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Reed Hitchcock & Lynn Picone - ARMA’s 2024 Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Reed Hitchcock & Lynn Picone - ARMA’s 2024 Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION
November 15, 2023 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Reed Hitchcock and Lynn Picone from GAF and with ARMA. You can Read the transcript or Listen to the podcast.

Intro: 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.

Megan Ellsworth: Hello everyone. My name is Megan Ellsworth here at rooferscoffeeshop.com, and I'm back again for a roofing road trip and I'm road tripping over to ARMA to chat with Reed Hitchcock and Lynn Picone about their Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards. Hello Reed, hi Lynn. How are you guys doing?

Lynn Picone: Great. Thanks, Megan. How are you?

Reed Hitchcock: I'm excellent. Appreciate the chance to talk with you.

Megan Ellsworth: Amazing. Amazing. Well, let's dive right in and have ... Lynn, do you want to go ahead and introduce yourself?

Lynn Picone: Ladies first. How chivalrous. Thanks. I'm Lynn Picone. I've been with GAF for over 31 years and have had several positions in technical services, marketing and sales. My current role is in national accounts, where I work with some of our large national contractors, and I've been participating with ARMA for I think about 19 years, right, Reed?
Reed Hitchcock: Something like that.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow, that's awesome. 19 years, almost two decades. You're almost there.

Lynn Picone: Almost.

Megan Ellsworth: Reed, welcome. Why don't you introduce yourself?

Reed Hitchcock: Thanks, Megan. Reed Hitchcock. I'm the Executive Vice President for ARMA, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association. My journey in roofing started when I was 17 years old and my father paid me and a friend of mine to install a laminated shingle roof on our house, and we did a truly mediocre job. We got mad at each other halfway through the job, and so we started at opposite ends of the roof and [inaudible 00:01:55] didn't connect.

Fast forward a few years, I worked with a company that one of our businesses was selling US technology building materials in Turkey, and roofing shingles were one of the products we sold. And then a handful of years later, I got myself into the trade association business and I've actually been with ARMA for 20 years this year and it's been a wild ride. I've been in this role since 2007.

Megan Ellsworth: Amazing. Amazing. Wow. 2007, that's great. For all the listeners out there that don't know what ARMA is, what is ARMA and what are your roles within the organization?

Reed Hitchcock: I'll overview. ARMA is the trade association representing the manufacturers and raw material suppliers for the asphalt, roofing, manufacturing industry. We represent both asphalt shingles as well as low slope asphaltic materials, built up roofing and modified bitumen systems.

Megan Ellsworth: Amazing.

Reed Hitchcock: And my role is running the trade association. Lynn, what's your role?\

Lynn Picone: I'm just one of the volunteer manufacturer membranes. ARMA is a volunteer organization for manufacturers, and I currently sit as chair for the Communications, Marketing and Education Committee and task force chair for the Technical Review Committee.

The communications team's mission is to promote the benefits of asphaltic roofing. We have a really diverse audience of industrial industry professionals and property owners, and we just want to make sure everyone knows how wonderful asphaltic roofing is.

Reed Hitchcock: And I'd like to point out that Lynn was just recognized in our board of directors meeting for her service and dedication to the industry. Lynn's been chair of our Communications, Marketing and Education Committee more than once, and she's a great contributor to the organization as a volunteer.

Megan Ellsworth: Congratulations, Lynn. Wow.

Lynn Picone: Thank you. Thank you.

Megan Ellsworth: What kind words. That's so amazing. And yeah, congrats on the recognition. That's always so nice to hear those kinds of things from your peers and people that you work with every day.

Lynn Picone: It is indeed.

Megan Ellsworth: What are the Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards?

Lynn Picone: I'll take that, I guess, [inaudible 00:04:24] by Reed's face, right? It's a program we came up with late in 2010 and began awarding in 2011. It really just recognizes the benefits of asphaltic installations for both flat or low slope applications and steep slope or shingle applications. We really want to extol the benefits of durability, affordability, reliability, versatility and it really provides an outlet for contractors to share the great work that they do and for that work to be recognized and celebrated within the industry.

It also serves to educate and informed property owners, right? We want commercial owners to recognize all the benefits and value of asphaltic roofing, and we want homeowners to see the same thing.

Reed Hitchcock: But it was originally intended to draw attention not only to the industry, but to really exemplary installations both on the steep slope and low slope side. Asphalt gets sort of a bad rap sometime. It's the stalwart of the industry. It's the go-to and it has been for a long time. People don't necessarily see the industry as innovative or creative, what have you and we really wanted to highlight using these tried-and-true materials, but in really challenging jobs or in really beautiful jobs and highlighting, again, the durability and just the quality of the system as well.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.\

Lynn Picone: Sometimes people can take roofing for granted, right?

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

Lynn Picone: It's so beautiful when you see a really gorgeous job. This gives us an opportunity to show that.

Reed Hitchcock: For sure.

Megan Ellsworth: I love that. That's so well said. It can be so creative. I think the trades in general are kind of slumped together and looked over as hands-on work, you're getting dirty, not really creative or thought-provoking, but I think I totally agree with you guys. I think it can be very creative. The craftsmanship is amazing. I love that you guys are all about celebrating that. I think that's so special, so congrats on making this amazing award. Going off of that, what are some creative, beautiful past projects that have been sent in that stuck out to you?

Reed Hitchcock: I think one of the ones that sticks out in my mind was a job, it was a church job that had very, very tight access. And Lynn, I don't know if you'll remember this one. It was a few years ago. And so a lot of churches had steep roofs and lots of interesting peaks and valleys and details to it, but just getting the material to the job was a humongous challenge. I was so thrilled that our judges latched onto that and really recognized that it wasn't just about the material or even the beauty of the building, it was about the challenge of getting the material there, getting it onto the roof and installing it in addition to those other factors. That's one sticks out in my mind. Lynn?

Lynn Picone: Oh, I have so many memorable jobs aside from the really breathtaking homes in stunning locales. I'll be honest, they're my personal lottery dream home fantasies when I see some of these incredible homes. But for me, of course, I can't help but be a little prejudiced, the GAF contractors jobs that are closest to my heart.I think the first one I think about goes way back to the very beginning in 2011. It was a modified roof in a building in Dallas called the Mosaic Building, and I love it because it stands out in that Dallas skyline. It's unique because it has this checkerboard pattern, which is complicated enough, but then they also have this logo, the Mosaic logo on there.

I drove by it just a little while ago, and this was awarded in 2011 and it still looks great. I was in a cab actually with someone else who serves at ARMA, and I just got this smile on my face, and she looked at me, she says, "What's that for?" I said, "That's an ARMA Excellence Award winner." True. Hand to God, I truly said that, right, because you take pride in something that endures and you see it look the same, so I just had that great feeling wash over.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Reed Hitchcock: There was also, in 2018, there was the Museum of the American Revolution. That was a really neat project. It's funny that the majority of the submissions we get are steep slope, and it's funny that we're talking more about commercial. Well, I guess that church actually was a shingle job, that first one that I referenced, but this Museum of the American Revolution was a combination of multiple systems. There's green roof involved with it, and there were this advanced storm management system that had heat recovery and air cycling systems all in it, and so it was a really complex job.

I think it was a Soprema job and it was really a fantastic job, but like Lynn [inaudible 00:09:57] an ocean bluff and what have you, and one of the challenges we put in front of our judges is don't just get mesmerized by a gorgeous house. We've got to get deeper than the pretty picture.

Lynn Picone: But those jobs have challenges, too, because those coastal jobs are exposed to winds and salt and sometimes, like Reed said, getting material there. But while you're on 2018, another job ... It wasn't ours, it was a CertainTeed job from 2018 ... It was called the Cincinnati Music Hall, I think. Stunning, stunning, just by sheer volume. It was a shingle job and it had two different color shingles. Again, you look at the complexity and the challenge and those craftsman skills that are needed to weave into these turrets and high pitches.

I mean, I've been on a lot of high roofs in my life, but some of these roofs, like the one last year, the KJ and GAF job, that one, that job, it was a church in Connecticut, the steeples were unbelievable. And you think about the courage that these contractors take to be able to go up there and do this and the complexity of loading it, how do you do all this? It's truly remarkable. It really is.

Megan Ellsworth: It is. It's also remarkable that ... I mean, I'm sure you all have received hundreds of applications and submittals to this award and you're just naming them off, "Oh, this one was really cool, this one was great." Again, it goes back to the craftsmanship and the creativity that goes along with this work that makes it stand out to you. And to go back to the first GAF roof you mentioned, Lynn, that is so cool that you saw it in person and it looks exactly the same, and so that's—

Lynn Picone: [inaudible 00:11:50] durability of asphalt roofing, too.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes, yes. Exactly, exactly.

Reed Hitchcock: And the efficacy of our contest.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

Lynn Picone: Yes.

Reed Hitchcock: [inaudible 00:12:00] Megan, one of the other things I would point out in addition to some of the jobs is we've had a number of companies that have put in multiple submissions. When I say companies, I'm talking about contractors, and at least two I can think of that have won more than once. Wedge Roofing out in California and Roofing Solutions down in the Gulf Coast are both-

Lynn Picone: Advanced.

Reed Hitchcock: ... yeah, multi-time winners.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Reed Hitchcock: That speaks to people, once they sort of get a taste for it ... I mean, the prizes are nice. They're not huge, but we promote them throughout the year. We recognize them at the IRE. I'm skipping ahead, I know, but it really is ... There's more to the package. The contractors, once they have a taste of that, they're like, "All right, we're submitting next year. We're submitting next year." Again, some have won more than once.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. It's things like that that push creativity and innovation. It's things like this award that really help the industry grow at the end of the day.

Reed Hitchcock: Sure.

Megan Ellsworth: Who are the judges that are judging these submittals and reviewing the applications?

Reed Hitchcock: We tend to rotate the judges. It's not the same people every year.

Megan Ellsworth: Nice.

Reed Hitchcock: We like to get sort of a cross-section of representation from the industry. Aaron Phillips, who's ARMA's Vice President of Technical Services, he is a multiple time judge. Aaron understands well better than I do the technical complexity as a job because of his long background in the roofing industry. This year, we also have Mark Graham from NRCA as one of our judges, and again, another person that's been in the industry for a long time and understands technical challenges. And then we like to have folks from various trade media participate. This year, Heidi Yelsworth from Roofer's Coffee Shop is one of our judges-

Megan Ellsworth: The one and only.

Reed Hitchcock: ... as well as Art Eisner and Brian Terry from other publications in the industry, and it's a nice cross section. And again, we rotate it year to year just to keep it a little fresh. I mean, it is a lot of work for these folks. They get all the submissions and a matrix to work through judging criteria to be it on and it's complex. I'll get calls once in a while. I think it was last year, former NRCA president Reid Ribble was a judge, and he called me up one night and asked me if he should be considering a certain aspect of one of the submissions. They really get into it. It's exciting and it's fun. It's fun to observe the process.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, and I bet it's an honor to get asked as well. You get to see all these different projects. You get on the inside scoop of what's going on and get to interact with all the cool contractors, too. It's definitely an honor.

Reed Hitchcock: [Inaudible 00:15:19].

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. You mentioned the reward for the winners of the award. What are some of the benefits to receiving this award?

Lynn Picone: Well, I mean, contractors get a $2,000 cash award for gold, $1,000 for silver, 500 for bronze, right? It's not a tremendous amount of money, but it certainly is enough to buy the crew's launch and celebrate their staffs and their companies, right? As Reed said, these folks are recognized and celebrated at IRE. We put trade press announcements out. They're on the ARMA website for a long time. If you go out onto asphaltroofing.org, you can see the Winners Gallery and those jobs that we talked about from 2011 are still there. You get this long exposure, right, not to mention social media outlets—

Reed Hitchcock: [inaudible 00:16:13] job profiles.

Lynn Picone: And job profiles and the media.

Reed Hitchcock: And the media. Those carry on for about 18 months after a win sometimes just in terms of placing and editorial calendars, what have you. It gives them as the contractors internet resources to share with potential customers down the road. We like to think it adds to their ability not only to promote their business, but the credibility of their business recognized by the industry, and again, as a swath of the industry, not just some guy at ARMA that says, "That's a pretty roof." [inaudible 00:16:58] broader. Yeah, no, it's a neat opportunity for them, and like I said, gives them exposure for a good long while.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, absolutely.

Lynn Picone: And to that, I think it affords contractors a real opportunity to differentiate and be recognized in their communities, and it gives them bragging rights, so they get to stand up and be noticed.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes, absolutely. And I mean, a cash prize, who's going to say no to that? But definitely bragging rights ... It brings the whole team together, the people that were actually installing the roof, the people in the office. It's just such a camaraderie element, and absolutely bragging rights are always the best. I'm a competitive person myself, and so I would want to win for sure. In your opinions, what characterizes an Excellence Award recipient?

Lynn Picone: I'll start. I mean, to me personally, I mean, roofing is hard work, and when it's done well, as many of these jobs demonstrate, it's an art, as we talked about that craftsmanship. To me, these winners are business owners who take pride in their companies, in their employees, in their reputations, in the communities where they live and work and they really deserve the acknowledgement of a job well done.

Reed Hitchcock: I think certainly, we're judging based on a submission that goes through a process, starting for us ... Well, it obviously starts with the job, right, and all the aspects of the job, and we actually changed the criteria for this year. There's four criteria, why asphalt, project challenges, distinction and beauty.

But the first exposure we have to the job is the submission and care in that submission does make a difference. That question that I mentioned that came from one of the judges last year really came down to somebody that hadn't thought through their submission. That job didn't end up winning. It was an interesting job, but they didn't fill in all the blanks that we need to make an educated decision about it.

I think on all of them, looking at not only just a beautiful execution, a creative solution to a challenge ... I mean, if you've got a roof with a whole bunch of penetrations on it for some reason, how are you dealing with that? You've got weird parapets to cope with, how are you dealing with that? I remember one of the jobs that sticks out in my mind had a whole bunch of, and I'm going to get the terminology wrong here, but had a whole bunch of those eyebrow windows.

Lynn Picone: Eyebrow dormers.

Reed Hitchcock: Okay, eyebrow dormers. I was close. It had dozens of them on a steep slope roof.

Megan Ellsworth: Whoa.

Reed Hitchcock: Yeah. I mean, just on top of dealing with everything else [inaudible 00:20:17] a very large house. We got to figure out how to work with those and integrate them so they don't look tacked onto the building.

Incorporating with other materials. One of the church jobs that I can think of from several years ago was a shingle job, a lot of steep slope, but they also had a turret that had a copper roof on it, and so blending those both from a color standpoint and an installation standpoint, because they did intersect at one point, making that all come together seamlessly and leaving the building owner or the homeowner with something that they're proud of and that is going to last them for a good long time.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Oh, man. I'm excited to see the submissions for this year. I'm so excited.

Lynn Picone: There's one other thing, and you'll get a special probably preview because of your connection, right? One of the other changes we made with the contest this year is we talked over and over again about these phenomenally breathtaking jobs, and we wanted to give an opportunity to some other criteria as well. We've got our medal winners, but we've also got what we call, we used to call them honorable mention, but now we're calling them best in class, because there are a whole series of other things that they may not be these gorgeous, breathtaking supermodels, but they're beautiful work in their own right.

We've got an in the neighborhood category. We've got a commercial or mixed use, because as Reed said, we don't get as many commercial submissions as we really would love to see. And then craftsmanship. We've seen some jobs over the years that are really ... They're geodesic domes, right? They're super technical to be able to work with. We've got a technical difficulty, and then we have a craftsmanship for some of this really more artistic, these steeples, these turrets, these things that we've talked about that are really works of art, so lots of fun coming up in this year's contest.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. Oh my gosh. Everyone should get really excited. Not only can you win first, second, third, but you can be best in class for all those different topics. That's really exciting. And it is nice to get a participation award. It is nice to get that acknowledgement for work well done, beautiful work, even if you're not winning the top prize.
Reed Hitchcock: And they still get all that same exposure.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes.

Reed Hitchcock: While they don't get the cash, they get the promotion throughout the year because that-

Megan Ellsworth: That's great.

Reed Hitchcock: We're in the business of promoting asphalt roofing. The more I've got to promote, the more I can promote and the more I can get the word out, and so that's a win-win in my book, and it doesn't cost them anything to enter other than a little bit of time to put together at least one thoughtful entry, and there's no limit to how many times a roofing contractor can apply.

Lynn Picone: And it's real opportunity to differentiate your company as a roofing contractor, right? Everybody faces competition all the time. And if you can be recognized by the industry as having a phenomenal job, whether it's best in class or a medal winner, it's an opportunity to promote your business.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely, and that's always a great opportunity to take by the reigns, put it up on your website, show your customers that you're working with, clients that you're working with, "Hey, we do great work here. We've won this many awards," blah, blah, blah. That is so great for their marketing and your marketing. It's fabulous, so ... Oh, go ahead, Reed.

Reed Hitchcock: I was just going to say, and for those companies that are present at the IRE, one of the things we started in the beginning, because I always wanted to do this, was we hand out the giant checks usually in the manufacturer's booth. We'll have the contractor and representatives from the contractor, representatives from the manufacturer whose products they used and representatives from ARMA, and I hand them ... Literally, that thing's like four or five feet wide, the giant check and they get to take it home with them or they can throw it in the dumpster.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Reed Hitchcock: And then during COVID, we did several of those virtually, and we'll still do them virtually with companies that don't come to the IRE. We'll send the check to them and then do a Zoom and capture video of them with the check and we talk to them about it. It's a multimedia experience, but how can you beat a giant check?

Megan Ellsworth: I don't know. I don't think you can beat a giant check. I mean, come on people, let's get the submissions rolling. I want to see this giant check.

Lynn Picone: Presented by Reed Hitchcock. It's so [inaudible 00:25:27]. It's exciting.

Megan Ellsworth: The one and only.

Reed Hitchcock: A lot of fun is what it is.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh my gosh. That is so fun. For all of our listeners out there that are getting excited, they want a giant check, they want the recognition, who's eligible to apply and when is the deadline?

Lynn Picone: I mean, this is to celebrate roofing companies, so any contractor who installs asphalt roofing is welcome to apply.

Megan Ellsworth: Awesome.

Lynn Picone: And the deadline is December 1st, midnight. It's looming right around the corner.

Megan Ellsworth: It is looming.

Reed Hitchcock: It is.

Megan Ellsworth: It is looming, so everyone out there listening, gather your submission, get it in. We're going to get this podcast up ASAP so people know about it and they can apply. This is so exciting. Thank you so much. Do you guys have anything else to add about the awards?

Reed Hitchcock: I would add, again, just reiterate, multiple submissions, we encourage them. We want to see all kinds of work that contractors have done. There is a submission tip sheet, which is a checklist just to give additional guidance on project entries, and that's available on the ARMA website at asphaltroofing.org. Lynn, what am I forgetting?

Lynn Picone: It's really just, again, a wonderful opportunity to promote your business. There's no charge to apply. Come one, come all, with as many jobs as you can think about, and time is running out, so apply today. We make it really easy on asphaltroofing.org.

Reed Hitchcock: For sure.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. The website to apply will be in the show notes below this podcast as well as on rooferscoffeeshop.com so you can go and apply, get it in, and if they didn't get their submissions in, they can commiserate and prepare for next year's submission.

Thank you both so much. This has been so much fun. I am so excited for the giant checks. Make sure I'm there when you hand them out.

Reed Hitchcock: We always invite the media to come and observe and participate in the celebration.

Megan Ellsworth: Okay, good. We'll be there.

Lynn Picone: All right.

Reed Hitchcock: Great. Thank you so much, Megan.

Lynn Picone: See you.

Megan Ellsworth: Awesome. Thank you so much.

Lynn Picone: Bye.

Megan Ellsworth: See you.

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

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