Dear NWiR Members,
Shortly after states started issuing “Stay at Home” orders in mid-March, my colleagues and I who run our industry’s associations jumped into action. Many of us have significant government relations experience and we could see that proactive monitoring and engagement would be needed if we wanted to keep the roofing industry working. We had our first call in mid-March with the chief staff executives and government relations staff of the alphabet soup of associations that you (or your employers) are members of: the manufacturing company associations of ARMA, ERA, PIMA, RCMA and SPRI; and of course NWiR and the NRCA. We all know each other pretty well and have worked together many times, but never quite with such intensity.
That first call wasn’t necessarily a somber mood, but it was solemn. We knew that we needed to mobilize quickly and efficiently to help educate policy makers about the critical nature of roofing. We unpacked where the federal orders and definitions were housed, and then we looked at which states had already issued restrictive orders and where we needed to reach out first. We also researched what other construction and manufacturing related associations and coalitions were doing. We agreed that our ultimate goal was to help policymakers at all levels understand the critical nature of roofing and to offer clear communication and support to the roofing contractors. We also agreed to use the NRCA COVID resources page as the clearinghouse for posting information. Our first deliverable was a letter to the White House requesting that any federal orders issued included roofing as an essential business. Then we reached out to the Department of Homeland Security, the National Governors Association and other organizations that represent state and municipal elected officials and executive offices. In concert with the regional, state, and local roofing contractor associations we also reached out to the specific governor’s offices.
At the same time, each of these associations was also having internal discussions about how best to serve their own individual members in the roofing industry; at NWiR this was the beginning of the Together More Than Ever series.
A couple weeks later, we added IIBEC, MCA, SPFA, SRCA and TRI to the coalition and then Reid Ribble asked to also form a second group which included the chief volunteer leader (members) of each of these associations. Between these two groups, we are on the phone at least once a week discussing the state of the industry, anticipating what might be coming next and how to position the roofing industry, and trouble shooting any unexpected things that have popped up.
Now that some states are opening back up and the safety protocols for roofing contractors are well established and available on the NRCA COVID resources page (and of course our manufacturers have their internal safety protocols in place as well) we are looking down the road. We have developed a document entitled “Back to Work on America’s Roofs” which is intended to raise awareness that the roofing industry is essential to the recovery of the economy and to the wellbeing of millions of Americans. You can read the document in detail on the NWiR website, but in brief it is designed to reach decision-makers who can influence tax policy, ensure that roofing is categorized as an essential business in all fifty states, and foster an environment that will speed a return to growth of the economy.
We know that our work isn’t done yet, and in the meantime all the regular business of our associations continues as well. I hope it may provide some small measure of comfort to know how often you, yes specifically YOU are thought about and to know some of the things that are happening behind the scenes to support your business.
NWiR Executive Director
Back to Work on America’s Roofs
The U.S. roofing industry employs more than 1.1 million Americans and stands ready to get back to work to protect homes and businesses across the country. Importantly, the industry has developed guidelines that will enable us to continue providing the essential services needed to safeguard buildings while also mitigating the risk of spreading COVID-19 among our workforce. Additionally, prior to the current crisis, the roofing industry faced headwinds brought on by chronic labor shortages throughout the country. With unemployment climbing towards historic levels, there is an unprecedented opportunity with the right policies to put Americans back to work on roofs. The policies outlined below will enable us to overcome the challenges that lie ahead for workers and employers alike by creating jobs for unemployed Americans, supporting homeowners’ investments, and encouraging business owners to invest in job-creating capital improvement projects.
• A roof is the first line of defense in protecting homes and businesses: The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted that buildings are a critical component of our physical infrastructure. Our ability to meet current challenges is dependent upon services and goods delivered under roofs that protect hospitals, grocery stores, distribution centers, manufacturing plants, and of course our homes. Unnecessary delays in roofing work create risks for families and businesses, including severe damage to or loss of property resulting in financial or other hardships. With storm season upon us, it is vital that the roofing industry be prepared and well-resourced to quickly respond to the impacts that extreme weather and natural disasters historically have inflicted on homes and buildings. When families are displaced by storms, the roofing industry will play a key part in repairing the damage, allowing families to return to the safety of their homes as soon as possible. New roofs can also enhance the durability, energy performance, and value of existing structures creating an additional return on investment. As Congress considers investments in physical infrastructure to respond to, and recover from, the pandemic, the investments must reflect the protections that roofs offer to new and existing buildings.
• Fill the skills gap and provide jobs: The roofing industry can help unemployed Americans get back on their feet by putting them to work on roofs. Before COVID-19, workforce shortages were the greatest constraint on the growth of roofing companies. It is vital that we expand investments in the career and technical education needed to address the skills gap by providing the training that can lead to a rewarding career as a roofing professional. Congress should also consider how best to incentivize and reward businesses that not only keep employees on their payrolls, but also increase payrolls above pre-crisis levels by hiring the unemployed.
• Short-term relief for long-term success: The CARES Act has served as a lifeline for small businesses, including many in the roofing industry. We encourage Congress to continue its efforts by meeting the demand for additional program funding and improving access to critical programs so that entrepreneurs can serve as the economic engine of our recovery.
• Tax policies that work: Tax policies that incentivize improvements to existing homes and buildings have a strong track record of job creation and return on investment. Expanding small business tax credits that allow for the immediate expensing of capital improvements and accelerated depreciation for resilient, energy-efficient roof replacements will put money back into businesses while protecting physical assets. Homeowners can also benefit from targeted tax relief that make home improvement projects more affordable, which was successfully implemented after the 2008 financial crisis to put residential contractors back to work while improving the longterm energy performance of homes.
Version: May 4, 2020