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.

Industry Q&A: SPFA’s Professional Certification Program Benefits Contractors and Consumers

Kelly Marcavage is the Certification Director for the SPFA. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A Conversation With Kelly Marcavage, SPFA’s Certification Director

Q: What is the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance’s Professional Certification Program?

A: The SPFA Professional Certification Program, which we sometimes refer to as PCP, is a certification that allows spray foam pros to demonstrate to the world they have the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job properly. It’s an opportunity for contractors and suppliers to stand apart from everyone else. With a certification, they have proven they understand spray foam and how to use it safely and effectively, which maximizes performance.

Q: What role do you feel the Professional Certification Program plays in the roofing industry?

This photo shows certification testing being conducted in the field. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A: Certification is key for roofing because roofing, in general, is highly specialized. Not only do installers need to consider best practices in the spray application of the product on the roof, but they also need to consider that the roof often houses mechanical equipment, solar panels, drainage components, skylights and other items, thus foot traffic is inevitable. Also, roofing is an exterior component to the structure and needs to withstand rain, wind, storms and debris. A certification helps a contractor, installer and supplier prove their knowledge and understanding of all of these key factors. Certification also gives those hiring these parties peace of mind.

Q: What are some of the things that SPF roofers should know about the certification and testing?

A: Unfortunately, in the industry we sometimes see folks who tout that they have professional spray foam experience when they don’t. Certification is a way to prove you have the credentials. Our certification isn’t a fly-by-night program. Participants are verified by a third-party, ISO well-respected organization.

Q: What’s new with the certification program this year?

A: The biggest thing this year is we are taking the certification on the road. We have officially launched a road show. While our program has always been designed to be available at the grassroots level with PCP testing and field exams offered regionally, we are taking it one step further. Our road show features a trailer full of all components needed to give a field exam. We are traveling the country testing and helping people meet the qualifications to become certified.

Q: For those that want to participate in the road show, how can they get involved?

A: For companies that want to get involved, they should contact me. I am the certification director and can be reached at certdirector@sprayfoam.org. I will guide them and help them get onto the calendar for the road show. As far as contractors, I would suggest they start by visiting www.sprayfoam.org and reviewing our calendar of events. We will keep that updated as we add new road show dates and opportunities with links and info on how to sign up.

Q: Other than the road show, what other ways can roofing professionals participate?

Certification demonstrates the applicator has the knowledge and skills to do the job properly and provides a high level of consumer confidence. Photo: Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

A: We provide opportunities throughout the year, with testing provided at supplier facilities across the country. The program is also available annually to attendees of our Sprayfoam Show Convention & Expo, which draws approximately 1,400 people. Next year’s event will be held in Pasadena, California, February 11-14. Typically, field exams are the first two days of the event. We are fortunate that the Sig Hall Memorial Scholarship Fund has donated the cost of the Sprayfoam Show’s field exams allowing contractors to participate free of charge. We hope this sponsorship will be available again in 2020.

The most accessible way to participate is through our remote testing platform. Live proctors administer exams and remotely monitor participants. For master installer level certification, participants still need to take an over-the-shoulder evaluation, but we have many field examiners willing to travel to the jobsite and oversee the exam there.

Q: I know you have different categories, or levels, for the certification. Do you plan to introduce any additional categories in the near future?

A: We do have four certification levels for the contractor. These four levels are offered in both SPF Roofing and SPF Insulation certifications. The levels include the Assistant, Installer, Master Installer and Project Manager. We are currently developing a Consultant certification that will launch by year-end. This is designed for those that consult in the industry, whether it be as inspectors or witnesses who provide testimony in the judicial system. This is an important addition to our certification offering.

Q: Is there anything else that you want to tell us about the certification program?

A: I would stress that it is ideal to complete your certification now, before you find yourself on deadline trying to complete an RFP that requires it for consideration of the job. We frequently receive calls from frantic contractors in this predicament. While we can often accommodate them in time, provided their qualifications are in place, this isn’t the ideal way to become certified.

The other thing to note is that certification provides a high level of consumer confidence in the person or team they are hiring. Not only is the program standards-based, but if a certified individual doesn’t comply with best practices on the job, there are ramifications. They may even lose their credentials.

Industry Q&A: RCI, Inc. Is Now IIBEC

Bob Card addresses the IIBEC audience at the Meeting of the Members.

A Conversation With Robert “Bob” Card, President of IIBEC

Q: RCI Inc. recently rebranded itself as the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC). Please describe the thinking behind the change. How does the new name reflect the nature and goals of the organization?

A: After many years of being known as the Roof Consultants Institute (RCI), it became apparent that a significant number of our members are also practicing in the disciplines of waterproofing and exterior walls. We wanted our name to better reflect who we are and what we do, and to describe our outreach beyond the North American continent. Additionally, the IIBEC (pronounced “eye-bec”) staff continually received calls from RCI timeshare customers mistaking that company with RCI, Inc.

Q: How has the membership reacted to the new name and rebranding effort?

A: Nearly all the comments I’ve received since the transition was announced have been positive. There are some who are not pleased, of course; change can be hard after so many years of familiarity with an organization’s name.

Q: How does your background help prepare you for the challenges you’ll face as president of IIBEC?

A: I have been in the building enclosure consulting industry for about three decades now, starting at a very basic level, and seen how technology has changed much of how we communicate and store and access Information. I expect our industry to continue to see an increasing rate of change, and I hope to leverage my experience to help determine how best to adapt evolving methods to best serve our members and the industry at large.

Q: What are some of the key initiatives IIBEC will be focusing on in the year ahead?

A: The rollout of our new IIBEC brand and logo will continue to be a priority, with lots of outreach planned for the next several months. We are working to develop a new credential, CBECxP (Certified Building Enclosure Commissioning Provider), which we believe will be a significant addition to our lineup of professional registrations. Our IIBEC Manual of Practice is being updated and should be completed by year’s end. We are also currently working to identify and hire a new EVP/CEO to replace Lionel Van der Walt, who is moving soon to a new challenge. Collaborations with other organizations are vital in an association. IIBEC cooperated with the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) prior to the rebranding and will continue to tighten these relationships, as well as explore other organizations to collaborate with. The core purposes and values IIBEC has laid out in 2018’s RCI, Inc. Strategic Plan will carry over to the new IIBEC branding. The Strategic Plan can be found at https://rci-online.org/rci-shares-new-strategic-plan/.

Q: What does the future hold? Can you share any long-term goals?

A: We want to strategically shape and position IIBEC so that the next generation of leaders can take the association to a significantly more impactful place in the building enclosure industry. We are working for greater diversity within the leadership pipeline to better reflect the changing workplace and improve the quality of our conversations. And, we’re working to implement a more global outreach, in order to both learn from the experience of others, and contribute to improving the quality of the built environment around the world.

Q: What are some of the educational resources and events IIBEC makes available to its members?

A: We offer numerous classes in the various disciplines related to the building enclosure, both on a national and a local level; we present a packed schedule of technical presentations at both our annual conventions and our building enclosure symposia, as well as at our biannual Canadian building enclosure symposia. Our members also regularly present technical education for other organizations within the design and construction industries. IIBEC chapters facilitate regular education programs through their chapter events, which expand internationally. A big step for IIBEC in 2020 is the partnership with the National Research Council of Canada to host the 2020 ICBEST conference.

Q: How does IIBEC help people who are not members of the organization, including people in such roles as end users, facility managers, school boards and others?

A: At the simplest level, IIBEC can provide contact information to building owners, managers, and design professionals for local consultant members who can assist with their projects. More strategically, by educating and advocating for our members, we are striving to improve the quality of the built environment for everyone. Through our advocacy initiatives, we have built recognition within the United States and Canada at federal, state and local levels.

Q: Where can people go for more information about the organization?

A: Our website (www.iibec.org) is a great place to start; one can find a lot of excellent information there about our organization and our members. Members themselves are also a great resource for information; most are happy to share about the benefits of IIBEC membership. Of course, our amazing IIBEC staff can also provide information related to most any aspect of the organization. Our chapters also hold local meetings and events, which is a great place for someone to learn about the resources IIBEC has both locally and nationally.