Industry Q&A: Ryan Estis Shares Business Insights Tailored to Roofing Contractors

Ryan Estis

As an executive and consultant to some of the world’s most esteemed brands, Ryan Estis has enjoyed an insider’s view of what the world’s best companies do differently. During the Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Conference, March 9-11, 2020, in Marco Island, Florida, Ryan inspired Platinum members of the Owens Corning Roofing Contractor Network to consider their business in context with the “experience economy” driving today’s marketplace. He shared insights from global brands success that can be leveraged in local markets and offered advice on how stepping back to reflect and renew can drive an even higher level of performance.

Below are some highlights from the conversation with Ryan.

Q: What similarities do you see between running a roofing company and managing a global brand?

A: In 2020, the experience economy is driving both big brands and small businesses, including roofing companies. Today, your brand is no longer what you say it is, but how your customers define their experience with the brand. Small businesses are leveraging the strategies global companies use to create advantages in their local market and in their categories.

Q: Can you share an example of a small business applying global marketing strategies to gain an advantage?

Ryan Estis shared his insights on the world’s best companies during the Owens Corning Roofing Platinum Conference. Photos: Owens Corning

A: Sure; big brands have learned that customers do not buy on price, but only default to price in the absence of value and a consistent, high-quality product. Starbucks is a good example of a little coffee shop that evolved into a global brand based on a consistent commitment to customer excellence. Although Starbucks serves a commodity product (coffee), its customers are willing to pay a significant premium for the consistent experience of quality. This concept of consistent excellence can be codified by any small business owner and leveraged as a key point of differentiation. I think it’s actually easier for small businesses to be remarkable than for their larger counterparts to be remarkable.

Q: How do you define a “remarkable business”?

A: Remarkable is an important word in the experience economy. It means, you’re worthy of being remarked upon. You are creating an experience that is so good, so consistent, and so valuable that you’ve created a sense of urgency where customers can’t wait to tell others about their experience with your business. Applying the experience model to business growth, success arrives from growing the business through referrals and relationships.

Q: What are some challenges when it comes to being remarkable?

A: Customers have higher service expectations today. Amazon and Alexa have created an expectation that service will be more urgent, more efficient and more responsive to customers’ needs. Yet, the high-tech approach doesn’t always allow for the human element and connectivity that drive customer excellence and distinguish businesses. Looking a customer in the eye is powerful and the in-home experience of working with a customer to present roofing options provides a powerful opportunity to differentiate. And of course, attitude is critical.

Q: How does attitude drive a contractor’s success?

A: Mindset is huge. Every day, contractors — and all of us — have a chance to choose how we will show up. The choice is much less about our external circumstances and more about our resolve; determining how we want to show up. How will we treat people? How will we navigate the problems that arise each day? Customers tend to remember how we react to a problem more than the problem itself. Problems are some of the best opportunities we have to deepen the relationship and build trust. When a problem arises, we have an opportunity to insert ourselves into the problem and do something remarkable that the customer will remember and tell others about. When something goes wrong and a contractor has an opportunity to over-deliver and show up even better than expected — that’s powerful.

Q: As a former ad executive, what are some practical ways contractors can be more creative?

A: Contractors need to put time on their calendars to work not just in their business but on their business. Schedule time to think about your business and keep that appointment like you would any other important commitment. Morning is my best time to read, journal and reflect. I don’t take phone calls or meetings before 10 a.m. — I call it the 10 o’clock rule. It’s about being intentional and setting aside time to stimulate creativity. Most people are in a constant “respond and react” mode versus being in an intentional mode.

I’m a huge fan of the digital detox. Scheduling two or three hours of white space — where you shut the phone or e-mail off for a few hours every week or two — should not shut down your business. It’s critical to be surrounded by team members who can lend support and allow you to renew. You simply cannot do it alone, so it’s important to hire smart and then invest in that talent. Culture is critical. Your business needs to be a place where people want to come to work.

Meditation and mindfulness are important personal practices for me, along with yoga. If you can get quiet and be mindful of the present moment, there is a treasure trove of creative inspiration just waiting to be tapped.

Risk-taking and a curious mindset are also critical. At a time of such rapid change, it is critical that you learn how to become comfortable being uncomfortable. Try to stay in a state of continuous learning and reinvention. Ask what you’ve learned lately and make it a point to be curious.

Q: Change isn’t always easy. How can contractors be more receptive to change?

A: Think about what your future state might be if you make the desired change. Will you be healthier in five years? What other positive benefits of making a change will you reap? And think about the consequences of not making the change – what could happen if you don’t change?

Q: As a former ad executive, what headline would you write to inspire contractors in 2020?

“Be prepared for impact.” That simply means it’s important to develop an action plan that you can deploy. It’s all about creating momentum that drives you toward your dreams.

National Roofing Partners Hires Rodney Shrader as President

National Roofing Partners (NRP) announced the appointment of Rodney Shrader as president of NRP.  With a twenty-year record of success in the facilities storage and rental space, Shrader brings a new level of leadership to the leading national network of tier-one roofing contractors.

Shrader’s strong background in sales and marketing positions him perfectly to lead NRP in not only offering top quality roofing services but also in the use of technology as the company expands its markets.  Having worked for Acton Mobile since 2004, Shrader was most recently executive vice president of sales and marketing where he was not only instrumental in growing the company but was also focused on mergers and acquisitions.  He has a demonstrated successful history of working in the construction industry focused on modular space rentals, services and sales.

“Rodney’s a natural leader from his U.S. Marine service to multiple private equity transactions over the past twenty years,” stated Steve Little, CEO of NRP.  “We are truly fortunate to have Rodney join the NRP family as we expand our national footprint and enter into the telecommunications service sector.”

Shrader graduated first-in-class from the Marine Corps Institute with a degree and dual certification in military police and K9.  He also holds an MBA focused in business administration and management from Texas Christian University in the M.J. Neeley School of Business.

For more information, visit


Re-Roofing of Shopping Center Poses Logistical Challenges

Southgate Shopping Center: Sebring, Florida

The re-roofing project of the shopping center totaled 79,556 square feet.

The re-roofing project of the shopping center totaled 79,556 square feet.

Roofing contractors often find themselves tackling re-roofs at shopping centers in piece-meal fashion, doing sections over the years as the budget allows. When property manager Southern Management and Development decided to remodel the entire Southgate Shopping Center in Sebring, Fla., in conjunction with Publix Markets’ replacement of their existing store at the location, they looked to Advanced Roofing to get the job done.

The scope of work included re-roofing three large sections of the retail plaza and a drugstore on the property. The roofing portions totaled 79,556 square feet.

Roof System

The roof specified was a two-ply modified bitumen system from Johns Manville. In the three large sections of the plaza, the existing built-up roof was completely torn off, while the drugstore was a re-cover project, notes Andrew Vik, estimator and project manager with Advanced Roofing’s Tampa branch, which operates under branch manager Michael Landolfi.

Roofing work started in November 2016 and was completed in February 2017. After the existing roof was removed, crews installed 2-inch polyiso to the steel deck. “We mechanically fastened that with a half-inch USG SecuRock cover board through the steel deck,” notes Vik. “The two plies of modified bitumen were then torch applied, a smooth base sheet and a white granulated cap sheet.”

On the drugstore, the roof was vacuumed, and the cover board and two plies were installed over the top of the old roof system.

In addition to the roofing scope, Advanced Roofing’s HVAC division installed and removed heating and air conditioning units and replaced some obstructive ductwork. “We had our own HVAC people working with our roofing crews, so it was easy to coordinate everything,” notes Vik. “We had HVAC installations on three of the buildings, and we remounted existing units on two of the buildings. There was also a lot of demolition on the south building, as there were several derelict units that
had been sitting there for quite some time. Those had to be hoisted off there and taken out.”

A Challenging Project

In addition to the roofing scope, Advanced Roofing’s HVAC division installed and removed heating and air conditioning units and replaced some obstructive ductwork.

In addition to the roofing scope, Advanced Roofing’s HVAC division installed and removed heating and air conditioning units and replaced some obstructive ductwork.

Logistics are often a challenge with a shopping center that remains open to the public, notes Vik. “You have to load and unload multiple levels of the roof at different times,” he says. “Customer relations is also a challenge; you have to keep everyone happy and ask a lot of questions. The construction manager has to do a lot of P.R. when he’s there.”

Demolition portions of the project were done at night and application during the day, so business at the mall was never disrupted. Traffic in the parking area was also a key concern.

“Setup areas had to be barricaded and marked off while we were loading and unloading,” Vik says. “There was even a drive under bridge connecting two buildings that had to be re-roofed, so we always had to be mindful of people below.”

Parapet walls did not surround all portions of the roof, so safety precautions included a safety perimeter; employees outside the perimeter had to be harnessed and tied off to a portable fall protection anchor system by Raptor.

The project went off without a hitch, according to Vik. “The mall was 100 percent open during the entire project,” he says. “Things went very smoothly— especially for everything that was involved. One of our mottoes is, ‘The harder the job, the better.’ We like a challenge. We take on a lot of projects other companies shy away from.”

The keys to his company’s success are coordination and versatility, states Vik. “We do it all,” he says. “We didn’t have to get anybody from outside the company to work on the project. We did all the roofing, all of the HVAC, and all of the hoisting was done in-house. We’ve also got lightning protection inhouse, and we have a solar division. We have a great team. Everyone does their part to get the bids out and get the jobs done. It’s the best team I’ve ever worked with.”


Roofing Contractor: Advanced Roofing Inc., Tampa, Fla.
Consultant: CBA Roof Consulting LLC, Lake Worth, Fla.
Roof System Manufacturer and Technical Support: Johns Manville, Denver

GAF Education Center Debuts at 2017 IRE

The GAF Education Center will debut at the 2017 International Roofing Expo (IRE) , offering attendees a curriculum of eight condensed classes dedicated exclusively to roofing industry education, not product pitches.
Through eight, 45-minute sessions in the GAF Education Center, trainers will teach roofing industry strategies that will help attendees build skills, think critically and arm them with practical solutions to work smarter.
“The addition of the GAF Education Center adds another component to the line-up of show floor activities and educational offerings,” says Tracy Garcia, CEM, show director of the IRE. “These roofing industry educational courses will be beneficial to all attendees who want to gain knowledge and excel in their businesses.”
“Our focus is education and we have assembled speakers who are experts in their field,” says Paul Bromfield, CMO at GAF. “We want to provide practical learning that helps our customers to build their business.”
Beginning on March 1, classes include “The Importance of a Roofing System,” “Commercial Roof Maintenance,” “Common Sense Approaches to Reducing Condensation Problems Associated with Reflective Roofing on Western Wood Framed Decks,” and “Impact Resistance – What the Hail is Happening?” 
Concluding on March 2, classes include, “Impacting In-Home Selling with Technology,” “Home Design from a Worldwide Perspective,” “Redesign Your Business by Starting Over: Start With a Blank Sheet and Redesign for Positive Impact,” and “Thriving on Alphabet Soup: How to Benefit From the New Age of Green Rating Systems.”
Classes are free with all registration packages. Seating is available for up to 55 people on a first-come, first-served basis. For specific class times, descriptions and speakers, visit here.
“The addition of the GAF Education Center reinforces the International Roofing Expo as a partner in education for roofing contractors,” says Reid Ribble, CEO of NRCA, the show’s official sponsor. “I encourage our members to attend these free classes designed to foster knowledge through idea-sharing.”  
Taking place March 1-3, 2017, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, the show will offer roofing contractors of all sizes and specialties a preview of the entire roofing construction and maintenance industry.

Solar Roof Dynamics Partners With GAF

Solar Roof Dynamics has announced its expansion into the Southern California market with the addition of six new roofing contractors into its Signature Dealer Network of vetted solar roofing installation companies.

“After successfully building out our Signature Dealer network throughout California, the company is now ready to expand nationally, thereby maintaining and solidifying our market position,” explains Aaron Nitzkin, founder and CEO of Solar Roof Dynamics. “Our goal is to bundle solar with roof installations nationwide, optimizing the warranties of both for homeowners and commercial building owners.” The company plans to enter at least five new markets during the first half of 2017, including New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Texas.

“Our business has been transformed since joining Solar Roof Dynamics’ program in 2015,” states Aaron Weiss, owner of Roofmasters, a roofing contractor based in Suisun, Calif. “Through the support of the team at Solar Roof Dynamics, we now frequently sell and install solar systems at the same time that we are installing new roofs.”

Through a new relationship with GAF, Solar Roof Dynamics will help support GAF’s Solar Elite Contractors, factory-certified “Master Elite” roofing contractors integrating solar into their business.

Consumers across the country continue to have negative experiences going solar due to problems caused by solar companies that do not understand roofing. “About one out of every five residential solar systems have roofing problems caused by inexperienced solar installation companies. Problems that will often lead to roof leaks over time,” explains Nitzkin. “The best time to install solar is when a roof is being installed, and the most qualified contractor to handle this installation is a professional roofing contractor.”

GAF Announces Sweepstakes for Roofing Professionals

GAF has announced a sweepstakes giving professional roofing contractors, builders, and remodelers a chance to win an exclusive meet-and-greet experience with Guy Fieri and tickets to the 2017 International Roofing Expo in Las Vegas.
“The Eat & Greet with Guy Fieri Sweepstakes” will give one Grand Prize winner and their guest a private meeting and kitchen tour with Guy Fieri and his team at his Guy’s American Kitchen + Bar. While they’re there, the winner will enjoy lunch for two and receive signed merchandise from Guy. The Grand Prize also includes round-trip airfare for two, tickets to the 2017 International Roofing Expo, four nights in Las Vegas, and a $1,500 prepaid card. 
In addition, one hundred First Prize winners will win a GAF prize pack, which includes a $25 dining gift card, Guy Fieri Family Food cookbook, and a GAF hat. 
Guy Fieri is a chef, New York Times bestselling author, restaurateur, and the Emmy Award-winning host of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Guy’s Grocery Games, and Guy’s Big Bite. Guy has more than 50 restaurants around the world including Guy’s American Kitchen + Bar on the Vegas Strip.

“The Eat & Greet with Guy Fieri Sweepstakes” is open now through Jan. 31, 2017. No purchase is necessary. Open to professional roofing contractors, builders, and remodelers only.  21+. U.S. Only. For official rules and to enter, visit here.

Maximize Risk Transfer to Your Commercial General Liability Insurance

Roofing contractors face potential liability from numerous aspects of their businesses, including employee-operated company vehicles and equipment; work-related injuries; property and equipment damage; “disappearing” materials; defective work and materials; and a multitude of employment issues, such as wrongful termination claims. All reputable contractors protect themselves and others by purchasing Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance. The scope of available coverage runs from basic policies to wide-ranging “multi-peril” policies, which bundle multiple coverages to address a number of potential risks. A multi-peril policy for roofing contractors may include coverage for damage arising from defective work, operation of vehicles or equipment, worker’s compensation, employment practices and even employee theft.

Insurance simply represents the transfer of risk from the insured to the insurance company. Taking a proactive approach to understanding the insurance you purchase allows you to maximize that risk transfer or at least know where you bear the majority of risk.

The Basics

A CGL insurance policy generally consists of three primary sections:

  • The insuring agreement.
  • The exclusions.
  • The endorsements.

The insuring agreement defines what the policy covers and is generally written quite broadly. Virtually all CGL insurance policies require that such property damage or personal injury result from an “occurrence,” typically defined as “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions”. Many of the terms within the insuring agreement are specifically defined for purposes of the policy and require analysis, depending on the claim asserted and the particular coverage implicated.

The exclusions are simply that— claims and/or damages the insurance company will not cover. For example, CGL insurance policies commonly contain exclusions for “Contractual Liability”, defined as “bodily injury or property damage the insured is obligated to pay by reason of the assumption of liability in a contract or agreement”. Since many subcontracts include express indemnification clauses, this can be a major area of concern for the contractor.

Endorsements are documents attached to a policy that amend the terms in some way and can expand or restrict coverage or even modify the definitions. One common misperception is the belief that endorsements are synonymous with exclusions. To the contrary, it is not uncommon for an endorsement to narrow the scope of an exclusion or eliminate an exclusion entirely. Endorsements can be used to tailor a policy to a particular industry or trade, and insurance companies use them to modify standard Insurance Services Office (ISO) policies to comport to their particular philosophy, such as cancellation and non-renewal provisions or requiring binding arbitration to settle coverage disputes. Endorsements are usually identified by description and form number as part of the Declarations Page.

There are common Endorsements that result in additional exclusions. One of particular concern to any contractor is the “Independent Contractors and Subcontractors Limitation”, which provides that claims for bodily injury or property damage caused by independent contractors/subcontractors used by the insured are not covered unless that independent contractor/subcontractor maintains its own insurance coverage with limits equal to the insureds and names the insured as an Additional Insured on its policy.

To limit your personal exposure, it is imperative you do not ignore the Endorsements! It is an important part of your policy and you need to understand the terms.

Duty to Defend Versus Duty to Indemnify

An insurance policy creates two separate and distinct obligations for the insurance company: the duty to defend and the duty to indemnify.

The duty to defend consists of the insurance company’s obligation to hire counsel to defend the insured in response to a claim. That obligation is not
dependent upon the insured’s liability but whether the allegations made by the plaintiff states a claim potentially triggering coverage. The duty to defend
exists even if the claim is groundless, false or fraudulent.

The duty to indemnify is the insurance company’s obligation to pay the successful plaintiff when that claim falls within the scope of the insurance policy.
In the insuring agreement, the insurer promises to “pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ to which this insurance applies.”

It’s often said that the duty to defend is broader than the duty to indemnify. The carrier’s duty to defend exists when the claim potentially triggers overage, while the duty to pay exists only when the insured is obligated to pay damages and the claim falls within the coverage provided by the policy.

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IRE Housing is Taking Reservations for the 2017 International Roofing Expo

Attendees and exhibitors of the 2017 International Roofing Expo (IRE) can make housing and travel reservations through the official hotel vendor, IRE Housing, powered by onPeak. Offering hotel, airline and car rental discounts through a variety of companies, IRE Housing offers savings and perks.
Taking place March 1-3, 2017, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas the show will offer roofing contractors of all sizes and specialties a comprehensive preview of the roofing construction and maintenance industry.
“We’ve negotiated travel discounts and secured a limited number of reduced-rate hotel rooms to make your trip to Las Vegas affordable,” said Tracy Garcia, CEM, IRE show director. “Attendees and exhibitors are encouraged to reserve their rooms early, as hotels are filling up quickly.”   
While the Mandalay Bay and the Delano are both sold out, we negotiated low rates at three hotels with easy access to the Convention Center via a free tram and indoor walkways:
•  Luxor Las Vegas
•  Excalibur Hotel
•  Four Seasons Las Vegas
“In addition to lower rates, show participants will also receive high-speed internet access at all properties in the IRE block,” said Bill Good, CEO of NRCA, the show’s official sponsor. “No deposit is required at time of booking, so make your reservations now.”
As the official housing provider for the International Roofing Expo, onPeak (formerly known as Travel Planners) is the only company that can sell rooms in the official housing block. Attendees and exhibitors are encouraged not to use other housing providers to secure rooms.
To secure the discounted rates, show participants must book through our online reservation system at Reservations may be made online 24-hours a day, seven days a week, or by calling 855.992.3353 during the hours of 8:00 am – 5:00 pm CT, Monday through Friday.

Mobile App Provides Roofing Contractors With Hail Storm Data at Exact Locations

OneSite Mobile allows access to hail reporting data from a mobile device.

OneSite Mobile allows access to hail reporting data from a mobile device.

OneSite Mobile, a mobile app from CertainTeed Roofing partner HailStrike, will help credentialed roofing contractors in storm-affected areas with mobile access to hail storm data. With site-specific reporting the app helps roofing contractors locate storm-torn roofs without needing to piece together information from several sources.

Available at a discount for CertainTeed Roofing credentialed contractors, OneSite Mobile allows access to hail reporting data from a mobile device. The only input needed is a property address, which can be either automatically geolocated or entered manually. The app then finds hail storm activity for that address since January 2011, including size, duration, storm speed, storm direction and probability of hail activity, and creates a report in minutes.

Since 2011, HailStrike has offered hail reports. The company uses interactive maps to help roofing contractors track hailstorm paths throughout the continental U.S. HailStrike offers CertainTeed ShingleMasters, SELECT ShingleMasters, Silver Star Contractors and Gold Star Contractors access to this information in the field.

Roofing contractors with HailStrike tracking have access to storm tracking software that trails the storm and includes the size of hail. Those with AniSwath have access to a colorized and animated hail swath map. It is a tool that provides the footprint of a hailstorm for contractors, including probability of severe hail and duration of a storm. The OneSite tool provides information for hail activity at exact locations. With OneSiteMobile, roofing contractors can see the storm’s strength, speed, direction, probability and duration, plus the app allows access to the hail reports at the specified location.

Firestone Building Products Recognizes Firms With 2016 Partner in Quality Award

Firestone Building Products Co. LLC recognizes 133 firms with the 2016 Partner in Quality Award. The sought-after annual award honors Firestone Building Products Red Shield Licensed Roofing Contractors for their high-level craftsmanship and quality-focused skill set required to achieve superior roofing installations.

Firestone Building Products Red Shield Licensed Roofing Contractors are required to complete extensive product installation training. They must also meet Quality Incidence Rating (QIR) criteria. QIR measures each contractor’s performance based on the number of warranty repair incidences per million square feet.

As a testament to their expertise, Partner in Quality Award winners’ projects are backed by the Firestone Building Products Red Shield Warranty. Depending on the commercial roofing system, terms of the warranty can range from five years to 30 years. To qualify, winners must:
•Install a minimum of eight warranted roofs in 2014 and 2015, and four warranted roofs per year for each of the prior three years
•Maintain at least 1 million square feet of Firestone Building Products roofs under warranty
•Achieve an annual Firestone Building Products QIR of 1.0 or less

Winners are also able to participate in the Firestone Building Products Community Service Program, which makes them eligible for a $1,000 annual credit to donate labor and materials for roofing projects in their respective communities.

“At Firestone Building Products, we hold our valued partners to a high standard,” said Tim Dunn, president of Firestone Building Products. “The Partner in Quality Award is reserved for those who achieve the highest levels of roofing quality. We certainly recognize what it means to go above and beyond and look forward each year to honoring these talented, hardworking contractors with the praise they deserve.”

Please visit the Firestone Building Products website for a complete listing of Partner in Quality Award winners: