Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Jack Gottesman, Marketing Services Manager with IKO Manufacturing. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.
Heidi Ellsworth: Hello and welcome to another roofing road trips with Heidi. I am Heidi Ellsworth, a partner with Roofer's Coffee Shop, and I am so excited today to welcome Jack Gottesman, the marketing services manager at IKO for the US. We've been working together, we just started to get to know each other. And it is pretty de inspirational what he's been working on when it comes to performance products, colors, video, and really helping contractors. So Jack, welcome to the show.
Jack Gottesman: Thank you, Heidi. You mentioned a moment ago that we're just getting to know each other, but as I hear your voice, it feels like we've known each other for a long time. Because I'm a long time listener first time interviewer, so pressure's on.
Heidi Ellsworth: Oh my gosh. You just made my day. I like to hear those long time listeners. So that really makes me feel good.
Jack Gottesman: Well, you guys have highlighted some really important voices and influential voices in the roofing industry. So thank you. And it's really, it's an honor to be included on that list.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well Jack, we are so honored to have you here today and I really... Things are changing so fast with everything that's happening with COVID and in our society and to have people like you, who are really on the forefront of that, to really understanding what contractors need to be doing. I'm just really excited to talk about that today. It's one of my favorite topics.
Jack Gottesman: I'm excited too. Things are changing, but things are looking up for the roofing industry. At least in my opinion.
Heidi Ellsworth: I agree, everyone's busy. This is a good time. And the technology is really making a huge difference. So before we dive into that, Jack please, would you kind of just share with our audience a little bit of your history and roofing and what you're doing right now. I know I've said a little bit, but give us a bigger picture of what you do at IKO.
Jack Gottesman: No problem. So I'll tell you a little bit about myself. I grew up in Chicago, which is exciting for two reasons. One roofing related, one non-roofing related. We'll start with the non roofing related. The day that we are recording this is the opening day for the baseball season, which likely means that by the time that this airs and people are listening, the Cubs will absolutely be in first place. And well on their way to a world series victory.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it.
Jack Gottesman: And while the being on the podcast today is the most exciting thing that I'm doing, it's a close second. But joking aside, being from Chicago, it's an interesting place when it comes to roofing. Because Chicago is really a city that has four seasons. And it was funny when I was growing up and would visit family or friends in places that didn't, I never understood it. It becomes really a part of you, those four seasons. And when you get old enough to start paying attention, you realize that the things in your life need to be able to withstand those four seasons. All the things that keep us safe. These things that we use everyday, our cars, the wheels on our card. You need to have winter tires so that you can get out of the snow and the ice and the slush, and you're not going to slip and it's not going to be dangerous. And your yard, your yard work needs to be prepped for the winter. And your roof too. And what all those ice [inaudible 00:03:35] come in the winter. And when those icicles are showing up and you're 12, you want to throw a snowball at them. When you get to be a little bit older, you realize that there's a lot of potential damage that can happen there with all that moisture, all that precipitation that's taking place right there on top of your roof and roofs are everywhere. And then would be flipped, the four seasons like I mentioned before, when we flip to the summertime, it's hot and it's humid. And that roof really needs to be able to withstand everything. So my history in roofing goes back as long as I can remember. Because it is just living underneath the roof in a city like Chicago, I'm able to just appreciate how hard a roof needs to work in order to keep people safe.
Heidi Ellsworth: You are so right. And especially with the extremes of the hot and cold, that just really puts those shingles through... It really makes them work and expand, contract, all of those things. So that is really true. I love that philosophy. How are you kind of bringing that knowledge, that understanding of the roof into IKO and what you're doing?
Jack Gottesman: The future is really what's most exciting. We have a strong and proud history. But as we look to the future... Did you know Heidi, the US Bureau of labor Statistics, and if your listeners can take away one thing, I think it's this. If you have someone who turned on this podcast, it's the heat of COVID right now. And they're thinking, what am I going to do? I think that people should really become roofers. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has projected that roofing jobs will increase by 12%. 12% between the decade between 2018 and 2028. And as things continue to grow, there's no more exciting space to be in. And there's no more exciting company to be at than IKO.
Heidi Ellsworth: I have to tell you, I agree. I mean, when I watch what's happening with the roofing companies out there and this next generation coming in. I tell everyone, this is the place to be. It's exciting.
Jack Gottesman: Yeah. No, it's totally exciting. And that's why one of the things that we're doing... So I'm on the marketing team at IKO. And one of the things that we're doing is helping people realize just how exciting roofing can be. And that's through the launch of new performance products. And that's through the way that we communicate our message. And one of those spaces that our team has been particularly focused on over the time since I've joined the organization is video marketing. And there is a lot of different... And it's not even as simple as just, maybe 10 years ago you film something in a studio, you show application videos, were spread to help people better be able to understand how to put on any given accessory product or roofing product, as opposed to a manual that's not so much fun to read. The industry has evolved so far beyond that, that you can really... Anything and everything is at your fingertips. You can learn and see things about roofing and communicate messages in ways that we never could have imagined.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yes, I agree. As you know, because you're part of it right now, our whole read, listen, watch is about that generational change, that we have a lot of people who maybe want to read things. We have a lot of people who want to watch. And luckily we have people who are listening to this podcast today.
Jack Gottesman: I hope so.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right. And you are a hundred percent right when it comes to, they need to see it different. So what are you doing with videos? How are you doing that different to help the contractors?
Jack Gottesman: So the same way, it's interesting what you said there, that people want to read, listen, and watch. And different people absorb information in different ways. Even if we just were to focus on the video medium for a moment, people absorb videos in different ways also. That's why it's important to have... There's a roofing contractor just looking to start out. Or if there's a roofing contractor looking to expand their video marketing, I would definitely recommend that you follow the lead of what we've done over the last little while. Which is just have a variety of different types of marketing videos on your YouTube channel, on your social channels, on your website. And I'll give you an example. One of the things that we're doing recently is focusing on made for social videos that are between 30 and 45 seconds. Very quick hits, where people are able to digest the information fast and you quickly get a message across. That's good for people who are like me and have short attention spans. And it's also good if you're a roofing contractor, you're going to want those types of videos to get the homeowner that you're going to pitch excited about you and excited about your product. And if you're on your way, you can text the homeowner, "Hey, I'll be there in an hour. But why don't you quickly watch this video about why I use IKO Dynasties so that you can have an idea about what it is that we're going to talk about." And that's also something as we today are shifting more towards virtual communication, a way of life that has more virtual communications. And people perhaps aren't... The kitchen table isn't playing the same function that it once did. And people are doing these home inspections and having meetings as contractors with homeowners over the internet. If you can send a couple of 30 seconds to 45 second videos, it's something that you know people are going to watch. And as opposed to some of in the last couple of years, a lot of people have been doing these long form videos, showing the entire installation process, 10, 15, 20 minutes long. And there's definitely value to that too. And we should talk about that, but it's important to have diversity. And I think that one of the easiest and best things to focus on is quick hits. Send someone a video, looking forward to our meeting in an hour. By the way, here's a little bit of homework for you, it'll take you less than a minute. And people are more likely to actually watch it and do it if they know how short it's going to be.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. And I really liked that idea for when homeowners or building owners have a specific question. Because a lot of times they may have just a specific thing that they don't understand, like why underlayment or why ventilation. And you're right. I think that's brilliant. You could do just a minute on that to really give them a good idea before you meet with them.
Jack Gottesman: Yes. And it also makes it feel like... I've spoken to a lot of contractors and they say, especially the ones starting out, these are people who are passionate about roofing. They're good at what they do, but they're a little bit apprehensive about selling and they feel uncomfortable about it. Selling is an uncomfortable thing. That's why I'm in marketing. So I don't need to do that. But joking aside, selling is an uncomfortable thing. So if you can use video marketing to make that case for yourself, for why underlayment. Because I've had someone tell us about the IKO storm type underlayment. This is so important in the region that they were selling it, I won't say where it is. They were saying, "It's so important that this homeowner uses this underlayment. But all the homeowner wanted was to bang the shingles on top of the wood and didn't want anything sandwiched in between." And I had to sell them on why it's important for those accessory products to be there. And you and I, Heidi, we're in the industry, we understand why the meat of that sandwich is so important. But homeowners don't really think about what's on their roof or what's over their head. And so if you can send a video showing why underlayment is important, what can happen to your attic, to your home if you don't have it. It delivers that message without you needing to do the sales pitch face to face and offers different ways that so that you can kind of approach them from all angles. If that makes sense?
Heidi Ellsworth: Yes. And along that same lines, when you think about how powerful a video can be in helping to understand. Just think about, I mean I've seen them and I know you have, the videos of hail hitting roofing or the hurricane winds pulling up shingles. And being able to really show the performance of your product, the IKO product, against hail and how it stands up to wind. Those would be some really great short videos also.
Jack Gottesman: Yeah, absolutely. So it reminds me of a video that we actually just released recently of a contractor. And I'll give him a shout out because he's been great. It's someone we've been working closely with named Warren McGrew from Sparrow Exteriors in Atlanta. We worked with him on a project where we put a roof on for these wonderful homeowners, they had a leak in their kitchen, leak in their skylight. And so they went with our Nordic shingles, that has the [inaudible 00:12:51] protection for impact resistance. So when hail comes, they are in a good scenario and they're prepared for it because they have the Nordic on their roof. So fast forward a couple of weeks and the area gets an extreme weather and what happens? Their roof holds up. And the neighbor's roof just gets completely demolished. And the interesting thing is that roof, and this is exactly what you were saying before. The roof that got demolished and had all sorts of challenges beforehand that the homeowner had no idea about. So we put out this video, it's called Good Neighbors Elevated. And the most powerful line of the video is when the homeowner is talking. And he says, "They found things today, issues with my roof, that I had no idea had even existed." And that's exactly right. When it comes to the performance shingles that then went on the roof afterwards, in terms of being protected by hail, they were in a good position.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love that. I love that story. And to be able to tell that through multimedia, really showing the difference in the roofs. Because one of the things I've never understood Jack, through all the years that I've been working in roofing is why people would not purchase a class for shingle. I mean, nothing against roofing, but it's a hassle as a homeowner to take that time and expense to do that every year, every other year. And when you're looking at a class four shingle and you don't have to have that hassle of having a new roof and doing everything. To me, that just makes so much sense.
Jack Gottesman: Yeah. It definitely, it makes a lot of sense. And the good news is that we're not beating that drum alone. So we have partnerships with our contractors and they're the ones who are able to deliver that message, however they're doing it. I think we've all experienced when something... The engine light goes on in your car and you take it to the shop. And the guy starts speaking in a language that you can barely understand. The mechanic is using words that mean nothing to you. And he has a really serious look on his face. And he's telling you all sorts of terrible things that are wrong with your car, and you don't know whether or not to believe him because you have no idea. What do I know about the car? So what's wonderful about the roofing industry is that if you take just a little bit of time to learn. And there are some great online resources in terms of video, both coming from IKO and some of the influencers that I mentioned before, and even just regular contractors. These people were regular contractors at one point, but they took it to the next level with the goal of educating people. Educating homeowners so they know what questions to ask so that they could make the right decision for their region, which part of the world that they're in, their family and their roof.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I love that. I mean obviously, that's one of the main things we do with Roofer's Coffee Shop, we want to have that information there in the format that people can learn and really see how this benefits them. And I think too, we've had homeowners come in, they want obviously first performance, but they're also really interested in curb appeal, the colors. And you're doing a number of videos and marketing pieces on helping them really understand the design elements of their roof too. Can you tell us about that?
Jack Gottesman: It's so funny that you mentioned that. I was talking to a contractor recently who said something that I thought was nuts, but I guess contractors have to say things that are [inaudible 00:16:40] to distinguish themselves. He says to me, if a homeowner calls me and tells me that he wants a black roof, I tell him to just call someone else, or a gray roof. He says, there's nothing romantic about a gray roof or a black roof. I am in this business because the roof is a piece of art. It is something that is, he used the word romantic, it must have been a dozen times in this conversation.
Heidi Ellsworth: I love it.
Jack Gottesman: And I at least hope that he was just saying something extreme in order to prove a point. But the point wasn't lost on me, colors are really important. That's why when we were innovating the IKOs performance line of shingles, which is the Dynasty and the Nordic, we wanted to make sure that we had high def colors. Because while performance is very important, a lot of factors go into the decision about what types of shingles to use. And it's very important to make decisions based on colors. I've seen people, who performance wasn't enough. All they wanted to do was make a decision based on color. And to be completely honest, I was very surprised. But that's what people do.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. Well, and it's so funny you say that because you have people who have a real... They're like, this is what I want. This is what I want the outside of my home to look like. This is the feel that I have for the roof. And once you get homeowners involved in that, and really looking at it as a design element, a resale element, that makes such a huge difference. And kind of going back to what you and I were talking a little bit, is both appeal, the settings and performance are key selling points for those contractors as they're coming in. And especially today, because you can't sit at the kitchen table as much anymore. People want to be able to find those things on your website. They want to be able to see the videos. They want to understand all the colors and the performance. And I know you're doing a lot on that lines. It's so important right now.
Jack Gottesman: It is. And the interesting thing is that it all goes together. It all goes together. It's all part of the same package. And if you're going to come offering a strong shingle, it needs to offer all of that. So one of the things, since I've had the opportunity to join IKO, I've had the opportunity to hit a lot of different regions. And different regions have different needs. Both in terms of colors, like you mentioned before, and in terms of what it is the homeowner is looking for. Like the different types of homes, the style of homes I suppose I'm trying to say, look very different. When I'm making the case for people. It's important to have enough diversity in your offering that we can offer people both the high definition colors in our Dynasty and Nordic lines and the performance that they offer, especially with the high wind rating and the wide nailing zone, the reinforced woven band on the back and the strong sealant that we have. We want to make sure that everything we have set up is going to address every single one of the homeowners concerns. So that when they're educating themselves and they're in a position to ask the smart questions, we have good answers ready.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. And I think it's interesting too, what you said, the contractor. Because I think fear is a little scary, but it is important through that education, to make sure that homeowners understand what could happen. So really that is part of it. A lot of times I think, if you're not in roofing like we've been forever, you don't think about that. You don't think about the dangers of poor ventilation or of not being able to withstand the elements. And Jack, I don't know what you're hearing from different homeowners and contractors around the country. But what I'm kind of seeing is you can't go with the same old weather anymore. Some of the things that used to only happen in certain states are now we're seeing hail. We saw huge hail in Oregon this year, that's never happened. It seems like it's really important to educate everyone, more so than ever.
Jack Gottesman: Yeah, exactly. So you and I have noticed that, but you know who else has noticed that, is the insurance companies. I spoke recently to a new homeowner and they're telling me about going through the homeowners insurance process. And what they told me was is that... And they're entirely right. These are the things that we know, but it's funny to see them realizing this, having this epiphany, because people don't buy homes too often. What they realize is one of the very first questions that the insurance company asked them is about their roof. That's where they started. They wanted to know how old the roof was, what materials are on the roof, what the roof is made of? Is it a fiberglass, asphalt shingle? And all these questions about the roof. And the homeowner thinks, "All right, the roof looked nice which was curb appeal. That's what helped me make my decision to buy the house. But you're telling me that there's more to it than that." And the reason is exactly what you mentioned a moment ago, which is weather. The extreme weather is everywhere. Talk about video marketing. So we've been on the road, filming contractor homeowner, distributor testimonials all over North America. We've been in just about every region of this continent. Or at least within the US and Canada. And while the homes might look different and the color preferences are different. The message is always the same, weather, I'm nervous about weather. I need to stay protected from weather, I need to work within the weather. And that's why people are choosing to work with IKO's performance class shingles, the Dynasty and Nordic shingles and our performance accessories.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. I see the same thing is that there is a fundamental shift up in performance. And homeowners are expecting it, obviously building owners. But they want to be protected from the elements out here in the West, wildfires. They just were realizing how important. And having worked with insurance companies with EagleView for so long. They're a little tired of replacing all those roofs. So they want performance products out there.
Jack Gottesman: Yeah. It's expensive. So that's why... And I'll tease the audience a little bit, because I don't want to get too into this because... I shouldn't speak, my boss is going to end up hearing this later and I don't want to blow anything. But I'll tell you this. We'll talk about something that we've done at the IRE this past year, which was a blast by the way. And I hope... Yeah, it was a blast. And it's funny watching those because it's like, we put out an IRE highlights video Heidi, and I watched it the other day. And in the first three seconds of the clip, you see two people smiling and shaking hands. Heidi, I almost had a heart attack. Look at these people shaking hands, spreading germs. I couldn't believe my eyes.
Heidi Ellsworth: [inaudible 00:24:08] changed in just so many months.
Jack Gottesman: I'm screaming. No, don't don't do it.
Heidi Ellsworth: Oh my. I know that was right before everything started happening. It's kind of gives me the shivers.
Jack Gottesman: Yeah, February. That was it. It feels like yesterday. But one of the benefits of the IRE, we're very grateful that we were able to have an IRE this year. A lot of the other shows that we love attending have had to go virtual or have been postponed to the next year. But one of the things that we get at the IRE was we teamed up with IBHS [inaudible 00:24:43], the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety. They're based out of the Southeast. And what they do is they help homeowners get a break on their homeowners... One of the many things that they do, I shouldn't limit them to this, is they help homeowners work with insurance companies to get a break on their homeowners insurance, if they use the right types of shingles and accessory products. So we spoke about the IKO performance application system, which is using entirely IKO based products. And we've teamed up with IBHS. And Mr. Mark Zanal from their organization did seven different presentations with us throughout the conference. And we showcased not only our performance shingles, but the ice and water that we used, the underlayment that we use, the new gold seam flashing tape that we're using, the edge seal roof starter, the double-sided a very, very sticky adhesive roof starter that goes at the most vulnerable area of the roof, right there at the perimeter. And the response that we got was out of this world. Because it's two things. It's everything going together. It's a system. It's that sandwich that we talked about earlier. It's not just the bread of the wooden panels and the shingles. But it's everything that goes in between that's designed to, at the end of the day, keep the homeowner safe. Because are colors important? Yes, colors are definitely important. And there are different types of styles. And there are different types of homes. But people want to be able to go to bed at night feeling safe. And to be able to be a part of that for us is really a big privilege.
Heidi Ellsworth: Wow. And you know what, Fortified Homes in IBHS is now on Roofer's Coffee shop also. So that combination of all the information you can get about IKO and now the Fortified program, what a great combination. I love that. That is-
Jack Gottesman: Great combination. So I want to encourage your listeners, go onto Roofer's Coffee Shop and learn more about IBHS Fortified. The work that they're doing is fantastic. And IKO has been working very closely with them for a long time, but especially over the last couple of months to make sure that we are delivering a message about performance shingles, and performance accessory products.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's excellent. I love that because that really shows you are walking the talk. It's not just talking about performance, but you're really working with a group like Fortified IBHS. And there Fortified program that really takes it to a whole new level. So congratulations. That's awesome.
Jack Gottesman: Thank you. We talk about videos. So one of the most impactful videos that I've seen is actually from IBHS Fortified. And I don't remember if there was even any sound because just the visual was so striking. It was a kitchen that looks like everyday American or Canadian kitchen. And there's just water just seeping down out of the ceiling. And I think to myself, as a homeowner, what could be worse than this? You have no recourse, what can you do? I would have no idea what to do if that happens. And so that's the message that the video sends, you don't want this to happen to you. You need to do everything that you can in order to protect yourself. And yeah, that's really strong. I guess fear does work. We talked about it earlier, so we use this new gold seam flashing tape and it's a multipurpose type of product. But one of the main areas that we use it for is to close this small gap between the [inaudible 00:28:35] and the facial board. And if there's even a quarter of an inch there, that's enough room for insect infestation and water and bugs to get in. And I don't know, that did it for me. I'm sold. No thank you.
Heidi Ellsworth: Done. That is [crosstalk 00:28:56]. And how can you not love that? And I know I shouldn't love it, but love the videos of when they're testing the full houses in their wind tunnel and what the wind does. I mean, I was there watching it one time and I was just like, wow. And so I would say anybody listening to this, go onto the site either to Roofer's Coffee Shop or IKO. Or YouTube Fortified IBHS, and watch some of these videos. It just blows your mind what the wind can do to a house.
Jack Gottesman: Yes, it really does. And so we have our roof pro program, which is our loyalty program for contractors. And if you're a contractor, this is definitely something that you're going to want to be a part of. Roof pro is a really important way to distinguish your business and to help you have continued education. And that's where I want to get now. In addition to the resources that IKO provides for continued education, people should be going on Roofer's Coffee Shop to learn more. It's important for contractors to recognize that there are more things to learn. And as I've gotten to meet more and more contractors, I see the ones that don't want to learn. And the ones that think they know everything have slowly, slowly been not able to keep up with the more innovative companies and the companies that are doing a lot of listening, in addition to a lot of selling. And IBHS and Roofer's Coffee Shop are just wonderful resources for contractors, homeowners to learn more about what's going on in our industry and to keep your finger on the pulse, which is important.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well, I have to tell you, thank you. Because IKO has put such great, has given us... We've worked together to build such great education. You have it, we have another podcast with Nicole that talks all about roof pro and that loyalty program and how strong it is. So I have to tell you Jack, I have so enjoyed this conversation. We're going to have to do it again.
Jack Gottesman: I hope so. Do you mean it? It was very nerve wracking for... This is my first time since college radio that I've been able to... I've been working on my voice.
Heidi Ellsworth: No one would ever know that, you are a natural. This is so perfect.
Jack Gottesman: I really enjoyed it. And I would love to come back because I feel like we really only scraped the surface. There's so much more to talk about within this growing industry. So really thank you so much for having me and I look forward to the next time we're able to talk.
Heidi Ellsworth: Thank you. And I am really looking forward to it. I love talking marketing with you and I really encourage everyone who's listening to this, come onto the site, come onto Roofer's Coffee Shop, check out the IKO directory, their videos, their educational pieces. Like I said, we've done a couple podcasts. I did one with Nicole and one with Carol. It's just such a great company. And we appreciate having them so much on the show. I would also encourage everyone to go to our read, listen, watch section of the site. Watch the videos, listen to all the podcasts, read the eBooks and the transcripts that are on there because like Jack said, education is everything and the world is changing really fast. So I'm going to say one more time, thank you Jack. Thank you for being here.
Jack Gottesman: All right, Heidi, looking forward. We'll talk more about it next time.
Heidi Ellsworth: We will and have a great day everyone. And we will see you next time on Roofing Road Trips with Heidi.