world?

Kevin Butler:
Well, one of the biggest changes that has happened at Tremco and has happened within the last 10 years big time was the innovation of a lot of our liquid applied roofing systems. It has taken the industry by storm, across the country. Tremco, in my opinion, and the numbers, the numbers don't lie. We are the largest liquid applied manufacturer in the United States now. And it has helped customers/building owners out tremendously by saving their existing roof and restoring it.
And the other big part of that is all that tear off and debris is not going in a landfill. So we're able to cut cost on the cost of the roofing system and also keep a little bit of a greener America.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, I think that's so important. And for people who are coming into roofing to work on the roof, coatings is, I mean, what had changed from 30 years ago, right? In the type of roofing processes.

Kevin Butler:
Not even as far back as 30 years ago it's less than that. The good thing is with our leadership at Tremco who've done an excellent job by giving us the tools we need to go after customers and sell customers with new products, new innovation and also help the environment out big time.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I think one of the other areas too that a lot of times people have misperceptions about when it comes to getting into roofing is safety. And I know that Tremco it leads with safety all the time. Can you kind of talk about that? Because I know I'm sure there's people out there who are like, "Ugh, I don't want to do that because it may not be safe."

Kevin Butler:
It's a very big part of our business. Safety is everything. Before we start any project, we do a safety audit. Daily safety audits are done and anything will be corrected before the guys go on the roof to even take a chance. We are very, very safety conscious company.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I kind of want to circle back to where we started, but for young people who are coming in who are thinking, "Well, can I really make a living? Can I have a career?" This is a great way to, I know compared to many jobs out there, roofing pays well. What are some of the things you're seeing with these young folks coming out and starting to get a job?

Kevin Butler:
Well, the younger generation has one thing over myself as an older gentleman. They are really electronically ahead of everybody. Miles and miles of years ahead of us, which is good for our industry because we use a lot of the technology nowadays every day. Our inspection crews use a tablet every day. Everything is done electronically. And then for a young person coming out of school, it can be a lifelong career for them, not just a summer job. Believe me, I am proof of that. It was a summer job for me that turned into a career. Don't get me wrong. I still haven't caught on with all of the technology and electronic stuff, but I have got by very well. It's been good to me.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That is excellent. And I really encourage anybody out there who is looking either to get into roofing coming out of school looking for a job or making a change in their career. This is obviously from what Kevin has done. I mean, what a great success, Kevin.

Kevin Butler:
Well, thank you very much. The biggest thing that you hit on right there was making a change because 23 years ago when I was approached by a gentleman from Tremco, it was very difficult for me to make that change especially at this time in my life. People aren't always happy with change. It was by far the best move I ever made in my life. I went from a guy getting up at 5:00 AM getting home at seven o'clock at night. As a roofer, it was a struggle every day. It was hard. It was hard work.

Now the business has changed so much, a young person or even someone out there working for a local contractor or anything who wants to make a change, take one chance. You will never forget it. You will never regret it or forget it, either one.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I don't see how you can say it much better than that, Kevin. Thank you. That's pretty exciting. That's cool. Well, Kevin, thank you. Thank you for what you do for the roofing industry, for your company and thank you so much for spending time with me today to kind of share some of your wisdom.

Kevin Butler:
That's a pleasure. I thank you very much for the call.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Thank you and we will be in touch. Please everybody, take a chance to look at the Careers page at Tremco. It's careers.tremco.com and check it out. But of course, you can always find everything about WTI and Tremco on RoofersCoffeeShop in their Directories across the site, and you can hear all of our podcasts under our Read Listen Watch section on RoofersCoffeeShop navigation. So thank you all for being here today and have a great day. Thanks.

Announcer:
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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