October 9, 2022 at 6:00 a.m.
By Cass Jacoby.
The Roofing Alliance shares their goals to increase their educational opportunities and the importance of engaging the next generation in roofing.
In a new Roofing Road Trips episode, Heidi J. Ellsworth visits with the new Roofing Alliance president Kelly Van Winkle of King of Texas and vice president Greg Bloom of Beacon as well as with the executive director of the Roofing Alliance and vice president for NRCA Alison LaValley. The four have a conversation on the importance of supporting the roofing industry and the growth of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) foundation, the Roofing Alliance.
“The Roofing Alliance brings together everyone in the industry with the common denominator being that everyone in the group is committed to giving back to our industry with their time and their funds,” says Kelly. “We focus on so many different areas of service and research, but the main topic areas, the main four, are technology and research, philanthropy, education and sustainability, so those are the pillars that we operate from.”
These pillars of focus for The Roofing Alliance are apparent in the amazing programs they have implemented from working with the Ronald McDonald House Charities to working with major universities including Clemson and Arizona State to provide ongoing scholarships for the industry.
“There’s so many great programs,” says Greg. “Whether it’s the MVP Award, whether it’s the Planned Giving Program, whether it’s Gold Circle, and the education that we’re providing, and the student competition. I mean, we are doing some amazing things, and it’s like, we’re involved in a lot of initiatives which are truly helping the industry.”
Moving forward, Kelly says that her focus for the future of the Roofing Alliance will be to support the roofing-focused college courses that are being implemented. “I think that these efforts are really aimed at interesting the younger generation in our field, and I think that’s so important, to bring in the fresh, new faces to our industry and to our group,” says Kelly.
Greg is similarly excited to focus on education to attract younger generations to roofing. “I’m really excited about SkillsUSA, for instance, our trade school involvement now,” says Greg. “I had the absolute pleasure earlier this year of teaching a class at Clemson with one of my colleagues at Beacon, Erik Zadrozny, and we just had a phenomenal time. The students were so engaged, and we were talking about distribution.”
Alison says that she is most excited for the future Student Competition, which will be the Alliance’s ninth, taking place March 8 at the International Roofing Expo in Dallas. Teams in the student competition have the opportunity to submit a qualified bid proposal, complete an oral presentation and to flex their project management, estimating and safety knowledge. “This particular project is going to feature, believe it or not, a 268,000 square foot retractable roof on Globe Life Field, where the Texas Rangers play,” says Alison. “What’s great about the competition though, is that each team is assigned a mentor, and that mentor is an Alliance member. So again, from the get-go, there’s interaction with an industry professional. They just don’t present, and then win and go home. I mean, there is interaction.”
This kind of interaction with the professionals is critical for young people who are looking to join the industry, providing them with opportunities to begin their portfolio, network with the best of the best in the business and jumpstart their career.
“When [the students] get to the employers, they already have some experience, they have some knowledge, and they’re very, very helpful, and they’re eager because they’ve participated in the competition,” says Kelly. “They’re eager to be in our industry, so I just think it’s a win-win for both the students, the Alliance, and the companies that are involved.”
Listen to the podcast to learn more about the Roofing Alliance’s goals for the future and for more information on how the Alliance is supporting roofing education initiatives that will attract the next generation of roofers.
Cass works as a reporter/writer for RoofersCoffeeShop, AskARoofer and MetalCoffeeShop. When she isn’t writing about roofs, she is putting her Master degree to work writing about movies and dancing with her plants.