Hopeful & Inspiring Words From the WSRCA’s New Coach
by Marcus Dodson, publisher
Andy Clarke is poised to take over as the 47th president of the Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA). With a career that spans 37 years, including time spent as a member and officer on the WSRCA Board of Directors, Clarke has a distinct understanding of what makes the roofing industry move forward, as well as what stifles it. He intends on using his skills and insight to make the WSRCA the best it has ever been.
Clarke began roofing in high school, and as a self-proclaimed graduate of the school of hard knocks, he has a unique perspective on how roofing can truly be a positive path for someone willing to work hard. He spent 15 years in the field, working his way through numerous positions all the way up to executive vice president, and he has positive memories of working for some really great companies. Currently, Clarke serves as the assistant general manager of the Arizona Operating Unit of Tecta America®. The company solely focuses on commercial projects with a balance of service, reroof, and new construction, with a combination of both private and government contracts. Clarke’s branch primarily covers Arizona, but occasionally will do some work in Utah and Nevada.
Having spent over 22 year coaching youth and high school sports, Clarke places a high importance on the value of teamwork, and he carries that over into his professional life, too. Some of his greatest personal achievements have been helping others succeed and work together in teams to create structure, policies, and systems to make people and companies more efficient and profitable. When he’s not at work, Clarke spends as much time as possible with his tight-knit family, which includes his wife, seven children, and 16 grandchildren.
Western Roofing (WR): What are the main problems on the job that you encounter regularly?
Clarke: Currently, the biggest challenge is figuring out how to piece jobs together and get materials on time. It is all about educating our customers about the challenges we face and the importance of working together for a solution to make the job successful without any surprises. It is also a balancing act managing our backlog and ensuring we have the labor resources to get jobs done on time.
WR: What are some unique problems you have encountered?
Clarke: Personally, as I get older, and having been in the industry for decades, it can be challenging not to get set in your ways. It is important to stay open-minded and maintain positive relationships with others as a team.
WR: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?
Clarke: The biggest impact is what we are seeing as a result of long-term issues created from the lack of production in the supply chain, and what effects it has had on our pool of people willing to work for a living.
WR: Has the COVID-19 pandemic taught you anything about how you want to run your business in the future?
Clarke: Not really, I have always believed in a strong team that works well together and that everyone has each other’s best interest at heart.
WR: Do you think the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the roofing industry permanently?
Clarke: No. I think that eventually, maybe in a couple years, this will all be in the past.
WR: What makes the WSRCA unique?
Clarke: I can only compare the WSRCA with my experiences with the Arizona Roofing Contractors Association (ARCA). Fortunately, both are very similar. The people involved are in it for the good of all and are very selfless. I have always appreciated the work ethic of the WSRCA and the desire to get things done, and do them the right way. There is a strong sense of pride in everything they do.
WR: What problems or concerns are we facing in the West that are unique to this part of the country?
Clarke: All of the industry throughout the country is struggling through a lot of the same labor, materials, and legislative challenges. But, if there is anything that comes to mind, it is the wide diversity of climates and cultures within WSRCA and how different the roofing industry is from state to state. It is important that the WSRCA and its committees have a broad sense of how things impact everyone a little differently and that we can provide technical and legal support for all of the wide-ranging challenges we face.
WR: How has the WSRCA supported its members during COVID-19?
Clarke: The best thing the WSRCA has done is provide current and real information as best as possible, as well as be a resource without any sort of political agenda.
WR: Does the WSRCA have any new resources for its members?
Clarke: The information available to WSRCA members is priceless, and the addition of what we offer through Trent Cotney and his team is extremely useful. We as an association have to continue to beat our drum and keep pushing it out there the best we can.
WR: What can the WSRCA do to help the roofing contractor improve their business?
Clarke: The WSRCA must continue to provide real-time, relevant information that educates our members and helps them make thoughtful decisions that can impact their businesses.
WR: Is your company experiencing a labor shortage or lack of properly trained personnel?
Clarke: Yes, but our focus is bringing in as many eager, young people that are willing to learn and educate them and make them feel like there really can be a future in the roofing industry, not just on the roof.
WR: How is the current rising construction climate affecting the Western roofing contractor? Do you see an increase or decrease in the number of contractors in the West?
Clarke: We are not seeing a lot of changes or new competition. However, we have seen an increase in labor-only providers. All companies are constantly battling to keep the employees they have and replace the ones that leave for greener grass.
WR: How is the current economy affecting the WSRCA?
Clarke: There is plenty of money to be made if a contractor can manage the risk and keep themselves out of situations that can negatively impact the bottom line. We have actually seen margins increase and even be raised by some of the contractors that are notorious for lower margins.
WR: What is the toughest problem the WSRCA faces as an association?
Clarke: Helping members mitigate through the current challenges to avoid getting themselves into situations that can potentially lead to losing a lot of money. This is typically done through contract language and a solid strategy to go after the right kind of work.
WR: What are some problems facing the Western roofing contractor today?
Clarke: There is nothing specific to the Western contractor that is not also happening all over the country. The material shortages and cost instability has been going on for over a year now with no end in sight. However, the labor shortages have been an issue for much longer, probably as far as back as ten years. Given the shortage of people even available or able to work, it is imperative that the government creates a plan to allow people to work legally that are already here from other countries. If they are going to allow them to enter the country, then why not give them permission to work?
WR: How is the WSRCA helping Western roofing contractors handle government regulations and OSHA enforcements?
Clarke: The WSRCA continues to provide relevant and current updates through Trent Cotney and his team, and as well as awareness through its legislative updates. The information is available to anyone who is seeking it out.
WR: What does the WSRCA have to offer the roofing industry and roofing contractors?
Clarke: The WSRCA offers support in a number of areas that are important, such as technical, safety, and current industry issues. All a contractor has to do is ask the right questions.
WR: Does the WSRCA have any special projects, programs, or studies going at the present time (TPO, asphalt shingles, modifieds, tile, synthetics, isocyanurate, waterproofing, coatings, safety, etc.)?
Clarke: The most current new information has been the revamping of our Safety Committee’s focus on providing new information for the members. From what we are hearing, the new look has been a welcome change.
WR: How will these projects or studies help the Western roofing industry turn out a better product and members improve their business?
Clarke: Safety should always be everyone’s priority above all else. There is nothing more important than our employees going home to their families after a day’s work.
WR: Has WSRCA membership gone up or down in recent years? Do you expect this trend to continue for the near future?
Clarke: Overall, even with the numerous challenges within the industry and the world, our staff has done an incredible job of maintaining our membership for several years.
WR: What do you see ahead in terms of long-term growth potential for the WSRCA?
Clarke: The Board has brought back the Membership Committee as well, so with that and the tireless efforts by Joel Viera and his staff, I am confident things will remain consistent and even possibly grow.
WR: What does the WSRCA offer that other local, regional, and national associations can’t?
Clarke: The WSRCA is just big enough to offer more tools and resources than a local association probably can, especially with our partnerships with Ken Klein and his group, Trent Cotney’s team, and Stephen Zasadil’s safety expertise. On the other side of the spectrum, the WSRCA is not too big and we do a good job of being a bit more in touch with our members and we offer a different level of partnership overall. This is not to say that others don’t, but being the middle guy sometimes is the perfect position.
WR: Why did you join the WSRCA? How long have you been a member?
Clarke: As an employee of Classic Roofing with Chuck Chapman as an owner, they were obviously very active in the WSRCA. I believe it was 1999 when I was promoted from a foreman to an estimating/PM position, so immediately I was introduced to the WSRCA and ARCA as well. It was only a few years later that I became a Board member.
WR: As the new president, what are your immediate goals?
Clarke: The challenges we are facing as an industry are very serious and complicated. I really want to continue to work with our Board and members to provide information to help mitigate the risk all contractors face and to help keep them out of serious trouble. I would also like to reflect on what we have experienced this last year or so, as well as the lessons we’ve learned, so that we can share information with each other to possibly avoid losses like this again in the future. I would also like to continue the conversation on labor shortages and retaining employees. We are seeing more and more labor-only subcontractors, which can be a resource if done the right way. We can’t have them flying under the radar, though. We want to ensure they are doing things the right way, because if not, that puts everyone else at risk.
WR: What are your long-term goals?
Clarke: I think for all incoming presidents with only a one-year term to get things done, your main focus is maintaining the momentum created by the good people that came before you. More importantly, don’t screw anything up. As far as accomplishments and actual solid measureable goals, I would like to see our contractor member numbers increase by at least 5-10%. Besides that, I would really like to help educate newer contractors on how they can run their businesses more efficiently. Maybe we could create some sort of peer group with a mix of successful contractors that would be willing to help some up-and-coming quality contractors that want to do things the right way. I don’t know the specifics, but this is something I would like to talk more about with the Board to get some opinions and ideas.
WR: How is the Western Roofing Expo shaping up for September?
Clarke: The Western Roofing Expo looks to be as strong as ever. The vendors are lining up and the floor is filling up nicely. Joel Viera and his staff have introduced some new fresh ideas that we are excited about. We are going back to the Paris-Las Vegas and we hear there has been some remodeling. We have every reason to believe we can get back to the record numbers we had a few years ago.
WR: Can you give any details about this year’s Davis Memorial Scholarship?
Clarke: The Davis Committee has endless passion for the cause and I have the upmost confidence we will continue to see the same kind of fun atmosphere we have experienced for years. They continue to impress us every year with the awesome events and record scholarships. We just need the continued selfless support from our members that make it all possible. If anyone has not participated in these events, they don’t know what they are missing.
WR: A year from now, what do you want people to say about your term in office?
Clarke: Hopefully not too much. I just want to be a solid leader and provide good structure for everyone that wants to do their part and make things better. I am a huge believer in teamwork, and I just want to be a good coach.
WR: Any other comments?
Clarke: I am thankful for the opportunity to be the president of the WSRCA this coming year. I am looking forward to working with the WSRCA team and I hope to provide the leadership and guidance they all deserve.