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RoofersCoffeeShop - Where The Industry Meets!

Roofing Roadtrips with Heidi Podcast with Reid Ribble - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

October 21, 2019 at 12:30 p.m.

RoofersCoffeeShop® presents the Roofing Roadtrips with Heidi podcast, where, during her travels, Heidi interviews roofing industry professionals about important topics that affect the entire industry.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Reid Ribble to learn more about Roofing Day in Washington, D.C. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here

Heidi Ellsworth: This is Heidi Ellsworth with Roofers coffee shop and I am sitting with Karen Edwards, our RCS editor. Hello Karen.

Karen Edwards: Hi Heidi. Thanks for having me.

Heidi Ellsworth: Oh this is so great. Because you know I am lucky enough to travel across the country with you and Tim and Vicki and Mick, and really meet a lot of great Roofing professionals. But last week really was phenomenal. Karen and I were fortunate enough to sit down with Reid Ribble, NRCA CEO, and Karen interviewed him. Karen, how was that?

Karen Edwards:  Oh that was incredible, Heidi. Yeah, it was so great to sit down with Reid at that hotel coffee shop. When you hear the interview, you'll hear a little bit of noise in the background because it was morning and everybody was getting their coffee. But I was on my way to attend my very first roofing day and I wanted to hear from Reid, what should I expect as a new person coming into Roofing Day, because I've never done this before.

Going to Washington DC and meeting with my representative and my legislators, I'm not going to know what to talk about. And he went through and explained how every step of the way they're helping you out and even though Roofing Day 2019 is over, it happened last week, and it was amazing I have to say, we wanted to share this podcast because we want people to know what to expect so they can start planning for next year.

And the experience was just simply incredible from the time we check in, we get our schedules, we get our talking points, we get our appointments and we get to listen and be educated on those topics before we go into our meetings. Even seeing a role play between Reid and someone else pretending that they're in there, having that conversation and you're not alone in your meeting, you're with your group of people from your state or your area and the experience was amazing. To see that many people from the industry come together and speak in Washington DC with one on voice and be heard.

I am definitely signing up for next year as soon as registration opens.

Heidi Ellsworth: I'm with you. You know we went last year. We went this year, Tim and I, and it is the most amazing thing that we've ever done in the roofing industry. The pride is just outstanding that you feel being around all these other roofing professionals who are all working together.

So Karen, I really love the fact that you were there this year and we all got to experience it together. And you know that's part of our Roofing Road Trips and this is a Roofing Road Trip Podcast. So what we're going to do is we're going to share with all of you the interview, the podcast that had with Reid last week before Roofing Day. And just remember, this is all part of our read, listen, watch, program where we really want to deliver information to you, roofing contractors, when you want it, how you want it. So right now we're going to offer you up a very, very cool podcast. Enjoy.

Karen Edwards: I'd like to talk a little bit about what's going to happen this week in Washington DC for Roofing Day.

Reid Ribble: Sure, sure. We've got over 400 roofing professionals from across the entire supply chain. And I think that point really needs to be reinforced is that this is not just a roofing contractor event, it's a roofing industry event. So whether you're in communications, whether you're in raw material supply, manufacturing, distribution or construction, or design, we've got professionals coming from an entire industry.

And it's an important thing when you do any type of lobbying effort for an industry to be in agreement. Because if an entire industry across the whole supply chain is in agreement, you take away a member of Congress's, “No.” It's easy for them to get to, “Yes,” if everybody agrees on what you want. Industries make mistakes when they come in divided.

And so what we decided a couple of years ago was to actually get the entire industry talking with each other, trying to identify the top two or three concerns, and then focusing just on that at Roofing Day.

That's what's happening. We're going to be lobbying for the industry.

Karen Edwards: Tell me as a first timer and going to Roofing Day, I don't know what to say. What do I say when I meet somebody? Are you helping me with that?

Reid Ribble: Yes, we are. So when you come and you check in at registration, you're going to be given a personalized folder. Actually, you're going to be given a couple of them. Going to be given a personalized folder that has your complete schedule on when you have your meetings with your members of Congress and US Senators. And inside that folder we'll also have the top three issues and there will be a one page issue sheet, or information sheet, that you have to work off of.

It describes what the issue is, why it's important to you as a roofing industry stakeholder. And then you'll have another folder that you can leave behind with either the house member, or the Senator, or their staff so that they actually have those issues with them. And we'd hope you'd also give them your contact information because the real win here for the industry is when an issue comes up that might impact the roofing industry, that they pick up the phone and call you, and ask for more information.

This is about relationship building more than anything. We're going to train you on what these issues are. We're going to equip you, we're even going to do a little role play the day before, so that you can see how this plays out. It's a lot of fun and you'll enjoy it.

Karen Edwards:  Will I be by myself?

Reid Ribble: It depends quite frankly, you won't be by yourself in a US Senate office because everybody from your state will be together. But depending on how many people that are there from your same Congressional district will determine whether you're in a meeting alone with your member of the House Representatives. Remember there's 435 of those folks, but there's only 100 US Senators.

And so in many States, like the state of Texas has 40 people coming, so all of those will move together to their us Senate offices in, because the group is so large, they're likely to actually meet with their Senator themselves.

Karen Edwards:  Okay. So it's hard to wrap your mind around how by doing this it really makes a difference.

Reid Ribble: Yeah. It absolutely makes a difference. Yet you need to remember that a member of Congress, unless they were in the roofing industry, knows nothing about what you do or about the roofing industry at all. And so they'd fall into one of three very distinct categories. They're either informed, so like if you had come and talk to me when I was in Congress, I would pretty much know what was going on in the roofing industry because that's where I came from. But most members don't.

So they're likely to be in a second category of member that would be uninformed. They really don't know anything about you or the industry you work in and you're there to help inform them so that their decisions, when things come up that affect you as a constituent, that their decision making process comes from a place of being informed about the issue.

And then there's a third member of Congress's, and this is the one that we're most concerned about. We want to get to more than any other, and that's the member of Congress that has been misinformed. That they believe something about the roofing industry, that's not true. And your job then is to go in there and erase off of their life the issues that are not true and put back into their life issues that are.

And so that you can take them from a place of being misinformed about us to a place of being informed about us. And that happens in the relationship. And that's why it's so important to go every single year because you begin to build a relationship and member of Congress begins to know who you are and they start to greet you by name. And all of a sudden communication happens at a totally different level.

Karen Edwards: How do we measure success?

Reid Ribble: We measure success by what happens afterwards. And so last year we had three issues. One of those issues was college and technical career education. Now there was a piece of legislation that had already gone through the house but was held up in the US Senate, just literally within weeks after we were there, the one U S Senator that had held it up because of our meeting releases holding that legislation, it went to a floor vote and US Senate was passed and went on to President Trump to be signed.

And so one of our top three initiatives in our first ever attempt at lobbying, became law.

Karen Edwards:  Wow.

Reid Ribble:  And so we put success on the board by showing up. And also I think you have to measure success by the relationships that begin to be developed. And when in fact, members of Congress start to call you and ask you for further information or call me at NRCA for more information about the industry. These are big wins for the industry because now we're on their radar.

Let's face it, people generally don't think about roofing until they have a roof leak. And then they think a lot about it. Then it becomes the most important thing in their life. And so we have to help members of Congress know who we are.

Karen Edwards:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). Anything I missed? The three issues that we're going to talk to you about this when we go to DC this year? Yeah, this year. Could you tell me [crosstalk 00:09:25]-

Reid Ribble:  Yeah. There are two issues centered... Actually all three issues are centered around workforce. As I've traveled the country, and I don't care whether I talked to anybody in the supply chain, issues of workforce come right to top of mind. People either cannot find a skilled labor and in many cases cannot find labor at all. And so we've got two different pieces of legislation that we're supporting and wanting to let members of Congress know that we'd like to see them either co-sponsor or advanced legislation on additional training.

We've got not a specific piece of legislation on immigration, but we've got immigration principles. We want them to know where the roofing industry is at when it comes to immigration, and then the third piece of legislation is on infrastructure.

Typically what members of Congress think in terms of infrastructure, they connect it, the transportation. The Transportation Committee is really the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. We call it simply TNI. But it's that vertical construction element. There's a lot of federal buildings and government buildings that are built that we need.

And then on the transportation side, modernizing our airports, sea ports, transit and things like that, all have elements of vertical construction where roofing contractors are going to be engaged in it. And so we need to make sure that in the whole discussion around a big Transportation Bill, that the vertical construction element of it doesn't get left behind just because we want better roads.

You know, there's more to infrastructure in this country than just road building.

Karen Edwards:  I thought that was the most interesting. I was really excited about that issue that we're going to be talking about that one.

Reid Ribble: You know, and interestingly enough, we sometimes can struggle trying to get union contractors to really be supportive of what we're doing. And we've engaged the roofers union to participate in what we're up to. And they were the ones that actually brought this issue to the table and we are really thankful that they did.

Karen Edwards: Any possibility you can give us a little bit of a peak at this survey that's coming up that [crosstalk 00:11:37]-

Reid Ribble: Yeah. What Heidi is talking about is the the Roofing Alliance, which is the foundation for NRCA. They do a lot of benevolent things and one of the benevolent things that they do is research on behalf of the entire industry. And a year ago they commissioned Arizona State University to do a study on the roofing industry's demographics, a complete study.

How large is the industry? How many manufacturers out there? How many distributors? How many roofing contractors? How many employees do we employ? What's the economic impact? What's the gender and ethnic makeup of our workforce? How many companies are using sub contracted labor because they can't find skilled labor? Or using other alternative forms of labor?

And I've had a chance to see the preliminary study. I can't talk too much about it today because we do believe that ought to be embargoed for Alliance members who are funding that project until it gets released. But I can tell you some of the findings are surprising in a very good way and some of those findings are surprising in a very bad way.

But we can't fix problems absent having data. And this is going to equip us for Roofing Day 2020. They actually go into members of Congress and say, "Here's the economic impact of this vital industry that we're working in," because nobody really knows, but we're going to know here in a few weeks.

Karen Edwards: Exciting. That's exciting. Yeah.

Reid Ribble:   Yeah.

Karen Edwards: That's good. Is there any, I think the last question I'd like to ask from here in the RoofersCoffeeShop perspective is we have a lot of contractors out there that maybe aren't involved in NRCA yet, that maybe have just kind of been hearing a little bit about what's going on. So do you have, maybe to finish this set, just something, a message, to why be involved with NRCA and what is One Voice Initiative really is asking everybody to be a part of?

Reid Ribble: Yeah. Yeah. When I came into NRCA back in 2017 I spent six years in the US House of Representatives, but prior to that I was a roofing contractor from Kokona, Wisconsin. I served on the Board of Directors for NRCA. I was even Chairman of the board in 2006. And so I've got a passion for what they do.

But I think there's a misunderstanding about NRCA in that some people when you pay money for something, like you pay money to become a member, you think in terms of that financial exchange being transactional. You give us money, we give you things. That's like when you go to Walmart and buy something, then go to a car dealership and buy a new car truck. But what NRCA is Not for Profit Advocacy Organization. And so you don't actually get things per se?

Now we do have services that we offer and a lot of a lot of things getting included with it, but the big thing that we do is that we share the expenses of writing the rules for the entire industry. And so if you as an individual contractor wanted to go before the building codes at ICC or IBC and tried to actually change the building code, it'd be practically impossible.

But we've got five full time staffers in our technical that do nothing but work on making sure that the rule book that contractors must follow day in and day out are written in a fair manner and with them in mind. And rather than you hiring a professional for 150,000 or $200,000 you share that expense in part with your dues. We have four people working in Washington DC. We have 16 people working on our education, and certification department, which we're seeking to begin to certify roofing workers to authenticate their skill and begin to professionalize the industry so that we can actually have roofing workers achieve master status.

There's so much going on. We've got a complete communication department with a magazine that we put out every single month. We have a legal team, we've got attorneys on staff, and so all of these expenses are shared amongst all the members so that we can actually do the type of advocacy that changes the actual face of the roofing industry. And so really what we encourage people to do when they pay their dues is consider this an investment in their company that has returns that may be unseen, but are vitally important to the success of their business and hopefully their children and grandchildren.

Karen Edwards: I love that. Thank you. That's perfect. That is perfect. I'm going to steal it, because that is [inaudible 00:16:20] always say, "What do I get?" It's about what you're bringing together and how you're-

Reid Ribble: You have to take this natural inclination to get away from the fact that an exchange of dollars is transactional in its nature because it's not always transactional, it's supportive in some cases.

Karen Edwards:  Yeah.

Reid Ribble: So you know, a lot of us will go to a church or give to a charity or what have you. And we do that for the good of civil society around us. And yet we stop and don't even consider, "Well, how can I do some type of contribution to make my industry better? That actually gives me the likelihood that makes it so I can afford to do these things, and to be engaged in civil society in a different way."

Karen Edwards: Yeah.

Reid Ribble:  And so our message has completely evolved and changed to try to help people understand that we're not necessarily in a transactional business. We're in an advocacy business. And that means sometimes what we're doing day in and day out is hidden.

You don't even have to think about it because it happens. But what they do need to know is that there is a board of directors of nearly 45 people that are members of the roofing community that are instructing us on what to do. What should these activities be? It's all driven by volunteers.

Karen Edwards: Right.

Reid Ribble:  And so we do what our members tell us. And if you're a nonmember and you don't like what NRCA is doing, the fastest way to help us change is to become a member and then we'll do what you say. Just get involved. Get involved.

Karen Edwards: That's a brilliant way to message it. That makes so much sense to me.

Reid Ribble: Probably the biggest misperception about NRCA, people think it's just for the big commercial contractor. 20% of our members do residential work, exclusively. 60% of our members do residential and commercial work together. And so that only leaves you 20% of our members doing commercial work exclusively.

And so it really is a broad representation. And we have members across the entire supply chain, and that's National Women In Roofing is a proud member NRCA. And so we continue to try to be responsive to what our members are telling us and certainly responsive to what we believe the industry needs us to advocate for.

Listen to more Roofing Roadtrips with Heidi.

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