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Roofing the Big Sky: Get Ready for the MRA Tradeshow - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Roofing the Big Sky: Get Ready for the MRA Tradeshow - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION
October 18, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Jake Magalsky, Austin Barnhardt and Morgan Thiel from Montana Roofing Association. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.

Announcer: Welcome to Roofing Road Trips with Heidi. Explore the roofing industry through the eyes of a long-term professional within the trade. Listen for insights, interviews and exciting news in the roofing industry today.

Megan Ellsworth: Hello, everyone. My name is Megan Ellsworth, here at rooferscoffeeshop.com, and I am taking over Roofing Road Trips and I'm tripping all the way up to Montana, the Big Sky State, and we're going to be talking about the Montana Roofing Association Trade Show that's coming up at the beginning of next year. I'm with Austin Barnhardt, Morgan Thiel and Jake Magalsky of the Montana Association Board. Hello, everyone. How are you all doing?

Jake Magalsky: Hello, Megan. Doing good.

Austin Barnhardt: Hello, doing good.

Morgan Thiel: Yeah, thanks for having us.

Megan Ellsworth: I am so glad to be talking with you all. Let's dive right in. Austin, why don't we start with you, and have you just introduce yourself and how you got into roofing?

Austin Barnhardt: Okay. My name's Austin Barnhardt. I'm a former president of the Montana Roofing Association, and currently serve as Secretary for the association. I'm also Vice President of Quality Roofing and Sheet Metal in Bozeman, Montana. We are a third-generation roofing contractor, and just kind of grew up in the industry.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome. Morgan, who are you and why are you here?

Morgan Thiel: I'm Morgan Thiel. I'm the Vice President of the Montana Roofing Association. I work for Thiel Brothers Roofing in Sydney, Montana. It's our family roofing business, also third-generation. Yeah, just followed the family business. That's how I got involved.

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Love it. Jake, how about you?

Jake Magalsky: Also a Montana roofing contractor, founder, owner, CEO of Ace Roofing, and currently the President of the Montana Roofing Association. It's an honor to be here today. Thank you, Megan.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Super glad to have you all here. Morgan, do you want to give us an overview of the Montana Roofing Association Trade Show that's coming up in the new year?

Morgan Thiel: Sure. We were just discussing it. I think it's our 35th convention and trade show.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Morgan Thiel: Yeah. This year it'll be January 9th through the 11th in Billings, Montana, at the Northern Hotel. Yeah, we're pretty excited. We're excited for this every year, excited to do it again. Great information, great speakers. A good chance to meet other people around Montana, other roofers. We're a big state, so whenever we can get together, that's always good.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, a big state for sure. What are some key highlights and exciting features that you all are looking forward to for the trade show in January? Jake, how about you?

Jake Magalsky: Well, it's always pretty exciting, because it's roofers from around the state coming together with vendors who have supported the association for many years, and sometimes we have the convention in the same location as we did the previous year and sometimes we circle back to previous locations, so going back to Billings, Montana, is kind of exciting. It's the biggest city in Montana, and the Northern Hotel is very, very comfortable, very nice accommodations. It's comfortable to have a convention there.

We get to see people that sometimes we don't see for a year at a time. Come together, have the convention, the trade show, the trainings, and get together for dinner. It seems like there's a lot of time for conversation. It's an intimate setting, and so it's different than going to one of the big roofing expos, because you can really dive in and get your questions answered. It's pretty exciting.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, yeah, that's awesome. I love state shows. I always go to the Colorado show, and you get to see all your buddies that live a neighborhood over, that life gets busy and you just don't get to see them very often. It's cool. Austin, what are some industry trends or innovations that will be showcased at next year's show?

Austin Barnhardt: Yeah, the big thing we're looking forward to is we're going to incorporate roof safety, best business practices, and ideas to help solve the labor crisis that's going on out there right now, especially with the seminars we've got going on. That's the topics that we're looking to cover this year. Hopefully it allows people to not just go, "Oh, this is how you hammer a shingle on, this is how you do that." It's actually how you can help grow your business, what the best ways are to maybe get new recruits into the roofing industry, and obviously safety is the number one aspect we all care about as a roofing contractor, is to make sure our crews get home safely at the end of the day. Those are the kinds of things that we're highlighting this year.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that is the most important thing. Everyone wants to go home at the end of the day, so I think that's great to highlight, and I look forward to seeing all the classes that are going to be talking about that. Before we get into the classes that are going to be offered, how has the trade show evolved over the years? I know, Morgan, you said it's been around for 35 years, so how has it evolved, and what are some new elements in the last couple years you guys have implemented?

Morgan Thiel: Jake can maybe add to this too, but we're adding some new elements every year, things to make it new and exciting, because when you've been doing it for that long, you want to mix it up when you can. We've changed some formats around a little bit of how we've done things. We've added some contests, to make it fun and get some engagement, added new elements to the trade show to make it more interesting. Yeah, things like that.

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Jake, how has it evolved?

Jake Magalsky: Well, when I first started showing up, it seems like it's been a long time ago, but we used to do like a poker tournament fundraiser that was a lot of fun. We would have different types of entertainment. Then for a few years the show was in Bozeman, Montana, which is very close to some ski hills. Austin was really good at setting up and coordinating a ski day, which was always a big hit.

Megan Ellsworth: Oh, fun.

Jake Magalsky: Last year also we had Austin Knudson, the Attorney General for the State of Montana, who came in as a keynote speaker and blew everyone's mind with some updates of issues in Montana, things I wasn't aware of, and then some of the solutions around that. This year we are in Billings, and it's a long way from Billings to a ski hill, so no ski day, but we are going to have some fun activities planned. As we get closer, we will have more details going out about all of that.

I think that every year, it's a little bit different than it was the year before. Last year we had a small awards ceremony, where we gave away a Montana rodeo silver and we had a competition for the project of the year. Some of these things work really good and we continue to do them, and I think the committee for the convention has decided to repeat some of this stuff and then to freshen it up in a few ways as well.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, wow. Yeah, that sounds great. Oh, ski day. How fun. I love skiing. I'm not good at it, but I love skiing. Networking is a really big part of trade shows and shows like this. What are some networking opportunities that people can attend at this coming trade show?

Jake Magalsky: Yeah, I'll take this one. Because it's such an intimate setting, you get what you put in. Really, if you want to connect and network, there's plenty of opportunity here, and you can meet some roofers who are doing projects in parts of the state that you're not, other companies aren't going to. Learn about issues that they're having. We have a very large state, so we're marketing to all the corners of the state, contractors of all sizes, to get them to come. The more people that show up, the more opportunity is for networking.

Of course we have amazing vendors. We have the speakers, and a lot of times at a big show, you might get an email from a speaker who you attended a class, and then you get an email and you can visit through an email. Here, the speakers tend to hang around, visit in the hallway. A lot of times you can set it up to where you can go to dinner in the evening with people that you want to continue conversations with. The opportunities are available, and it's what you make of it. Number one, you have to show up.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, yeah. Everyone Listening to this, if you live in Montana, you've got to go to this show. It's so great. To bolster the excitement, who are some of the prominent speakers and classes that you're going to be having this year?

Morgan Thiel: We have a good lineup this year. We have some more generally-applicable topics too that are not just for roofers. They're for anyone in the construction industry, or even adjacent to that.

We're having Larry Oxenham with the American Society for Asset Protection come, and he has a really good seminar on how to protect yourself liability-wise, how to transfer assets and things like that. He has a lot of really good information that applies to anybody who has assets they'd like to protect.

We're having Troy Downing, who is the Montana Commissioner, come and speak at our lunch on Wednesday. He has a really interesting professional and just life story. He's been around the world, seen and done some cool things, so we'll get to hear more from him about that.

Megan Ellsworth: Cool.

Morgan Thiel: Last year we had a roundtable with the Montana Department of Labor. We love to touch base with them every couple of years. We have a pretty good relationship with them that we'd like to keep going, and they were here last year. We had a great conversation. As always, there's never enough time to cover everything, so we're excited to have them back and can pick up where we left off last year. We're doing a cool safety training this year too, which Austin could tell you a little bit more about.

Austin Barnhardt: Yeah, so we're partnering with the Western States Roofing Contractors Association and their new safety initiative that they've started the last couple of years, where they travel to various Western states and do a partnership with Guardian Safety and do a fall protection training. They're going to come and do a fall protection training on site at the Northern Hotel. Also, we are in talks with Steven Radziwill, who is the safety director for the Western states as well, to come and do additional safety trainings. It's kind of a new partnership we're establishing with Western states, and to have them come and kind of help us out and give us some good safety trainings.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow, that's great. Yeah, safety, so huge. It's so cool that you guys are doing that. They just launched their safety app as well, I hear. That's great to take advantage of such great resources. How can contractors and individuals, companies, best prepare for this trade show and make it the best experience, besides coming?

Jake Magalsky: Well, it's Montana in the wintertime, so if you're a guy, you need to grow a beard. Austin's been working on that one for a couple of weeks now, and I'm not going to be able to catch him. Seriously, there's not a lot of preparation to do except for to make sure that you book your rooms. We do have a room block.

We want to make sure that everyone is registered, and so that's pretty much it. There's not a lot of hard work behind the scenes when you're attending. There's a ton of hard work behind the scenes when you are organizing this, but just make sure. I'm going to let Morgan talk a little bit about the registration and Austin can talk a little bit about the room blocks, but that's pretty much it.

Megan Ellsworth: That's great. Yes, tell us. How do people register? How do they get their room ready to go?

Morgan Thiel: Yeah. Our registration is on our website, which is montanaroofers.org. You can go there. There's a button. Follow through the registration process. Also, if you follow us on Facebook or Instagram, we're posting updates about the convention. If you're looking for more information, either on our website or on our socials, that's the best way to find it, or to message us directly if you have questions.

Austin Barnhardt: Yep.

Megan Ellsworth: Yay, fabulous. You can also find all that information on the Montana Roofing Association Directory on Roofers Coffee Shop as well. There's a big old button that says "Register here for the trade show." Easy peasy. Then for people that aren't able to attend but want to still get some of the good stuff, is there anything virtual that they can watch or tune into?

Jake Magalsky: Well, this is one of those type of conventions. It's an activity that you need to attend. You won't get the value if you just tuned in. We want people to come and show up. We were talking about this just before this recording, and Austin mentioned this is our 35th annual convention and trade show. It would be our 36th, but in 2021, we didn't have it because of covid. Now that we're past that and back into somewhat normal life, we're doing it in person, and we encourage people to show up. Most of life is just showing up, and so we're not offering a virtual option. We want people to come to Billings and participate.

Megan Ellsworth: That's awesome. Love it. Well, I know that the Roofers Coffee Shop team will be there, and we will be taking video and photos and sharing everything. That'll all be on the Montana Roofing Association Directory as well, on rooferscoffeeshop.com. Is there anything else you guys want to share about the trade show or any initiatives you have coming into 2024?

Austin Barnhardt: I mean, just to show up and be there. We like to stress our core values as an association, which is camaraderie, integrity, professionalism and mentorship, and those are a lot of things that you're going to get by showing up at the trade show. You're going to see and talk with a lot of people that have been in the industry a long time. Maybe you're a new contractor starting in, but we have a lot of contractors that have been here. My company, for example, has been around for 50 years now. There's a lot of knowledge, between the leadership in our company, Jake's company, where he started it himself. Through the association, he's been able to better himself and better his business.

It's by going to these trade shows and going to things that you learn maybe some aspects in safety or some business techniques that you never thought of, or things that maybe you didn't have in the past, so the biggest thing is just showing up and talking to the people around you. There's a lot of knowledge. Maybe roofers look intimidating, but once you talk to them and share your struggles, everyone's been through all the struggles and so they're more than happy to help. We're a big state. Yeah, there's competition, but we don't look at this as coming to talk to all your competitors. You're looking at it to get that camaraderie and get that professionalism, and just expand your business and your business knowledge.

Megan Ellsworth: Yes. Wow, well said, Austin. That was great.

Jake Magalsky: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Well, thank you all so much for chatting with me. I'm so excited for the trade show, and I hope everyone out there listening is excited as well. Go register. You can find it on the Montana Roofing Association website and on rooferscoffeeshop.com. Again, thank you all so much.

Austin Barnhardt: Yeah, thanks for having us.

Jake Magalsky: Thank you, Megan.

Morgan Thiel: Thanks for having us.

Megan Ellsworth: This has been great. For all of those listening, go to rooferscoffeeshop.com to learn more and register for the trade show. Wherever you're listening to podcasts, make sure you subscribe and ring the bell, so you get notified every time we upload a new episode. This has been Roofing Road Trips. My name is Megan Ellsworth, and we will see you next time.

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

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