October 2017 Newsletter

A Letter From The Chair

Heidi J. Ellsworth, President, HJE Consulting Group & Current NWIR Chair 

A special thank you…

I recently the fall meetings of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and The Roofing Alliance for Progress meetings.  I feel very fortunate to be a part of these influential meetings and I continue to see a growing presence of women at the meetings.  In fact, Alison LaValley who is NRCA’s Vice President of Member Services and Development and Executive Director of the National Roofing Legal Resource Center is also on the NWIR Board of Directors as the Membership Chair and continues to be a strong leader in all of these groups.  Alison is such an incredible source of inspiration not only for women but roofing professionals overall.

Another amazing lady is Bennett Judson, Vice President Meeting Services for the NRCA and Executive Director of The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress.  She is also an inspiration to me and many in the industry.  The Roofing Alliance for Progress was our first NWIR Founding Sponsor.  When I initially presented the idea of NWIR to the Alliance in the spring of 2016, Bennett and Alison both encouraged me as I presented to a room that was filled with 85% men.  For those of you who know me, I was passionate, I was scared and I was determined.  I knew the roofing industry needed the balance of both men and women to make it great.  And the Alliance agreed!  They stepped up and put their stamp of approval on our newly formed organization.  They saw that as an industry, we work together.

Working with women like Bennett and Alison and all the women of this industry continues to inspire me.  We are an industry that has been made up of men and women owned businesses that have supported untold numbers of families, literally for generations.  In fact, I grew up in a construction family with my dad working in the field everyday building homes or pouring concrete and my mom handling the books and managing the family.  I saw first-hand how important it is to have a team, a balance of not only the business but also the family.

I see the same thing every day working in the roofing industry.  Family owned businesses that continue to thrive with a whole new generation that is taking us to a new reality.  They are using technology and social justice in equal amounts, changing the landscape of the roofing business for the better.  I see young women grabbing at the opportunity to run their own businesses and understanding that the roofing industry is rich with opportunity.

But even more, I see an industry that struggles with this change but at the same time steps forward and embraces it.  The Roofing Alliance saw the need to help empower women.  They understood that we need to empower the women within the industry and recruit women from outside our industry.  And right beside the Alliance, the NRCA plus regional and local associations are paving the way for more women to choose roofing.  It is so exciting to watch this growth.

So, I simply want to say, Thank You!  For 25 years, I have loved the roofing industry and today I could not be prouder.  I want to thank the Alliance, NRCA and all of our NWIR sponsors, 28 in total, who believed in us.  We will continue to grow and I know the reputation of the roofing industry is going to explode in all the right ways over the next couple of years.  It is the fact that all of us are embracing diversity on all levels that will make us great.


Lelia Gowland Speaking at NWIR Day

We are excited to announce our Keynote Speaker for NWIR Day on February 4, 2018! Lelia Gowland is President of Gowland, LLC, which helps make work work for women. Lelia Gowland started her company because women kept coming to her for support in workplace negotiations and career decision-making. Now a sought after public speaker and writer on workplace dynamics for women, Lelia has worked with companies like GE and Expedia.com.

We hope you are making plans to attend! You won’t want to miss this!


Cynthia Lang, Councils Committee Chair

NWIR Carolina

Members of the NWIR Carolinas Council volunteered their time and muscle at Beds for Kids. Beds for Kids is a 501(c)3 non-profit whose mission is to provide beds and essential furniture to children and their families in need. Since January 2011, Beds for Kids has delivered 3,856 beds and 31,963 total bed and furniture units to children and families in need in their community. Attending members: Julie Hughes, Candice Beck, Tara Nelson, Melissa Gentry, Lisa Geth and Courtney Bynum.

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NWIR Dallas/Fort Worth

Interested in joining the NWIR Dallas/Fort Worth Council or being an Officer (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, or Secretary)? Please contact Paula Felix at pfelix@aspenmarkroofing.com for more information.

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NWIR New Jersey

The September meeting of the NWIR New Jersey Council meeting included guest speakers Mary Jean and Barbara from Northern NJ Dress for Success who told us about the various services they provide women looking to get back into the workforce or sharpen their skills. These services include Career Center, Professional Women’s Group, counseling and coaching for interviews, Foundations of success workshop, and Technology Skills workshop, in addition to many others. The NJ council is hosting a fall clothing drive in support of Dress for Success.

Jeanine Tolve – Allied Building Products; Michelle Boyd – Ganter Contractors; Christine Mockenhaupt – Allied Building Products; Michele Mulrenan – Myles Kelly; Jyoti Belanger – Allied Building Products; Vicky Cardozo – Myles Kelly; Bari Siano – Myles Kelly; Jenny Javier – Myles Kelly; Krystle Nesta – Myles Kelly; Michelle Russo – Myles Kelly; Rebecca Reilly – Sullivan Engineering

Mary Jean Barnes & Barbara Alves – Northern NJ Dress for Success

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NWIR Dallas/Fort Worth

Interested in joining the NWIR Dallas/Fort Worth Council or being an Officer (Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, or Secretary)? Please contact Paula Felix at pfelix@aspenmarkroofing.com for more information.

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NWIR Northern Colorado

NWIR Northern Colorado hosted a great event on October 19th. They did 30 minutes of networking with light snacks (and wine/beer) and jumped into introductions of everyone, then the “rules” of the meeting. They had great participation from everyone who came! Literally, everyone spoke at some point or another; talking about what issues they are having at work, to what successes they have had in the past to share with the group. The group talked about maybe 4 issues or so and had 2 really get successes shared at the end. It was empowering to see contractors/manufacturers helping and sharing with other contractors/manufacturers.

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NWIR Oregon

The next meeting of the NWIR Oregon Council will be on November 14th at 5:15pm at the Columbia Roofing Office located at 18525 SW 126th Place, Tualatin, OR 97062. Malarkey will kindly be sponsoring the event. Please contact Kendall Ekerson at kendall@reroofnow.com for more information.

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NWIR South Florida

The first meeting of the NWIR South Florida Council was held on October 11th in Ft Lauderdale. Over 20 women attended, and several more have expressed interest in getting involved. Looking forward to an active Council.



Hilary Morgan Named General Counsel to National Women in Roofing

Hilary Morgan, Trent Cotney, P.A. Construction Law Group 

Senior Associate Attorney Hilary Morgan of Trent Cotney, P.A. Construction Law Group was recently named General Counsel of National Women in Roofing, Inc. (NWIR).  As General Counsel, Morgan will provide key legal guidance on corporate structure & bylaws, board of director operations, regulatory compliance, and governance policies. Read more.

Member Profile

NWIR Member Profile: Lee Lipniskis

We were delighted to spend some time getting to know NWIR member Lee Lipniskis. Lee is currently the finance manager at Core Contractors Roofing Systems in Denver, Colorado. Her journey, like so many others, was interesting and inspiring to hear and we hope it resonates with you too.

Lee grew up in a tight-knit Italian family in Indiana where she attended Ball State University earning a degree in insurance and risk management. She calls herself an insurance nerd so it was no surprise when she applied for a job with Farmers Insurance to become a field adjuster. The surprise, for her family at least, was that the job was in Denver. Lee says she was interviewed and hired the same day and two weeks later had packed up and moved across the country, not knowing anyone in Denver.

Her introduction to roofing: As an adjuster, Lee spent a lot of time on the roof, looking for wind and hail damage. She learned how to estimate. Then she made a change and began working for Travelers where she learned a little about commercial roofs. Armed with the knowledge she had learned, she decided to become an independent adjuster, working with a firm based in North Carolina. She began traveling around the country to adjust claims.
It was while she was an adjuster that she met her current boss on a roof – a full two years before she began working for him. “I was the adjuster on the claim and he was the roofer,” explained Lee. “I saw how he talked to the homeowner and to me with such respect. The company really stood out to me. They had such good integrity and really cared about the homeowner.”

Lee was happy in her job as an independent adjuster until an incident on a wood shake roof in Parker, Colorado caused her to re-evaluate. “I was on the second story of the roof when I stepped on a bee hive that cause me to fall from the second story down to the first,” explained Lee. “My keys were still up on the second story so I had to crawl back up there to get them. I learned I was allergic to bees that day too.”

Lee said that after that incident she felt like she was done. Anytime after that when she was on a roof and anything would fly around her – a fly, a gnat or even a butterfly, it would freak her out. She decided a change was needed and she looked up Andrew, one of the owners at Core Contractors who she had met on that roof two years earlier.
“You’re going to hire me, I’m going to do estimates for you and I’ll start in August,” she said to Andrew. He didn’t think he could afford her but when they talked numbers they were able to work it out and she’s been there ever since. She started doing estimates, then moved into production scheduling and material ordering.
She moved on to manage the supplementing team, then became operations manager, and now is the finance manager. She says she is the now the right person in the right seat and loves her role in the company. She oversees accounts payable, accounts receivables, she handles human resources and safety, leading weekly safety meetings for the company.

Lee has been the only female on the leadership team and couldn’t ask for a better team. “They really listen to what I have to say and they back me and have confidence in what I do,” she explained.

Her advice to women getting into this industry? “I would say that one of the best pieces of advice is to talk to a woman in the industry and get their thoughts and insights,” Lee said. “I would happily talk to anyone interested. I love this industry and women bring a different skill set to it. We have that passion and organization skill set that is different than men. We bring a different thought process to the industry.”

What is one of the greatest experiences of her life? Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. “I figured since I am in the roofing industry, why not climb the roof of Africa?” explained Lee. She raised $3,000 for a nonprofit that she is involved in and teamed up a few other people to make the trip. The group spent 14 days in Tanzania and trekked for six days from 5,000 feet to 19,300 feet to summit the mountain. “It was the craziest, hardest, most mind-blowing experience of my life. I learned that your mind is a lot stronger than you think it is. You just have to tell yourself to keep walking, even when your body doesn’t want to.”

What is the best piece of advice she ever received? Lee says the best piece of advice she ever received ties into her Italian heritage. “We are a family full of very strong Italian successful women including my mother who was very inspiring to me. When I was young she always said to stay true to myself and honor who I am.”

How does she balance work and life? “It is hard sometimes, I really truly believe that there is an ebb and flow in everyone’s lives and sometimes I do well, sometimes I fail,” she explained. “I am trying to truly be present in whatever I am doing. I practice and focus and hope that it will become natural.” Lee says that if you are present during your workday, you will probably be more focused and can get more done; but when you go home, be present with your family and don’t forget to make time for yourself too.
Lee has a long-term boyfriend, Daniel, who also works in construction. She just bought her first house last year and volunteers at a puppy rescue where she found her Australian shepherd border collie named Vito. She named him Vito because in Italian it means life giver. “I gave him his life by rescuing him and then he gave me mine by opening up my heart,” she explained.

Noteworthy News

NWIR Founding Sponsor, Hapco Inc. celebrates diversity and global growth with BAK Thermoplastic Technologies in 2017.

Kerns, Switzerland, September 15, 2017 – Hapco, Inc., a founding sponsor of the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) organization, joined BAK Thermoplastic Technologies, Ltd., in Switzerland on September 15 to celebrate the completion of BAK’s $8 million expansion project.

The company is one of the world’s largest master distributors for BAK, a leading manufacturer of plastic welding and hot air equipment that employs an 80-percent female workforce. Both Hapco and BAK are strong advocates of diversity in the workplace. BAK has participated in every International Roofing Expo (IRE) Women in Roofing and NWIR event since 2015.

Hapco CEO Charles George was one of 100 guests invited to tour the expanded facility on the 20th anniversary of BAK’s founding. The past two decades have brought significant growth to BAK, with no signs of slowing down. The manufacturer exports 98 percent of current production to 56 countries, and expects the addition of about five countries by the end of 2017.

“This is a big challenge”, says Bruno Zurmuhle, founder/CEO of BAK. “Our manufacturing is now three-and-a-half times larger.”

This growth will afford BAK the opportunity to hire more employees to manufacture key components in-house as they expedite product delivery to support their global demand.

As a family-operated business, BAK is led by Claudia Zurmuhle, corporate accounting; Cora Zurmuhle, sales and purchasing; Lara Zurmuhle, sales and marketing; and Bruno Zurnuhle, CEO.

For additional information, contact Shari Carlozzi, Hapco Inc., at 330-550-7205.


NWIR is proud to announce that Johns Manville, SRS Distribution Inc., and Tremco Roofing and Building Maintenance have renewed their sponsorship commitment to NWIR as a Diamond Sponsor in 2018.  These are three of our 28 founding sponsors and they will continue their support of our mission of education, mentorship, networking, recruitment and community service to empower women in the roofing industry.  In addition to their continued support of NWIR, their Diamond level sponsorship recognizes them as the first corporate sponsors (an exclusive opportunity available to only 5 sponsors) of the roofing industry’s first annual National Women in Roofing Day at the 2018 IRE in New Orleans, LA.

SRS DistriubutionTremco Roofing & Building Maintenance

Save the Date

NWIR has a full roster of events at the International Roofing Expo, scheduled for February 4-8, 2018 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

  • On Sunday, February 4th, please join us for the first annual National Women in Roofing Day.
  • On Monday, February 5th, we’ll have our Mentoring & Networking Reception from 5pm-7pm.

We encourage all women to attend both the IRE and the NWIR Day.  You may register for both here.

Call for Photos & Stories

We love collecting and featuring your photos and stories.  For the next couple months we’d like to focus on second (or greater) generation roofers – those who grew up in the roofing industry or were introduced to it by a family member.
Submit high res photos and stories to  info@nationalwomeninroofing.com.