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What’s HOT in Roofing, Coffee Conversations LIVE from FRSA - Day 1 - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

Coffee Conversations LIVE ABC
August 23, 2021 at 8:00 a.m.

 

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview from Coffee Conversations LIVE at IRE 2021. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Hello. Welcome to Coffee Conversations. This is our first Live Coffee Conversations from the great show of FRSA Expo, Florida state. My name is Heidi Ellsworth, RoofersCoffeeShop, and we are so, so excited to be here. Our sponsor is the FRSA. They have put together this beautiful booth all around us that we are able to bring people in. We're going to have interviews up on YouTube. You'll be able to see what's happening. But today, today we have this awesome panel who is going to be with us going through what's happening in Florida and where are we. So let's get started.
Okay, first of all, we're going to start with some introductions. So Jeff.

Jeff Littleton:
Jeff Littleton with All Points Tile & Slate.

Tammy Hall:
Tammy Hall with CFS Roofing out of Fort Myers.

John Kenney:
And John Kenney with Cotney Attorneys & Consultants out of Tampa.

Julie Pistritto:
Hi everyone. Julie Pistritto with HOVER.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And.

John Lombardo:
Hi. My name is John Lombardo with the Estimating Edge.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Now, you may wonder why John doesn't have a microphone, but here's why, because if you read on as we were talking about Coffee Conversations, it was the great panelists, plus we're having special guests. And so John snuck away from the booth, which is going great, and I just wanted to have John kind of share what's happening inside and overall. So John, how's the show going?

John Lombardo:
The show's going great. Everybody's excited and buzzed to be here, and I think we're all ready to have some fun.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

John Lombardo:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So I know Estimating Edge has been just kicking it. It has been so busy. What is happening? What are you seeing out there with contractors right now?

John Lombardo:
Well, I do see the contractors trying to be better organized. They're trying to be more efficient. They're trying to get the work that they can now because they don't know what the future is going to bring. So the technology that we're bringing is allowing them to get things started and out the door so they can start working on the next project. So it's very efficient.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. And are you seeing, I mean, after coming from COVID, and that's one of the things we're going to talk about today is this post-COVID world we're all living in, what are you seeing with adoption of technology and contractors?

John Lombardo:
The adoption is pretty much the same as it was years ago. It's just with the new people coming in, they're trying to adopt not only the technology but learning the roofing industry, and I think that's a struggle, and it's ... I don't see how it's going to get any better. It's difficult. It really is. But the Edge does offer a better way to learn roofing, for sure.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. I'm going to continue this conversation. Julie with HOVER, the other technology that's just taking the world by fire right now, what are you seeing on that front?

Julie Pistritto:
Yeah. I mean very similar things. More than ever I think the pandemic has really accelerated a lot of contractors stepping up and looking at their business and trying to be more efficient, what work streams can we streamline and add more value to even from the front end of the process all the way through.
A big focus of ours and when we're sitting down advising with contractors is even about this new homeowner expectation and perception, and what are we doing to foster that because the pandemic, it's accelerated those things as well, so we're just really trying to help these contractors prepare for what's to come through all these obstacles and challenges that we've been tasked with here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And with everything that's happening, when you're looking at the labor shortages, really that's really what it's coming down to. You have to do more with less. People and technology is allowing that to happen with these, your kind of software and your programs. So any last words? I know you want to run, so.

John Lombardo:
Well, I think one of the last word I would like to bring to the table here and to everyone is we're going to get through this. Just stay positive and look for the brighter side of things and not the negative side.

Heidi Ellsworth:
John, I love that. Thank you. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being our guest, our special guest coming in.
Okay. So this ... Oops, there we go. Okay, we don't want to kill John trying to get out in our special booth, our special FRSA booth here. Okay, panelists, let's start on these questions and where we're at.
I want to start on material shortages. I know because if we don't start there, everybody will say why aren't you talking about material shortages. That's all anybody is talking about. So I'd kind of like to start Jeff with you. What are you seeing on the tile realm, what are you seeing out there across Florida, and really talking about the Florida market?

Jeff Littleton:
Well, with the tile, we've been watching it for this whole year where they went to like three weeks lead time, six weeks lead time, and then right now I think we're somewhere around 16 or 18 weeks lead time on some products. Now underlayment's a whole different issue because we put in an order for underlayment probably in April, and then they told us last month that we probably could look at it in August, because they're just having a hard time supplying the roofs that are being done right now. And nationally, not just in Florida. So we're having a difficulty with everything, aluminum, metals, screws. Just there's so much going on that it's just straining the system. And then also because COVID unfortunately some people had to stay home for a little while. And if you're not making a screw, you can't buy a screw.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right, yeah.

Jeff Littleton:
Hey, we'll get through this just like we got through every other thing that happens in the state of Florida.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. So Tammy, you are buying, and you guys are trying to install all of this. How are you guys doing with that?

Tammy Hall:
We're seeing it all fronts because we do ... we install everything. We're low slope, regular slope, maintenance, repairs. And what we're finding right now is the delivery system is sorely under served with drivers. So even if we have materials, we can't get them to Florida, we can't get them to the supply houses. They're seeing over a 60,000 person shortage in drivers right now. They're expecting that to be a hundred and plus more by 2028. Young people just don't want to get on the road and drive trucks. And COVID where people were sick, so you had a natural shortage, and then you just have raw materials.
So what we saw to give an example of what we're dealing with, we started a job. We signed the contract in March. We placed the order. Our materials were supposed to be here in June. Now they've been pushed back to August. And in talking to some of the manufacturers, they're telling us they're challenged with even getting materials to manufacture, so as they're shipping things in.
So we have a material shortage, but then we also have a way of getting it shortage. How are we going to distribute? So distribution is a key component to this. And from what they're telling us, we're going to kind of go through this all the way through 2022.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. Really?

Tammy Hall:
And they're really hoping that we'll see this start to ease up maybe by the end of 2022. And I don't know if John in your world, in the legal world, if you're seeing that as well or hearing that, because I know you guys talk to quite a few of the manufacturers and suppliers as well.

John Kenney:
Yeah, we do. And honestly, it's not a Florida issue. We're talking about Florida, but we're just part of a small cog. It is nationally and internationally, so it's everywhere. We're not hearing anything really going to release much before like you're saying second quarter 2022. There's over demand, there's under production, and the logistics system worldwide is shot. So it's just not enough people. They never prepared for this. So the biggest key here is we're going to face this, we're going to come through it, like we do everything. But it's let's be better when we finally get to the other side so we don't repeat the same thing over again and have some better way of logistical chains and all that working on. So that's what we're seeing on our end, trying to work for more towards the future to make it better later.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right. And I also know, and I'm sure you guys have experienced this too, is that with the contractors you're also trying to help them through Cotney with exclusions in the contracts, hopefully I'm saying that legally the right way, accelerators, yeah, yeah.

John Kenney:
Yeah. We have a lot of options. The best option I give to every contractor listening, please just don't sign a contract right now without talking to someone and being properly prepared, because I know of a lot of contractors that have seen price increases from $40,000, $50,000 to $300,000 on one single project.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

John Kenney:
That's a lot and you cannot absorb that. So you need some protection in your contract going into the front end to help you through these.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I'm going to pop back. Tammy, you're finding that?

Tammy Hall:
Well, one of the things we have to, as professionals we need to educate our customers. Some of them are not feeling the same issue that we are. They're not all doing home improvements, not all doing re-roofs personally, so we get to associations. And our professionals on the low slope, they're much more in tune. When it comes to that residential side, I had a gentleman call and said, "Well, why are you blaming COVID on everything? It can't be that bad." And I said, "I'm really sorry but let me send you some articles so you understand because I don't want you to think I'm hoodwinking you." And he called me back and he said, "Wow, I had no idea."
So again, we have to set that expectation, and then as John says, we need to set the expectation within our own businesses to ensure that the people we have employed stay employed and that we stay in business.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, that's-

John Kenney:
Absolutely.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That is the scary part I think too, is just how much is it going to slow down. But then again, we're in Florida and the weather tends to not always say, "Well, you can slow down." No, you can't because the storms are coming. I mean you guys have already had one hurricane come through.

Tammy Hall:
Tropical storm.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Tropical storm, okay, don't want to scare everybody. We love our tourists.

John Kenney:
Minor wind event.

Tammy Hall:
Yeah. So we had a lot of rain. But it's summer. It's supposed to rain, just more.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, and Julie, I know we just launched Coffee Cast on-

Julie Pistritto:
I'm very excited.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Coffee Cast is our new video. Julie's our first guest on it on, RoofersCoffeeShop. But what are you kind of seeing along these same lines? You talked to so many contractors across the country. What are you hearing about how they're dealing with it, and how are they using some of this technology to help?

Julie Pistritto:
Yeah. Well, first of all, say it's so encouraging of what great years despite all these challenges we're hearing like man, we killed the number, we grew by 30%. We're still expanding into these markets and really aggressive growth goals, so it's totally positive with everything going on.
In our position as a technology advisor at HOVER, we're just really trying to be empathetic, understanding what's going on to not only the contractor, but we have partnerships with distribution, with the manufacturer reps. We see the full circle. So whatever we can do to help. "Hey, maybe you can't get your material right now and you're a manufacturer's wrap. Let me provide these business services like HOVER that are really going to help you streamline processes, add more efficiency, be able to still scale and grow your business."
Same thing with distribution. I was talking to some of the SRS and beacon folks this morning, and they're just like, "We're just running and gunning," and it's like when you go to chick-fil-a and it's like don't go between 11-1, you know what you expect. For them it's all day long, but we're conditioning the customer, they are right to understand, to your point, I love what you did sending the information. So whatever we can do, and that's what I was talking about at the front end even, us providing like a 3D model for transparency even at the front end of the process to create that credibility and visibility can help with future challenges and questions and obstacles that come their way.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. John and Tammy I think you were involved too, but I know with I roofing technology [inaudible 00:12:51] you guys are getting involved. Those are the kind of things that really we got to keep after, because the world is changing so fast if we don't bring in the technologies to help put that together. So kind of talking, taking that to the next step on labor, so we kind of just talked about that, but I've also heard and I would love your thoughts on this Jeff on, that we are actually seeing some shortages with tile, not because of raw materials but because they don't have enough people to work the plants and they aren't on full schedules. Have you been hearing anything along that line?

Jeff Littleton:
Well, the plants that I've talked to basically they're working flat out. As a matter of fact I have a few guests that we brought here to the show, and they wanted to see about going to a manufacturing facility and see how the process was done. And they just said no. They're too busy. They can't spare someone because of everything that we're ... We're flat out working and just trying to ... We don't want you. The safety level of having you on the floor is just more than we're willing to take up right now. And so they're not going to get to see it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Everybody is going through, and we're seeing on RoofersCoffeeShop our classifieds are just continuing to ... We're having people place ads, get out there because they're looking for crews. And no, I'm not talking just about roofing contractors. We have roofing manufacturers who are looking for people to work in the plants who are placing classified ads, and trying to get out there, so.

Jeff Littleton:
Some of it's just not getting the person. It's getting someone that's a good worker. I mean, everybody wants to be a lawyer or they want a website designer. It's hard to find someone that wants to start from the ground up and work.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So Tammy what are you seeing along that lines?

Tammy Hall:
We're so challenged right now in southwest Florida, and I know all of Florida, and I have to really give kudos to FRSA because as we're challenged with this boulder rolling downhill in Florida because we're booming everywhere, we also have to be careful in how we're dealing with our employees, because as you bring new people in, you're having to hire them at a much higher level than your existing staff. So then how do you deal with your business retention and your employee retention? How do you bring a project manager in at 20,000 more a year than the guy who's been sitting there for three years?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right.

Tammy Hall:
And while we all want to think they don't talk about their salaries, it's not reality. Or how do you bring in a crew member at $22 an hour but then someone's demanding $30 an hour? And these are the kinds of numbers that people are getting right now.
We just went through in our service giving everybody a $2 an hour raise plus vacation. I've reached out to counterparts of mine to say what are you doing in your tech areas because these are two men crews. If one's gone, we're kind of SOL. It's not like they're on five or six man crews. And so I'm reaching out. I've asked for a new wage and benefits survey. If that's going to come out through NRCA in the next couple of years, because I think we're going to see a huge change in what the average crew member is making, which means we all have to adjust our pricing. We're not only adjusting our pricing because of material. Now, we're having to adjust our pricing for labor, which means the consumer is getting sticker shocked.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Tammy Hall:
And we're not slowing down.

Heidi Ellsworth:
No, we're not slowing down.

Tammy Hall:
Because I think is that a bad thing. I think it's quite a conduit. What happens when we do slow down? Do we reduce salaries? Easy to reduce cost of material, but our cost isn't going to go down.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right. And it's really, I think it's really interesting being in Florida. I mean being from the West Coast, we don't see ... I mean although right now we're on fire, so I would say yes, we have natural disasters, but we don't have the year after year on hit with the hurricanes which means you're always going to be kind of ... Will it ever slow down is really the question as you go through? 2008.

Tammy Hall:
Boom, boom to a halt.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

Tammy Hall:
So yeah. So I don't want to see those times again, but I think again, as we're in these crazy times, we get a lot of these unlicensed contractors coming in. They'll just put up a storefront and they're roofers. And so I give a lot of credit to our organization here in Florida saying, "Hey, we've got to kind of look at this from both ends, make sure that we still are giving a quality product, that you're licensed, that you're insured, consumer beware." And that's a part of an education system as contractors we try to do, but we're really busy trying to get the materials, get the people, get the roof done.
So organizations like FRSA, NRCA are great at helping us get that word out and lobbying our legislators to say, "Hey, you got to put some rules in," because Florida's like the Wild West sometimes.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Well, and I am always so inspired by you and all the communities that you're on. You're on the NRCA board. You work. You do so much on advocacy. We're going to come back to that, because I want to talk a little bit about what's happening there. But John, I would really like you to kind of come in on this labor shortage too. I know you're doing an amazing new estimating course. You're doing a lot of training on the consulting side along with helping with employee handbooks and contracts. What are you seeing on that?

John Kenney:
Yeah, we, really we're spending a lot of time on employee training and workforce recruitment and training existing is a need for it because you can't afford to lose somebody because they don't have a proper career path in the company because once they're gone, they're gone. So that's the stuff we're working on.
Estimating training is what we thought was a huge need in the industry. We just couldn't find it. I know being in there as long as I've been, and I know when John was just here, we just partnered with the Edge to work with them to do estimating training for people coming to be trained to use the Edge, because their frustration was a lot of people didn't know the way to estimate, it's hard to learn the system. So those are the things working on.
Now, the labor problem it's not going away, and we've been fighting this for many, many decades. You're below 20 entry level is pretty much gone in our industry. When you have family dollar, family general, they're starting out at 18 family league. So everybody, everything's coming up. So I think robotics is going to play ... You talk about technology. Robotics you're going to see in roofing big time in the next five to 10 years, to try to augment the workforce.
So I think it's coming. It's there. For example, England has a huge robotics program for construction, and they've already projected that in 15 years robotics will take over 20% to 40% of the industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

John Kenney:
So it's coming.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It just seems to me that that's a little bit of what American innovation is about, right? There's a need, and someone's going to fill it. We don't know who that is. Tesla, whoever it may be out there, but they're going to fill it because especially on commercial roofs, there's a way to really make that easier. And it's easier on the employees also to be able to be at that point.

John Kenney:
I just want to jump in, one thing on that. So that's why it's important, like you talk, we're here, we're here with FRSA and all the organizations and all the roofing contractors. Don't let someone else come in and take over our industry. Stay involved, stay on top of technology, continue to participate like everybody's here doing today because we want to control our industry, and we need to. It's our industry, so let's get ahead of it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Exactly. Get involved and stay involved. Julie, you've seen that, right? Well, you and I, we met at Pictometry, so we got our with the technology. But what are you seeing on the labor front, I mean and maybe more even on the sales side of things, because with all the remote selling, everything's kind of changed?

Julie Pistritto:
Yeah. And to John's point, I'll just say when COVID hit and the pandemic happened, it was really interesting to see the acceleration of opportunities. Some of those forward-thinking innovative contractors that were preparing for next year, the year after seeing, hey, Amazon's out there. I can order something and get a package within an hour. Roofing's going to be no different one day. We want to get ahead of the wave. So those firms were set up really successful to go to complete remote selling almost overnight.
And then there was others that we took a lot of time advised to stand up. And now that we're coming out of it and all the points about labor and some of these struggles, it's again where else can I drive more efficiency? How else can I be more profitable on each project, things I'm not thinking of or I didn't have to think of? And on the employee retention piece, I can go hire really forward-thinking personable bartenders, and they can use technology. They don't have to measure a roof anymore, right?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Right, right.

Julie Pistritto:
So it's balancing some of that challenges.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And maybe all of this is also helping to make everyone realize that 50% of the population are female and only 10% of roofing is female. So we have a lot of opportunity out there with the use of technology to help, make all of that possible. I get excited about that.

Julie Pistritto:
No, me too. Every org I go into or the team goes into, it's like you spot the one female sales rep. And then you ask the owner where she ranked, and it's usually top two. Seriously, every time.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Every time. That's just because we like to talk and sell, and yeah, this is the kind of stuff we'd like to do. Yeah.
Okay. So let's ... I want to kind of, Tammy, I want to kind of start with you on this one. There's been a lot going on in Florida with government regulations and advocacy and some bills that have come out recently. I know how involved you are. What are some of the things that people should be aware of, because if it happens here, it seems to spread?

Tammy Hall:
Well, what happens, we're a strong, conservative state. We've got a lot of criticism for the way we handled COVID, but we kept Florida open, we kept people on business, we kept people working. And so I give a lot of credit to our governor. He's done a great job for us. I think people need to take responsibility for their own health and welfare, and that's part of it. He's not trying to micromanage someone's house. So I give him credit for letting government do what government should be doing.
On that front though, we still have the storm chasers, we still have the insurance fraud that goes on. Citizens is overwhelmed right now because private insurers are dumping Florida insurers. They're not insuring them anymore.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Tammy Hall:
They must of had ... We had a rash, and I don't know if you saw this too with Tyrese, but I saw a rash about six months where five, six times a day I was getting a call, "I need a roof inspection. My insurance company is going to dump my homeowners insurance. My roof is only 12 years old and they're saying I have a little bit of shingle decay, or I have a couple cracked tiles. Can you come out and help me?"

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Tammy Hall:
And they're not offering them an alternative. They're just saying no, because they know that roof, because of hurricanes they know that roof could possibly replace. And then we had the whole challenge where they wanted to set up where you have a decreasing, in other words, if your roof is ... It's like a depreciated roof. So you're not going to get full value. If your roof is only two years old, you get full value, but if your roof is 19 years old, we depreciate it. Maybe instead of a $40,000 roof, you're only going to get 5,000.
So FRSA, they have a great lobbyist, Chris Dawson. They fought against that. I know Trent was involved with that, with Cotney as well. So that was one thing we were able to deal with. And then you have, again, how do we avoid the storm tracers from falsely advertising. We can guarantee you a new roof. Give us, sign over your insurance money and we'll make sure you get it. Well, $40,000 roof now just became a $200,000 roof.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow.

Tammy Hall:
And I have to say, private insurers, do your homework. Don't put that on the consumer and don't let someone who's offering to do that for them hoodwink you into paying over paying so much.
And that's the challenge that we're having in Florida. Maybe you can talk a little bit more to the tile, but we're seeing it's really sad. And now that legislation was signed where they can't go door to door, they can't do the mobile calls, they can't put the door hangers on, but now that's being pushed back. It's being pushed back. Right now it's been challenged, it's been overturned to some degree, but we'll see what happens.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. Jeff?

Jeff Littleton:
Well, I deal with lawyers and insurance adjusters and all day long. And look, I've actually had some guys that have suggested, "Hey, this is an $80,000 roof. We understand you have the tile to do this little repair. We'd like to buy all the tile from you." And I've turned them down. I'm like, "I'm sorry, no." We try to support ... Man, I have, we have a passion for tile, and we're trying to do what's right, and I just have a moral passion in life to try to do what's right. And I don't know, I guess my dad raised me right. If you need a roof, you need a roof.
But if you have 10 tiles that are broken and somebody comes in and says that they're going to ... if you sign over your ... or you sign with us, we'll take care of everything, you don't have to pay no down payment, we'll get you a brand new roof, it's a $40,000 roof and they're trying to charge $80,000 to the insurance company, it's just not right.
And we get, originally we would get lawyers that would call us saying, "According to the Florida builders code that trial has to be dropped off in the manufacturer's pallet with it shrink wrapped with the manufacturer's name on it." And we're like, "No, what it says is you have to have documentation saying who made the tile and that the tile is product approved." And also, if you look at the product, now I don't know what the code number is, but if you look at the page, the page that they're talking about is for re-roof new construction, not repair work. And normally when they start showing me, they give me a bill, and then I just throw one back at them and say, "Here you go. How about Florida statue," blah, blah, blah. And now we can-

Tammy Hall:
Bla, bla, bla, statute, yeah.

Jeff Littleton:
Well, I can't remember, I can't remember, it's 55 ... Yeah. I have a list of them. I can't remember them. I've got old timers' disease. But normally if they want to play ping-pong with regulations, when they throw one at me, I throw one back at them, let them research it for a while. But we try to educate. Unfortunately when someone calls me, within about 10 or 15 seconds I can tell whether they're trying to get the roof repaired or they're trying to get me to say, "We don't have the tile, it's discontinued," so that they can justify a whole re-roof. And if I have the tile, I have the tile. If I don't have the tile, I don't have the tile. There's no two ways about it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And Jeff, I want everybody out there who's watching this to know, okay, so one of the coolest things about All Point's tile is their boneyard. They have this, you can go online, I really recommend it. I love just go look because I think it's so cool. You have so many, this bone yard of tiles that is just so expansive.

Jeff Littleton:
Yeah, and we're its own mall.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It's pretty fun seeing I have to tell you. So John, what are you seeing on. I know on ... Are you a lobbyist? I know Trent's a lobbyist. You've got Jeff.

John Kenney:
Yes, I'm a lobbyist.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes.

John Kenney:
I'm a lobbyist here in Florida and I also work with our national [inaudible 00:28:59] in Washington as well. But yeah, here in Florida, Tammy's correct. So the bill went through. We helped work on that on the side. I met with a couple of the senators myself trying to give them the roofer's perspective to why these things can't go through the way they are. You are correct, there is pushback. And it's going to be hard to really push this back to where it was intended to be because it's going to fall under freedom of speech, and that's where the stormers are chasing it because you can't stop them from advertising if they're doing it the way the code says with licenses and so on. So you probably it's going to be somewhere in the middle is where it's going to end up.
But it wasn't a victory for either side. So when I say that, it means it was good. This could have been a lot worse for the contractor than it did turn out. So it actually worked to somewhere near the middle for now. So we have to watch it and keep on it and see where it goes.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Wow. There is a lot, a lot going out there. And I mean, when you're looking kind of even at the overall of nationally and all the changes that are going on there with sustainability and the green and new regulations that may not be good or who knows, what are you seeing on that front?

John Kenney:
Well everybody, we're pretty much, this post pandemic world has stalled a lot of things. So some things really in the last session here in Florida went through, a lot of things got delayed which was good. A lot of things should have never made the table so that did happen.
I think going forward that doesn't necessarily mean we won't see them again, they're coming back. So that's why now is the time to continue to be active. And your professional roofing contractor here in the state of Florida, you got to speak up. If you don't speak up, things will move in the opposite direction you want. You've got to continue to work with organizations, get involved in organizations such as FRSA, and you got to be active and you got to keep your voice going. That's why they fight for the industry. But they can't fight if we're not involved.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And let's talk about West Coast RCA. You've been president for how long of the West Coast?

John Kenney:
I've been the president 11 years.

Heidi Ellsworth:
11 years.

John Kenney:
11 years now. We're out of the Tampa Bay Area. We're affiliated with FRSA. I've been on the board for 20 years, so it's a great affiliate. We love continuing to work on it, and there's always things to do. And again, we hear more on a local level.
FRSA represents the state. The local affiliates, what they do is they work within their areas with the local roofers to get all of this up and out, and then we go and represent on the affiliate council or different committees here at FRSA and get the voices heard.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, and for everyone out there who maybe isn't from Florida, so you can understand, Florida has one of the as we've heard the most amazing associations with the Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Association, and then there's affiliates across the state. And Tammy, you've been involved, right?

Tammy Hall:
Yeah, we have the Southwest Florida Roofing Contractors. I'm the perpetual volunteer, so I handle all the admin and all of that, all of those items. But to John's point, we're working really hard with Chris Dawson to create a Roofing Day for Florida.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Awesome.

Tammy Hall:
So that I think the education that's come through FRSA and through NRCA really makes it, brings it home to how important your voice is, and the one voice effort that's happening on a national and local level, these are important things to our industry if we're going to survive the challenges we get faced with, whether it's a pandemic, whether it's materials or all the other things.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. Okay, so along that lines, I think, and this is one of our next questions, and I do want to say I know Megan, and I forgot to say Megan Ellsworth and Colin Sheehan are producing this podcaster in the background, and they're chatting you up out there. So if you guys have questions, please go to the control panel and ask any questions.
But one of the questions that came in earlier is really talking about this post-COVID, which I guess it's not that post anymore now with Delta, but what's happening. So Julie, I kind of wanted to just start with you on this one on what are you hearing as people are transitioning out of COVID, vaccines, what are you hearing from the contractors out there and how are they kind of dealing with doing things different?

Julie Pistritto:
Yeah. Well, as you can imagine, it depends on what state they're in, what coast they're on, and what their perspective is, which is very similar to the pandemic. We have reps in the northeast, and it was a totally different experience than people down south for example.
But yeah. The good news is I don't think it's slowing them down. I think really the challenges we talked about with like material shortage and labor shortage and where we're at as a business and industry from [inaudible 00:33:54] and region manufacturer to the contractor is really still the biggest challenge in what people are trying to be opportunistic about and what could I put in place, what have I learned from this, I mean including our company. I'm sure you all can agree. We've found efficiencies where we're going to continue to do in post-pandemic, that we're going to be more efficient. We wouldn't even look at some of these things, so.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And John, what do you think? I mean, I just think the whole ... I know, we've talked about the vaccines and how it's handling it. We have some major manufacturers who are not here at the show because they're still on travel. People can't travel from internationally. But we also have a huge amount of number of people here too. So from the Cotney side of it, what are you kind of seeing on that?

John Kenney:
Well, again, we're similar. We work with companies here, Canada as well, so we get both sides. And I think the most important thing for everyone to understand is there was a world prior to COVID. We're never going to go back to that world, okay? And I don't mean that it's all about COVID. It's not. The way we did things, the way we used to operate, the way we went and did business, it's different. Is we've got changes that have come from it, and even when this finally goes away, so I don't think we're going to come to a point anymore. I think everybody's in the reality that it is not going to stop, like we were going to hit August and it was going to go away. At one form or another we're going to be dealing with this for a long time, and there's probably something behind it and then something behind that.
But that being said, I do agree and that's what we're seeing, be efficient. You've got to look for your efficiencies. You always have to plan. I preach with all my contractors that I work with is plan As are the best. You better have a solid plan B. And most people you need a C, because once B becomes your main plan, you need to have something to fall on. So plan. Plan, plan, plan, that's what you need to do.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes. I can agree with the planning out there, and I really agree. I mean that's one of the reasons why we're doing this coffee conversation here today. We're bringing the FRSA out to the industry. We want to bring this show because not everybody can travel. And it's not even a great idea for everyone to travel. So in this new world, as we look at some of these hybrid solutions and using technology, we are able now to be able to share a lot of this with the industry.
And I know I've been on so many calls with you Tammy, and I've seen all of you on screen, on Zoom, on everything. But what are you on, speaking into that with having the plans and where you're going with your employees, how is that working for you in this post-COVID?

Tammy Hall:
We've had to ... It's been really interesting in the office. We have 265 employees and we have about 60 employees that are literally office, between estimators, admin, project managers, et cetera. And we have a lot of young people and then a lot of, people that are ranging into their 60s. And we are finding a real quagmire. Some people think vaccination is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and we obviously aren't requiring that. And then some of our young people are like, "No, I'm healthy, I'm strong, I don't think I need it." And then we just had a turnaround where someone was so anti-vaccinated saw someone get sick and like, "You know, I'm going to go do it," and they went and got vaccinated.
We're asking everyone to be healthy and be safe. If you're not vaccinated, maintain your mask wearing. We still have a lot of protocols at our office about keeping things clean. We used to have great lunches and a big open salad bar every Wednesday. We don't do any of those items. Our dishwashers are what we wash our dishes with rather than the sink. So again, you have to take precautions. Like John said, it's not going to go away. Everyone's so clean right now so I love it. It's a good thing.
But when you go to travel, there is nothing worse than sitting on a plane for six hours with a mask on. I get very claustrophobic and it's like ... I'm one of those people who travels. I'm unvaccinated, I really have to wear this mask. And if it can be private, it doesn't have to be public, or I guess you would notice if you weren't, but I'm over the mask and I understand the importance of it. In our office we ask everyone to do the honor system. So a lot of our people do. Our crews are very good about keeping their masks on because they're in close proximity to each other. We still disinfect our vehicles and things like that.
I don't know if that changes. I don't know if we get to the point where we say, "Oh, we don't have to do this anymore," or if it just becomes our routine.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. And the other thing I was thinking about as we were traveling from Oregon to the great state of Florida is, okay, I've been kind of hidden away for the last 18 months. What else is out there besides COVID? Oh no, the flu again, a common cold.

John Kenney:
You can still get regular sick.

Tammy Hall:
I got regular sick.

Heidi Ellsworth:
So I'm kind of like, yeah, let's kind of keep up this little ...

Tammy Hall:
My doctor teased me. I got regular sick. I went, I immediately got a rapid test, it was negative, and I'm looking right down like, "What's wrong with me?" He goes, "Just the regular cold Tammy. That still occurs." I'm like, "Oh, okay." But I was like panicking, like, "How can I get COVID again? I've already had it. I'm vaccinated. Oh my gosh." He was, "You just got a bad cold."

Heidi Ellsworth:
We've just all not been that sick for the last-

Tammy Hall:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
The ones who haven't caught it. Jeff, what are you seeing across with the contractors and distribution on dealing with COVID?

Jeff Littleton:
Well personally we've reorganized some of the way we do stuff. We don't have clients come inside anymore. We took them, put in a sliding glass window. Fortunately we have a lanai or whatever you want to call it. So they can come up to the window. We do everything through the window. And it's a lot safer I think.
We have some older people that work in our facility and we don't want them to be exposed. Now, they've all had their COVID, their vaccinations now. But in the early days I mean it was just really, really hard on them, just the thought of it.
Now I find myself just distancing myself just a little. Now it's almost become second nature to me. I've got a six foot ... I don't get up on top of anybody, and hey, you're right in their face. I'm usually just subconsciously doing a six foot distance between people, and I do a lot more fist bumps and stuff like that.
Now the contractors that are coming in to purchase from us, it's probably 50/50 on whether some of them are still wearing masks, some of them are not wearing masks. My personal preference or belief is just get the vaccination. I mean just get the vaccination. I mean it's like if you're bleeding, why not put a bandaid on it. You're just going to let it scab over. Okay.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I love it. I love that, you know. I love that. That is awesome. Okay. I want to make sure we ... Okay, let's talk and maybe this is a little bit scary, but we want to talk about the net, and I know we talked about this a lot, but the hurricane season. How does that, I mean for all of the people watching this who are not from Florida or supreme land East Cast, Carolinas and such, what are you doing now as companies to kind of prepare for that, or is it just so normal that you don't, you just say, when it hits, it hits? We will start with you Tammy.

Tammy Hall:
Well, because I oversee our service division, we're usually the first to deploy when something's coming and get houses ready. We try all year round to educate and remind people, rainy season, hurricane season is coming. Are your windows checked? Are your roofs checked? Do you have your trees trimmed, things like that? And then we start stocking up on tarps and things like that like in March, because we know if we wait till July, they're not around. And then of course our ops division steals them. But having said that ...
But no, we really try to put what we need. I try to ... We don't use a lot of EPDM in Florida, but I have, I got given pallets of it. So I might use that for drying instead of 30 pound because I can use it and I don't need it. It was free. So we try to have a little stock of how we triage houses when a storm comes and then normal repairs. We have not seen ... Our material shortage in the repair side of things has not been as drastic as on the operation side.
So again, it's about education, and Floridians pretty much know that. I hate to say our newcomers, they learn quickly, but don't be a hoarder. And that's why I think what the material and manufacturers are saying, don't hoard your materials. If we all pace ourselves, we should all get through this.

Heidi Ellsworth:
We should be okay.

Tammy Hall:
Yeah.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. Preparing, preparing for contractors to get ready for those storms, to get ready for handling the onslaught.

John Kenney:
[inaudible 00:43:12] will be a little bit different because as Tammy said, we always wanted to be prepared on the contracting side to be able to get materials. So probably that's not going to be a great option this year if a major storm does hit. But definitely, when you're a Floridian, and I wasn't born in Florida but I've been here long enough now, it's not dramatized here the way it is when you see it from outside nation, okay?

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah.

John Kenney:
So if we get a category one [inaudible 00:43:36], we know what it's about and we prepare for it. Roofing contractors are no different than any other emergency prepared system. They are prepared. The organizations all work together. We have our hotlines. We know what we can do. And we just, when you get down to that last 24 to 48 hours, by then pretty much you can do all you can do, you got to wait the storm out and then go out and do the emergency repairs and send your crews out.
But one good thing has happened over the past 20 years. Florida building codes have gotten better and better and better. So there's not ... Not that there can't be, but it's not as much damage after every storm as there would have been if these codes didn't keep coming up. So we're getting better and better at our roof surviving through cat ones, cat twos and up. Once you get above that, you get a cat four and above, it's pretty much all ... game's off at that point, because you got too much debris blowing around and usually there's other failures besides the roof.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Wow. So Julie, I know with HOVER you do some amazing, when you think about what the contractors are doing with like kind of going out ahead of time, documenting, having the services done, being able to have all the measurements and stuff. What do you see with storm response, and not just in Florida, but I mean it's kind of all over right now. Everywhere is having huge natural disasters.

Julie Pistritto:
Yeah, I mean we're in a really good position now, because I mean at this time last year there was 11 major events. So if anything, we're like fully staffed, geared up. We put special programs in place due to all the challenges contractors are facing. So we've launched in the last couple months even very specific restoration feature sets like inspection checklist and things that will help the contractor again back to this whole efficiency and expediency. And even our programs, like how people do business with us. We have restoration specific programs.
So yeah, I mean we're turning around right now average jobs in under an hour. So we're hoping, and we're on track because we haven't, again, had any major categories, and just working with contractors. A lot of these guys across the country are gearing up. They're hiring more people. They're trying to find good quality staff like we talked about. So we're leveraging the technology to bring in the talent and help accelerate some of those ramps.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, and get more in. Jeff?

Jeff Littleton:
I mean we have a certain amount of space and in a certain amount of space we can put so many tiles. Now because we do a lot of discontinued tiles, I'm really dependent on working with individual roofers who are tearing tiles off so that I can reclaim them and put them in my system.
Now, when there's a hurricane, most people that come to me originally after the hurricane, I tell them just get your stuff dried in. Don't worry about replacing the 10 tiles, because we'll have them lined up and it becomes a mad house, and it's just like I understand that you need to fix your roof. Just dry it in, because if you can get that quickly and efficiently, and then we can worry about doing the repair down the road.
And then my biggest problem after a hurricane is the people that come in out of state where the person that has a hammer and a ladder and all of a sudden he's a roofing professional. Look, I don't want to ... Wow, okay. We don't sell unlicensed contractors. I'm not the roofing police. If a guy comes in and buys a tile and he looks like he's legitimate dealer, we sell them tile. But if a guy comes in and he goes, "I'm a handyman." I'm sorry sir. We don't sell to unlicensed contractors, because the last thing I want is this handyman to go to somebody, my next door neighbor, and screw their roof up that's going to cost three times the amount of price to have someone come in and fix it, because first, they have to undo the mess up.
We always advocate get a licensed contractor, get a licensed contractor. We try to educate the homeowner on the handyman. Yeah, he might do it for $300 or $400. It's not going to leak for four or five weeks. You're going to spend $3,000 to get it fixed. Do it right the first time.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And that's why the associations are so important. That is what's making, driving the quality of the Florida roofing contractors and working together.

John Kenney:
So Heidi, I just wanted to throw this out there to anybody that's listening. If you're in Florida or if you're not, but I don't know why you'd want if you weren't, if they reach out to you or they can contact us, I'll be happy. I have a great hurricane protection guide put together for contractors and their job sites. It takes you from about five days out to what steps you need to do and where the warnings are. I'm happy to provide that for free.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh good. We'll get that on the site.

John Kenney:
Anybody reaches out, give it to them.

Heidi Ellsworth:
We'll have that, the hurricane. Okay.
So we're getting close to the end of our hour. So first of all, I want to say thank you. This has been so much fun. You guys are amazing and so great. But I just want to kind of take a peek into the future. We've talked about this a little bit, but like in the next 18 months, let's say 18 months to two years, what are you seeing coming down, happening or that ... and I know we've talked a lot about being prepared and really understand that, but kind of looking at what should contractors really be thinking about in preparing because there's so many things out there and they're going to need to be thinking about technology and all these different things. So I'm going to start with you Jeff.

Jeff Littleton:
Well, my company personally we're looking at starting another, opening another location down in the Tampa area so that we can better service Naples and the south. Yeah, we love Naples. But I mean if you're a contractor, one of the biggest problems that I've seen in Florida, especially after Charlie, is that all of a sudden it's like you're on the gravy train and you go from being a somewhat small company to if customers are begging you to come do the work. And so they go out and they get five, six trucks under lease, they go to Home Depot or wherever and they buy, I don't know, 10 dozen ladders. And all this stuff is on some credit card. And the gravy train only lasts so long.
Pace yourself. Live within your means as a contractor. Get educated. God, I love good roofers. I hate whenever a guy comes in. A matter of fact, there's a guy in Tampa, not Tampa but Jacksonville. His answering machine said, "You're talking to the greatest roofer in Florida." And then when I talked to him, he didn't know what tile he wanted. You're the greatest roofer in Florida and you don't know the tiles you want? Educate yourself.

Tammy Hall:
And there you have it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It's perfect. It's perfect. I love it. Go ahead Tammy.

Tammy Hall:
I think the best advice that we could give anyone in any business is have a great attorney and have a great CPA. It's going to be a numbers game for us in business. If you're in business and you've been in business for more than 10 years, you already know that. If you are small and you're operating on a day-to-day basis, you're going to really have to watch your bottom line, your margins. You want to make sure that with these cost increases, labor increases, insurance increases, are you really making money. Just because you may have seen two million come through your books doesn't mean you made two million.
And I'm finding working with the association, a lot of these smaller contractors don't quite understand that because it hasn't caught up to them. So they're running money through their books, but they're not seeing it.
So I would say really start whittling down on understanding what a margin is, understanding what your costs are, and then what your income is, and are you charging enough. Be competitive. We don't want to be the least expensive. We don't want to be the most expensive. We want to have a good business plan. So everyone's going to be a little different, but it boils down to numbers.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I agree. And with both what you're saying because we don't know what's going to happen, and I don't think it's going to be 2008, but we just don't know. Being, knowing where you're at is really important. And John, you're seeing this every day as you're doing consulting for contractors across the country.

John Kenney:
Yeah, definitely. It's a changing environment out there, and you now have remote workers and admin that you're not used to. There's estimators that are available throughout the country. What I mean is now we're in a new blend. So you need to keep up with technology. You need to learn your business as it's been said before. And most importantly, you have to be on the forefront.
Things are changed. It's never going back to the way it was. I know when I first started roofing, I loved hot asphalt and I even worked in coal tar pitch and there wasn't single ply, and we were really, really good at it, but we also knew we had to change because that was not the future. This is kind of the same thing but not so much ... the system's in but it is in how you go to business. It's a new world. AI is going to be big and drone technology is going to be big. You need to embrace it. You need to learn how to use it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I agree. Julie, give us the insight that you see coming up 18 months. And then we do have a question that came in, so I want to ask that real quick before we get to the end of our hour.

Julie Pistritto:
Yeah, no, Heidi, I'd love to. I mean from my perspective it's just, there's going to be more digitization, and I think what Tammy hit on was spot on. Know your numbers, know how you got there, what's the numerical impact if I adopt this technology versus that technology, work upstream. We hear all the time even lead efficiency.
So I think what is going to continue to happen is contractors are going to start to stand up even small, go from 3 million to 20 million, because they're adopting and they're agile and they're embracing change management. So I think it's just people got to be ready, they got to be looking at what's going on, and they have to be providing alternative paths to purchase for the consumer. It's not always going to be what it's always been. And they're going to lose out and it's going to be too late if they don't take action and start implementing some of these things today. Don't change your whole business, but start to bring in some of these best practices if you will.

Heidi Ellsworth:
I agree. And you got to be adopting and diversifying. So we have a question that says I'm happy to be able to experience FRSA from all the way out here in Denver. Thank you.

Tammy Hall:
Denver.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Did you have any hesitations coming back to trade shows? How does it feel to be back? Great ending question. Thank you so much. Julie, we're going to work this way over to Jeff.

Julie Pistritto:
It feels amazing and that's an excellent question. No, just to be able to connect with people you haven't seen in over like two years almost, it feels great. The energy even on the floor is unbelievable. So yeah, so grateful to be back. It's been great.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That's awesome.

John Kenney:
Yeah, I agree. Same way. We are in a digital world that's going to stay here, but to be able to get back in the live world to see people, hear what they've been going through, what they've done, and I did not have any hesitations. As they said, I am vaccinated as well and that may be the reason why, but I absolutely had zero hesitations to come out here and be in the crowd this week.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, that's awesome. Tammy.

Tammy Hall:
I'm excited to travel again and see everyone. I got a little zoomed out with all the electronic meetings, but they were efficient. But it's brilliant to be able to see everybody. The energy that you have in a room with the physical people is so much different than you have it on Zoom. The opportunity to exchange ideas and network, you walk away just feeling excited versus, "Oh my god, I'm so glad that meeting's over." You've been looking at a screen for two hours. So you walk out just like ready to go back to your office and get it done. So I'm excited to be back in person. So please everyone, be safe, come out. If you're not comfortable, keep your six foot like you're doing, wear your mask, but enjoy.

Jeff Littleton:
I'm ecstatic about this. I mean, Jesus, it's like the first time you get to go out to a restaurant. I was just like, "Oh my god, I can't believe it." And it's a big crowd. It's an enthusiastic crowd. I mean that's what makes it worthwhile, is to come here and to be able to just interact with people and talk to people. And there's an energy and a buzz. There's nothing worse than it being a dead room. But you can tell people are very excited to be here, and I'm very excited to communicate with them.
I mean, with the way the news has been in the last couple days, you'd be lying if you didn't say you took 10 seconds to say, "Hmm." But I think everything in life's a risk. It's just everything in life's a risk. I'm willing to take the risk.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, I have to tell you, I'm thrilled to be back. I missed everybody out here and I missed, even though we've seen all the Zooms. And I do want to say too that the crowds are great. You can maybe hear it a little bit behind us, people walking by and watching this great panel talk. But people are here and they're out. And so we are just proud, very proud to be bringing you all this information. As you saw, I just went through some slides with our panelists. Thank you all so much. Thank you for doing the first one with us.

John Kenney:
Happy to be here.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And we got through all of our questions. I do think so. So let's talk a little bit about what's next. Tomorrow we have Coffee Conversations again, one o'clock PM, Eastern, and we are going to have Kim Simone of Reliant Roofing and Ken Kelly of Kelly Roofing are going to be here and they're going to be talking about what's happening, and they have a lot that's happening out there, and also technology. A lot of the same questions we're just going to hear from them on all of the information. So if you have questions, be sure to sign up and be sure to be a part of it.
Then we're taking this road show and we're going to Las Vegas. So we will be in Las Vegas at the IRE, and it's going to be live, just like this again. And we have some great guests. In fact, Trent will be there on the first day. We are going to be speaking there. And that is being sponsored by ABC Supply. So it's going to be great and we are very, very excited.
Thank you for your questions today. Thank you for being a part of this. And as always, you can find all of our Coffee Conversations which many of these folks have been involved in, in the past on rooferscoffershop.com under Read List and Watch Initiative. We appreciate your time. We love having you here. And we look forward to talking to you again tomorrow. Thank you everybody.

Jeff Littleton:
Thank you.



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