Effects of COVID-19 in the Roofing Industry

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NRCA telephone town halls

Eavesdropping on NRCA Virtual Town Hall Meetings

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the National Roofing Contractors Association brought out their big guns and staged two nationwide Town Hall meetings online. The events focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the roofing industry and each session enjoyed enormous participation with nearly 3,000 participant call-ins on March 30th and April 14th, 2020.

Big wigs including Reid Ribble, NRCA’s CEO; Chairman Rick Sabino; NRCA Vice Presidents Tom Shanahan, Duane Musser, and Mark Graham, as well as, NRCA General Counsel, Trent Cotney all were on hand and online for the well-attended discussions about COVID-19’s impact in roofing.

Listen to NRCA's Virtual Town Halls...

Audio transcripts of the events can be located on NRCA’s website, here… https://www.nrca.net/covid-19-resources-for-roofing-contractors. Look on the right-hand column and scroll down to the “NRCA Resources” section. Then, look for “NRCA Telephone Town Hall recordings.”

Taking Special Measures to Remain Virus-Free

During the March 30th event, NRCA Charman Rick Sabino who heads up Deerpark Roofing in Cincinnati, Ohio explained that – although he closed the company’s office – field operations continued largely unabated. Office staff are simply working from home to conduct needed business. Sabino is careful to adhere to social distancing best practices with his crews, permitting only one occupant in any company vehicle. The company also administered body temperature checks to ensure no one on the team reports for duty while suffering from fever, a telltale symptom of the virus. Some contractors are using infrared thermometers for this same purpose.

However, the impact of COVID-19 on the roofing industry, including Sabino’s Deerpark Roofing, is still a factor as companies are experiencing some difficulty obtaining certain supplies, including sanitizing products. Roofing material shortages are another effect of COVID-19 in the roofing industry. There are supply line hold-ups, especially with imported products from China, such as galvanized roofing nails. There have also been some sourcing interruptions affecting material delivery and trucking, the effects have not been too severe.

Tom Shanahan’s role at NRCA involves navigating the complex ins-and-outs of OSHA guidelines and the insurance side of the roofing industry, including workers comp claims. Shanahan talked about these matters during the March 30th event. With all the gray area surrounding COVID-19 testing and diagnosis, it’s naturally become complicated in terms of who qualifies for workers comp.

In early April, a survey conducted by the NRCA showed that just over half of survey responders  said the economic impact of COVID-19 on the building and construction sector has had a “significant” or “very significant” effect on their roofing businesses. Roofing contractors reported a slowdown in normal bid activity and reduced demand for low-slope roofing work. Almost half of the group surveyed said that they had suffered job cancellations due to the impact of COVID-19 on the roofing industry.

Yet, the outlook for roofing contractors, in general, remains very positive. Only a small fraction of roofing businesses laid off workers and few at all have closed up shop. Well over half of the survey respondents said they were confident about the future, and more than a third are very confident about getting back into full swing soon. That positive mood is reflected in the virtual town hall exchanges conducted by NRCA in March and April.

NRCA town hall meetings

"Essential Business" Designation

NRCA Chief Counsel, Trent Cotney addressed the confusing state-by-state designations of what is an essential business versus non-essential. In most of the U.S., roofing services are deemed an essential business which has contributed to the industry’s resilience during this time. But, how does this designation factor into standing job contracts and adherence to contractual deadlines and service level agreements? If nothing else, the pandemic has created some interesting and unprecedented challenges in the roofing and construction industries! 

Mark Graham handles the technical side of operations at NRCA. Graham pointed out how technology solutions are helping to keep the industry moving at a decent pace with virtual field inspections and inspections done from a contractor’s or an insurance adjuster’s desktop PC. (Note: Check out iRoofing’s new mobile app for iPhones with its new Roof Inspection Report Tool and read how you can maximize the opportunity to sell roofing projects, remotely.)

Graham noted that there are some job site shutdowns affecting roofing contractors and he encourages business leaders to refer to NRCA’s resource entitled Preparing a Roofing Job for Shut Down. While Graham confirmed that, for the most part, the roofing contractors industry remains vibrant, normal operations have slowed for some manufacturers, including services like warranty inspections.

NRCA’s Duane Musser who heads up Government Relations, talked about the CARES Act. He reminded everyone that independent contractors with 500 or less employees fall under the Paycheck Protection Program. Roofing professionals should check their local jurisdictions for all guidelines.

Roofing Remains Resilient

In the April 14th virtual Town Hall meeting, Kyle Thomas of Thomas Roofing – a commercial roofing contractor in Mobile, Alabama – reported very little slow down in new construction bidding.  Thomas had no contract cancellations to-date. Some slowing of residential inspections and repairs is being experienced because of communities being in a state of semi self-quarantine, but Thomas’s team carries on with thoughtful handling of the desire for social distancing, including carrying letters and wearing badges conveying their status as an essential business. This is done to ease skepticism among understandably cautious property owners. Doug Dunken of Nations Roof, also headquartered in Mobile Alabama – a very large, primarily commercial roofing company – reported positively that business for Nations remains relatively unchanged despite the pandemic.

social distancing tasks

Toolbox Talks

Several contractors mentioned the importance they place on conducting roofing “Toolbox Talks” during which they review with their crews various safety topics related to the specific jobs they have in progress; unique workplace hazards; and safe work practices, especially as it concerns use of PPEs and sanitizing measures to ward off the spread of coronavirus.

While it appears that much of the world impacted by coronavirus is finally on the mend, iRoofing encourages you to stay informed of all health guidelines and the latest status of the roofing industry’s health and well being.  Listen to these interesting Telephone Town Hall meetings made possible by the National Roofing Contractors Association. 

Ultimate Guide to Selling Roofs Remotely

We hope the positive reports from NRCA executives and roofing professionals around the country apply to your business, too! To help keep your business on track, the iRoofing app enables you to do many tasks remotely. Reducing your visits with property owners at this time is crucial in regards to both public health and client satisfaction. Today, many property owners welcome social distancing by service providers.  Plus, with roofing software, you can further impress property owners with digital presentations and rapid turn-around time of roof estimates and roof simulations using products you recommend portrayed on an image of the client’s home or building. Check out The Ultimate Guide on how to sell roofs remotely

We are in this together. 

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