Editor’s Notes: Problems, Problems

Overcoming Obstacles Becomes the Order of the Day


Here’s a sentence that you’ll never hear anyone say: “I’m going to miss 2020.” COVID -19 is taking its toll across the nation. However, there now seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel with the pandemic vaccines being distributed nationwide. It may take several months, but there’s an end in sight. Several construction conventions slated for the first quarter of 2021 have gone virtual or have been moved to later in the year. However, things are looking up and we soon may be out of this national nightmare.

The roofing industry faired pretty well in 2020. In this issue, we once again publish our annual survey with Western roofing contractors’ opinions about their year, as well as projections for 2021. Overall, the Western roofing market was good, with residential, in particular, leading the charge.

People are tired of being cooped up. They want to move, they want to remodel, or they’re looking to find that perfect vacation home. As a good portion of the workforce is relegated to working from home, they’ve come to realize that they can work from just about anywhere as long as they have good cell phone coverage and a decent Wi-Fi connection. The dream of retiring to a vacation spot has suddenly been moved up several years as they can now work from their dream location. People are looking for that perfect home office. The retrofit market just got bigger and vacation home sales have gone through the roof, no pun intended. This is all good news for the construction industry.

There will probably be a glut of office space as more people work from home after the pandemic is over, but right now Western roofing contactors are staying busy. One of the biggest complaints we hear, both before and during the pandemic, is not enough people willing to work on the roof. The labor shortage in the industry is an ongoing problem. You would think the spike in the unemployment rate would solve the issue, but it hasn’t.

As many roofing contractors complain about not having enough people on the roof to work the jobs on hand, more and more people file for unemployment benefits. Most people realize that the government solution to a problem of throwing money at it doesn’t always work. Well, most people who run a business understand that. With the combination of welfare, unemployment, and the stimulus COVID-19 checks from federal agencies, then supplemented from city and state agencies, for some, they can make more money not working.

The powers that be are paying people not to go back to work. We’ve heard this refrain from more than one contractor, roofing or otherwise. If you pay someone not to work, that’s exactly what they will do. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, roofing jobs go unfulfilled. Just be glad we’re not in a business that requires public gatherings like restaurants or theaters, many of which have gone broke.

As mentioned, elsewhere in this issue you’ll find comments from roofing contractors from throughout the West. They’ve expressed their opinions about COVID-19, government regulations, as well as how they are dealing with the pandemic. One item almost everyone agrees with is that 2021 will be a good year. Despite the problems, including the emotional and mental fatigue that everyone in the industry had to endure during 2020, roofing contractors did all right business-wise, and it looks to be better this coming year.




Marc Dodson