By Ellen Thorp, NWiR Executive Director.
Shortly after states started issuing “Stay at Home” orders in mid-March, my colleagues and I who run our industry’s associations jumped into action. Many of us have significant government relations experience and we could see that proactive monitoring and engagement would be needed if we wanted to keep the roofing industry working. We had our first call in late March with the chief staff executives and government relations staff of the "alphabet soup" of associations that you (or your employers) are members of: the manufacturing company associations of ARMA, ERA, PIMA, RCMA and SPRI; and of course NWiR and the NRCA. We all know each other pretty well and have worked together many times, but never with quite such intensity.
That first call wasn’t necessarily a somber mood, but it was solemn. We knew that we needed to mobilize quickly and efficiently to help educate policy makers about the critical nature of roofing. We unpacked where the federal orders and definitions were housed, and then we looked at which states had already issued restrictive orders and where we needed to reach out first. We also researched what other construction and manufacturing related associations and coalitions were doing. We agreed that our ultimate goal was to help policymakers at all levels understand the critical nature of roofing and to offer clear communication and support to the roofing contractors. We also agreed to use the NRCA COVID resources page as the clearinghouse for posting information.
Our first deliverable was a letter to the White House requesting that any federal orders issued included roofing as an essential business. Then we reached out to the Department of Homeland Security, the National Governors Association and other organizations that represent state and municipal elected officials and executive offices. In concert with the regional, state, and local roofing contractor associations we also reached out to specific governor’s offices.
At the same time, each of these associations was also having internal discussions about how best to serve their own individual members in the roofing industry; at NWiR this was the beginning of the Together More Than Ever series.
A couple weeks later, we added IIBEC, MCA, SPFA, SRCA and TRI to the coalition and then Reid Ribble suggested forming a second larger group which included the chief volunteer leader (association members) of each of these associations. Between these two groups, we are on the phone at least once a week discussing the state of the industry, anticipating what might be coming next and how to position the roofing industry, and trouble shooting any unexpected things that have popped up. None of us anticipate that the coalition will be a permanent fixture or become a separate entity in and of itself, it is intended to be temporary and focused on a unified response to the COVID issue.
Now that some states are opening back up and the safety protocols for roofing contractors are well established and available on the NRCA COVID resources page (and of course our manufacturers have their safety protocols in place as well) we are looking down the road. We have developed a document entitled “Back to Work on America’s Roofs” which is intended to raise awareness that the roofing industry is essential to the recovery of the economy and to the wellbeing of millions of Americans. You can read the document in detail on the NWiR blog, but in brief it is designed to reach decision-makers who can influence tax policy, ensure that roofing is categorized as an essential business in all fifty states, and foster an environment that will speed a return to growth of the economy.
We know that our work isn’t done yet, and in the meantime all the regular business of our associations continues as well. I hope it may provide some small measure of comfort to know how often you... yes, specifically YOU are thought about and to know some of the things that are happening behind the scenes to support your business.
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