NRCA’s ProForeman Certificate Program Helps Field Leaders Become Excellent Foremen

Brian Draper completes the ProForeman Certificate Program.

Brian Draper completes the ProForeman Certificate Program.

When the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) debuted its ProForeman Certificate Program in 2014, Brian Draper, Superintendent at Queen City Roofing, Springfield, Mo., was the first to apply for the program.

Because he was the only participant from Queen City Roofing, Draper navigated the elements of the program completely on his own. He enjoyed the support of his boss, the company owner, Larry Stock, who is a big believer in training and education. It was no small undertaking for either of them.

The ProForeman Certificate Program is a robust, multi-faceted program aimed at helping field leaders become excellent foremen. It also enables them to become company ambassadors, as well as well-rounded and knowledgeable employees within the roofing industry as a whole. The six areas of emphasis are general education, roofing technology, construction/business practices, leadership, safety and training others.

Roofing Technology

The roofing technology portion of the certificate program required Draper to complete two programs about codes, write a recent job report and watch a technical issues webinar conducted by Mark Graham, NRCA’s vice president of technical services. The purpose of the codes programs is to expose field managers to their complexity and purpose rather than for participants to learn all the codes that affect roofing. Similarly the technical webinar is a snapshot of issues roofing contractors have to deal with every day. Each of these three programs help turn field managers, like Draper, into better-educated employees who can appreciate the complexities of their industry and, therefore, be better representatives of their companies and more understanding team members.

Draper’s recent job report discussed aspects of a TPO installation. He was required to anticipate methods, safety concerns and common problems, as well as share specific concerns for one job. Because he is a more experienced field manager, he was able to accurately demonstrate his knowledge and experience.

Construction/Business Practices

This segment of the certificate program is designed specifically to help field managers appreciate the roles and concerns of management. Draper reported aspects of these segments to be helpful to him and some others in the office. Three elements comprise this section—a webinar about customer service, a webinar about foreman daily planning and a company-based activity during which participants shadow several key management employees—from which participants learn the responsibilities and concerns of many office employees. For instance, a “daily huddles” webinar helps field managers appreciate the financial picture of the company, seen through the lenses of a job. It explains the impact a field manager’s leadership can have on a job and the company’s bottom line.

Leadership

ProForeman leadership components are the heart of the program. They are comprised of two day-long, in-person programs and two follow-up webinars. Each of these elements is aimed at teaching leadership awareness and skills.

NRCA’s premise is that most field managers already are excellent managers. They know what it takes to successfully install a roof system and are drive to achieve goals. Where roofing industry field managers often lack awareness is how to effectively influence the people who work for them.

Queen City Roofing is lightyears ahead of many companies. According to Draper, Stock is committed to creating an atmosphere in which people enjoy their jobs and want to come to work, and he wants people to be committed to customer service. To that end, being part of the ProForeman Certificate Program was not Draper’s first exposure to leadership concepts. He has been talking to the foremen at Queen City Roofing about concepts like this for some time. NRCA’s For Foremen Only programs, which are part of the certificate program under the leadership section, helped provide Draper with additional material to discuss with the company’s field leaders. Draper notes that over time he has seen foremen come to treat their crews differently, and he reports that hardly anyone manages by yelling anymore.

Safety

It was the position of NRCA legal counsel that no one should be able to earn the ProForeman certificate without having expertise in safety. To that end, there are more requirements in this section than any other. When the program first debuted, NRCA required a roofing-specific OSHA 10-hour card, which could be substituted by a non-specific 30-hour card. There was lots of confusion over the way this was worded, so the requirement was changed to simply require an OSHA 30-hour card. Although a roofing-specific 10-hour can still satisfy, the idea is that ProForeman certificate holders be “above and beyond” when it comes to safety.

Other elements in this section include a webinar about what it means to be a competent person, a fall-protection video and assessment, job-site inspections of current jobs and a full-day NRCA program about fall protection: Roofing Industry Fall Protection A to Z.

Draper successfully completed all the requirements. In a conversation with him, he stated that Queen City Roofing experienced a transformation in its safety culture four to five years ago. Since that time, leadership and safety have taken a front seat. Draper has embraced learning and training as a way to keep these things in front of the employees at Queen City Roofing.

Training Others

The final section of the certificate program focuses on helping field managers to become excellent trainers for their employees. Not many companies have someone skilled in being a trainer, though all foremen fill this role to some extent. The intent behind these elements is to help foremen be more comfortable in their role as teachers, which is a huge advantage to the individual and the company.

The three items Draper was required to complete in this section were the following:

  • Watch an online module about what it means to be an excellent trainer.
  • Record a video of himself doing a teaching demonstration, such as part of a safety talk (a participant who is a current authorized CERTA trainer does not need to do this exercise).
  • Teach an actual classroom training session.

The classroom training exercise is an opportunity to train new (or newer) field employees on the basics of roofing. The session includes classroom time, demonstration and hands-on activities. NRCA recognizes roofing involves a lot of on-the-job training but does not believe sending new employees up on to the roof right away to learn everything is the best approach. It often frustrates busy foremen, slows down crews that need to work around what they perceive to be dead weight, and tends to weed out workers who might be highly successful if they were provided with a more structured or methodical way of learning a new skill.

Draper reported this classroom training experience to be positive for him and those who participated in the class. Queen City Roofing celebrated participants’ completion by awarding certificates and making a splash of their successes. The company is committed to using this program with future new employees.

First of Many

Draper was the first person to complete the NRCA ProForeman Certificate Program and it helped solidify and improve his skills in many existing Queen City Roofing initiatives. In many ways, Draper was ahead of the curve, coming from a company with an existing commitment to leadership development and a thriving safety culture. It was NRCA’s pleasure to award the jointly held certificate to Draper and Queen City Roofing. NRCA mailed the certificate and, with it, some award items to Draper, such as a Carhartt vest and Thermos mug with the ProForeman logo. NRCA does not expect certificate holders to attend the International Roofing Expo, but finishers are recognized at the award ceremony by name and company.

Learn More
To learn more about the ProForeman certificate program, email Janice Davis at jdavis@nrca.netor Amy Staska at astaska@nrca.net.

Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress Adds Three Members

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress has announced the addition of three members at the Governor level during 2016’s third quarter, adding $150,000 in funding for progressive research that contributes to the ongoing advancement of the roofing industry.

The alliance’s newest members are:

Through the generosity of its members, the alliance commits to the following:

  • Education and training—Develop programs and projects addressing current and future workplace issues, ensuring a qualified and trained workforce for the roofing industry.
  • Technology—Engage collaborative industry segments to embrace innovation and use technology.
  • Sustainability—Advocate environmentally sustainable design.
  • Philanthropy—Enrich the well-being of the roofing community through scholarships, charitable gifts and endowments.

Alliance membership is reserved to those who commit their pledged amount during a three- to five-year period. All members are entitled to participate in the task forces established to guide the alliance’s agenda and attend the semiannual meeting of the full alliance.

Soprema Inc. Opens New Offices and Training Center

SOPREMA Inc. has opened a training center and offices in Hayward, Calif. The Hayward facility, located approximately 45 minutes west of San Francisco, will be a shared space for customers of SOPREMA, RESISTO and the newly acquired Chem Link. The training center reaffirms the commitment SOPREMA has to providing education and training to the industry.

The facility stretches more than 8,800 square feet and will facilitate a number of educational programs, including AIA- and RCI-accredited continuing education courses and seminars, contractor training programs and industry events.

“We are proud to open a training center that will facilitate so many education tools for our customers, including contractors, architects and consultants,” said Tim Kersey, VP/GM. “The training facility features a classroom for offering continuing education credit courses and a hands-on training area supporting our contractor training program, as well as room for product demonstrations.”

The facility will host training on products and technologies from SOPREMA, RESISTO and Chem Link. The facility opening follows several recent SOPREMA expansion projects, including a recent manufacturing expansion at SOPREMA’s Gulfport, Miss., facility, encompassing manufacturing, product testing, distribution and training, and a ground breaking on the Wadsworth, Ohio, campus for a new PMMA/PMA resin facility.

In celebration of its establishment, SOPREMA held a grand opening event at the Hayward facility.

SOPREMA Expands Manufacturing Facility to Accelerate Services

SOPREMA expands its Gulfport, Mississippi manufacturing facility in an effort to increase product offerings and expedite production. The expansion comes as a solution to continued growth that the Gulfport operations team has experienced and will further accelerate service to the market.

The Gulfport facility completes a 21,250 square foot addition, with its location situated on SOPREMA’s campus which encompasses manufacturing, product testing, distribution and a training facility. The expansion is used for both additional product offering and warehouse of product and materials in various stages of the production process.

“The expansion is an opportunity to continue to support the SOPREMA growth initiatives as our business grows,” said Kent Furcron, Gulfport plant manager, SOPREMA. “We are proud that our facility is now able to produce more product and provide additional jobs in the region.”

Garland Company Opens Renovated Training Center

Recruits at the Garland Company will be the first to go through training in Garland’s renovated training center. After nearly 100 years in the Union-Miles neighborhood on East 91st Street in Cleveland, Garland has made another investment in the community – and an investment in their team of employees.

Garland purchased a 16,000 square feet building next door to their corporate headquarters in 2015 and began rennovations. Newly named The Soliday Center — in honor of one of Garland’s first salesmen and trainers — the renovated building serves as the training center for future Garland sales representatives and employees. With the 2,000 square feet training room at the heart of the structure, the building will also offer office space for Garland corporate employees and corporate events.

In the last century, Garland has purchased one dozen adjacent properties in Cleveland totaling more than $10.3 million in investments. In 2009, Garland received the Brownfield Cleanup of the Year award for their purchase and renovation of the former Baker Steel building on East 91st Street. With the addition of the new Soliday Center property, Garland now occupies approximately 200,000 square feet of manufacturing, warehouse and office space on more than seven and a half acres.

“Our people are an asset. The culture that we build with our new employees is vital to our company’s success, and this new facility is a place to build that culture. This space is a great way to show our commitment to our people and our neighborhood,” Scott Craft, VP and general manager at the Garland Company.

Train Employees In-house about Low- and Steep-slope Roofing

NRCA’s Roof Application Training Program Package can help you train employees in-house at your convenience regarding the basics of low- and steep-slope roofing, as well as roofing equipment and setup and tear-off procedures and techniques. The package includes Roof Application Training Program: Foundations of Roofing and Roof Application Training Program: Equipment, Setup and Tear-off.

Roof Application Training Program: Foundations of Roofing includes roofing terminology, roof system components, company operations and roof safety.

Roof Application Training Program: Equipment, Setup and Tear-off offers information about safe and efficient roofing project setup and tear- off procedures and techniques; guidelines for setting up jobs for maximum efficiency; and tools and equipment used for low- and steep-slope roofing work, specifically for job setup and tear-off.

The DVD-based programs provide all the necessary tools to conduct effective training for your employees, including two-part DVD programs; instructors’ guides; and student hand-outs and exams, among other resources. The programs help new employees learn the basics and facilitate discussion with existing employees. The programs include English and Spanish training materials.

You can save by purchasing the package, which is $325 for members and $650 for nonmembers. Programs also can be purchased separately. For more information, visit NRCA’s website.

Catalog Features Fall-protection Equipment

The new Miller Fall Protection catalog offers in-depth product descriptions and additional support for those who need to perform their jobs efficiently and safely while working at height. The catalog features Miller Anchorage Connectors & System Kits, Body Wear, Connecting Devices, Descent/Rescue & Confined Space, Engineered Solutions, and Fall Prevention & Protection Training. Additional catalog resources offer help with understanding, inspecting and maintaining personal fall-arrest systems; calculating fall clearances; donning harnesses; and more. Access the catalog via the Honeywell Safety Products Media App for iPhone and iPad.

GAF Provides Programs and Training in Support of Military Members and Veterans

GAF announced that it has signed the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) Statement of Support. The document recognizes the pivotal role played by the National Guard and Reserve in strengthening our nation and our communities. The signing sends a strong message of support to GAF employees (and non-employees) who have served our nation.

The ESGR Statement of Support complements other key initiatives GAF has undertaken to benefit military veterans, servicemen and servicewomen. They include:

  • The Roofs for Troops military rebate program, launched in 2012, provides active military members, veterans and retirees a $250 rebate on a Lifetime Roofing System installed on their roof by a GAF Factory-Certified Contractor. GAF is now approaching 20,000 homes successfully helped by this program.
  • Last year, GAF went live with its Hire-A-Hero military job board. The job board provides a platform for employers in the roofing industry to connect with transitioning troops and veterans as they seek to fill key positions within their companies. GAF contractors and distributor partners are posting jobs, viewing applicants and connecting with ex-military job seekers.
  • GAF is rolling out GAF Roofing Academy, a roofing installation training program to help veterans transition to a career in the roofing industry. Pilot classes have been successful as nearly 80 percent of class attendants were placed in roofing jobs. We are currently planning classes in various regions over the next year, including a class this month at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. The course includes access to a professional and comprehensive steep-slope roofing primer and a high-level commercial roofing introduction. Veterans win by learning a valuable trade with solid earnings potential. The knowledge that they acquire from this course could possibly lead to other careers including sales, estimating, installation supervision, maintenance and project management.
  • GAF regularly reaches out to veterans’ organizations to assist with fulfilling recruiting needs. For example, GAF has worked with employment agencies such as the Lucas Group, which have a focus on connecting those who have served in the U.S. military with jobs upon their return from service.

“The men and women who have served in America’s armed forces have demonstrated remarkable character, work ethic and dedication in their service,” says Bob Tafaro, president and CEO. “They represent a tremendous opportunity for GAF, for the roofing industry and for the broader private sector. We want to help veterans leverage the talents and leadership skills they have acquired through their service to transition into civilian careers.”

NRCA Releases Updated Toolbox Talks

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has updated its NRCA Toolbox Talks publication to include the latest developments in safety training for roofing workers.

NRCA Toolbox Talks is designed specifically to enable foremen and trainers to review important safety lessons with their crews on a weekly basis. Each lesson is structured for various presentation styles and includes safety-training tips and key points to stimulate questions and discussion.

Hands-on training conducted regularly is the most effective way for roofing contractors to reinforce worker safety, comply with OSHA regulations and improve profitability.

Topics in NRCA Toolbox Talks include equipment safety, fall protection, OSHA requirements, hazard communication, hot asphalt safety and personal protective equipment.

Perseverance Will Keep You Ahead of the Competition

I have never climbed a ladder to inspect a job my company bids on, but that has never been an obstacle to winning roofing contracts. I know a great many roofers who have climbed the proverbial “ladder” to the top of a company they now run from the windowed corner office. A lack of hands-on experience has never been an obstacle for me. In fact, just ignore that I’m a woman working in a predominately male construction industry and I will also ask you to disregard that I’m paralyzed from the chest down. That has not been an impediment either—as difficult as that may be to believe.

No, I have not allowed this long list of potential challenges to be an obstacle (for long!) to my business success. Doing so would just not make good business sense.

When I see an obstacle in business, it’s a boulder in the road and my business sense shifts into full gear: Get over it, around it, smash through it or phone a friend with a crane. I never choose another path. I never give up. I simply don’t allow an obstacle to loom larger than my own determination.

The unwavering willingness to “get the job done” is a common thread I share with many hard-working roofers. However, there is a secret weapon that separates those who marginally succeed and those who are, well, let’s just say “comfortably successful”. I call it perseverance.

Many industry people are silently nodding their heads in agreement saying to themselves, “yeah, that’s me”. But are you too comfortable? It takes more than true grit to persevere in the highly competitive roofing business world of today.

Not only do we face the ever-present competition, there are increased regulations, greater safety standards, high costs for workers’ compensation, not to mention the shrinking pool of qualified professional roofers. We have a lot that challenges us!

Today, perseverance will cement your future success because if you don’t stay ahead of the curve, boulders, like the newest technology, higher industry standards in energy efficiency, new and improved environmentally responsible products and guaranteed safety standards, will stop you. These boulders require greater perseverance, as does meeting customer demands for knowledge and understanding their needs.

To persevere in the roofing business, you have to continue to challenge your team (and yourself) at every turn. Encourage learning and invest in employee training and professional development. As a business owner, I take the lifelong approach to learning in my business. When I had questions and was hungry to learn more about how to run a successful business, I reached out to the community for answers. I discovered allies, like The Women’s Business Development Center that provides workshops, business counseling, networking and access to knowledge that empowered me. No matter where you are in business, you have to keep learning and growing to persevere. Even the largest of boulders look small in the rearview mirror once you have overcome them.

In 1999, I was a young sailor in the U.S. Navy when Hurricane Floyd blew into Virginia where I was stationed and hurled me off a balcony that was just 1-story up. That gust changed my physical world forever. But I had something that storm could not steal from me: perseverance—a willingness to overcome challenges and a commitment to succeed. There are blockades up for each of us, but there are also ways around them, over them and through them if you refuse to accept failure as an option.

My military training has always helped me to stay “mission focused” with a commitment to excellence. The Navy also gave me a strong work ethic and the ability to work under pressure. It taught me to put an emphasis on teamwork and gave me the leadership skills to build a great business. I seek out opportunities to not only learn and grow, but also to become involved in communities of knowledge, such as The Bunker, the nation’s first veterans incubator for small businesses.

Although being a woman- and service- disabled veteran-owned business can bring advantages over many competitors, I still have to earn each and every opportunity. We have been successful at this by building relationships with our customers and earning their trust by performing projects on time, on budget, and with the quality and safety expected. In addition, just as importantly, we bring determination, knowledge and truckloads of professionals who gladly climb all kinds of ladders for me.