Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an interview with Jared Ribble. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.
Heidi Ellsworth: Hello this is Heidi Ellsworth, partner with RoofersCoffeeShop. We are here today with a Roofing Road Trip with Heidi podcast. I am here, again, with my very dear friend Jared Ribble who is the Director of Qualified Trainers and ProCertification Programs for NRCA. This is actually the second part. Our conversation was so amazing that we really felt that we needed to break it into two parts. We got very excited talking about this topic of certification and of training. So today we are going to continue and we're going to finish up on some conversation with ProCertification. How it happens, what you need to do. Then we're going to go into the all important Qualified Trainers and overall training that Jared is leading. So please enjoy this second part of the podcast. I look forward to hearing and seeing all of you on RoofersCoffeeShop. Talk to me about how many people have been certified. Where are you? How many people have been certified or are in the program? How's it going? What are you hearing from those who have already been doing it?
Jared Ribble: Yeah. First off there are three certifications that have been developed out of 18. Okay? So these are system specific certifications. The first three that we've developed is Asphalt Shingle, so a worker who's skilled and experienced in asphalt shingles can earn their Asphalt Shingle's certification. Then the second one is Thermoplastic. Same thing, if a worker is skilled and experienced in thermoplastic installation they can earn their certification for Thermoplastic Installer. Then the third one's a little bit different. It's the Roofing Foreman. So if you've got foreman that you want to certify the foreman, as being a great skilled foreman, there's that certification as well. So those are the first three that we launched, simply because they carry the largest market share. We had to get those out first, but I mean EPBM is being developed right now. Of course Metal Panel's coming. Liquid and Fluid Applied is coming. Let's see Built Up and on, and on, and on, down for 15 more certifications are coming. So those first three have been launched, Asphalt Shingle, Thermoplastic, and Roofing Foreman. And we just launched a couple months ago, so we already have over 200 installers in the application and certification pipeline. It's not just-
Heidi Ellsworth: Wow.
Jared Ribble: ... apply, take a quick test, and you're done. There is a process and it does take some time. We've got about 200. I think the last time I counted there was over 20 states that ... Over 200 installers in over 20 states, so it's growing. It's a grass movement that's happening. It's starting to come. It's starting to build some momentum, so we're excited about that.
Heidi Ellsworth: That is ... Those are good numbers. I mean because we all know in the roofing industry we're kind of a conservative bunch. It takes time for people to embrace things, and to talk about it, and see it. So seeing those professionals already in that process, that's really good. I know you've been sharing it on social media and been sharing it on NRCA.net, so I encourage our listeners keep track and keep watching for all these folks as they get their certifications because it's really something to be celebrated.
Jared Ribble: Yeah and jump in because I mean let's ... I really just say it. Jump in because your competition is. [crosstalk 00:04:09] Going back to some myths, "Well you guys launched right as we were coming into spring in our busiest time." Okay, so you're busy. Great. That's a great excuse and that's a fair one but the fact of the matter is you're never too busy to prove that your guys, and that your workers, are skilled. But I will tell you if you say you're busy now, and you don't do it in the slow months in the winter, let's say, then shame on you. The other thing is, "Well the economy's so great. I don't need it. I'm too busy." Well okay, so when the economy is not great, and the consumer gets really, really fussy with the dollar that they're spending, they want the dollar that they're spending to go further, who do you think they're choosing? The company that got certified workers when it was busy and high time or you think they're going to choose the company that was too busy with work to get their workers certified? So I'm just throwing out the caution flag. Anyone that wants to use the excuse, "I'm too busy and the economy is so great, we got so much work." Okay. I'm just throwing you a caution flag [crosstalk 00:05:24] because now is the time to do it.
Heidi Ellsworth: It is happening. What are the roofing contractors, the owners who have employees who have been certified, what are they saying? What's the feedback you're hearing?
Jared Ribble: Well okay. So I'm not going to give you the name but there's a roofing company in Central United States that I was just visiting. I was actually there to observe some of the exams going on. I got to poke in and see how it's going, right? I was talking to the company owner and he said, "Jared, I was onboard with this. I did our own ROI. I ran the numbers and I'm getting these 10 guys certified. I had to run the numbers of how many sales it would take to get this return on this investment." He said, "Jared you would not believe it. I told two customers about my 10 guys that I'm certifying and those two customers, in one day, one day's of sales, paid for the whole thing."
Heidi Ellsworth: Holy crap.
Jared Ribble: I mean yeah, so he was ecstatic, right? I mean-
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Jared Ribble: ... just ecstatic because it's still new so we don't have years of data of saying, "You're sales are going to go up by this much percentage," and all that kind of stuff. We don't have that data yet but I mean just starting to hear the stories it's pretty fantastic to hear how quickly ... And how serious the consumer concern is. Again, I go back to saying it. That argument falls on deaf ears to roofing companies because in their minds they think, "But we are great, so why doesn't the customer just trust me when I say that I'm great?" I understand that but as a consumer myself it really matters. It really, really matters.
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
Jared Ribble: So that's just a quick anecdote to what some company owners are saying who have done it.
Heidi Ellsworth: I like it. I like it. I want to get onto talking a little bit about TRAC and even more so the Qualified Trainer Conferences that are coming up here in the near future, but before we do just down and dirty. Our listeners as their listening to you, and to us on this podcast, how do they start getting their employees certified? What kind of cost are they going to be looking at?
Jared Ribble: Yeah, sure. You start by just identify your skilled and experienced workers in either Asphalt Shingle or Thermoplastic. I want you to right now, as your driving your truck around, you might be up on a roof, you might be mowing your lawn, I want you to think through, and name, the workers that are skilled and ready to do this. Give them a name. Just say their name out loud. Once you've done that I want you to go to the computer. You go to NRCA.net, and you go to the certification tab, and you click on the application tab, and you start filling out the application for, and possibly with, that worker. It's an application process because you as the employer are going to verify that this worker actually indeed does have the skills. Okay? Now that's the first step in the process. You apply and then our office will verify that application. Then send you information on where you go to take your knowledge test. It's a computer-based knowledge test that has to be done at a proctored computer testing location. We use the organization called Prometric. There is one in your city. You send your worker to go take that knowledge test. After they pass that knowledge test you get paired up with a qualified assessor who is going to come to your shop or to a job site and conduct the hands-on performance exam. There does have to be a mock-up there. It's not huge, it's not arduous. That qualified assessor will help make sure that the mock-up is to the standard testing conditions, so we got fair conditions across the country. But [inaudible 00:09:38] have the worker roof that mock-up. There's details that are going to be on that mock-up like pipe penetrations, and curves, and walls, and edges, and so on and so forth. That they're going to prove that they know how to handle those details and they're going to roof that mock-up. The assessor's going to watch and assess it. If they pass that assessment you earn your certification. Both a physical card that that worker can carry around with them. Also a digital badge with a unique certification number to that worker. So I mean imagine for a second you've got a certified worker going out to a job site, and your scheduler calls up and says, "Hey Joe, and Sarah, and Jose are coming out. Here's their certification numbers, you can look them up and make sure that the person that we said is coming is in fact coming." Again, another layer of consumer protection and confidence. [crosstalk 00:10:38] Yeah. You asked about price. You got to remember that our members, through their dues and through their volunteered time to build this program, they're the ones that have paid for this program. So our members get a discount. They flat out get a discount. So if you are a NRCA member it's $799 per worker certification. Okay? If you're not a member you are more than welcome, we want you to get your worker certified. You don't have to be a member to get your workers certified, but the non-member price is $1599 per certification. Now let me break this down just a little bit. There is at the three year mark some maintenance too, that the worker has to continue to do to prove that they are still in the industry, that they still are maintaining their great skills. Okay? That is around another $300. So let's frame this over a six year period. Again, the roofing company, you're not going to certify a worker you don't know and don't trust, you don't think is going to stick around. This is for your skilled and experienced workers, so let's frame this over a six year period. The cost for that worker, per year, to have them certified is about $200 a year. $200 a year. That's it. $200 to raise the perception of your company, to separate that worker out from the pack, to give that worker pride, to give your consumers, your customers, a layer of confidence and protection. $200 a year. And in one job ... Or I'm sorry. In two jobs in one day the business owner, that I was sharing, got his return on the investment. In one day.
Heidi Ellsworth: Exactly.
Jared Ribble: This is a drop in the bucket for such a massive return. [crosstalk 00:12:41] So member price $799.
Heidi Ellsworth: Okay. Let me ask you this question, what if somebody, and individual, just wants to do it themselves? Can they do that?
Jared Ribble: Absolutely. Absolutely. We encourage it. 100% we encourage it. But yes ... But the individual would be paying for it. You know?
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
Jared Ribble: If they're a member of NRCA it's $799. If they're not a member it would be $1599. There's not a distinction between a company that might choose to pay for it or the individual that might choose to pay for it. But if you're an individual listing to this and you say, "Shoot I want my certification and I don't think my companies going to go for it. I want to be more marketable, I want to be more in demand, and it's worth the $799 for me to do that." Absolutely. Come on with it.
Heidi Ellsworth: Exactly.
Jared Ribble: You say, "I don't really think that my company values me enough. I'm going to go raise my value in the marketplace." Come on with it. Do it. Absolutely.
Heidi Ellsworth: I think that's going to ... I think we will see that more and more in the future too because when you think about it how many people get certified in many things and it just makes such a difference to your career?
Jared Ribble: Yeah.
Heidi Ellsworth: So young people who are going to be coming up, as they ... Several years into it and they get their skills, they're going to be understanding this or if they're coming out of the trainings, like you said earlier, in the unions that $800 may not be much at all for them to think about, "Hey, I'm just going to add this on. Now look what I can go out on my resume." So I think as an industry as a whole we need to think that way and understand that it isn't just a company thing. It is also very much about an individual career path that people are going to want to do and want to have on their resumes.
Jared Ribble: Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of the individual a little bit, like I was saying, there's no set requirement of who pays for it. There's no set requirement for a roofing company to have an agreement with a worker. To say, "Hey we're going to pay for this but you have to stay on contractually for this amount of time," or, "Hey let's split the cost and we're going to do it this way based on the number of hours you work, or squares you install," or whatever. The company and the worker can slice that cat any way they want to.
Heidi Ellsworth: [crosstalk 00:15:07] And they're doing that right now with college degrees or with vocationals.
Jared Ribble: Absolutely.
Heidi Ellsworth: People who go back for their master's have this kind of agreement with companies all the time, so it's very normal.
Jared Ribble: Right. Yeah. And anyway-
Heidi Ellsworth: Well ... Yeah. One of the things that we want to do with National Women In Roofing is to really push this, and to start scholarshipping it, and to looking at how can more women get certified as roofing ... There's a lot of women out there who we don't hear about very often but who are very skilled, very talented. So yeah, I think there's huge potential with this.
Jared Ribble: Yeah. It's not just maybe ... Great if you're going to scholarship this. National Women In Roofing, thank you. That's huge. There are other regional affiliates who have really jumped onboard with this and are working to try to help get this down to their membership and their level. We've got affiliates stepping up and saying, "Hey come here and before you take your performance exam let's do a little exam readiness training." It's not required by NRCA. It is not required to get your certification, but no one wants to fail this thing. So just like my parents said, "You already know how to drive but let's just go make sure you're ready." And they sent me off to training school, whatever. It's the same thing. We've got affiliates all over the country. I know Dallas, Denver, the Bay Area in California, Virginia, they're all stepping up saying, "We don't want our members failing this thing. So hey, come here, let's just do the refresher. Let's make sure that you really know how to flash this chimney and you know how to do a measure back," and so on and so forth. Speaking of National Women In Roofing, you kind of just made me think of that, but I would love a company to be brave. A GAF Elite Contractor, call up GAF and say, "Hey, we're" ... Or a company like that and suggest, "Hey we want to get our workers certified, can you help us out?" You know?
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah.
Jared Ribble: There could be any number of manufacturers that are willing to help. I just used GAF but I have no basis to think that they would help out. Please don't call GAF-
Heidi Ellsworth: [crosstalk 00:17:30] You're not calling them out. You're good.
Jared Ribble: ... but if you're an elite contractor for any manufacturer call them up and say, "Hey would you help support us?"
Heidi Ellsworth: Right.
Jared Ribble: "We want to make sure that your roofs are being installed the proper way. We want to be able to prove that we can." [crosstalk 00:17:44] So they might be willing to help out too.
Heidi Ellsworth: Yeah. We say that all the time with marketing. I always say, "Go ask your manufacturer what kind of support they can give you." Well it's the same thing. Go ask your manufacturers what kind of training support they can give you, because this is going to be something that's going to be a differentiator. Speaking of which, so let's ... I don't want us to lose sight of this. This has been such an amazing conversation so far, but I know that the other big thing that you have coming up, which is going to unfortunately take you out of Nashville quite a bit here in the coming months, is you are putting together Qualified Trainer Conferences. You talked about it at the beginning, kind of differentiating. These are two totally different initiatives. So why don't you talk just a little bit about the Qualified Trainer Initiative and why you're doing these conferences, how it's all going to work.
Jared Ribble: Yeah. Again, say it with me, ProCertification is not training.
Heidi Ellsworth: It is not training.
Jared Ribble: We do not need to take specific training to be ProCertified.
Heidi Ellsworth: Exactly.
Jared Ribble: We are switching gears. We are switching gears right now, the track is shifting back to training inside roofing companies. We want every company across this great United States to have a qualified trainer inside their company. Someone that the company raises up and designates to be the trainer inside our company, so when new employees come in they can pair up and that qualified trainer will teach, and mentor, the younger generation coming into your company. Instead of sending them away to a trade school where there's no time or sending them away to get training. Let's get great training right inside your company. It's the most cost effective way to do training. So we have started the ... Or we do the Qualified Trainer Conference. This is where we take one of your employees, you send them to the conference, and we teach them how to be a great trainer. We do it through a lot of role-play exercises. We setup role-play training scenarios and we practice, and we teach a concept and we practice it, and we teach a concept and we practice it. By the end of that conference ... It's only two days, and we jam it full of lots of role-play, and lots of practicing, by the end of that conference that worker will be able to come back to your company and say, "Employer, boss, you sent me to this Qualified Trainer Conference for me to become a great trainer. I have the skills now to be a great trainer. I have been qualified," quote unquote," and I have a way now to start implementing, and creating, a training plan for our company." See it's one thing just to send someone to the Qualified Trainer Conference to get better training skills. It's a whole nother thing to have them come back and be able to start implementing actual training plans. That's what we do at the Qualified Trainer Conference. So it's really, really exciting. It's fast-paced. It's two days. We jam it full but your worker's going to come back jazzed up about training. We're going to ask you to start carving out space for it. That's ended up being one of the biggest issues, "Well you sent me off to be a great trainer and now you don't give me any space to do it." Well we've created a way for that worker to come back and really install a training initiative inside the company. Super exciting. We've got 10 of these conferences ... Or nine of these conferences still on the books for this next season. There's maybe another one or two coming but we've got ... We're doing one out in Hayward, California. That's Oakland. We're doing on in Charlotte, North Carolina. We're doing one up in the Northeast, just kind of right outside Hartford, Connecticut. Outside of Boston area, so up in Massachusetts we're doing one. We're doing one in Wooster, Ohio at our great friends at FiberTite there. Then we're going to be over in Denver, Colorado at the Colorado Roofing Association, at their location. We're going to be in Indianapolis. We're going to be in the Nashville, Tennessee area at Firestone. We're going to be in Dallas and we're going to be out in Arizona, down in the Phoenix area. So we're putting them all over the country so you don't have ... Hopefully you're near one of those cities and you can send one or two of your workers that you want to raise up to be a great trainer. Let's do it. Then, of course, if you pair them with TRAC, the great training tools, I mean you want to see the training explode in your company? It's just going to be awesome.
Heidi Ellsworth: What I really like about this is what you said earlier, is 10, 20 years ago every roofing company didn't have a Safety Director. Today they do. What we're really looking at is ... I actually know of a number of companies already who do have Training Directors but it's going to become the norm, just like with safety. There will be a training director in every company and they will have all these great resources of TRAC to be able to pull from, and be able to use to do the trainings. They will also have this opportunity of going to these conferences. So one of my questions is, is this ongoing? Is it a one and done? I mean do they go to these two days and then that's it or is there something like they'll come back again next year to continue to refresh on new things that are happening, and new TRAC courses, and also just new ways of teaching and training?
Jared Ribble: Sure. Yeah. It's not ongoing formalized education, from the standpoint of you send your worker on time to this conference and we practice, and we fill them with all this great training techniques, and they come back. Right? Well now what we have is we have a community of Qualified Trainers. I think we're up to 140 right now across the country. So there's a community of 140 Qualified Trainers. We are adding to them at every conference. Now those people get together through social media platforms and through our initiatives to send them bulletin updates on, "Hey, check out this. Check out this further technique. Here's some more tools that we've developed to put in your tool belt." Those kind of things. I mean we encourage, if you want to come back to a conference by all means. We don't advertise this but I will say this, if there is space at a conference ... We only take 24 people per conference. But let's say we've only filled it up to 20, and there's four seats left, we allow someone to come back and go through the conference again for $500 bucks.
Heidi Ellsworth: Ah nice.
Jared Ribble: Yeah.
Heidi Ellsworth: Nice.
Jared Ribble: But that's if there's space. There isn't always space so you kind of ... We know about a week or two out. If there's space we want you to come back. We do it for a drastically reduced cost, just because you can only take in so much information in one two day sitting but ... So it is an ongoing group of Qualified Trainers that we continue to push updates through bulletins, emails, and social media interactions, and so forth. Just to make sure that we try to stay on top of best practices.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's great. That is excellent. Now do they need to be a NRCA member?
Jared Ribble: No, absolutely not. Absolutely not. Now, again, same thing with some of our other initiatives, our members have paid for the development so our members get a discount. So if you are a member company and you want to send one or two of your workers, or three or four for that matter, it's $2,400 to enroll in this conference. So that's for our member price. It's basically double that if you're a non-member. Now I will say watch our website and watch social media because we do oftentimes run early bird specials, so knock a couple hundred bucks off that, within ... Most of the time early-bird-special ends about a month out, so if you want a couple hundred dollars off the price go to the website. Get on there now and sign up for one of these conferences. We do them generally between the months of November and March. We try to stay away from the summer months if we can. Just because it's typically pretty busy for everybody. All hands on deck, you know? So we run them in season. We just about got our season full. Then for the years 2019 to 2020. Then we'll do another season the next year, and another season the next year, and keep this thing going.
Heidi Ellsworth: That's great. Now you know what? I think we ... I'm going to do a shameless plug right here, but if anyone is looking at this, and is not a member of NRCA, I really encourage them to go to the membership page at NRCA.net and really look at becoming a member of NRCA. I am going to say it for you Jared because I just really believe in our national association. I think it's just critical that the more members we have the stronger voice we have. So really when you're ... I know we've talked and we've been very open about member, non-member, pricing. But really at the end of the day you're probably going to save money by being a member. If you're really interested in these training initiatives, and getting certified, and all of the good stuff that's going on with NRCA.
Jared Ribble: Right. Membership really, really matters. It's like, "Well what's the benefit of being a member to NRCA?" It's multiple layers. From a high level view it's the industry coming together to tackle big problems. I got an email. This person emailed me about perception problem and they're trying to attract qualified better people into their company. They are taking on the initiative to market to get new workers. It's like this is not just a one company can handle this. This is the entire industry needs to come together. So it's we tackle big problems by all the brain power and all of our members coming together to tackle big problems. So that's one reason to come together to do this, but the beautiful part of that is when the members come together they help each other with their individual company issues. So, "Hey, we got this problem and this issue pops up all the time. How do you guys handle it?" "Well we hand it this way." "Oh man, I need to give that a try. Not to mention your dues go towards helping give you resources when you do run into problems. Maybe it's a technical thing. Your dues go to ... We have technical people on staff. You got a question about something technical you call up our office and they'll give you the answer. You got a legal problem? You call up our office and we've got legal help for you. So coming together as one large entity helps us tackle big picture problems and it helps tackle your individual business problems as well. I will also say if you've gotten to this point of the podcast and you just have your arms folded, and brow furrowed, like, "I don't like ProCertification. I don't like these training initiatives." I would say, "Great. Become a member of NRCA so you can help us solve the problems. If you don't think ProCertification is the fix become a member, sit on a committee and have your voice be heard so we can solve the problems."
Heidi Ellsworth: Exactly.
Jared Ribble: [crosstalk 00:30:12] That's the best way to do it, right?
Heidi Ellsworth Everyone needs to be involved. I tell you what, that's one of the reasons why RoofersCoffeeShop, Vickie and I, are so committed to working with every roofing association in this industry. Just because we know how important that is, that we help get the word out and help bring everybody together because that's what makes our industry strong.
Jared Ribble: Yeah. Boy, shameless plug for National Women In Roofing, I mean the roofing industry by nature has just ... It's been dominated by men. We are out of our minds to think that we can run a successful industry with only half the brain power in the world. You know?
Heidi Ellsworth: Very true.
Jared Ribble: We have to infuse this industry with more women, with more ethnicities. There's too much brain power out there, gender and ethnicities, that we have to tap into to make this roofing industry all that it can be. So I am thrilled about NWR, National Women In Roofing, and all that they're doing to infuse into the roofing industry. It's just fantastic. If you're a woman out there listening, we need you. The roofing industry needs you. Come on. Let's go. We need the brains.
Heidi Ellsworth: I tell you what, it's across the board. You're right. We need to ... If we're going to stay strong in our industry and continue to strive we've got to bring in all types of people. All ages, all genders, all ethnicities across the board. But you know what? This has been an amazing podcast Jared. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you spending time with me today. I just want to thank you for all the great things you're doing for the industry. I am going to throw out there, because a number of times during this you referred to your dad who's a roofing contractor out of Wisconsin, and just for the few people out there who may not know I also want to say thank you to Reid Ribble, who's the CEO of NRCA, and everything that he's doing too.
Jared Ribble: Yeah. He's a special guy. I would like to say I'm the younger better looking version. [inaudible 00:32:36] I don't know if that's totally true but he-
Heidi Ellsworth: You can say it.
Jared Ribble: Yeah. He's a great guy. He cares deeply about the roofing contractor. He cares deeply about the roofing industry. I think I can say with a lot of certainty that the roofing industry is better because of the hard work that he does, and the hard work that our members do, and all the good folks at NRCA. So yes, thank you to him for all the good work he does, but he's not working in a vacuum. We've got great members, and great roofing contractors, and industry folks out there. So absolutely.
Heidi Ellsworth: Well thank you. Thank you from RoofersCoffeeShop for taking your time to be with us today. We will do this some more. We want to keep everybody updated. For all those who are listening in their trucks, or mowing their lawns, or from their desktop, we really appreciate it. Thank you Jared, again. To all the audience I want to say to be sure to visit us at RoofersCoffeeShop.com to see all of our podcasts, webinars, and educational content. Thank you and have a great day.