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.

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress: Committed to Securing the Future Excellence of the Roofing Industry

Margaret Mead was quoted as saying, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
And years later, her words ring true for the members of the Rosemont, Ill.-based Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress.

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress holds two member meetings each year, including its annual meeting and another held during NRCA’s Fall Committee Meetings.

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress holds two member meetings each year, including its annual meeting and another held during NRCA’s Fall Committee Meetings.

This diverse, thoughtful and dedicated forum of 148 roofing contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, service providers and industry professionals have united together to change the course of the roofing industry by committing more than $12.3 million to help preserve and enhance the U.S. roofing industry’s success.

On the cusp of its 20th anniversary, the alliance is growing at a rapid pace in members and projects and proving itself to be stronger than ever. Since its inception in 1996, the alliance continues to unite leaders throughout the roofing industry while funding high-quality re- search, providing forward-thinking responses to major economic and techno- logical issues, and advancing education and training to enhance the long-term viability of the roofing industry to current and future workers.

“The advances the alliance has made, particularly in the last few years, are a testimonial to how successful we can be when everyone commits to work together to improve and shape this great industry,” says Robert McNamara, president of F.J.A. Christiansen Roofing Co. Inc., a Tecta America company based in Milwaukee. “We have made some remarkable progress, and I encourage those who are not a part of the alliance to seriously consider getting involved.”

EFFECTING CHANGE

With a keen focus on raising awareness about careers in the roofing industry, the alliance approved substantial project funding to advance ongoing educational initiatives with three well-known construction management schools in the U.S.: The Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University, Fort Collins; the McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.; and the M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction Management at the University of Florida, Gainesville.

In February, the alliance also sponsored its second annual Construction Management Student Design Competition, a hallmark competition to promote careers in roofing industry management. The competition featured teams from Auburn University; Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, La.; and the University of Florida. In addition to providing a significant learning opportunity, the competition fostered camaraderie, dialogue among the students and team spirit. Students were challenged to demonstrate their roofing knowledge in the areas of estimating, project management, safety and related areas for their project on the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, which also was the site for the 2016 International Roofing Expo (IRE).

Their final portion of the project, an oral presentation, was judged by a panel of five roofing professionals during IRE. The winning team from the University of Florida, which included members Eddie San Juan, Nick Loewenthal, Caleb Strauss and Drew Winant, received a school trophy and individual trophies during NRCA’s Awards Ceremony and Cocktail Reception on Feb. 18.

The alliance also awarded its second Construction Management Faculty Scholarship to James Sullivan, director of undergraduate programs, M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Construction Management at the University of Florida. With the $15,000 scholarship, Sullivan developed a detailed intern program guide- line that can be customized to meet the requirements of various construction management schools and fulfill students required credits. A pilot program is expected to be launched by the summer of 2017.

“It’s important we are visible as an organization, as well as an industry, and in front of as many students as possible,” says Dennis Conway, principal and vice president of Commercial Roofers Inc., Las Vegas. “We all need good, well-trained people and this exposure is invaluable.”

ADVANCING EDUCATION AND TRAINING

The alliance continued to support educational efforts and offer students financial aid through the Melvin Kruger Endowed Scholarship Program by approving funding to renew five scholar- ships totaling $25,000, as well as five new ones at $5,000 each. The new 2015-16 recipients included Brittany Beldon, San Antonio; Christian Bole, Dallas, Ga.; Jonah Manson, Solon, Iowa; Ivy Rivas, Tujunga, Calif.; and Adam Stackpole, Saginaw, Mich.

Named for Melvin Kruger, NRCA former president and chief executive officer of L.E. Schwartz & Son Inc., Macon, Ga., the alliance’s first scholarship was awarded in 1986. Since its inception, the program has distributed $630,000 in scholarship funds to 115 students. The program is open to NRCA contractor and supplier members, their families and their employees who plan to pursue careers in the roofing industry or building construction.

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The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress Secures the Future Excellence of the Roofing Industry

Maya Angelou once said, “To make a difference is not a matter of accident, a matter of casual occurrence of the tides. People choose to make a difference.” Since its inception, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress, Rosemont, Ill., has not only made a difference within the roofing community, it has funded a number of critical industry initiatives, core programs and projects, and meaningful research that have contributed to securing the future excellence of the roofing industry.

At 144 members strong, the Alliance is a diverse and dedicated forum of roofing contractors, manufacturers, suppliers and industry professionals who have united to help preserve and enhance the performance of the U.S. roofing industry to support three primary objectives:

  • Supporting high-quality education programs.
  • Ensuring timely and forward-thinking industry responses to major economic and technological issues.
  • Enhancing the long-term viability and attractiveness of the roofing industry to current and future workers.

More than 105 members of the Alliance are professional roofing contractors and, with the help of more than 35 manufacturers and suppliers, the Alliance members have raised more than $11.5 million for a unique industry endowment fund in support of programs and research in four key areas: education and training, technology, sustainability and philanthropy.

During the past year alone, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress developed partnerships with three of the leading schools of construction management; embarked on an innovative workforce program to create cultural and leadership training programs to educate Latino workers; and continued work on important roofing industry research projects, including RoofPoint, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Environmental Innovation in Roofing’s comprehensive roof rating system for the assessment and selection of sustainable roof systems, and air retarder testing.

MEET THE ALLIANCE

The The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress was established in 1996 by the National Roofing Contractors Association, Rosemont, under the operations of the National Roofing Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization. A 16-member board of trustees manages the Alliance, overseeing existing projects and considering funding for projects addressing critical industry issues. The Alliance holds two member meetings each year, including its annual meeting, which will be held April 16-19 in San Francisco, and another held during NRCA’s Fall Committee Meetings.

Robert McNamara, president of F.J.A. Christiansen Roofing Co. Inc., a Tecta America company, Milwaukee, is the Alliance’s 2014-15 president; Ken Farrish, president of Atlas Roofing Corp., Atlanta, is vice president; and Jim Barr, president of Barr Roofing, Abilene, Texas, is secretary/treasurer.

Since June, the Alliance has welcomed eight new members: AAA Roofing Co. Inc., Indianapolis; Anderson and Shah Roofing Inc., Joliet, Ill.; Adler Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc., Joliet; Blue’s Roofing Co., Milpitas, Calif.; Bone Dry Roofing Co., Bogart, Ga.; EagleView Technologies, Bothell, Wash.; Polyglass U.S.A. Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla.; and Roofing Solutions LLC, Prairieville, La. View a list of all Alliance members on the Alliance’s website.

The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress offers different levels of membership to encourage small-, medium- and large-sized firms to join and have a voice in determining the roofing industry’s future. Commitments to the Alliance can be pledged for three- to five-year periods. Public recognition is given in accordance with donors’ wishes and levels of commitment and include national public acknowledgement during NRCA’s annual convention and other special events and programs. Alliance members also are invited to participate in the project task forces established to guide the Alliance’s agenda and are invited to the semiannual meetings of the full Alliance.

“We decided to join the Alliance this year to support the industry at a higher level,” states Chad Collins, president of Bone Dry Roofing Co. “We have never measured the value of membership in dollars, so the financial commitment to support the Alliance was not perceived as an obstacle but rather as an opportunity. The enhanced avenues to further develop relationships and be a part of the advancements in this great industry moving forward are exciting.”

EDUCATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS

In 2014, The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress formed educational partnerships with the Department of Construction Management at Colorado State University, Fort Collins; McWhorter School of Building Science at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala.; and M.E. Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction at the University of Florida, Gainesville. The partnerships enhance college students’ experiences by exposing them academically and experientially to roofing as a career choice.

Through the partnerships, the universities have agreed to a three-pronged approach that includes incorporating more roofing-specific information and case studies into existing curricula; providing scholarships for construction management students and faculty; and developing industry internship programs with roofing contracting companies, manufacturers and distributors.

Three faculty members received scholarships of $5,000 each and were asked to collaborate as they developed their recommendations; the outcomes will serve as a model that can be used in other construction management schools throughout the U.S. Ultimately, the plan is to have roofing-specific materials incorporated in the construction management departments beginning in the fall of 2015.

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The NRCA ProForeman Certificate Program Helps Roofing Contractors Invest in Their Foremen

High Life Speedboats was experiencing a problem with its newest model speedboat engine, which, when hitting top speeds, would frequently cut out. This resulted in boats that were traveling 60 mph to be almost dead in the water within seconds. More than once, someone had been seriously injured by being thrown off balance, crashing into onboard components or being thrown overboard.

Panache Speedboats also was trying to improve its engines. The company had been in business for two decades and was known for building reliable boats. With operations systematized and production running in turnkey mode, company engineers wanted to explore the possibilities of building a higher-performance engine and securing Panache a spot in the elite racing market.

There are two equal and opposite drives for improvement in both of these cases. High Life needs to improve; its product is unreliable and the company will ultimately go out of business—not to mention people may be hurt and killed if steps are not taken. Panache wants to improve; it has a reliable product but it’s not as good as it could be.

So, now you may be asking, “How does this relate to the roofing industry?”

Most reputable roofing contractors are not like High Life. Their roof systems don’t fail outright, causing damage and ruining companies’ reputations. Most roofing contractors are Panache engines. They are reliable and their roof systems serve customers well.

But if you have the itch, like Panache, to increase performance, then you have a drive to improve for the best reason— because you want to be better. You are not panicking. You are planning. You want to see whether you can shape your company to become an elite contracting company, known for its excellence.

Thoughtful contractors will consider what investments will yield the most significant returns for their companies. New equipment? A better facility? Increasing the types of systems they install?

Consider the following statement from Ethan Cowles of Raleigh, N.C.-based management consultant FMI: “World-class contractors all have incredible talent at the foremen level. That is not to say company leadership, business strategy, project management, etc., are not important, but operations without great foremen always struggle to achieve anything but mediocrity.”

HIGH-PERFORMANCE FOREMEN

Cowles’ quote resonates with what the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has heard from its contractor members, as well. Tom Shanahan, NRCA’s associate executive director of risk management, states that after asking hundreds of contractors over the years how much of each dollar flowing through a company is affected directly by foremen, he has safely landed on 85 cents. Eighty-five cents of every dollar.

Foremen drive your trucks, use your equipment, manage your labor, direct quality control, affect insurance rates and often are the face of your company for customers.

EIGHTY-FIVE CENTS OF EVERY DOLLAR.

It makes you want to ensure your foremen are high-performance engines, doesn’t it?

NRCA has been focused for years on providing education for roofing foremen. Recognizing that most foremen are promoted into their positions because of their roofing skills and work ethic, rather than for their leadership prowess, For Foremen Only has provided a venue for training thousands of foremen about leadership and communication during the past 15 years. Now, packaged within this larger ProForeman initiative, the classes provide a cornerstone for a well-rounded experience aimed at helping roofing-contractor operations to achieve world-class excellence.

Foremen need to be leaders, not just crew managers; therefore, they need to understand the whole picture—the process of selling and installing roof systems, their role in keeping employees safe, outside forces that necessitate compliance and more—if they are to understand the importance of their role.

The ProForeman program is designed to help roofing foremen shift their perspectives of their role from being roofing installation managers to company leaders. As leaders, the burden of responsibility is greater and, when understood, frees them to think differently about how to work with their crews and their supervisors.

The ProForeman program comprises six main topics:

    • General education
    • Roofing technology
    • Construction/business practices
    • Leadership
    • Safety
    • Training others

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