New WSRCA President Believes in the Value of the Association
by Marcus Dodson, publisher
Mike Wakerling is about to step into the role as the 48th president of the Western States Roofing Contractors Association (WSRCA). Having been in the roofing industry for nearly 50 years, since 1974, Wakerling is one of the best in the industry. A WSRCA board member since 2012, he understands the unique challenges that face the Western roofing contractor, as well as the dynamic resources the association has to offer.
Wakerling began roofing after he graduated high school, where he spent time as an apprentice with his father. After he learned and mastered the trade, he purchased the family company in 1986, making it a third-generation owned and operated company. As the president of General Roofing Company in Oakland, California, Wakerling has a hands-on approach to production, quality, and craftsmanship. Additionally, he is a member of PROSULT™, a professional networking group for contracting companies, and he says it has helped his business tremendously.
General Roofing Company does 98% reroof work, both commercial and residential. Single plies, composition shingles, synthetic shake and slate, and coatings are the different types of materials the Northern California contractor uses. Wakerling works alongside his son, Shane, who serves as the vice president and general manager of General Roofing Company.
“Next year we will be celebrating 100 years in business,” said Wakerling. “My grandfather started the company in 1924, passed it to my dad, then myself. It is my goal to pass on the business soon to my son.” When he’s not at work, Wakerling finds joy in fishing in the mountains, traveling around the United States, and spending time with his family and grandchildren.
Western Roofing (WR): What are the main problems on the job that you encounter regularly?
Wakerling: Acquiring timely permit inspections by the cities that we work in can be challenging. They don’t understand we have to keep the job watertight. Additionally, substandard work by other trades, which ultimately gets blamed on the roofing contractor, occurs too frequently. Another problem is putting roof systems on that have condensation issues, because one size definitely does not fit all in regards to a solution.
WR: What are some unique problems you have encountered?
Wakerling: I’ve encountered roofs with 4-6 layers on them, as well as buildings being used for different purposes than they were intended for, which creates condensation issues, among other problems. My team has dealt with bee infestations in the roof and walls, too.
WR: What makes the WSRCA unique?
Wakerling: The WSRCA is like a family. It definitely cares about its members and how to serve them.
WR: What problems or concerns are we facing in the West that are unique to this part of the country?
Wakerling: Contractors in the West have to be knowledgeable on different climates and weather conditions, as these affect the roof systems we are installing.
WR: Does the WSRCA have any new resources for its members?
Wakerling: Our safety resource, Steve Zasadil, has come out with a fantastic mobile safety app. Trent Cotney, our legal counsel, has many legal and roof-related resources and webinars.
WR: What can the WSRCA do to help the roofing contractor improve their business?
Wakerling: The WSRCA can help keep them informed of law changes, OSHA changes, and problems that occur within the industry. The WSRCA educates its contractors so they are knowledgeable and legally protected, allowing them to operate in a safe and profitable manner.
WR: Is your company experiencing a labor shortage or lack of properly trained personnel?
Wakerling: Like every other business, we have experienced this. By training, creating a good company culture, and offering benefits to our employees, it is not as bad as it could be.
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?
Wakerling: It seems there is an increase right now. But, the economy affects this a lot. In a recession, it seems the number goes down, and then comes back up as it stabilizes.
WR: How is the current economy affecting the WSRCA?
Wakerling: New construction is starting to slow down in a lot of areas. Interest rates are tightening things up, too. Reroof is stable, as people need to protect their property and investments from weather.
WR: What is the toughest problem the WSRCA faces as an association?
Wakerling: The WSRCA continues to focus on growing its membership, as this is what fuels us as an association.
WR: What are some problems facing the Western roofing contractor today?
Wakerling: Labor issues, building codes, new laws affecting business, and changing OSHA requirements are some of the biggest problems right now.
WR: How is the WSRCA helping Western roofing contractors handle government regulations and OSHA enforcements?
Wakerling: Trent Cotney, our legal advisor, and Craig Brightup, our Washington insider, do a great job of keeping us updated on everything going on in these areas.
WR: What does the WSRCA have to offer the roofing industry and roofing contractors?
Wakerling: The WSRCA has all of the tools for a contractor to own and operate a successful business. We want to take care of and protect the roofing industry, especially the contractors.
WR: Does the WSRCA have any special projects, programs, or studies going at the present time?
Wakerling: All of our committees have studies and projects going on all the time. We try to put out several technical bulletins a year for our membership on various projects.
WR: How will these projects or studies help the Western roofing industry turn out a better product and members improve their business?
Wakerling: The WSRCA investigates issues that have come up in the industry. For example, cool roofs and condensation has been a recent topic. It helps our members avoid these issues and the legal ramifications down the line.
WR: Has WSRCA membership gone up or down in recent years? Do you expect this trend to continue for the near future?
Wakerling: Our WSRCA staff has done a great job in this area and has kept membership stable. Hopefully, as more people see the value of a WSRCA membership, it will continue to rise.
WR: What do you see ahead in terms of long-term growth potential for the WSRCA?
Wakerling: I see the WSRCA becoming the technical issues leader, as Ken Klein, our technical consultant, is one of the best in the business. The WSRCA provides many other services, like Trent Cotney’s legal counsel, and the value provided is such that membership will grow exponentially as people see the value in joining. The sky is the limit.
WR: What does the WSRCA offer that other local, regional, and national associations can’t?
Wakerling: We deal with the unique problems and codes that are in the Western United States. We also offer technical, legal, safety, and business benefits to our members.
WR: Why did you join the WSRCA? How long have you been a member?
Wakerling: I joined the WSRCA because I had questions, and they had answers. I saw the work being produced and wanted to learn more about the industry and be a part of that. I have been a member for over 25 years and have served on the Board of Directors since 2012.
WR: As the new president, what are your immediate goals?
Wakerling: I would like to keep the momentum of the safety program with Stephen Zasadil going. We have some great things to offer with trainings and the safety app. We need to keep moving forward with the educational aspects for our members. We are going to be introducing the WSRCA Road Show in certain areas that are centrally located for our members. They will include business, legal, technical, and safety seminars so we can help our members in all these different aspects of owning a roofing company. Also, we will be celebrating the WSRCA’s 50th anniversary soon, which is quite an accomplishment.
WR: What are your long-term goals?
Wakerling: I would like to keep getting more women involved in the industry. There are quite a few now and they bring such a fresh perspective to the industry, as well as new ideas and innovations. The previous presidents did a great job laying out plans for the future, and I would like to keep the train rolling down the tracks that they’ve laid down.
WR: How is the Western Roofing Expo shaping up for September?
Wakerling: This year is probably going to be our biggest expo yet. Our WSRCA staff, led by executive director Joel Viera, has done an awesome job making this the best roofing expo in the country.
WR: Can you give any details about this year’s Davis Memorial Scholarship?
Wakerling: We are giving out ten $5,000 scholarships to young adults to help with their education.
WR: A year from now, what do you want people to say about your term in office?
Wakerling: I would like people to say that I kept the momentum going and that new ideas were introduced to better the organization and the industry for the future.
WR: Any other comments?
Wakerling: I am proud and honored to continue and be part of the WSRCA legacy.