Big Fish, Small Fish and Gold Fish: How the Roofing Industry Is Controlled by Cash and Lobbyist

  • Ernie Cecchetto

People have the Golden Rule wrong. It has nothing to do with doing unto others.

The Golden Rule is: “He who has the gold, makes the rules.”

The structure of the commercial roofing industry has all of the major players positioned to benefit from large-scale roof replacements and instalments. They have grown to be incredibly large, profitable, and influential within their respective regions and provinces.

And the lobbying power of these groups has isolated competition by ensuring that buying groups mandate industry association membership as a primary selection criteria. Play by their rules, or don’t play at all.

Smaller groups and new ventures are negatively impacted by this exclusion. In most cases, they are completely eliminated from the tendering/selection process.

As RMS’s business model is to preserve roofing assets, it is incumbent on us to not benefit from those large-scale roof replacements and installations, allowing us to avoid conflicts in our approach and culture.

But this also prevents us from meeting the selection criteria; we cannot join any of the largest “Roofing Industry Associations.”

The action of these enterprises is a hurdle to be cleared; another is the challenge of finding a motivated workforce in the industry. No one sets out to be a “roofer,” and the perception of the industry hasn’t helped to make any inroads in changing that.

Scaling any company is difficult, but scaling one that relies on talented and motivated labourers is extremely difficult in today’s economy. It’s an obstacle we’ve overcome by utilizing consistent advertising and promoting job opportunities and the creation of a referral program that has been very successful internally.

This is a problem we feel that all companies in the industry face, the instigating factor in our work to develop an efficiency mechanism that addresses the issues of both the industry’s partisan and exclusionary business practices and grow a skilled, motivated workforce.
Our IT partner likes to call it “Uber Roofer” — a tool that links smaller regional contracting firms with a single point of contact and opportunity.

With a targeted deployment date in late 2022, we hope to gain a measure of influence in an industry that might be driven by the small- to medium-sized businesses, but controlled by the big ones.