ProCertification is Easier than Ever

ProCertification is Easier than Ever

Heidi J. Ellsworth road trips to Dallas, Texas to visit with Jason Stanley, CEO of IB Roof Systems about how they are making ProCertification from National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) more assessable than ever.  In July of 2022, IB launched a program with industry leaders to provide easy assessment for ProCertification at their Dallas, Texas headquarters.

They are on a journey to assess and hopefully certify up to 64 installers a day and show that the roofing manufacturing community can make a huge difference for roofing professionalism.  Jason talks about how they launched the assessment program and their plans for helping installers get assessed and hopefully certified across the country.  It is a true story of stepping up to make the right things happen for the industry. 

Editor’s note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Jason Stanley of IB Roof Systems.

Prefer the audio version?  Listen to the podcast

Heidi Ellsworth:
Hello and welcome to another Roofing Road Trips from Roofers Coffee Shop. This is Heidi Ellsworth and I am here today with, I have to tell you, somebody who is doing amazing things in the industry right now, and really is taking his company to that next level through giving back. And that is Jason Stanley with IB Roof Systems. Jason, welcome to the show.

Jason Stanley:
Hi Heidi. Thanks for having me on. Always a pleasure to be with you and spend some time together.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And this is a passionate topic that we’re going to be talking about. We both love and really believe in all of our professional men and women, craftsmen and women who are out there working in the field.

Jason Stanley:
Absolutely. I have utmost respect. If you want to see me get teary eyed, take me up on a roof and it’s 105 degrees and watch these guys that are sweating away and working to make sure we all stay safe and dry. They are the unsung heroes of the roofing industry, the workers and professionals out there in the field.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Definitely, definitely, but there’s some great things that we’re doing and that the NRCA is doing to really bring that spotlight to our craftsmen and women within roofing. But before we go there and because we’ve got a lot to talk about, I would love for you to just introduce yourself to all of our listeners and tell us a little bit about you and about your company.

Jason Stanley:
Heidi, I’m Jason Stanley. My present title is CEO of IB Roof Systems. We only manufacture one thing, it’s a PVC single ply. We’ve been doing it for about 44 years now. My father started this business in the mid-’70s with some wonderful and talented people in our roofing industry that have guided us, people like Colin Murphy of Trinity ERD that have been just a true godsend to our business to the path… Or pave the way for PVC single play here in the United States. And we’ve grown a successful second generation family business here within the roofing industry that we’re grateful to serve. And I’m speaking to you from our corporate headquarters in Grapevine, Texas.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Excellent. And we’re going to be at your corporate headquarters here in the next about two months, maybe a little bit less. And that’s why we’re here today to talk about what you’re doing to really… What you and your team are doing to help promote the pro certification program from NRCA, National Roofing Contractors Association. So I want to just kind of let every… Get everybody on the same plane for those people out there, which you and I’ve talked about, there’s still a number who do not know what certification is. Let’s talk about that first, Jason. Let’s talk about what is NRCA pro certification and your experience with it so far?

Jason Stanley:
Well, the vision of the NRCA is to truly lift this industry and I would suggest that this is the single greatest thing they have done for the roofing industry in the last decade. We are way, way behind in attracting people to the roofing industry. If you read any of the statistics, we’re hemorrhaging some 30,000 employees per year that are lost in the roofing industry that we are not replacing. And the NRCA knows this fully well. And they’ve spent millions of dollars creating a pro certification program. That again is truly just a god sent for the roofing industry during this time, to provide accreditation and credentials for those that want to demonstrate that they know roofing.

Heidi Ellsworth:
As you know, I was part of this when it first happened. It was probably almost 10 years ago when the contractors, the leadership at NRCA came, really brought this idea to the forefront and it was Reid Ribble. So maybe it hasn’t been quite 10, but Reid Ribble really was the advocate about, we need to have a certification program to really acknowledge and understand and celebrate our installers in the field. And so now, I mean, what? They have metal, they have shingles, they have single ply, TPO, all kinds of things.

Jason Stanley:
Yeah. Great vision by Reid to see what needs to happen and transform the industry forever in a day. Manufacturers like IB Roof Systems have accredited an authorized contractor and they’ve done it for the roofing company themselves. Likewise, the NRCA, Western states, FRSA, the MRCA, they also license or credit the roofing company themselves. This is the first time that I’m aware of that an industry association is looking to accredit the individual irrespective of whether or not that company actually belongs to that association or not. Take the first company to ever do something like this would be US Intech back almost 30 years ago, used to issue a card to the person. And those guys who had the card, some still have them today and they carry the card around. And it said that they were accredited or trained, certified, authorized, what have you, installer of US Intech.

Jason Stanley:
This is the same thing, but not from a single manufacturer, but from the largest industry association in the world for roofing, which is the NRCA. And it goes down to the individual. And as you stated, yeah, there’s two on the low slope side of things. One for thermal sets and thermal plastics. They’re working on one for asphalt right now, which will be a lot to unpack as asphalt’s a pretty complicated animal, but on the steep slope side of things, they’re essentially done with the main products. Standing seam, comp shingles, and then slate tile. So… Oh, slate and clay tile. But so you have three disciplines on the steep slope side of things. And then two that are presently available, thermal sets, thermal plastics, and eventually asphalts on the low slope side of things as well. And then one that I don’t think gets enough credit is the pro forman.

Jason Stanley:
So they have a pro certified course for the foreman. I mean, what a wonderful thing this is, to have everybody on the same page for what it’s like to be an accredited pro certified foreman. So when you show up to a job site, they understand what safety looks like. They understand how to set up the ladders. They understand how to keep their crew safe on a job site. They also understand some of the interactions that are required with building owners and with their crew themselves, and then also with manufacturers. So it’s not just the mechanics of how you install stuff. Every one of these has an element of safety, but every company should start with pro certified foremen. Be your first entry into the roofing industry and this pro certification format.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Well, and NRCA has been doing pro foremen classes and training for so long. And I think one of the things that’s really important for everyone who’s listening is to really talk about, there is a difference. So pro certification is not training. It is the certifying of individuals who have their skills, who have done their training, who have their experience, and they are certified. It’s a great honor. Training-

Jason Stanley:
Absolutely. Heidi, you mentioned that right there. This is not to compete with the training that’s out there today. If you look at these wonderful companies that are out there today, whether it be Best Roofing or Sutter Roofing or Baker Roofing, or K Post, even Belding Roofing have enormous training programs. But this is the capstone to those training programs that we can use universally across the country that signifies or demonstrates that you have competency in, be it thermal plastics, thermal sets, shingles. And you can be a card carrying member of that, that you’re pro certified. You, the individual irrespective of the company you belong to.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah, it’s so important. And I’ve just got to mention too. I mean, the training that comes from the associations, whether that’s NRCA with Track or FRCA or Western, I mean, there’s so much out there and all the manufacturers too. So I think really separating that out, but the thing that’s kind of cool and I’m sorry, this is a little off, but I just have to mention this, but you said card carrying. And one of the things I love about certification is that there is a QR code on every card that these installers get. So when they go up to a building owner or a homeowner and they say, “Just take a picture of my QR code and you can go on and see my certifications.” That’s kind of cool.

Jason Stanley:
You can see whether they’re updated. You can see when they took their written exam, when they took their practical exam. Yeah. It’s a wonderful tool. The NRCA has done everything, truly everything, all the blood, sweat, and tears and dollars that went into this thing to make it what it is today. They have a robust program that quite frankly has failed. It hasn’t taken off like it was supposed to.

Jason Stanley:
I think a lot of it was around timing. This thing came out right during COVID and kind of everything that wasn’t paramount and needed to focus on kind of lost sight. And so it’s not that pro certification is necessarily new. This is just kind of the relaunching and re-promotion to tell everybody about this amazing program that is truly there for their taking. And I’m shocked as you are that there’s so many associations know about it. I just spoke in Florida last week at an association and was shocked to hear that most of the people weren’t aware of what pro certification was.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And that’s why we’re doing this today. And that’s why you have come up with an idea. Jason and I are sitting there at the NRCA board meetings and all of a sudden Jason’s like, “This is what we’re going to do.” And I was just so blown away. And this is so awesome. So let’s, first of all, the July event, when you launched this new push and launched to get more installers certified, let’s talk about that a little bit and then we’ll go onto what you have coming next.

Jason Stanley:
So we decided to put in together a kickoff event and it was wonderfully attended thanks to a lot of really great contractors here in the metroplex. I can’t name them all, but even people like Ron from Empire Roofing came out and joined us here. And again, we had many, many contractors representing. We even had people from National Roofing Partners and then Steve Little from K Post was here. We had Kelly van Winkle, was here as well. Wonderful. And even a consultant came in, Ron Harriman from Benchmark Consulting. And they all came in as a panel to speak about how certification has impacted them personally and impacted their company, and then spoke on the vision of what they think certification can do to the industry. So we had all these wonderful contractors… I think Craig Rainey from Supreme was there, even committed some folks. Four Star General and others.

Jason Stanley:
It was great to see so many people in attendance. And then we took commitments from those people that attended the event to do the first ever large scale pro certification. So a lot of this stuff to get ready for cert can be done in the office behind a computer screen, or even at home where you watch some videos, you take a test in both English and Spanish, and then once you pass your written portion of the pro certification, you can set for what is your practical exam for pro cert. In this case, it happens to be thermal plastics. That’s what we do, PVC single ply manufacturer. So we wanted to get everybody in the pipeline for that.

Jason Stanley:
And then we wanted to remove the biggest barrier of all, which is the practical exam. So we are set up to do 32 people on both September 27th and September 28th. And the way that we’re doing this is we’re setting up 16 of these decks. And we will have four qualified assessors, four of our technical folks that are here, that can then observe this. So that you can do 16 people before lunch, 16 people after lunch, and then repeat it the next day to where hopefully you can put 64 people through pro certification in two days.

Jason Stanley:
What we’re trying to demonstrate here is that you don’t have to do this one certified assessor or qualified assessor at a time with one person. You can do it with four people taking the test and one qualified assessor observing. And if you had four qualified assessors, that means you can do 16 people and you can do 16 people before noon. And this is where you can start to see some traction that you can get around this program where it’s not just this slow one guy and one guy.

Jason Stanley:
No, you can put through 32 people in a day, if you can set it up right. And IB has… Why we’re doing this here in our Grapevine, Texas, we have five facilities. So could we put on an event like this every quarter? Well, if we’re a small manufacturer, what could other manufacturers do that are much larger than us? If we, as an industry can really get behind this and start shouldering the load or sharing the load of this, we can start rolling many, many contractors through this program and see those numbers come up where they need to be.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Exactly. And this is going to be, I mean to add 64 certified installers. That’s going to be a huge increase in the numbers because we’re talking about, it’s just really getting off, getting off the platform of people getting certified and they’ve been doing it. There’s going to be certifications at metal con, they’ve done it at NRCA, or the IRE… Shows my age. IRE show in the past. But I think getting it into the local areas and five locations you have, and I know you already have a contractor who has said, “We want to do it in our area.”

Jason Stanley:
Yeah, CJ up into Chicago, wants to pull this off. And I mean, NRCA’s headquartered out of Chicago. Why not do an event there? We can do it at the corporate office, get the same buy-in and then host it a facility. And I want to be sure this is not in any way specific to IB. That this is thermal plastics testing. Doesn’t matter if you’re TPO or PVC. That this is for any thermal plastics and we’re not here to promote our particular product. We would love it if other manufacturers like GIF or Firestone or JM… They have qualified assessors themselves, can they get together? Can we start doing these in larger scale? So it’s not just this one and one and one, but we could put together classrooms of people and get grand adoption into pro certification, not just one or two here and there, but truly grand adoption into the industry.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And I really want to talk too about why that matters, Jason. Because when you look at that, when I look at it seems really obvious to me and so many people, but I would love to have, I know you have some great thoughts on that. Why do you care? But why should everybody else care?

Jason Stanley:
Well, so Heidi, I think the why is going to be in the person… Is going to vary drastically based on a person and the lens in which they look through. And let me just map out a couple of the whys that I see. Why, for me? We may require that every IB Roof Systems authorized contractor have a pro certified foreman on every job site. Why? Well, I have 20 some sales reps and 10, some tech guys that walk around the country every day, and do what? They interact with roofing contractors. And they do what? They go up on a rooftop. I want that guy who’s over that job site to make sure my guy stays safe. So I have a sales guy who sits in a cubicle half the time that goes out on a rooftop. I need to make sure that the foreman that’s on site’s going to set up the ladder in a safe way.

Jason Stanley:
Make sure the work environment’s going to be safe, knows how to properly interact with the manufacturer. That those are the companies we want to do business with. So selfishly, the why for me is to make sure my guys that are going on rooftops with various foreman or roofing companies are doing so in a safe manner. I remember 20 years ago going out to a job site and refusing to get on some roofs as a younger professional. “Oh, come on. You can do it.” Hey, the ladder’s not tied off or it’s not the proper pitch or we’re going onto a section of the roof that isn’t necessarily safe and we’re not tied off. These are things, we’re putting the lives of my employees on the line when they go and they meet your foreman out on a job site, I want to know they’re going to be safe.

Jason Stanley:
I think there’s a second part of this for manufacturers. The why. Is when these jobs are done by pro certified thermal plastics installers, I think the quality of the work’s going to go up. When the training goes up, the quality of work improves and our liability as manufacturers go down. So I think for manufacturers, maybe a couple wins. If I look through the lens of a roofing company, you look through the lens of training to reduce your number of callbacks, improve your reputation, improve your bottom line, improve safety. I think people also allude to improving retention.

Jason Stanley:
Those that provide the training, tend to retain those that receive the training. And then I think if you want to look at this from a building owner, roof consultant standpoint, they’re look looking to put hooks in people. One of the things that Ron Harriman from benchmark spoke to is they’re looking to phase in having pro certification via requirement in the bid package. So if you want bid on certain jobs as a certain company, you may be required to have a certified foreman or a certified superintendent in that particular discipline.

Jason Stanley:
In this case, thermal plastics or a pro certified crew, which means a greater percentage of the crew has their pro certification card. And the manufacturers… Or excuse me, the roof consultants and building owners like this, because it demonstrates the people that are on the roof don’t just say they know roofing, but they actually are credentialed roofing contractors in that particular discipline, which is always great.

Heidi Ellsworth:
To that point, I think, and Jared Ribble, who’s in charge of this program with his team. They work together, but they showed us a map where we are seeing specifiers specifying pro certification, a certain amount on each crew already. So contractors are going to see this in the specs.

Jason Stanley:
Yeah, there’s the saying, right? There’s the carrot and there’s the stick. The carrot is, hey, it’s great to do this for a variety of reasons. Keeping your people safe, retention, callbacks, improving the bottom line. The stick is, if you don’t have it, you won’t be able to bid that work. And that’s coming. That stick will be there eventually so better to get on board earlier than later. Let me speak to the last one, I think, which is the individual, the guy who actually does the test and has the card.

Jason Stanley:
My wife by trade is a dental hygienist. And while, as a dentist, or she works for a few dentists. They may pay for some continual education, but forever and a day, for 20 some years, she pays for her license. And she pays for her license that she holds in multiple states. No dentist ever has written a check for her dental hygienist license. That is her card that allows her certification, her credential to work in that particular state.

Jason Stanley:
Likewise, I think pro certification will gain greater adoption when the individual sees the value in the card and they pay for it on themselves. When you have these large companies that have 50 or a hundred or 200, some employees, the onerous burden of paying certification becomes a huge barrier. When this becomes an industry pride thing, and people want to have their credentials and they understand that I need this card to go to work just like a plumber or an electrician, or in my case, my wife’s case, a dental hygienist, that is when we transition this thing and we move to greater adoption.

Jason Stanley:
When they understand the pride that comes with, I’m a card carrying thermal plastics installer. And this means I’m credentialed in this field. We improve as an industry. The industry is truly moving up.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Oh, I agree so much. And it all comes back down to having… Making it easier, the accessibility easier for anyone out there to get. Because it is kind of… I mean, there are other manufacturers who have a number of their tech reps and stuff, or assessors, but you have to get the decks out. You have to have everything just in the right thing. So the more of these pro certification days, like you’re doing, that we can do around the country, the more likely it’ll be so much easier for people to get certified.

Jason Stanley:
I’ve had a few people say, “Well, how come you’re getting to do this with the NRCA?” And I’m like, hey, trust me. This is costing us lots of money to put this thing together and hopefully bringing awareness to it. If you’re jealous that somehow we’re getting some attention, I challenge you can do it as well.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That’s right.

Jason Stanley:
In fact, we would love, love for you guys to it. I’ll give a shout out to John’s Manville who, I believe they have over 70 qualified assessors. Oh my goodness. How incredible is that? So we’ve challenged our guys, but we’re a small company compared to somebody like Johns Manville. And we have all of our tech guys. That’s a requirement here that you have your qualified assessor credentials. So we believe it’s one of the values we can provide to roofing contractors. If there’s a rain day or there’s something that they need, we can then go and provide this service. We’re not intending to charge for it or make money for it. We’re looking at it as a service we can provide to the industry to help these people become credential.

Heidi Ellsworth:
It’s so important. And you know what I want, just real quick, I want to touch on a little bit about that next generation. So what we’re doing is we’re really trying to bring roofing respect. The roofing respect, the professionalism of the industry. And that in turn is going to start gaining the attention of this next generation, that workforce development that is so important because they want to know even as… Think about it, Jason, you and I both have kids in the business. We want our kids to have pride in being part of the roofing and what are they going to do? And so, to be able to get certified after so many years, that’s a big deal.

Jason Stanley:
While we’re talking about certification specifically today, it is just one part of a whole career path that the NRCA has been so helpful, and along with the Roofing Alliance in trying to bring awareness. Roofing is now being offered at hundreds of trade schools. And that’s growing every single day where roofing, the roofing curriculum now exists, and we can go deploy it to any trade school in the country. So if you know of a trade school, you work through a trade school, you work with a trade school. The NRCA has curriculum that we can give to them so they can come out of the trade school with a degree, so to speak, in roofing. Now they can’t sit for their pro certification yet. You need to have so many hours. I think it’s a thousand hours or more, maybe it’s 2,000 hours of on the job site.

Jason Stanley:
And then you can go back and sit for your pro certification. But there is a track program now that exists for these folks to go through and learn roofing. Likewise, the NRCA has been working at the top end of the spectrum as well. You would not believe. There are colleges, construction and engineering colleges around the country that don’t teach roofing. They teach people how to be a construction manager, but don’t even have a segment or a section that actually covers roofing. Today, there is now course curriculum for people who are going to engineering school with either a construction degree or others. And that is now being deployed to dozens of schools around the country. I spoke recently at Arizona State University to a bunch of engineering professors that run their programs around the country. And I believe we got a hundred percent adoption from those professors that came.

Jason Stanley:
They’re now adding roofing to their engineering curriculum. And now I’m speaking at Clemson University in I guess the next two months, to talk about how to even take that farther into more universities across the country. So there are amazing things going on, but a part of that is you have to have this credential. And this credential that we want these guys to have is pro cert.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes.

Jason Stanley:
And whether you went to school for it and then come out and qualify for it, or if you’re in the trades today, and this is how you can demonstrate to the world that you’re credentialed, that you’re knowledgeable in your aspect of the field, be it in steep slope, shingles, slate, clay tile, standing seam, or in the low slope end of things today, thermal plastics or thermal sets. There’s a course for you that you can take, online and practical and get a card.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And it’s about, I mean, there’s so much pride that goes into that, with that certification. So Jason, how can contractors or installers? Okay, so let’s just talk one more time about the dates, the place and how can they sign up for your events? The one coming up with the NRCA, but then overall, maybe we can talk about how do they get more information?

Jason Stanley:
So the NRCA slash RCAP show is going to be here in Fort Worth, Texas at the Fort Worth Convention Center, September 27th, 28th, 29th. We are doing this event in conjunction with the NRCA, RCAP show, September 27th and 28th. If you want to sign up to do your pro certification practical exam, simply go to the NRCA’s website. There’s a sign up link. We can post it on this as well, but there’s a link you can go to sign up. There are 64 spots available during that two day event.

Jason Stanley:
I believe we have over 48 of those committed, which is phenomenal.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Awesome.

Jason Stanley:
But we need more. We should have every seat filled out. If we can get more people to sign up than we have spots for, we’ll find a way, we’ll come to your office. We’ll find a way to get you credentialed. But be a part of the first ever large scale pro certification event in thermal plastics. It’ll be here in Grapevine, Texas at IB Roof Systems headquarters, September 27th, 28th. Go to the NRCA website and look at their events page. And you can get more information on it.

Heidi Ellsworth:
And I have to tell you, if you can’t get to Grapevine, if for some reason, you’re in another part of the country, Oregon to say, but someplace else that you can’t get to Grapevine, still go to the NRCA. Talk to whoever your manufacturer’s reps and sales people are. If it’s IB, definitely talk to your salesperson, because they will figure out how to do that in other places. We want all of everyone out there listening who are installers, we want you to be asking your manufacturers for this, because that’s how it’s going to become so much easier for everyone to get certified.

Jason Stanley:
Yeah, let me say it again. This is not an IB Roof Systems pro… This is an industry program.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yes.

Jason Stanley:
That every manufacturer needs to support ad nauseum. Everyone’s tech people should be trained to be qualified assessors. I challenge that to everybody that’s out there. So if you’re installing a particular product, contact your manufacturer. Find out if they’re a sales rep, or tech rep in this case is a qualified assessor. If they’re not, go to the NRCA. There are hundreds of registered, qualified assessors around the country.

Jason Stanley:
Somebody will help you. You don’t have to be one of our authorized installers and we’ll come do it for you. So reach out to the NRCA, reach out to IB Roof Systems, or contact your local roofing manufacturer. Whether it be on the steep slope side of things or the low slope side of things, and find out how to become a card carrying, pro certified installer.

Heidi Ellsworth:
That’s what it’s going to take. And it’s going to go viral. It already is. We’re seeing it’s going to take off and it’s really taking off because of people like you, Jason. Thank you. Thank you for doing this.

Jason Stanley:
Well again, I’m happy to play a part. As you talked about, this was a bit of Reid’s vision early on. I like to think Reid and I are somewhat kindred spirits in that we have truly a heart for the people that are on the rooftop. And this is the first real program that gives to those guys, whether your company is an NRCA member or not. Whether your company is an IB Roof Systems authorized installer or Johns Manville authorized installers, what have you.

Jason Stanley:
You, regardless of their affiliations, can get your pro certification. You can have a card that says that you’re confident in these particular disciplines. And again, at a minimum, if you’re a foreman on a job site and you’re responsible for the safety of your men on a job site, go get your pro certification foreman card. You don’t have to take a test. There is no practical exam that exists for that. Go online and get your pro certification today and make sure that the guys that you’re charged with working with are operating in a safe environment.

Heidi Ellsworth:
Yeah. I love it. I love it. Jason, thank you so much. I can’t wait. We’ll be there. We’re going to be there with Roofers Coffee Shop, we’ll be at the pro certification event at your office on the 27th and 28th. And we’ll let everybody know how it goes and then you’ll do it again in Chicago.

Jason Stanley:
Again, Heidi. We love that you’re doing this for us and you’re promoting this and this program that can help our industry out so much. You’re a wonderful blessing to this industry and the amount of time and energy you do to give back is incredible. So thank you for allowing me to be part of this and try and share our message.

Jason Stanley:
To anybody that’s out there, you’re welcome to come and see what we’re doing. This is not again an IB program. This is an NRCA event that just happens to be hosted at our facility. So if you want to come see how to do pro certification at scale, come see it. We’re going to be demonstrating it in spades, September 27th, 28th. Anybody’s welcome to come. We’d love that.