Industry Insights from the roofer's coffee shop​ ​was​ ​originally​ launched​ ​in​ ​the​ ​1980’s​ ​by​ ​Vickie​ ​Sharples. ​ ​You​ might have​ ​known​ ​it​ ​by​ ​a​ ​different​ ​name​ ​then, ​​​Roofers​ ​Exchange.​ ​ It​ ​was​ ​a newspaper​ ​that​ ​Vickie​ ​developed,​ ​printed,​ ​and​ ​distributed​ ​to​ the roofing industry. ​ ​It​ ​included​ ​articles helpful​ ​to​ ​roofers, ​​classifieds​ ​from​ ​those​ ​in​ ​the​ ​industry​ ​looking​ ​to​ ​buy​ ​or​ ​sell​ ​pieces​ ​of equipment​ ​and​ ​advertisements​ ​from​ ​distributors and manufacturers. ​ ​The​ ​newspaper​ ​grew​ ​in​ ​popularity​ ​for​ ​southern​ ​Californian roofers,​ ​and​ ​by​ ​1990,​ ​Vickie​ ​was​ ​distributing​ it ​nationally.  

As​ ​technology​ ​started​ ​to​ ​take​ ​off, ​​Vickie​ ​knew​ ​that​ ​in​ ​order​ ​to​ ​continue​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a​ ​vibrant business, ​​she​ ​needed​ ​to​ ​become​ ​digital. ​ ​With​ ​the​ ​help​ ​of​ ​her​ ​longtime​ ​friend, ​​Heidi​ ​Ellsworth, she​ ​started​ ​down​ ​a​ ​new​ ​path​ ​of​ ​building​ ​a​ ​digital​ ​community​ ​to​ ​serve​ ​the​ ​roofing​ ​industry under​ ​the​ ​new​ ​name, ​  

 Today, ​​Vickie​ ​and​ ​Heidi, ​​with​ ​the​ ​help​ ​Sarah​ ​Harwerth-De​ ​Marco,​ ​and​ ​their​ ​husbands​ ​Mickey Sharples​ ​and​ ​Tim​ ​Ellsworth,​ ​are proud of the size and reach of the Coffee Shop.  As a team, they have​ ​been​ ​able​ ​to​ ​gain​ ​a​ ​wealth​ ​of​ ​knowledge​ ​about​ ​the​ ​roofing industry.  They recently ​agreed​ ​to​ ​share​ ​some​ ​insights​ ​with​ ​us​ ​at​ ​Art​ ​Unlimited.  

 How​ ​does​ ​ ​​meet​ ​the​ ​roofing​ ​industry’s​ ​needs? ​was​ ​developed​ ​as​ ​a​ ​meeting​ ​place​ ​for​ ​contractors​ ​across​ ​the​ ​United States and Canada​ ​to​ ​​gain​ ​knowledge​,​ ​share​ ​ideas​,​ ​trouble​ ​shoot​ ​problems​ ​and​ ​get connected​ ​with​ ​distributors, manufacturers and service providers.​ ​The​ ​blog,​ ​forum ​and​ ​classified​ ​ads​ ​are​ ​a​ ​great​ ​place​ ​to​ ​start​ ​when getting​ ​to​ ​know​ ​the​ ​community.  

 Tim​ ​Ellsworth​ ​commented​ ​on​ ​the​ ​benefits​ ​of​ ​being​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community​ ​by​ ​saying,​ ​“If​ ​you​ ​have​ ​an extra​ ​tool​ ​from​ ​a​ ​job​ ​or​ ​if​ ​your​ ​bone​ ​yard​ ​is​ ​getting​ ​full​ ​of​ ​odds​ ​and​ ​ends that you want to clean out,​ ​this​ ​is​ ​a​ ​good​ ​place​ ​to​ find buyers.​ ​The​ ​forum​ ​helps​ ​roofers​ ​communicate and share great ​ideas.​ ​If​ ​they​ ​are​ ​having​ ​an​ ​issues​ ​on​ ​a​ ​job,​ ​they​ ​can​ ​ask​ ​each other questions and get great advice in the forum.”  

 What​ ​are​ ​you​ ​seeing​ ​in​ ​overall​ ​roofing​ ​industry​ ​trends? 

Service​ ​and​ ​maintenance​ ​is​ ​becoming​ ​a​ ​game​ ​changer​ ​for​ ​the​ ​industry. ​ ​There​ ​are​ ​more​ ​means for​ ​people​ ​to​ ​start​ ​a​ ​service​ ​and​ ​maintenance​ ​program. ​ ​The​ ​advanced​ ​technology​ ​and​ ​coatings available​ ​will​ ​allow​ ​contractors​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​the​ ​same​ ​quality​ ​with​ ​less​ ​labor. ​ ​Heidi​ ​Ellsworth​ ​noted that​ ​there​ ​are​ ​so​ ​many​ ​roofing​ ​projects​ ​out​ ​there​ ​that​ ​have​ ​been​ ​deferred​ ​through​ ​the​ ​recession that it is a great time for roofing contractors to start a service program.

 She​ ​said, ​​“The​ ​backlog​ ​and​ ​the​ ​amount​ ​of​ ​work​ ​that’s​ ​out​ ​there​ ​is​ ​going​ ​to​ ​be​ ​huge.​ ​Having​ ​the technology​ ​and​ ​products​ ​to​ ​provide​ ​service​ ​options​ ​for​ ​maintenance​ ​will​ ​allow​ ​contractors​ ​to​ ​do more​ ​with​ ​less.  Finding out what is out there to help grow a service program is critical and that is why an online community is so important.”  

 How​ ​have​ ​you​ ​seen​ ​the​ ​industry​ ​change​ ​over​ ​the​ ​last​ ​ten​ ​years?  

The​ ​roofing​ ​industry​ ​has​ ​gone​ ​through​ ​phases​ ​of​ ​relationships​ ​and​ ​technology​ ​over​ ​the​ ​years. Heidi​ ​noted​ ​that​ ​when​ ​she​ ​started​ ​attending​ ​trade​ ​shows​ ​in​ ​1994, ​​business​ ​was​ ​booming​ ​and manufacturers​ ​really​ ​worked​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​relationships​ ​within​ ​the​​ ​industry. ​ ​“Hospitalities and tradeshows were​ ​huge,”​ ​she​ ​said,​ ​“but​ ​after​ ​the​ ​recession​ ​hit,​ ​it​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​died.”  

With the introduction of innovative technologies, vendors started to think that the products should sell themselves without the need to develop a relationship with a company. Tradeshows have really started to see growth again because vendors are starting to realize that technology isn’t always the best place to build the relationship. Understanding what the needs of roofing contractors are is best developed by forming communities, on and offline, and having open communication with each other.

What are the top growth opportunities for Roofers right now?

The growth opportunities are in diversity and increased technology. Mom and Pop roofing companies are starting to realize that you need to be digital in order to be more productive. It’s changing our world and it has been a hard transition for contractors. Tim reminiscently said, “Many contractors out there were doing everything by hand. Now this switch of putting their leads on the computer, using technology, marketing services, and having a mobile connection is something you do or you get left behind.”

Heidi believes that diversity within the industry is truly going to help solve the skilled labor shortage issue. She says we need to ask, “How are we bringing women and other cultures into the roofing industry and helping our labor problem?” She notes, “As we bring new talent into the industry, we will need to utilize technology effectively in the office and on the roof.  With, we are committed to bringing solutions to roofing professionals through the entire site including classified ads, forum, directories and news.”

Looking for more ways to be involved with the Check out their website: . For more information regarding digital marketing for your roofing company, connect with Art Unlimited.

Read: Marketing Strategies for Roofing Contractors: Utilizing “Trust”
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