I just returned from what easily could be described as the best International Roofing Expo in recent memory. Attendance at the 2016 IRE, held Feb. 17-19 in Orlando, Fla., was up, exhibitors were happy and conversations centered around very positive business conditions.
The show’s energy was not lost on me, especially because I’ve written many editor’s columns since 2010 wondering whether it’s yet the year the construction industry returns to positivity after the housing crisis. Instead of searching for economists to support a rebound this year, every meeting I had at IRE assured me roofing—and construction in general—is on an upswing.
This momentum was further underscored by an announcement made during the show by the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association: Reid Ribble, a U.S. Congressman for Wisconsin’s 8th District, currently is in negotiations to take over for William A. Good, CAE, NRCA’s CEO, who will retire Dec. 31, 2016. Good has faithfully served NRCA and the industry, and he has a very loyal following. I personally am grateful to Good and members of his staff—Ambika Puniani Bailey and Carl Good. They gave me my first job in publishing back in 2000 and were integral in making me the editor I am today. Therefore, I certainly don’t want to take away from what Good has done for roofing, but I can’t help but be excited about the possibilities his successor could bring.
Ribble is a roofing contractor by trade. He joined his family’s business—Kaukauna, Wis.-based The Ribble Group—in 1975 and became its president in 1980. Ribble served as NRCA president in 2005-06 and NRCA senior vice president from 2004-05, as well as held a number of other leadership roles within the organization. He also was president of the Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress’ Board of Trustees from 2008-10.
Ribble was elected to Congress in 2010 and has been re-elected twice. It may be a bit difficult to see why I’m excited about a politician taking NRCA’s helm—especially when I would describe our country’s current presidential race as wackadoo. However, I can’t help but focus on the positive traits of (some) politicians and Ribble’s in particular: He obviously is a leader. He is dedicated to public service. He knows how to build a constituency. And, in January, when he announced he would resign from Congress, Ribble noted his commitment to his family. In addition, according to NRCA’s “RoofScoop” blog post, “In Congress, Ribble has earned the reputation of being honest and able to work with representatives from both sides of the aisle.”
I hope he brings these traits to his new role with NRCA. I hope he surrounds himself with construction experts—even those he disagrees with—who will provide new levels of insight about the issues facing the construction industry as a whole: durability, energy efficiency, materials transparency, renewable energy, resilience and sustainability. I think Ribble has a wonderful opportunity to make the roofing industry the leading construction voice on these matters. After all, we know a roof is a building’s first line of defense. Shouldn’t roofing be the first industry called upon to assist in meeting the current and future needs of our buildings?