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Looking for Labor in all the Right Places - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Looking for Labor in all the Right Places - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION
October 18, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with John Van Beek from Labor Central, Stuart Tapley from SRS Distribution and Tyler Grams from Mark Kaufman Roofing. You can read the interview below, listen to the podcast or watch the on-demand webinar.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello, everyone. Welcome to RoofersCoffeeShop RLW. We'll be starting in just about right now. We'll be starting very soon, so here we go. Hello, my name is Heidi Ellsworth, and this is the RLW from RoofersCoffeeShop, that's Read Listen Watch. And today we are talking about what is top of mind for everyone in this country and around the world, and that is labor, skilled labor. We've got some solutions around technology that we're very excited for you to hear about today. Again, my name is Heidi Ellsworth, and today we are looking for labor in the right places. I am very proud to introduce our panelists. This webinar and RLW is being brought to you by Labor Central. So let's get going and meet our panelists.

First of all, I would like to welcome back John Van Beek. John, welcome back again. Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Labor Central.

John Van Beek: Yeah, my name's John Van Beek and been in the industry for many, many years. Actually started off in the '90s working for the Henry Company, and then from there joined ABC Supply and Mule-Hide. And then from there went to Eagleview, where Heidi and myself actually worked together.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yes, we did.

John Van Beek: And really was introduced to Labor Central at the IRE about two years ago. If you look at all of the technology that's out there right now, from lead to close, I mean you get leads, you get CRMs. I mean, SRS is doing a fantastic job on Roof Hub with all the technology they have, from ordering and aerial measurement report to generating materialists and ordering materials and all that sort of stuff. The one thing missing in our industry is really the last thing, right? So you as a sales guy, you call on the homeowner, you seal the deal, you've got from the lead to close, you sign the deal, and then they say, "Hey, when are you going to start?" Well, a very large percentage, something like 92% of all residential roofing contractors, use install crews in order to install the job. So that was the piece that was missing. When I heard about Labor Central, I said, "Man, this is amazing. What a great solution." So jumped on board and here I am.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it. I love it. So many great things. We like these startups, John. You see a good idea, you just want to be a part of it. Well, thank you so much for being back today. I'm really excited about what we're going to be talking about. I'd also like to introduce Stuart from SRS you were just talking about. Stuart, welcome to the RLW. If you could introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about SRS, that would be great.

Stuart Tapley: Yeah, thank you, Heidi, thanks for having me. Stuart Tapley, Account Executive with SRS in the Florida market. Been with SRS a little over five years. Before that, I was with a manufacturer for five years as well. So been around the state for almost a decade now and just really enjoy helping contractors focus on the business, generating leads, lending, and obviously now the third L, which is labor, which is John. Their partnership has done a fantastic job partnering with SRS. We will get into it, Heidi, as we get into the conversation about just the interactions between Roof Hub and our digital platform as well as Labor Central. So looking forward to talking about the labor issues here.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I am too. I am too. There's so much to talk about. Thank you so much. To have this distribution perspective is so important, Stuart, so I'm really excited for this conversation. And lastly, I would like to introduce Tyler Grams. Tyler, welcome to the show. I would love it if you would introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your company.

Tyler Grams: Thank you. Yeah, my name's Tyler. I'm with Mark Kaufman Roofing. We are a Suncoast company down in Florida. I've been with the company for a little over 14 years, currently serving as president. We have about 125 W-2 employees, so we have a large staff of crews, but we too have a great partnership with SRS, which kind of introduced us to Labor Central. I can see a huge value there, so we're pretty excited about that, trying to dabble into different territory that we aren't normally able to do so with.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That is great. That is great. Thank you, Tyler. So happy to be here. I just love this panel. I love what we have here from all different sides. So let's get started. Okay, let's talk about the current status of the labor shortage and really what you are all seeing from all your different perspectives. You know what, Tyler, let's go ahead and start with you. Let us know what you're seeing in your region on the labor shortage.

Tyler Grams: Again, like I said, we have roughly 125 W-2 employees here, so we've been very fortunate to have our fair share of labor. I do see repair crews and specialty crews as being very... Those are hard to find. Re-roofing crews on our department have not been as difficult as repair crews. Also, again, the specialty work that we don't typically work in primarily because we cannot find the labor to do the job, so that prevents us from being able to get into those different specialty jobs.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I think that is it, that you have a great labor force, but it's constant about building that culture and putting everything together and then finding the specialties because there's so much going out there. And Stuart, you're seeing that across the board. So from a distribution level and across more of probably a larger region, what are you seeing on labor for both contractors and for distribution?

Stuart Tapley: Yeah, so I mean, specifically to the contractor across the state, obviously labor's an issue. In the State of Florida, we've had some legislation change here recently that has definitely impacted the way we go to market and the way we look at how we approach labor at the contractor side. And as there's more and more contractors continuing to start up, which I think everybody across the state has felt that there's new companies starting up monthly, quarter, weekly, and that's obviously putting a stressor on the qualified labor. The pie is only so big. That's one of the solutions that Labor Central has provided which has been awesome. We've had a lot of people with our digital platform through Roof Hub, now that we're integrated actually be able to have a one-stop shop and to be able to go right on there and take advantage of those opportunities and find qualified labor.

The days of running down to Home Depot and Lowe's and picking up a crew or stopping at the local lumber yard, those are kind of gone. Like Tyler said, I think one of the other big opportunity here is for contractors like Mark Kaufman Roofing, who has done a lot of commercial roofing, a lot of residential roofing, but when you stumble upon a slate roof in a historical district or stone-coated steel if you're not familiar with it, some of these nichey products, this gives us the opportunity to at least take advantage of those, or at least attempt to with skilled labor that has done that before, that's readily accessible.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Sorry. Yes, I agree, I agree. You know what? The historical districts, we're seeing more and more of that. It helps you keep diversified in your business by having this labor. And John, you've really focused on that. What are you seeing out there? I mean, I think one of the things you and I talk about a lot of times is that, yeah, definitely, there's a labor shortage, but maybe people just aren't all looking in the right places.

John Van Beek: So one of the things we found, obviously with the COVID era, obviously it's passed now, but one of the things that we found is during the COVID era a lot of roofing contractors really expanded their work. They went from roofing to gutters to siding to maybe windows to all sorts of other trades. Because they didn't have the experience in actually finding qualified crews for these crafts, Labor Central was a great option for them. I think the really interesting thing with this podcast today is that normally we've had podcasts in the past where we know 97% of all residential contractors use 1099 install crews. Here we have Tyler who has a huge amount of W-2 employees but still finds the value in what Labor Central can offer them for that specialty side. I think that is a great testament to the quality and the types of crews that Labor Central can offer a contractor.

Stuart Tapley: John, if I may dovetail off of that comment, because not only expanding in different product groups within steep slope business, the biggest challenge that when I'm talking to contractors about opening up and expanding their network and their reach of geographical coverage is, "Well, I don't have labor in Jacksonville or Tallahassee or Miami." So now that we have a pool of qualified labor, we can expand our geographical coverage as well as a contractor and obviously scale our business that way as well. So I see that as a tremendous benefit.

Tyler Grams: I think as we go into the future here too, I do see, I mean, as roofing contractors, the future is no longer going to be that all we can do is strictly tile, shingle, metal. We definitely are going to have to start broadening our horizons, it's just the way the times are changing, broadening the type of work we can do and what we can offer, and trying to integrate more through relationships with different contractors, different departments, different skilled trades all around the board. So having that ability to locate those people so that we're not falling behind, we got to stay on the front end, we got to be in front of it, not behind it, and I think that that's where Labor Central definitely is going to make a big impact in our future.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We've seen that change around with technology every day as we're really looking at that. I want to continue, and I love how we're really talking about that technology, but I also wanted to talk about what you see as some of the biggest challenges even to get the crews to get, I mean, we're finding in technology, but to really get more people who want to come into roofing. So maybe Tyler, starting out, what have you seen in your area that has really affected the labor pool in the last 10 years?

Tyler Grams: I'm 33, so say 2009, I was getting out of high school, supposed to be going into college. At that time and around the 2009 time, it was looked at as if you didn't go to college, you were going to amount to nothing. It was very, "You have to go to college or you're not going to be anybody." I think that that's definitely changed. But my generation or my age group, I guess you would say, was a part of that. A lot of people did go to college. A lot of people my age had gone to college and now they're sitting in either a lot of debt, trying to figure out how to pay that debt off, or they did find a position for what they went to college for. Either way, it took away from the trades. It took away from people that normally maybe should have or would've rather went into the trades. They didn't do that because they were told that they shouldn't and they couldn't.

I think with that being said, also a lack of just making roofing in general a profession, as just people. Roofing has not always been a very professional job to have. It's just not the way it is. But I think that if you look at, say, an electrician or a plumber, those are professions. If somebody goes to school, they get certified, they do what they need to do so that they can become an electrician or a plumber. It's still a skilled trade just as a roofer. However, I think that we could do a lot of different things to make the same thing for roofing, and that would attract people to the roofing industry. It is a profession. It is a business. It's not just three guys, sold the job, worked on the roof, did the bookkeeping, same three guys did all three things. But that's not the way it is anymore. I mean, you can have a real business. You can be a business owner. You can grow to be whatever you want out of it. There's definitely something to be said about that.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it. I love it. And Alex, through the chat disagreed, "There are very few roofing schools." But there are some out there. They're starting to pop up. As you're looking at this, Stuart, and you're in the Florida overall, I know you had mentioned to me before about government regulations, what are some of the things that you see that are kind of hampering the labor pool?

Stuart Tapley: Obviously with some of the government regulations, but obviously we're working through that. But like Tyler said, it's an industry advocacy to carry ourself to a higher standard. It's not going to happen by one supply rep, one contractor. I mean, this is like a village type of ownership, a mentality. We have to as a whole industry carry ourselves differently, do the right things to the homeowners, treat every homeowner like we would if it was our mother or grandmother. We're in it for the long haul. We have brick and mortar. We have payroll. We're employing hundreds of people within a county. We are big labor centers, no pun intended, but there's a lot of jobs that are employed by roofing contractors. I think as far as, like Tyler said, just somewhat caring yourself to be more of a desired industry instead of just like a run and go type of place that, hey, they're here today, they're not here next week.

I mean, there's a lot of established, well-run companies out there that employ a lot of people. And ultimately, the companies that treat their employees well and they're not having to run to the bank on Friday to cash their check and be the first one there before their check bounces, just doing things the right way and elevating your perception and elevating the way you carry yourself and your ethics and morals, and the way you go to market as a company, ultimately we start to see that tide turn. I think Tyler had somewhat of a first step in the right direction, is the industry as a whole, I mean, just doing better, just carrying themselves to a higher standard.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Exactly. That is so true. We've seen that happening a lot. John, what are you seeing? When you're talking to the crews out there and when you're talking obviously to so many contractors, what are you seeing as really how we got here?

John Van Beek: Yeah, so one of the things that we've noticed, and I think Stuart can confirm this, is that whenever distribution does a great job, especially SRS and having manufacturing travel traders come to a branch, offer training, a breakfast or a lunch or a dinner kind of thing. But the issue that we found is that the people that are invited to actually get the training are either the business owner or the foreman. They're not the ones that are actually banging the shingles or installing the slate or installing the tile or installing metal. So one of the things that we've really focused on, together with SRS, we have partnerships with GAF as well as IKO for instance, is that whenever they have a travel trader coming to a branch, we basically notify every crew that's in that area that's saying, "Hey, there's a travel trader coming to the SRS branch in Tampa, and they're going to be talking about regiments." You know what I mean? Because nobody's really reaching out to these install crews, which are actually the people that are actually applying the roofing.

The other exciting announcement we have is that we basically partnered with the NRCA. They have a really great pro certification program. It's the only certification program currently in our industry where you actually get an ID badge that says that you are pro certified in whatever roofing category that you choose. The NRCA was very, very amicable in actually providing all of our crews a registration fee of half off the regular. Normally it's $800, for our Labor Central crews, it's 399, and they don't even have to become an NRCA member. So that to us was really great. I think all of our partners, including SRS, GAF, IKO, the NRCA, all we want to do is provide an avenue for these install crews to become more educated and better at their craft.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Exactly. Exactly. And as we talk about this, John, a big part of it is technology, right? I mean, that's what we're all talking about, how we brought everybody together, how are we learning, how are we doing these things. So John, let's start with you just on how is technology... I mean obviously Labor Central. What are the things you're seeing in the industry that are really helping with the labor shortage by the use of technology?

John Van Beek: So really, I mean, there are very few contractors, Tyler is one of the few for instance, where they have all W-2 employees. The next phase is very large contractors that actually use crews, maybe two or three of them, and keep them busy every single day. But 97% of all contractors, apart from that, really have a labor scheduling issue. We know they all use crews, but the issue that come is that when they have that sales process, from lead to close, the technology on SRS is amazing. Stuart is going to talk about that. I mean from lead generation to aerial measurement reports to converting that into material lists to ordering materials, everything online on Roof Hub is just amazing.

But when you have that sales guy going to that homeowner and they sign the deal, whether there's financing or not, "I got the job." The homeowner says, "Hey, when are you going to start?" "Well, let me get back to you." And then they go back to the office and they spread the good news that they've got a new home to do. And then it's either to the office manager, the roofing owner, or the project manager to basically reach out to those two or three crews that they've used in the past to say, "Who's available?" All of this is time-wasting. It's just extremely frustrating from a roofing contractor standpoint.

That's why we said, "Hey, let's do the Uber, right?" I'm not hitchhiking anymore.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: The Uber, really, that's what it's finding. It's finding it.

John Van Beek: I'm actually [inaudible 00:22:05], saying, "This is where I want to go. Come pick me up." Right?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

John Van Beek: And that's what Labor Central really does. It just decreases that last frustration point that a roofing contractor has, saying, "Hey, you want a crew? We got them." All you got to do is-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Call an Uber.

John Van Beek: ... the project, and you'll get many replies from qualified crews that are on the Labor Central platform.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I agree. I mean, it was the step that needed to be taken. And so, Stuart, what are you seeing technology-wise across the board when it comes... I know with SRS, with Roof Hub, you guys are on the leading edge of technology.

Stuart Tapley: Sure, yeah. I've been pretty fortunate obviously being around a little while here, seeing the industry grow from a technology standpoint. The days of people asking what a CRM is, now it's, what CRM are you using? If you're not using one, then you're probably not a professional contractor. For anybody who's listening, if you're not using a CRM, please get on one. There's a lot of great ones out there. It'll really create a lot of synergies within the company. But anyways, working with all the CRM platforms and through SRS, and that's what I'm very fortunate to be a part of an organization that is forward-leaning on the IT side, partnering up with JobProgress and JobNimbus and AccuLynx, and being integrated with all the CRM platforms that integrate with all of the top contractors has just been instrumental with our growth.

People are buying online a lot more than going into stores. Online is easier. They talk back and forth. We can communicate a lot more effectively. On the days of sending the carrying pigeon to drop off a note to somebody, it doesn't happen anymore. Everybody needs immediate, quick responses. The integration is that SRS and a lot of these platforms like Labor Central, they allow us to get things done a lot faster.

We are on our online platform. We're a partner with Canopy on the weather side. We track all the manufacturers' rewards. Obviously with Labor Central, you can go on there and get your answers right away and apply and search for crews right there online. We have a robust IT platform, and we're just getting started. Obviously that's not even mentioning the online ordering side that we have going on. I mean, I'll tell you, over the past year and a half, Heidi, the online ordering adoption for contractors has been absolutely... It blew me away. I never thought that the adoption would be this fast.

So contractors are doing things differently from an IT standpoint. Tyler and I were talking offline, when you look at an organization like Mark Kaufman, who is heavy on the tech side, just because you can do things one time instead of passing it to eight people's desks and it's much more efficient, having a labor force that you're searching that is driven off of a digital platform, they already are integrated with platform, that's how they communicate, that's how they speak. So when your organization's talking to them via AccuLynx, let's just use... and says, "Hey, here's your work order, here's your schedule, here's this," that's the language that they speak. I think that's a great concept that we're going to create a lot of synergies with any crew that is invited to work for any forward-leaning digital company like Mark Kaufman.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And really, it's going to be what's expected, right?

Stuart Tapley: That's right.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I mean, it's expected from the consumers, from the crews, from the companies. That's just nice. So if you're not doing it, you're a little bit left behind. Tyler, you're doing a lot of it. You're using technology on so many levels. Can you share that with us on really how that's changed and helped you grow your business?

Tyler Grams: When I first started with the company, I guess it was '09, I remember the owner actually every day get up, meet with us in the morning, and his next stop was the supplier with a piece of paper, a notepad, with the orders for the day. He'd hand them to him and tell them, "I need this this day, this time," and he'd sit there and go through that next day with him every single day. I mean, now 14 years later, we can now sit in front of a computer. We can measure a roof, we can estimate the roof, we can order the material, and then we can find the labor all by clicks. We don't have to pick up the phone once. We just took, what, six people's jobs. I mean, technically say it took six people to do what happened 14 years ago is now one person. I mean, you can substantially grow by keeping that same amount of people and them all being able to quadruple the amount of work they can do in a day.

Like I said, yes, we have 125 W-2 employees, however, what happens when all of a sudden, say, we get a storm that comes through our area and our workload just goes sky-high all of a sudden? Yet you can hire people, but that could take how long? Again, like John was saying, so you sell the job, somebody they want to know when are you doing it, not, "Hey, let me get back to you once I find the crew to do it, and then I'll let you know in two weeks." So by being able to, you have the crew, you can locate them all from your phone, from your computer, being able to do that, the technology behind that and being able to give everybody accurate information, talk to your crews effectively, efficiently, it just makes everything go around. It's a full circle.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It really does. This is a revolution in our industry or evolution, however you want to say it, and where it's taking us to the next step. So let's talk a little bit about that. When we talk about Labor Central finding crews, John, just talk a little bit about why the technology is making it easier to find crews. Oh, you're on mute, John.

John Van Beek: Thank you.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: There you go. No problem.

John Van Beek: I always do that. It must be the age thing, you know what I mean? Yeah, so the fundamental thing we do is obviously we do a serious onboarding process with every crew. We want to make sure that their profile really provides all the information for a roofer to review. They want to know how long have you been doing this work? What type of work do you do? What size of crew? Do you have OSHA certification? If you do, can I view the documents? So we help them in downloading all of this stuff. Do they have workman's comp liability insurance? Have they had any certifications with any manufacturers? What kind of training have they done? Do they have any project photos that you can review? So we really try and provide their profile with as much information for a contractor to actually review.

There's really two ways on Labor Central to find a crew. The first way is just find a crew, but obviously you need to select what your criteria is. Is it steep slope, low slope? What kind of roofing? If it's steep slope, is it metal, tile, slate, is it shingles? And then exactly what you want from a crew. The size of crew, how many years in business, do they have any certifications, what certifications do you require. And then once you put the zip code or the city or the state, you can then search crews, and it automatically provides you with a list of crews that match every criteria that you as a contractor are looking for. And then you can click each individual crew and review their extensive profile and decide which ones you really want to start a conversation with.

The other option, which we recommend as a time-saving option, is to really post a project. This is where you provide more specifics for a contractor. The contractor is going to go through the same thing again, but it's going to be more involved. When do you want the project to start? When do you want it to finish? Do you have any aerial measurement reports that you can grab, drag, and download? The more information that you provide a crew, the better the response is going to be. So once you do that, post a project, you've got a start date, you've got an end date, you've got all of the project requirements, it's a single story, 45 squares, tear off and re-roof in one day, you want it to start on Monday, you want it to finish on Tuesday. Once you've got all that information, then that automatically is sent via an SMS message as well as an email to every crew that, again, matches everything that you want.

So you're not talking to people that are unqualified based on what your requirements are. You're reaching out to people that match everything exactly. Once a crew receives that SMS message message, firstly, what we found is that in today's environment, people respond better to SMS messaging than emails. The nice thing about our SMS messaging platform is that if your browser is set to Spanish, you will receive an SMS message in Spanish. If your browser is set to English, you're going to receive it in English. The SMS message is pure alert, "Hey, project posted. Click here to get more results." Once they click that, they're obviously taken back to the Labor Central platform where they can actually view the specifics of the project.

They in turn can SMS you back saying, "Yep, I've got a crew of five ready to go. I can start on Monday." So you receive as a contractor all of these messaging in your Labor Central account. And then once you receive those messaging, you can actually click each individual crew that has responded and view their profile and decide, "Yeah, this is the crew that I want to finish my final negotiations." And there it is, easy peasy.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Wow. I don't want to say it's Uber, but it is like Uber. You find it, you watch-

John Van Beek: Yeah, got it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: ... you work back and forth, where you want to go, what do you want to accomplish. So Stuart, as you're working with SRS and SRS has just incorporated Labor Central throughout the entire organization, throughout all the branches, what are you seeing from the platform and to really talk about how inclusive is it? I mean for different sizes, different languages, how's it working for you? Oh, you're on mute.

Stuart Tapley: Sorry. It must be my age. Hey. No, I mean listen, the platform and the accessibility and the ability for it to naturally tailor to fit any contractor of any size for pretty much any need. John, apologize, but he may be able to expand on the geographical coverage, but I don't want to speak out of school, but there's probably not a geographical territory that they can't reach. John, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but the coverage is incredible, the skillset, the types of vetting that they go through with the certifications and credentials, I mean, there's really no opportunity that can't be solved with this platform with Labor Central.

Obviously, from the distribution supply side, it allows us to have a different conversation with those business owners to help them scale and help them grow and enter different geographical markets because we've solved one of the biggest issues, which is labor. On our side, it's proven to provide so much more value and create more stickiness within our contractor network, and it has allowed our contractor base to go out there and take a bigger piece of the pie than they currently have because now they can actually install it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, Tyler, as you're looking at that too, it is important for that interaction. I know that you have the interaction of your employees, but you also have the crews coming in and how they're interacting and how you're talking, picking the best jobs for these specialty trades that you were talking about. Talk a little bit about that and some of the ability that you've had to grow.

Tyler Grams: Like Stuart had just said, for us to be able to get into new regions, new territories, that's what it takes. As a W-2 employee, you can't go and hire a bunch of crews and say, "Okay, now sit here and wait for us while we find the work." That makes it really tough to grow when you have to do that that way. By us being able to on an app reach out and say, "This is what we have," and be able to complete that project without necessarily having to have that at your own crews, it makes the crews more efficient when they are doing the projects they want to do. I mean, that's anybody, right? Anybody, if they're happy doing what they're doing, they're going to do a great job.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: When you're trained on that.

Tyler Grams: Right. When you know what you're doing, you know how to do it, you enjoy it, everything's going to work right. To go back, your question that you had asked is interacting, they're happier. If they're doing what they want, they're happy. At the end of the day, that's what matters. Everybody's happy, everybody's doing a good job, and things are going to get done.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It seems like by using this technology of being able to go on the app, find the right crews for the right jobs, you're really taking your customer service up a step. Tyler, as you're working with your customers, and you have a metal job and you want a metal crew, all of a sudden now you're getting the job done faster for the homeowner or the consumer, the quality is fire because of that crew. Talk just a little bit about that when it comes to performance and just great installations.

Tyler Grams: I think every business would say this, but customer service is the number one thing. You have to have great customer service. For us to be able to go and hand-select from a pool of people the perfect crew, like you said, if that customer is happy because we got it done efficiently, properly, everything's perfect. The crew's happy, and then in return, the business is happy.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And people.

Tyler Grams: Distribution is happy. You're now selling more projects because they're telling their neighbor, "You won't believe the people that they had working on my house," because it was just the perfect crew and everybody involved is on the up. Everybody's winning.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, I want to, to that point too, just expand a little bit on the communicating digitally. Stuart, I'd love to go to you because Roof Hub does this. I mean you know when your materials are being delivered, now with Labor Central you know the crews are hearing this, they're getting the information. How important is that all the way around, I mean, the homeowners getting a text on when to expect things? This just didn't happen four or five years ago, this is so new that we can communicate so effectively.

Stuart Tapley: It really has, like Tyler said, the efficiencies of taking six people's jobs 14, 15 years ago to now. Obviously with our online ordering platform, our staff don't have to actually physically type a ticket. Obviously we do check the tickets again and input any notes and make any adjustments, but we're not taking orders off of a bar napkin anymore, which has helped accuracy on both ends, right? Being able to set up templates, so placing an order only takes two or three clicks. I mean, it's so fast.

But then also going back to the whole Uber thing, throwing in some plugs for everybody, I guess since that's the comment. But there's no need to call the office anymore or call the operations manager or your salesperson and ask where a delivery is. It tracks your truck lifetime. It shows where it is on the map. It gives you your ETA. It shows you all the delivery pictures and has all your invoices. It tracks all your manufacturers' rewards. You can find labor on it. You can find hail maps and wind maps all right online in one platform. And not to mention that they all speak to each other too. So Tyler makes an adjustment at his, we see it. And that's not even taking into consideration the homeowner's portal on the CRMs that now the homeowner is very visible. They don't have to call the homeowner. They can if that's preferred way of communication, but by and large, they can just... Say we have some weather today and the job gets pushed back a couple of days, they can push that on their calendar. It automatically speaks to the homeowner via text, email, whatever the case may be.

So all of the automation has allowed us to, I guess, focus on more revenue-generating opportunities and working on the business than pulling our hair out, which I don't have much of any left, but of the problems. So it's been great. You really do see the companies and the contractors out there that are bought in and adapting to technology. Tyler made a couple comments about just a new way that things are going and broadening the horizons, that's what's happening. I mean, if you're not adapting, you're not growing, then you're going to get left behind.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, it's so true, and we're seeing it all the time. You know what? The other thing along with technology is as an industry, as a world, we understand how important relationships are, long-term, short-term relationships. And so John, just talk a little bit about how Labor Central and this technology of finding crews and connecting crews and contractors has really started to create long-term relationships on a larger scale.

John Van Beek: Really, I mean, we know the state of the industry. Unfortunately, crews come and go. They may work for you one day and then they'll find another contractor that they want to work that keeps them busy every single day. That whole dynamic of finding a crew or having two or three crews on your books that you've used previously to use them for future projects may not be factual anymore. I mean, you hear it every day from a distribution sales standpoint, Stuart can attest to this, is how many contractors give you a call and say, "Hey, I've got a job. Do you know of a crew?" Or for instance, Stuart said previously, I mean if you go back three years ago, people were going to Home Depot trying to find crews, buy a competitor's project, trying to get the crew name, going to Craigslist. I mean just absolutely archaic ways to try to find a crew. So that's why we said, "Hey, let's provide a digital way for contractors to find qualified install crews really quickly and easily." Yeah, you're on mute, Heidi.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Now I did it. Now I did it. We do have a question around that, and then I want to come back to that, but Rick Sand, thank you so much. He wants to know when was Labor Central established and do they serve every state?

John Van Beek: Yeah, so Labor Central was established about two years ago. It took us obviously at least a year to get the programming. It's the chicken before the egg kind of thing, you know what I mean? We first had to develop a database. Currently we're about 2,000 crews, and obviously a crew is anywhere from size of three to 20. We had to build a database first in order for it to become a platform that we can offer to roofing contracts. I've been with Labor Central now for 13 months. That's when we already started to promote the platform to individual contractors.

To answer your question, yes, we are currently only available in the USA. We haven't done any kind of outreach into Canada, but it is on our roadmap. I know somebody asked that question on the chat. There are a couple of states right now where we don't have what we call adequate coverage. It's really North Dakota and Montana. Obviously the population is very much lower than any other areas within the United States. But we do have coast to coast coverage, which we feel is an adequate number of crews based on low slope and steep slope.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: You have a number of traveling crews also. Because in the app you can say will you travel or where the job is and people can pick it up from anywhere really.

John Van Beek: Absolutely. When we do the onboarding with a crew, there are a number of crews that really like to travel, because if they go, we don't want to call it storm chasing, but when they go to a weather event and they're working for a contractor, that individual contractor is going to have 15, 20, 30 homes ready to go. So from the aspect of the crew, you really got to look at... The only thing a crew wants is two things really. They want to work every day, and they want to be home or they want to travel. Once you satisfy that from a crew standpoint, if they can work every day, they're over the moon.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Please keep those questions coming, we are working through this. But I do have a question for Stuart because one of the things you have been on the forefront of really bringing Labor Central to your branches in Florida, and little secret down the road that we're going to see even more integrations with Roof Hub so Stuart, what are you hearing about from contractors who are using Roof Hub, and how has been the rollout for you in Florida?

Stuart Tapley: Yeah, so like I said earlier, the digital integrations and our online platform with Roof Hub is super, super easy to navigate through. If anybody listening has any questions, reach out to your local branch or territory manager, be glad to walk you through an exercise there. But it just makes things easier, from a well-established business like Mark Kaufman Roofing to a brand new company, which is probably even more important to be able to do things faster, order faster, tracking rewards, less people, you don't have the 125 employees, it's just you and maybe your wife or you and your partner.

We've seen just tremendous adoption throughout the entire country. Obviously being in Florida, we'll keep it Florida-specific. But I mean the whole country has just been very, very adoptive of it. It's an ever-changing platform that's consistent with continuing to improve and get better. I wouldn't be able to do what I do without the platform, and obviously Tyler is fully entrenched it as well. But I can tell you, it just makes things a lot easier. And obviously from the sales side, selfishly, it just makes contractors more valuable and sticky to us.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, yeah. Excellent. That is great. Tyler, we're going to come back to you because I want to ask a little bit about that experience you're having also, but I want to make sure we're getting the questions as we go on here. I see a lot of people. I know they're awesome. So Pete Schmoss, thanks for being on here. He says, "Is there an actual app or do we access through the website, John. The mute button.

John Van Beek: There you go. It's a web-based app. It's not an app that you get from Apple or iOS or Google, it's basically a web-based app. So you would actually type in www.laborcentral.com/srs, and you would keep that in your browser.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Also, along that same line, so Pete, it's really easy. I put the URL up here, it's very easy to get on and to get started across the board. Philip is asking, "Will you expand to getting other roofing related jobs, office permitting, project managers?" John.

John Van Beek: Yeah, so we have numerous things on our roadmap. Firstly we're going to expand the trades. We were just in roofing residential, we're now in roofing residential and roofing commercial. We're now in siding, we're now in gutters. So we are going to expand that purely from a crew standpoint to other trades. But also on our roadmap is what we're hearing from people like GAF and the NRCA and IKO, is that they're spending a lot of resources and training individuals into our great industry, but there's no real easy platform for individuals to try and find work. Our next phase, which we believe is going to be live hopefully in January of '24, is we are going to have the ability for people to actually post their resume, post their experience on Labor Central for individual contractors as well as distributors and manufacturers and anybody out there to actually find qualified individuals that they can hire either as a W-2 employee or on a project specific 1099 project. So that's pretty exciting.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's really exciting. I mean, it is so needed in the industry. Alex, thank you for your question. You said, "If I need labor, I specify the details of the job and the price desired, correct?" That's the question, "And then the onboarded contractors reply if they're interested." So John, is that how it works?

John Van Beek: Yeah, so what I would recommend you do is go to laborcentral.com/srs. We have a great introductory page there that's going to give you some short videos on how to register, how to search for a crew, how to post a project. They're really short, two, three minutes. We've tried to make the platform very easy to use. It's not complicated at all. But there's also at the end of the page, if you'd like us to onboard you and give you a demo, we would love to do that as well. There's a little link there or you can give us a call. We are here to help.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And you know what? Alex just asked the next question that we haven't covered, and I think it's so good. I think we were going to cover this, so Alex, thank you so much, and that is, "Can you go more into the requirements to be onboarded as a contractor wanting to provide labor?" Because that is true, you're going to have contractors who might be looking for labor, but they also might be wanting to provide labor for everyone looking for that. So John.

John Van Beek: Yeah, absolutely, Heidi. We have multiple contractors that are both registered as a contractor, so when they get work looking for crews, but we also have a huge amount of contractors that actually are registered as install crews, because they may not have work every single day and they want to keep busy, so this is another great option for them to have. Register as a crew, and we'll onboard you individually and get you going.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I think it's such a great way if you're looking for work because there are a couple areas in the country right now that are softening just a little bit, and if you're looking for work, this is a great platform to get on Labor Central to find those jobs. Tyler, I really am interested, you are just getting into Labor Central, you've been a bit, like Stuart said, very involved with the Roof Hub and stuff, how's it been working for you? What's your recommendations to contractors out there who are looking to get involved starting to use Labor Central and Roof Hub?

Tyler Grams: Well, I guess you got to get yourself a Stuart. But no, I think that's the quickest route is the relationship you have with your manufacturer, in our case, SRS, just being connected with them. Because again, everybody's in the same boat. We're all working together to get to the same spot. We do use Roof Hub. Having Roof Hub, again, for just being able to view your invoices, see what's currently invoiced, what's not, like he said, where the trucks are at, and now being able to also have your labor all on the same spot, that's pretty big. But it's having that connection and having that relationship with your supplier, with SRS. That's where it all starts.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I was going to, Stuart, come back to that, is that everybody needs a Stuart. I love that, Tyler, that's great. But really that branch relationship is so important, to build that relationship with your branch on, whether it's managers, sales rep, outside sales, whatever it may be, because they can really walk you through this new technology like Labor Central, right?

Stuart Tapley: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, everybody at the branch, assistant branch managers, the branch managers, as well as your local territory manager, if you have a relationship with them, if you don't feel free to call the branch or even call myself. I mean everybody in our network is fully capable of doing any demo on the Roof Hub side. Like you said earlier, Heidi, we are forward-leaning with this. It's a big push for us, and we've done a great job adopting it as a company. It has really paid dividends because, let's face it, the contractors have enough problems to deal with just doing contractors stuff. I mean, let's be honest, we all do. But if we can just take a little bit of the burden off of the supply chain side, which obviously is a major arm in their success of having things efficiently done, taking some time off of their back and having some synergies there to pick up some time gain so they can focus on more important things. It's a great tool for everybody around.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it. John, we're getting to the top of our hour, but I would love for you to talk just a little bit about what you'll be doing at IRE and what some of the things people should look for and why they should be attending. I mean, this is going to be the first week of February, and there's just so much going on from a Spanish, bilingual, and then with Labor Central.

John Van Beek: Yeah, so we're excited to partner with the IRE and the informal organization. We've been working with them hand in hand in really trying to promote the Latino side of the IRE, trying to get it more inclusive. This year at the IRE, we are obviously going to heavily promote it within our crew basis as well as our contractor base, because, really, it's a premium roofing trade show where you can really gather a lot of information. There have so many great seminars. We're happy we're going to be having one as well. We're going to be talking about labor. Not talking about Labor Central, we're going to be talking about labor, the issues we have, solutions that are currently in place, and solutions that are going to be rolling out in the future that we are working with different organizations. And really a way to really get our install crews really involved within the industry, both the NRCA and the IRE, so we're really excited about that.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yes, I mean, really, when you think about this technology is bringing cultures together, and the Latino culture is so critical to the roofing industry. We had a great Coffee Conversations this morning talking about that, and so I would recommend everybody, watch that on demand. Also check out everything's going to be happening with IRE across the board. We had one quick question here on does Labor Central have other partnerships out there, John, hand in hand with SRS?

John Van Beek: Yeah, so basically we have an exclusive roofing distribution agreement with SRS. We feel that their Roof Hub and their whole digital media push is really leading the industry from a distribution standpoint. But we do have lots of other partnerships. We have partnerships with the GAF. They have a platform called WorkBelt. It's now WorkBelt powered by Labor Central. We have an agreement with IKO, but we also have laborcentral.com. That's available to every single one of them.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yes. We don't talk about pricing on this, but I will say check it out. There is some special pricing through SRS. Gentlemen, thank you so much. This has been so informative. I love all the questions. Thank you out there. If you have further questions, of course you can find out all this information on the laborcentral.com/srs, as John was saying. Also, Labor Central has a full directory on RoofersCoffeeShop, as does SRS. We also have Para Latinos talking about, again, labor and the inclusiveness and diversity that is coming through technology. So gentlemen, thank you so much for being on today.

Stuart Tapley: Thank you, Heidi.

Tyler Grams: Thank you.

John Van Beek: Thanks a lot.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank you. And thank you all for watch-

John Van Beek: Thank you.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Thank you. And thank you all for watching. We will be doing another RLW at the end of the month, so please join us then. Please check out the directories for both Labor Central, who is our sponsor, and SRS. Get all this information. And you can always ask us, heidi@rooferscoffeeshop.com. So we will be seeing all of you at the next RLW. Thank you so much and have a wonderful day.

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