In this episode of Roofing Road Trips Podcast with Heidi, we hear from Carol Perkins of IKO. Carol shared with Heidi how she got into the roofing industry many years ago after a recommendation from a favorite professor. After 23 years in the industry, Carol strives to share her knowledge and mentor her employees due to her strong belief in the importance of the retention of key employees.
Heidi: Hello, and welcome to another Roofing Road Trips with Heidi Podcast. I'm so happy to have you all on today as part of our ongoing read, listen, watch series where we are interviewing very interesting people who I've met on the road several times that I've known actually for a long time in the industry. Back at the Canada roofing show, Carol Perkins and I sat down and we started talking about roofing and about diversity and national women in roofing and a lot of great topics and I knew we needed a podcast. Today I would like to introduce Carol Perkins, director of marketing North America for IKO. Carol and I have known each other for a long time. Carol, thank you so much for being here today.
Carol: Thank you so much for having me.
Heidi: This is cool. I knew that when you and I talked in Canada, and you were telling me all the great things that are going on with IKO that we just had to get this on tape. Tape may sound a little old fashioned, but we had to get a podcast put together. Maybe to kind of help our audience, would you mind starting out with a little bit of your history in the roofing industry, how you started and then let them know you a little bit better?
Carol: Well, thank you everyone who's attending the podcast today. My name is Carol Perkins as it was mentioned. I actually started my career way back in, what was 23 years ago. Really, what drove me here was during college, one of my favorite professors, Dr. Joel [Whalens 00:01:36], told me I should choose the career path of industrial sales and marketing because it would be a very lucrative career as you can imagine, and especially since I'm a woman in an industrial marketplace. Everyone recognizes my first job was electrical discharge machining, which I started in customer service. I worked my way into sales and marketing, and just so you understand how exciting it was, I sold discharge machining supplies. There was like wires, oils, graphites, filters, and I sold to manufacturers like General Motors, GE, and family owned tool and dye shops. My everyday life, I was really on the factory floor every day in an industrial environment. After nine years of that, I said, "Well, maybe I want to make a change." So I made a transition into the roofing industry. As I told one of the IKO's owners, at least roofing products would have some style and color because you can remember everything was black and white. It really was black and white. My prior experience helped transition me into roofing. But like any newer covering roofer, I knew I had to learn the technical details of the installation of the products in accessory for both residential and commercial roofing. I had to go into the plants and learn how shingles and roll products were made and manufactured and why they were made that way. Most important, I had to show the respect and listen to all the various people who were trying to educate me on roofing. I was the newbie. I'm no longer the newbie in the industry, but I was a newbie and everyone from plant managers to administrative type people, to contractors that visit our site, to meeting with distributors taught me this business, and I'm very respectful that they did that. For almost 23 years, like I said, I've been director of marketing for IKO North America for both residential and commercial roofing products. During this time, the least I can do is try to mentor as many employees as possible in the roofing industry because I believe it is critical to retain employees within your own companies. I'm very blessed because a lot of my long-term employees have been with me for over 20 years.
Heidi: Wow, that's great.
Carol: Yep. So I owe it all to them. I'm just a piece of the puzzle.
Heidi: Speaking of that mentoring, you're involved in a number of associations, but you're super involved with ARMA. Can you just tell us a little bit about that?
Carol: Yes. Many years ago, over 17 to be exact, I was invited into ARMA because they formed a group. It was the Communication, Marketing, Education Committee for the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association, as we know it's called ARMA.I've served as chair several times. I actually currently am the chair for that department and also always served on the committee. I want people to understand, everyone to understand what the ARMA group does for us. It is a trade association that represents North America asphalt roofing manufacturing companies and the raw material suppliers. The work they do is to bring proper legislation to our roofing industry. They make sure we have proper building codes that we educate on installation is safety measures for both residential and commercial products. The key here is ARMA works closely with association we know well, right? National Roofing Contractors Association. We're always trying to work with associations together, Whether it's IBHS or it's Chicago Roofing Contractors Association. We're always try to bring out the roofie knowledge out there and what's the proper and right way to do things, and also what codes do we need to have to make sure that we have longevities of our products.
Heidi: Exactly. You know what? You have done such a great job. I was so lucky last year to be able to come to one of your ARMA meetings, talk about RoofersCoffeeShop, how we can help. At the coffee shop, we want to be involved helping associations to get their information out. I was blown away with what you all do. It was pretty incredible. Also, just the amount of time that you give back to the industry through ARMA, through NRCA, National Women in Roofing. That really kind of tells me that you have a pretty awesome company behind you who's supporting that. Maybe you can tell us a little bit more history on IKO and kind of about the company because I know you're really proud of that.
Carol: Oh, I'm so proud of the company. I'm fortunate to work for a family owned company that's been in existence for close to 70 years. We proved we have a long-term commitment to roofing. This is what we do, this is what we live and breathe with. We're not a publicly traded company. So our decisions is not based on stock value. Not saying there's anything wrong with all the companies that do, but for our purposes, we are a family owned company and our resources are based on our long-term commitment to this industry. IKO as a whole has developed six core values which we practice within our organization. One value is, as I just mentioned, long-term commitment. We believe every decision we must consider the present and future effects of the employees, the customers and the suppliers and we always have to think of our continued success as an organization. This is one of the reasons why IKO has grown to become a worldwide leader in roofing, waterproofing and installation for residential and commercial products. We were founded in 1951. The first thing we manufactured was building paper, and in 1954 we made our first asphalt shingle. We started from a single small plant in Calgary to become a global corporation of more than 3,500 employees. The continued success of IKO is the treatment of the strength of character, the business savvy of its people, and the value of our family. Today, IKO continues to grow rapidly on the fourth generation of leadership. I don't know how many people are out there in the roofing contractor business, but we are on our fourth generation, which I think is amazing and we will continue to be this way. So you know these family members that are part of the business? Have to earn their position at IKO. It's not just given to them. They have to earn the right into the organization. They are involved in many levels during sales, during marketing, during manufacturing and within all the areas of our organization too. But they don't come in the organization as the top leader. They come in, they bring themselves through the organization, and even as children in the organization of the owners, they had to work during the summer months in whether, one of our plants, one of our offices, every summer they were working.
Heidi: I love that because that's what a lot of us grew up in contracting companies or in those kinds of situations where we worked, and I think that just shows so much integrity that the family continues. Every generation coming in come from the ground up.
Carol: Yep. It's a great opportunity and again, it's a great opportunity for them to learn the business from, not the clean side of the business, but like I said, you learn about being in the factories, you learn about having to do distribution and working with the roofing contractors, delivering shingles even. Right? I think it's a great learning curve and also shows them this is the industry and welcome into it if you're interested. They're not forced to go into our organization. They're invited in if they want to be a part of it.
Heidi: I think that's so strong and that makes people who really believe ... those kids are going to come into it because they want to, and that makes such a difference.
Carol: Oh, huge difference in an organization. We can't say that about all family owned businesses, but I can say from our point of perspective, I know the family members and they have joined in full forces here and will continue to grow adding more members as they want to come in and they want to be involved. We foresee our longterm performance, again as an organization, is going to continue on to the fourth, hopefully fifth, sixth, seventh generation.
Heidi: That is great. That kind of leads you to a lot of the growth that you're seeing with your manufacturing plants and your acquisitions. Why don't you tell us a little bit more about that.
Carol: Yeah, so like I said, we started with one, but because we're committed to roofing, the trends has allowed us to grow to more than 30 manufacturing plants worldwide. We have plants in Canada, the US of course, England, Belgium, Holland, France, Slovakia, right? We shipped products, roofing products to over 96 countries around the globe.
Carol: We watch stuff, and you know this because you know me personally, we've sold the metal roofing trend [inaudible 00:11:05], and it's taken some of the marketing niche from the asphalt roofing shingles. So recently we acquired the Work Tile Group, which manufactured metal roofing tiles for global sales. It's just distributed under the brand names like Decora and Girard, which I think we all heard of before. We're interested in roofing but we'll buy up niche marketplaces sometimes just to help expand our roofing growth.
Heidi: I love that too, and Decora, just like IKO are both on the coffee shop, our partners on the coffee shop and what great insight, because you're right, contractors need to diversify their business and so now they can do it all with IKO, which is tremendous. Talking about that, and I just love the family part of IKO, how committed they are to family. One of the things that I think you and I are both seeing with our involvement of National Women in Roofing is the importance of diversity and some of the cultures that are ... different cultures, obviously different genders, different nationalities. But what we're seeing is that there's a lot more family that is still coming into this industry and cultures that really believe in family across the board. I think that's been really strong. Maybe why don't you share with us a little bit of your initiatives at IKO around diversity. I know you're doing some really leading edge things in the Hispanic community also.
Carol: First and foremost, at IKO, we look at it as we're a very diverse group. We have all cultures within our company. Let's just talk about how we look at our potential source for labor. We know that you have to go out there and recruit people. Based on this, we're focused more on whether they have the right talent and skillset. Like I said earlier, I didn't start in the roofing business, I learned it, but maybe because I didn't have roofing experience didn't mean I couldn't learn it. We're looking for people and talent out there to come into our organization, learn our business. We'll be happy to teach you, right? But actually grow in our industry. Quite honestly, we don't care who you are, we just want to bring you in. We're very excited, whether it's woman, a male, a Hispanic, a Polish person. As you know, I'm from Chicago, so there's a big roofing population of Polish. We have a different culture, there's a huge Chinese community in Canada that does roofing. I don't want to leave out any groups, but there's a lot of different ethnic groups that can come into this business, learn the business, and be very successful at it, but I'm going to touch on one that's of course, dear to my heart, right? Woman in roofing, right?
Carol: I would say that IKO actually does recruit women for various roles across the country, including sales reps, managers, engineering, research development, customer service, and much more. We are a sponsor, IKO is a sponsor of National Women in Roofing, and I encourage both women and men throughout our organization to participate in the national local events and programs. Personally myself, Heidi you know this because you see me there, I attend the National Women in Roofing events at the international roofing expo and I volunteer to work in the booth because I want them to recruit new members into the program. I believe the National Roofing and roofing events are a great opportunity for everyone to network, not just network, but you network a woman, who are owners of roofing companies, you network the partners of roofing owners that may be women. You get to meet with roofing contractors, installers, manufacturers, and of course Heidi, I get to work with you. It's always a fun time. Again, we'll be actively involved again this year so I look forward to all the new events in 2020. Another community I do not want to forget is the Hispanic engagement that IKO was very focused on. We know that Latinos are over 54% of the roofing business. Between now and 2030, per the national Hispanic Real Estate Association, 52% of new home buyers will be Latinos.
Carol: We know this is a demographic that we want to support and empower. This is the future. Here are some of the initiative we have implemented at IKO. We have a Hispanic council. We are intentionally seeking and leveraging the input of our employees about our communities and growing Latino markets. They are collectively shaping and strategy around product programs and outreach. We're very proud of that, that we're taking this approach. On top of this, we have a Hispanic round table. This is our contractor facing events that you've heard about that we've been going nationwide. We've had them in Canada, we've had them in the US. Our purpose is to listen to our roofing contractors. It's our two way street to deepen the dialogue around trends, opportunities and challenges within the Latino roofing contractor community. This is our ears to the ground as we would say. So you want to know what they are encountering, what we could do better, how we can help them, right?
Heidi: So smart.
Carol: Then community partnerships. We're strategically identifying community partners to support and empower the Latino community. An example would be the National Hispanic Construction Associations. We recently sponsored and attended to legislative event in DC with this association. We're trying to be a voice like our a voice in ARMA. This is just another association we're extending out to. Again, sometimes when you're in, we are manufacturers, we forget that you have to speak to the culture in their own language and what's relevant to them. So we are currently producing meaningful content on our social platforms and social media, blogs all in Spanish. We recently just did a special thing for the Hispanic heritage month. We've reduced eight infographics showcase into tremendous contribution of the Latinos in the U S in our industry. We took this post that we created and we put it on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. Just for the record, we on our Facebook channel, we post not just English, we post Spanish information. One of the things I want to say there too is our website has three languages, English, Spanish and French. Because not everyone's first language is English. I'm all excited about too, another thing is I look at roofing contractors and sometimes they don't necessarily have all the installation instructions with them or have the knowledge of how to install our products. This year I was able to implement a QR code on each and every one of our shingle products. So if they're on a roof, they have an iPhone, they have a question, they hit the QR code, and it instantly takes them to a page on a website that's published, and I have that in six languages. Spanish, French, Polish, traditional English and Punjabi. This is for the roofing contractors we're aware of.
Heidi: That's amazing.
Carol: We recognize that we need to do a great job in communicating with our customer base, and our customer base being of course, roofing contractors who install our products. I can honestly say Europe already does this. Europe is a culture that has many different languages. Our companies in Europe have many different languages on their website. We share knowledge amongst ourselves and they were a big influence in helping us develop our websites and programs to accommodate various ethnic groups. I want to give kudos to them.
Heidi: That's really powerful. That really goes to show the power of your global reach with IKO, because a lot of times we get all these silos where different countries or different departments or even different sections of companies don't talk to each other, but it sounds like you're really sharing knowledge to make sure that everyone is winning.
Carol: Yes. Look, again, being family owned, I had the opportunity to ... I went to Ireland this year, met with all my European counterparts, had several days sessions with them and we'll continue this trend a couple of times a year and actually go meet with them to see what they're up to, what we're up to. The roofing industry in Europe is slightly different by country and culture, but again, we're all about sharing knowledge, trading information amongst ourselves, learning about our various products in our organization and know what our challenges are and also know what a wins are. So people always worry about your problems, but tell us about the wins. It's a great dynamic that we live in.
Heidi: What a great resource and really that allows you to become you and everyone at IKO to become this resource for the industry and for the contractors overall. I would love it, Carol, if you just take a few minutes and share with the contractors who are listening, what you see from your Hispanic councils, from your round tables, from your international, from all these different groups. What are some of the things they can do to better recruit labor and really have that diversity outlook that's going to help their business down the road?
Carol: Well, I think like I said, when we look at this and roofing contractors, I think we're all experiencing it, whether it is funny, it's not just roofing contractors, it's manufacturing too, it's transportation. We're falling into a workforce shortage. It's one of the biggest challenges we will be facing in the roofing industry. So, we have to face this problem because there is going to be a lack of availability of qualified laborers. It's funny cause everyone talks about just our industry. This is happening in other industries too. Transportation has become a major issue. People don't want to be truck drivers per se. If you don't have enough truck drivers, how are we going to transport our materials into the marketplace? You got to entice them back in? How do we get people to become interested and coming into our industry so we can supply the chain? Because no matter what, roofing is always going to be out there. Roofing product is going to be needed because this is what covers our homes, our businesses, right? So it doesn't go away. We got to be able to make certain we can supply it though to the end users when they need it at a moment notice, right? Especially when a storm hits and you have to rebuild. Here's some of the ideas that we look at that could be helping to improve the situation. Also, what we're doing right now is trying to working with small and medium sized contract or help develop the business. We're going to continue supporting the Hispanic workforce who [inaudible 00:23:05] like the Hispanic council to see how we can help them in the recruiting processes, what tool can we give them to make it seem interesting and more exciting, right? We want to invest in women in roofing because you want to pull them through our industry for various jobs. Again, it's not just one job, whether it's engineering at our plant level or it's customer service to supply roofing contractors their answers. You want to keep pulling these various items through your organization. We think is important, and I think everyone on this call is a roofing contractor too as a business, they're supporting it if you're family owned business that you bring in your next generation so it doesn't end. So we're bringing in our younger generation earlier than before, educating them on the opportunities of the roofing industries and what it can provide. It's important you have to have a succession planning so you can bring family members in and let them learn the business ahead of time so they have less struggles in the future. Maybe at that point if you have more experience you could use less laborers in the field. We're working together what ARMA and I do a plug for them. ARMA is going to have a webinar talking about labor shortage, part of the committee helping with that. ARMA is recognizing the labor shortage and we have to help in the industry to develop solutions and we're working together, ARMA, NRHC scale around this. Again, this is a real crisis that we're going to go into. Something that other companies may be doing but we do, we contribute to roofing vocational schools. Again, we spoke about it before where you have ... make sure we have membership in National Roofing Contractor Association, Chicago Roofing Contractors Association and a Hispanic association, building associations. Make sure you're out there networking to see what different people are doing, experiencing and how they're handling the situation.
Heidi: That's great. Those are all things that every roofing contractor business, every company can do. They can get involved locally with their National Women in Roofing councils, they can get involved with their Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in different groups. They can definitely go and volunteer and spend time at vocational schools, junior highs, high schools that the shop class, really being a part of that. There's so much out there that we just need to look at it a little bit different than we have in the last couple of decades.
Carol: Yeah, I think you definitely do. We have to start, and you and I have talked about this before too. You have to start at the high school educational level. It's not necessarily everyone needs to go to college. There's nothing wrong with that. But again, I think there's such a lucrative career in roofing that they can make. They don't understand how much money they could make in roofing possibly because no one's ever shown them this. The more you catch them in their high school years to show them that there is a living to be made in the trade, I think the better off we will be. I think I could say that with no exception. We all know the college debt out there is scaring some people, but there is another outlooking and you can go to these trade school, learn a trade on job training, and really have an interesting life in my opinion.
Heidi: I think so too. I think unfortunately, in our society we always tend to go to the extremes of the pendulum. It seems like we're finally starting to come back to the middle of let's really encourage our next generation to do what gives them passion. I know we have a lot of passion in the roofing industry for what we do, protecting the buildings globally, right? It's one of our prime needs, shelter. We provide that or contractors and manufacturers do.
Carol: We have to remember we have to protect our shelters because that's the most important things to us. It shelters our families, it shelters our goods, it shelters our memories. Like I said though, we can't fall short in this area because unlike other industries, I just don't see a machine going up there and putting up a roof. I could be wrong, but I don't see that coming anytime in the near future so we need to have a [crosstalk 00:27:14].
Heidi: Not in the near future.
Carol: Not in the near future.
Heidi: Yeah, and not without the help of some real crafts people who, because this is a craft, what we do. On that front, I think that's a perfect segue to go. Let's talk a little bit about that expansion on the need to make sure that ... I loved what you said earlier. It's our job to provide the materials quickly and when they're needed after these storms and we're having more. There's more and more of these storm events and damage. I know you're doing some big expansion, new plants. Can you share a little bit what's going on in that front?
Carol: I'll be happy to talk about that. Manufacturing roofing products is our life. That's what we do. We have continued to build our capacity with the North America market, with the expansion of our footprint throughout the construction of new facilities, modernizing our older plants and adding reload center to service our customers. When you need the material, you need to have it now. While we've been in business for 70 years, IKO has significantly increased its manufacturing investment in the past two decades by adding 13 facilities in North America alone. We always constantly reinvest into our current plants. So we're always try to do to make it better. That's our goal. Make it better. Let's talk about North America. In the last 20 years, we had another grand old plant. We already had one, we added another one. We added a limestone facility. We had a two ISO plants. We have two joint ventures, one a fiberglass strand mat, fiberglass strand facility, and also a fiberglass mat facility and many new shingle plants. In our US expansion, we added Sylacauga, Alabama in 2014, we added Hillsborough, Texas in 2018, we added Kankakee in 2006. We weren't satisfied enough. We had to add an ice and water line in 2019. In Canada, unfortunately, our plant was old. We tore it down and rebuilt our Calgary plant in 2013. We currently are under rebuilding our Brampton, Ontario plant. We've tore down the old one putting up a new one. This is planned to go live in 2019, and in the near future, we'll also have an addition to our family in Hagerstown, Maryland. For a contractor going understand, we're focused on innovative products and processes. We want to identify opportunities to remain as one of the most technically advanced roofing manufacturers in North America and in Europe. In our new plants and in modernization efforts across all our facilities, IKO's committed to have some of the most up-to-date technology in manufacturing. Each new facility reps the company's ongoing commitment to the roofing industry, it's response to the demands and the optimistic outlook for the industry. I don't know if you know this Heidi, but we first came to the United States and we brought an organization to break into it. There was three plants involved. After that experience, there's nothing wrong with it, this is when IKO decided to take it upon itself to build all its plants. We actually go out there, all the plants I just mentioned, we actually built from brick and mortar all the way up, including installing other machineries and stuff. IKO's very committed and it's investment to constantly take and give back to the roofing industry.
Heidi: That's what I'm seeing there. Also, I just loved it. We talked about this one at the Canadian show is how you use so much of your own sourcing, and you can see that and everything you just mentioned about the different plants, the granule plants, the limestone. That's impressive because there's just a lot of quality control that goes along with that.
Carol: Yeah, like you said, you have to own your own destiny. We own it. Again, our long-term objective is they'll be here for a long, long time, another hundred years. From a manufacturing perspective, we are one of the top vertical integrated manufacturing and industry. Making almost every major component that goes into our roofing shingles and related roofing products. As you've heard me just talk about it, we own our own granules, we produce our own fiberglass strands and we use our ... produce our own fiberglass mat. At our plants, we flux our own asphalt, and even produce our own shingle and roll product rappers. So the plastic wrappers you see around the shingles or the rolls, we make that ourself in our plant at IKO Brampton because we want to control the quality of everything we put into our products. We want to be self reliant on supply and most of our own materials because we want to be able to control the quality in a way few of our competitors can match. Again, we stressed a level of vertical integration that we have allows us to control our own destiny, not just in the United States but internationally. Because of the way we are in our culture and the family orientation of it, IKO is about sharing knowledge and teamwork. Example of this, we have a thing called the gold standard. What the gold standard does is we share our shingles among each other's plant to verify that the shingle products are manufactured to meet the strict manufacturing specification established by the IKO quality team. I don't know other manufacturers who necessarily do it, but I can tell you we do it because we have boards. I can see it in every manufacturing facility we're doing this comparison basis, our plant managers get on constant calls, talk to each other and review this information, and like you just brought up a few minutes ago, yes, definitely have noticed extreme weather and patterns the last few years and because of that IKO was challenged, it's manufacturing research and develop sales and marketing team to develop performance products that can provide superior value and performance to roofers. Because you want our product to help them in the marketplace. At IKO, we decided to shift our focus from three tab and architectural shingles. We still make these products but we changed what we're going to produce in the future and what we're going to actively promote and that has performance by products. We launched two new performance products called Dynasty and Nordic, and a Heidi, I think you saw these at the trade shows, these particular products and you saw them at IRE, IBS everywhere else. What these products do is they provide you with the ARMA zone technology, which is an engine a quarter nail an area, with a tear resistant whirlwind ban on the back of the shingle that provides incredible, fascinating power and help resist nail pull through, even in high winds up the 130 mile per hour with only four nails. The beauty of that product, again, the installer, normal nail areas on a regular architectural shingle is a seventh A, seventh inch that they're expected to hit. There is a nail line. Well, we all know sometimes a nail gun can arch, but here you widen the zone, please, you can still hit in the common bound areas, we refer to it or you can expand it and you actually hit it into the reinforce tape, which gives you confidence in again, the wind factor of the shingle. The difference between Dynasty and Nordic, Nordic also offers a class four rating. It's a polymer modified asphalt coating that has a shock absorber to cushion the impact from the elements such as hail. Again, I am from Chicago, we get hail. Wait, I get, not just hail, I get high winds too. So we need performance products in our areas. It's very important to bring these products in the market again, to protect against the extreme elements. One thing I have to say about these products, there's 20 in every bundle, which makes it a true square for a roof. So when you're doing your worth calculations, there's no short shingles in a bundle. You can imagine how you going to have to go to market with a performance like shingle. So our sales team right now is traveling throughout North America demonstrating the strength of the Dynasty, Nordic shingles. They're invested in this product. They are doing demo days, they're working with roofing contractors. They're training our distribution to uploading videos on our social media channels and on our own social channels themselves. So I encourage you to get together with any IKO rep and let them discuss this with you and show the stumble to you and hopefully, try to make you a believer.
Heidi: Carol, what I love about what you just talked about is the fact that you can tell that you listened to the contractors. I mean you listened to what they needed, that they need the performance products, they need the right nailing zones, they need things that make their business easier and better for their customers, for the homeowners and the business owners. That's really impressive. I love the fact how ... the shift in your focus. You guys have always done that, but to really hone in on these important elements with performance products.
Carol: Well, I think that you have to respect the people that install your product. They are your bread and butter to your product going on at home. I think at IKO, you should understand, we live and breathe our slogan, roofing elevated. So everything we're doing is trying to strive for a better experience we use in our products, and we want to the people to use it and feel confident about it. Again, it leads into the whole core values of our organization. When you're working with IKO, we want to make certain that you feel that we have integrity in our business practices, in our products, in working in supplier relationships. And sometimes I can get murky out there, right? I think there's a lot of noise. At roofing level that distribution levels, you don't know what's real or not. So we have to bring it back. So we look at it from the perspective, knowledge is power, and we have to be the experts to help and listen to roofing contractors and distribution too, to make sure that they feel very confident that we're telling them the truth. Hopefully, we're there and people do believe that we always try to do things in the best interest. But that leads me into something else, Heidi. Being a family owned business, we have six core values in our organization and we definitely eat and breathe them in a sense. I know some people put it up on the walls and it's just a slogan, but for us it's not just a slogan. Every new hire brought in learns about our six values and you can imagine what they are, sharing knowledge, integrity, long-term thinking, performance, humility and agility. Those are the forefront of our onboarding process when you come to work for IKO. We educate employees, [inaudible 00:39:02] integrity is roving into how we go about activities in each work day. So, as a career, we want people to understand that as long as you have integrity, you're going to have a mainstay career here at IKO. Remember this, if people trust you, and I think roofing contractors who understand it, if you go in a home and that person you're discussing or a building owner, if they trust you, they're probably going to buy from you. They have to have that sense of security. IKO invests this in the success of our company is investing in people. You invest in people, you invest in the products. One thing that joins us all, if we have the same values, we're going to be rewarded long-term in this industry.
Heidi: I agree 100%. That's what I love. I love the six core values. Vicki and I, we really have talked about RoofersCoffeeshop, and what we want to ... with that core, with that there, and Vicky came up with it long-time ago, roofing respect. That's our theme of roofing respect and I think it just goes hand-in-hand with roofing elevated and everything else. And so, the more we can do this, the more companies like IKO and RoofersCoffeeshop and all of the great contractors out there, the more we elevate this industry, it's a win for everybody. Thank you for sharing that. That was one of the things that as you and I have talked before, I'm always just blown away. It's very cool.
Carol: It's a win-win for all of us.
Heidi: Exactly. Speaking of that, speaking of win-wins, I know you're also taking that next step, so you have your employees, but you're also on very committed to your contractor loyalty program. Why don't you tell the contractors listening a little bit about that? Because it could be really great for their business.
Carol: Yep, no problem. We do have a contract with a loyalty manager. Her name is Nicole, and she does really work this program and trains our sales force in North America. But it's really excited because we launched our new fully integrated loyalty program called roof Pro. So we did have a program prior to that was called [inaudible 00:41:19] pro plus, but we launched it earlier this year actually in January, 2018. This revolutionary program is designed to help contractors increase their business and boost their bottom line by connecting contractors with potential customers. You begin the research process and guides the contractor customer relationship throughout the buying journey. You just heard me say it. If you go in a home and you're selling yourself because that's really what you're doing, the customer is going to feel confident in buying from you. So we provided online resources that shine a spotlight on IKO roof pro contractors through agency manager, managed advertising and vendor programs. We have a roof pro goal app that delivers leads from multiple input sources directly to member's smartphone. Unfortunately in today's society, we know people don't have patients. They make a call or in an email and they expect to get a response ASAP as we all know. So it's very important that these lead generations go through. It's plainly get them and that you contact the consumer back about possibly quoting them. To do this, we developed a robust Salesforce customer relation management tool, a CRM program, customized for roofing contractors and allows for real time alerts and responsive communication. Again, critical. Responsive communications. Again, as the generations go on and we know the millennials and everything else, so they want instant gratification from a response. I think this is a great new tool that people should try because lead generation drives business to you as a roofing contractor. The other thing is roof pro contractors better from not only comprehensive support towards design and their business, a change gamer for them is the bottom line. You have to have educational resources, expert community programming, marketing sport, extended limited warranties and much, much more. This program is about giving you the complete package. It's helping you get the bill, just knowledge to help contract or profitability, allowing them to save money. And again, all of us are in business, not all of us, but some of us are in business to have some money on the bottom line. Right?
Heidi: Exactly. That's a win-win too because contractors need to have the tools to be able to be profitable because then that takes ... helps them grow, helps their employees, helps their community. When people are successful and profitable, everything grows and everybody does better. I really love the fact that having you and IKO on the coffee shop, we get a lot of this information from your amazing team there that shares how to do that, how to use these apps, how to really use the tools that are out there. So I really appreciate what you and your team do, Carol, to get all of that information out to the contractors. Yo guys are really diligent and tenacious about it. I love it.
Carol: Yeah. I think it's great. Like I said, any way we can help a roofing contractor improve his business, improve his bottom line, we're all in in a sense of, training with any of our tools to help educate them. Again, IKO as a company, we don't just go for the largest contractors out there. There's nothing wrong with that, but we also focus on the small and medium size roofing contractors. I think that's important. We don't want anyone left behind.
Heidi: Nice. I like it. With that in mind, why don't you talk a little bit about 2020. I can't believe it's right around the corner. What should some of these contractors, all sized contractors, what should they be thinking about going into the new year?
Carol: Well, I think each and all of us are looking at it from a lot of different perspectives, but I think we've got a lot of shared concerns. I think in 2020, I think we're going to have some challenges. We're going to continue to battle the issue of labor shortages. We're going to have increase severe weather activity and there probably is going to be more demanding energy efficiency needs. However we look at this, the roofing industry has got to be prepared to deal with this, the new and developing challenges in 2020, right? It could bring a potential economic downturn, a slow down in new construction. We see things in our political environment right now that is up and down. It's a very interesting time I think in our lives. You see, because people aren't going into it, there's a rising contractor demand for more training and educational tools because there isn't enough people out there to train people how to do it. You either have to learn online or you learn on site, but you have to continue to develop things towards that because you have to make it easy for this industry to grow and be prepared to face whatever challenges we have in the future, which we don't have control of. Again, I don't need to bring up the immigration situation, being allowed to come into the country and actually perform some of these jobs.
Heidi: Exactly. I also think for contractors as they are looking at 2020, and we just had a webinar yesterday with National Women in Roofing and where they talked about the next 10 years too. But I really think is so important to align your roofing company with good manufacturers and good distributors and really creating that bigger team around your roofing company. Really what you have talked about today I would think really shows what they can do when they are an IKO contractor. They can get the tools they need, they can get the education they need, they know they're going to get the right products and performance products, how to communicate to the customers. We keep saying here to the contractors, find the culture that fits you with your manufacturers and distributors and build a relationship. Make it strong because that really I think is one of the most critical things you can do for your business.
Carol: No, I agree 100%. Again, IKO is here to stay, we're not going anywhere. We'll be around for many generations to come. The relationship you build, especially with your manufacturer is one that can continue to grow and improve on. Again, align with one. I think we're all in the industry to know that you might not be out there wanting to offer six different products because it creates confusion in the home. I think we also have to understand that homeowners are educated now, so that's good because they do understand why they have to put on a new roof. I think to grow, you just have to understand the changes in the marketplace and adapt to them. We'll continue our part in improving our performance products to help the contractor one, provide faster installation, two, easier installation, three, making sure you get the performance material that you expect. We really look forward to everything in the future here.
Heidi: That is great. Well, you know what? Just real quick to kind of summarize on a high level, I know you have some big things and your focus on performance into 2020 anything you want to end with or share?
Carol: Yeah. We're looking at an initiative, it's going to be called like cold plus, right? We're developing some new accessory products that will be introduced in 2020 that will enhance your work performance, so fortify the roof, little different ways that you can go about it. But you have to wait to 2020 to see that because we'll start showing the details at the trade shows in our diary next year, international roofing expo. It's all about, again, this focus is enhancing the overall protection of a roof deck from the outside elements. What hurts your inside of your house water infiltration, right? So our goal, as I talked about earlier, is developing performance products and accessories that form a cold plus performance application system. I'm pretty excited about that. Again, sorry I can't talk to you a lot about it, but come and see us in 2020 or a sales team member and we'll be happy to discuss it.
Heidi: That is perfect, Carol. Also, I want to tell everybody listening to this too, IKO has an awesome directory on their RoofersCoffeeshop. All of their articles are on there. Any new announcements they send to us right away. As you're getting ready for IRE, be sure to first of all, put IKO on your list, visit the booth, and second of all on be sure to visit the coffee shop and kind of see what all the information that's out there. Of course, this podcast will be on there. I think we're going to be doing a couple more things together. Carol, this has been pretty fun.
Carol: Oh yeah, absolutely. We love working with the RoofersCoffeeshop. You have a great relationship. I know you, Deborah knows you, our whole team knows you. So any way we can help and any information you ever need, we'll be more than happy to help you out with it. Yeah, it's an ongoing relationship.
Heidi: That sounds great. Well, we're going to wrap up, so I want to thank everybody for listening to this podcast and be sure to visit RoofersCoffeeshop, the RLW, read, listen, watch initiatives, where you can learn, you can listen to it, you can watch it on video, you can read eBooks and check out our downloads, so be sure to visit there. Also, please visit the IKO directory and read the articles that they have on there. They are very informational and we will be looking forward to the next Roofing Road Trip Podcast. Thank you all for listening.
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