Tag: <span>Karen Edwards</span>

10 Questions Roofing Companies Need to Ask When Looking for New Software

By Karen L. Edwards.

With so many software solutions on the market, it can be hard to figure out which one is right for your business.

So, you’re at the point where your business would benefit from implementing an estimating software solution. How do you know which one is the right solution? We turned to experts from RT3 member Estimating Edge to offer some tips on what you should be looking for and what questions you should be asking.

Adam Oaks, CEO at Estimating Edge, said, “Some solutions will portray that they can do just about everything.  That of course is never the case.  Some solutions try to be everything to everyone, but that usually means they are just OK at a lot of things, but not that great in any one area.”

He advises that you look for best in breed solutions – ones that work well with the other software that you might be using to run your business while steering clear of those that offer add-ons. “A good example might be an HR solution that also tries to handle your accounting with an add on module.”

Adam says that contractors should ask the following questions when selecting a solution:

  1. Is this software the best for my company’s specific need?
  2. Does it have an open scalable platform?
  3. Is the software scalable and does it allow employees to access and work virtually?
  4. Does it fit the roofing company’s employees, processes or workflows?
  5. Does the software company have experience in commercial roofing?
  6. Does the software company offer knowledgeable support teams, training and service?
  7. What does the industry say about the software?
  8. Does the software company have a history in the industry?
  9. Will the software fit our budget?
  10. Is it Best of Breed?

In their free e-Book, Estimating Edge dives deeper into each of these questions to help you understand why you should be asking a question and what each one means for your business.

Download your copy of “10 Questions Roofing Companies Need to Ask When Looking for New Software.”

Learn More about Estimating Edge, visit their RCS Directory.

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Source: RoofersCoffeeShop

3 Tips for Helping Your Teams Work from Home Successfully

By Karen L. Edwards.

As a seasoned work-from-home professional, I wanted to share some tips to help teams stay productive during this uncertain time.

After joining a roofing tech startup back in 2010, I made the transition from going into an office every day to working in my home office (when I wasn’t on the road). It can be isolating and make you feel sometimes like you are on an island. After 10 years of being a remote worker, I’ve learned some tips and tricks that can make it a rewarding and productive experience.

1 – A Defined Workspace

Decide on your workspace. If you already have a home office, that’s great! Now is the time to clean it up and put it to use. Make sure you have a comfortable chair, as you will find yourself not walking around like you used to for chatting with co-workers. Determine a dedicated workspace where you can limit the noise and interruptions that may occur from other household members. I also recommend using a Bluetooth headset for talking on the phone as it frees your hands for note taking during a call.

2 – A Daily Structure

It’s important to stick to routine. If you normally start your day at 8 am, keep doing that while working from home.  I recommend not working in your pajamas, but rather get ready for your day just as you would if you were going into the office. Be sure to take a lunch break. That’s a good time to stretch your legs and take a walk; get the circulation flowing since you aren’t walking as much as you would in an office setting.

3 – Hold Video Meetings

Don’t just hold conference calls to meet with the rest of the team working remotely. Video meetings are great for morale and eliminate the ‘working on an island’ feeling. There are a number of free video conferencing services and some companies are expanding the free versions of their services in light of the shift to a virtual workforce. It also helps to ensure that you don’t multi-task during a meeting because everyone can see what you are doing!

Making it work

It’s important for you as an employer to trust that your employees are committed and dedicated to getting the job done – no matter where they are working. It’s equally important for you as an employer to be understanding. There may be dogs barking, or cats appearing on a video call when they jump on the desk or table (just happened to me the other day!).

Also realize that schools are closed; there might be children in the background. Depending on their age, children can have a hard time understanding that just because mom or dad is home, doesn’t mean they aren’t working. Expect there to be interruptions from time to time.

Together we will get through this!

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Source: RoofersCoffeeShop


Is that an OSHA drone flying over your roofing job?

By Karen L. Edwards, RoofersCoffeeShop® Editor.

A recent OSHA memo obtained by Bloomberg under the Freedom of Information Act authorizes investigators to use drones during inspections.

The OSHA memorandum to regional administrators dated May 18, 2018 addresses the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems by OSHA. The memo states that “UAS may be used to collect evidence during inspections in certain workplace settings, including areas that are inaccessible or pose a safety risk to inspection personnel.”

While most contractors strive to ensure the safest working conditions for their employees and crews, OSHA using drones could bring new concerns to employers. As Todd B. Logsdon and Chantell C. Foley of Fisher Phillips wrote in a recent article on Lexicology, an area of concern should be your Fourth Amendment right to object to the expansion of an overbroad expansion. If you say no, does it end there, or will OSHA seek a search warrant?

The memo indicates that inspectors should obtain “express consent” from the employer prior to using UAS on any inspection. This doesn’t address, however, if there are multiple employers on the job site. What constitutes express consent when multiple employers are present?

The OSHA memo spells out that Regional UAS Program Managers will be established in any region using UAS for inspections while it explores a blanket Certificate of Authorization from the Federal Aviation Administration that would allow nationwide operations.

So, what should you be doing now? Logsdon and Foley suggest that contractors be prepared with a response strategy. Designate an employee who can stand with the OSHA drone operator, just as they would with a rooftop inspection. They also recommend that you not be afraid to limit the inspection. You should be part of the flight planning and should speak up if you don’t agree with the plan.

Trent Cotney, president of the Cotney Construction Law firm, advises employers to proceed with caution when faced with an OSHA request to perform a safety inspection with drone technology. “Employers may want to deny OSHA’s request to the use of drone technology because it opens the door to citations for hazards in plain sight,” he stated. Even though the employer and OSHA investigator have agreed to a specific investigation scope and flight plan, if OSHA finds recognized hazards in “plain sight” they can still issue citations for same. Cotney finished by saying “while the precise legal ramifications of drone inspections may not be crystal clear at this point in time, it’s certain that drones are here to stay.”

There are a lot of factors for contractors to be aware of surrounding the use of drones in general and now their use by OSHA for inspections. Stay up-to-date with the latest news on issues like this by signing up for the RT3 SmartBrief.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop

Q4 Commercial Construction Outlook – Focus on Technology

By Karen L. Edwards, RoofersCoffeeShop® Editor.

Contractors believe that new technologies like drones, augmented reality, artificial intelligence will be useful for productivity and improved safety on jobsites.

Throughout the year, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and USG Corporation survey contractors and release a quarterly report detailing their findings. In the recently published Q4 report, contractors shared that the lack of skilled labor is impacting productivity, scheduling and safety. They are searching for new innovations and solutions to address the labor issue.

The Q4 report explored the topic of technology on the jobsite and found that contractors believe that new technologies like drones, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and more will be useful for productivity and improved safety on jobsites. Their show that 74 percent of contractors expect the adoption of technologies to grow quickly over the next few years.

Contractors were asked about their use of advanced technologies and 54% reported that they have used at least one of the following technologies on their jobsite, with drones being the most widely used.

  • Drones – 34%
  • Equipment tagging – 16%
  • Wearable technology – 6%
  • RFID Tagging – 8%
  • Augmented and/or virtual reality – 13%
  • Reality capture – 7%
  • Automated equipment or robotics – 5%
  • 3D printing – 5%
  • Not using any of the above – 46%, with 26% indicating that they plan to implement in the near future

The use of these advanced technologies is more prevalent among general contractors than trade contractors. Seventy-three percent of GCs reported that they use at least one of the advanced technologies and usage is expected to grow faster by GCs (to 85%) and larger contractors than by smaller contractors and the trades (59%).

Since many of these technologies are just emerging in the construction industry the study questioned contractors to find out the top three benefits that would encourage them to adopt a new technology. They indicated that labor productivity (66%) is by far the biggest benefit that would convince them to invest in a technology. Schedule, budget and safety were close behind.

Seventy-five percent of contractors surveyed believe that advanced technologies like equipment tagging, robotics and wearable tech can be useful to improve labor productivity and manage project schedules.

Other trends show that at least ¾ of the large companies expected to hire more workers in the next six months where only about half of mid-sized and smaller companies plan to do so. Finding skilled workers remains a challenge with well over half of respondents reporting difficulty. Interestingly, contractors in the western U.S. report a higher level of difficulty (70%) versus their counterparts in the rest of the country, which ranges from 52 – 58 percent. One survey respondent said, “My single most important concern about my business in the next 12 months is hiring the right people and keeping the right people.”

For the purposes of the Commercial Construction Index, the report defines commercial construction as the following types of buildings: office, retail, hospitality, education, healthcare, multifamily residential (mid-and high-rise), government, warehouses, airport terminals and other transportation buildings.

Check out the full Q4 report here.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop

Monster end-of-year report shows that construction and trades topped the list for hiring in 2018

By Karen L. Edwards, RoofersCoffeeShop Editor.

The report also analyzed other stats such as the busiest days for job searches and what people are searching for.

Website Monster.com is a leading source of job postings. As 2018 came to a close they decided to scour their data covering everything from top job titles to industries hiring the most and issued this report. It should come as no surprise to those of us in the roofing industry that the construction category was at the top of the list for hiring.

While it was a top category, it’s important to note that Monster placed construction in the category along with trades, production and warehousing. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics jobs report cited the addition of 25,000 jobs in November alone, which suggests these additional jobs might be related to the increase in Amazon’s needs for workers and the company setting their minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Construction and trades was the highest hiring category in 28 states. The next most popular category was Technology – maybe suggesting that there needs to be more technology developed to support the construction industry.

The company’s data also shows that people are not really searching for construction work. The top 10 search terms were:

  • Administrative assistant
  • Part-time
  • Accounting
  • Receptionist
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Human resources
  • Warehouse
  • Administrative
  • Manager

The data also showed that the most popular time of year for job searches is in January and February. One could surmise that people are entering the new year with a renewed resolution to make a career change. Eight of the top 10 busiest days for job searches were in January and the remaining two busy days were in February.

If you’ve got job openings it might be a good idea to be sure you get them posted. At RoofersCoffeeShop® we see many jobs posted and employees hired through our classified section. It’s an affordable way to reach a large pool of potential employees that have experience in the roofing industry.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop

The Internet of Things in Construction

By Karen L. Edwards, RoffersCoffeeShop® Editor.

The Internet of Things is just about everywhere, and it is going to be changing the way construction sites operate.

I first heard the phrase, the Internet of Things (IoT), related to a new conference that was being planned. This was eight or nine years ago. At the time I didn’t really grasp just what the IoT was and how it would impact nearly every single thing we do.

What is the IoT?

If you’re reading this and still trying to understand just what the IoT is, let’s look at some real-life examples. Did you get a Ring video doorbell for Christmas? It pairs with an app on your phone that alerts you when someone is at your door. You can see who is there and even talk to them remotely via the app. All of this is happening because you have an internet connection at your home that the doorbell uses to communicate to you.

Maybe you got a smart speaker or Amazon Echo device for Christmas. The addition of a smart plug, like a WeMo, makes ordinary things, such as a lamp on the end table in your living room, become part of the IoT. Once connected, you use your internet connection, your voice and your smart speaker to turn the light on and off.

IoT in Roofing

Now the IoT is creeping its way into the roofing and construction industries. You might already be using the IoT in your business and didn’t even realize it. Perhaps one of the most well-known uses is GPS tracking. Do your trucks have GPS monitoring on them? If so, you are using the IoT as the GPS unit on the truck is now able to communicate back to the office where it is and in some cases what it is doing, i.e. sudden stops, speeding.

What’s coming is even more exciting. Augmented reality now exists so that workers can be trained for specific workplace scenarios and to improve safety. Verizon began using this technology in 2018 to train its service technicians so they know how to perform installation and repairs safely from ladders, bucket trucks and in manholes under streets.

The IoT will allow for virtual live support from the rooftop. Using special software and equipment such as Microsoft’s Hololens, a technician on the roof will be able to share exactly what they are seeing with someone offsite. That offsite person will be able to assist in solving whatever problem the technician is struggling to repair.

Wearable technology will allow workers hours to be logged to prevent fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents.  Many of us use Fit Bit and other wristband style technology to track steps and overall fitness activity. These are just being taken one step further and applied to the worksite to help ensure the safety and well-being of the workforce.

Other wearable trackers can indicate exactly where workers are on the jobsite to help prevent accidents or other mishaps. They also can send an alert for sudden jolts, such as those caused by an impact or fall.

Be ready

It can be challenging to stay on top of the latest technologies and understand how you can use them in your business, but there are several resources that can help.

  1. National and local roofing associations – they host annual trade shows where vendors who supply the latest technologies display and demonstrate their use. In fact, the International Roofing Expo is taking place in February 2019 in Nashville. A pass to the expo hall is free.
  2. The Roofing Technology Think Tank – this organization was formed by innovative, forward-thinking industry leaders whose goal is to educate and advance technology into the industry. Sign up for their twice-a-week SmartBrief email to stay informed.
  3. RoofersCoffeeShop® – Your place for news, ideas, education, talking to other contractors in the forum and hearing on industry influencers on topics relative to your business. Visit the site and sign up for the Week in Review email so you don’t miss any news.

Source: RoofersCoffeeShop

Examining the Labor Shortage and What Every Contractor Should be Doing to Change It

By Karen L. Edwards, RT3 Think Tank.

It’s no secret that there is a labor shortage, not just in the roofing industry but in the trades in general. A recent article by NPR blames the 1970s and 1980s, decades where we pushed our kids to get bachelor degrees.  We frequently hear this as the reason why today’s youth don’t even consider a career in the trades.

John McManus, writing for Builder Online takes a slightly different angle in this article, reporting that there will be an estimated 3.5 million (2018-2019) high school graduates in the U.S. with 3.1 million expected to enroll in degree-granting post-high school institutions. Only 2.7 million will finish, earning associates or bachelor’s degrees.  Doing the math, that leaves nearly one million adults aged 18-22 who aren’t in college and could be recruited into the trades.

As McManus speculates in his article, the challenge is one of attraction and requires a new focus on marketing the trades to Generation Z – the kids currently in middle and high school, who will quickly outnumber the Millennials. While marketing to teens isn’t new at all, what’s different is that there are more companies doing it whose products are traditional teen products like video games or acne medicine. Charles Schwab is targeting this audience because in 10 years, these kids will have jobs and salaries and need investment services.

Just as these companies are making their products and services appealing for when Gen Z reaches post high-school age, the trades should be marketing their industries as a viable, long-lasting career opportunity to consider instead of the traditional four-year college degree.

National organizations and associations take action

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) organized the first-ever  Roofing Day in D.C. for members of the roofing industry to meet with their representatives and senators to discuss issues affecting the industry and its livelihood. NRCA credits Roofing Day in D.C. with contributing to Congress’ approval of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Ace (H.R. 2353), which is expected to be signed into law any day by the President.

The bill reforms career and technical education under the Perkins Act, which had not been reauthorized by Congress since 2006. It will expand opportunities for work-based learning programs, strengthen incentives for development of industry-recognized credentials and provide new opportunities between employers and educational institutions to meet local labor needs.

WorkingNation was founded by venture capitalist Art Bilger, and exists to educate and communicate the hard truths about the looming unemployment crisis and bring the country together to create new jobs for a changing economy. The organization runs the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference and the SkillsUSA Championships in an effort to strengthen the talent pipeline to American industries by instilling valuable work-ready skills and leadership qualities within students.

There are also groups coming together to recruit and encourage minority populations to learn more about careers in construction and roofing. GirlsBuild is an organization that hosts summer camps in Oregon for girls 8 – 14 years of age to learn the basics of building, including carpentry, plumbing, electricity, concrete, sheet metal and more. The girls are taught by skilled female instructors. The program has received national attention from television host Mike Rowe through his show, “Returning the Favor.” There is such value in these programs that National Women in Roofing recently awarded scholarships to send two women from the Rutherford Housing Partnership in North Carolina to attend the camp and learn how they can replicate the model on the east coast.

What you can do in your community to help address the issue.

While these national efforts are great and will eventually make a difference, it will take time for things to shift and may take even longer for initiatives to reach your local community. It’s up to contractors to engage with their schools, service organizations and communities to try to create a shift on the local level. While that sounds like a great idea, many contractors are stumped with how to get started.

It can be as simple as reaching out to the principal at your local community schools or trade schools. See if they have career fair days for the students to learn about opportunities after they graduate. You could participate in that to share how rewarding a career in roofing can be for the student after high school.

Ask if there is a construction project that the school would like to have done where students could participate and learn what it could be like to work in the trades. Josey Parks, owner of J. Wales Enterprises, is teaming up with K-POST Roofing and Waterproofing to partner with a high school in an impoverished area of Fort Worth, Texas to work with students on constructing a fence to obscure a view the school has of a prison next door. He’s working through securing donations from suppliers to make the project happen and hopes to share his story soon.

Miron Construction Co. in Wisconsin hosted a ‘Build like a Girl’ event at their headquarters where dozens of female students gathered to work with a female carpenter to learn about framing walls, pouring concrete and operating boom lifts. The company hopes to increase the number of women interested in construction jobs.

Other community organization such as Scout troops would also most likely be willing and receptive to working together on construction projects or hosting a learning and project day for the Scouts to learn more about the industry and options for careers.

By reaching out to the schools and organizations in your community, you are helping to spread the word that it is possible to have a successful career in an industry that is elevating its professionalism, embracing technology and provides unlimited advancement opportunities.

What you should be doing within your own company.

Labor shortages are not only caused by a lack of new, young talent entering the workforce, but it can also be caused by existing workers leaving due to frustrations, lack of support and training or advancement opportunities.

Take a long look inside your company and evaluate your culture. Are you providing your team with opportunities to learn, to grow and to lead? Are you taking advantage of training and educational classes for your team that are offered by the industry associations? Are you allowing them to attend the industry conferences and expositions that will allow them to see and learn about the latest technologies, tools and methods?

It’s important to create a culture that promotes and supports your team. When you have a happy team, they will be a loyal team and will stay for the long-term. They will also become some of your best recruiters for finding the right workers to join your team. Instituting referral bonuses and hiring bonuses can also make a career with your company more appealing.

The bottom line is that it’s going to take all of us working together, on the national level, on the local level and within each of our individual companies to spread the word about the opportunities that a career in the trades and in particular, the roofing industry, has to offer.

5 Construction Technology Trends to Watch in 2018

By Karen L. Edwards.

Technology is advancing at a fast pace and each year brings new solutions to the construction table.

Leaders in the industry will be those who embrace the use of technology and pay attention to these emerging technologies.

  1. Virtual and augmented reality

Virtual reality technology allows individuals to “see” what a built environment will look like which is especially useful for proposed new construction projects. Allowing someone to visualize and experience the project can go a long way in building confidence for all involved in the project.

Augmented reality is similar to virtual reality except that the it involves walking through a real 3D environment while viewing additional real-time information about the environment. For example, if a building owner wanted to create a rooftop garden area with various features, augmented reality would bring the roof to life – before the project starts. It will allow that owner to stand on the roof and see what the existing roof would look like with the addition of the garden roof features.

  1. Online Jobsite

New technologies are eliminating the delays in communication that can occur between the job site, the office, the installers and the rest of the project team. Job site connectivity is becoming easier to achieve with the use of connected smartphones and tablets that can send and receive information in real time to everyone involved in a project, including the building owner.

  1. Wearable Technology

There is a new company that offers wearable tags that allow contractors to improve and advance the safety of their workers on the job site. A clip can be attached to workers’ belts that tell you when someone slips, trips, or falls and alerts you to what zone of the job site they are in. They also offer an equipment tag that links to the belt clip to tell you who is operating the equipment and delivers statistics on how the equipment is being used.

  1. Drones

The drone industry is exploding and there are so many uses for drone technology in construction. They can be used to map project sites, report project progress and changes, update clients and inspect damage following severe weather. Companies are popping up every day that offer drone services which means you don’t have to master flying one.

  1. Robotics

Robotics haven’t shown up on the rooftop – yet. But they will. They are already being used to lay bricks – at a pace six times faster than a human. This video of the SAM100 bricklaying robot shows how the technology works faster and eliminates the lifting and bending that can create problems and potential injuries for workers.

Companies in the construction and roofing industries need to get on board the technology train or risk being left far, far behind the rest of the market.

Note: This article first appeared on RoofersCoffeeShop.com’s blog and can be viewed here.

Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) Chooses Leadership

RT3 has secured the services of veteran industry marketing communications professional Karen Edwards to advance the efforts of the organization.

Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3), a group of progressive roofing professionals focused on technology solutions for the roofing industry announced that it has chosen Karen Edwards as its communications and engagement leader.

In this role, Edwards will lead the RT3 membership in engagement activities that drive the group’s technology research, evaluation, testing and thought leadership to continue to promote the adoption of technology into the roofing industry. She will also manage all of RT3’s communication efforts, ensuring that the group’s message and efforts surrounding the adoption of technology are effectively shared with contractors, manufacturers, distributors and industry media.

“RT3 is very excited to work with Karen on moving the RT3 initiative forward and taking it to the next level,” said RT3 co-founder Dale Tyler. “Her background in the roofing industry combined with her understanding of how to introduce new technologies into the industry from her time spent as a marketing leader at EagleView bring the perfect skill set to RT3.”

Edwards has been a marketing professional for more than 25 years and has focused the past 15 years on marketing for the technology and construction industries. She led the contractor marketing program during her tenure at Carlisle SynTec and oversaw the marketing behind the company’s secondary brands including Versico, EcoStar, Insulfoam, Carlisle Coatings and Waterproofing and Carlisle Residential before moving on to lead marketing efforts at EagleView Technologies. As president and owner of Casimir Group, Edwards provides strategic marketing consulting for roofing manufacturers and contractors, she is also the editor for RoofersCoffeeShop.com and leads Marcomm activities for the Property Drone Consortium.

She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Communications from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and resides in the York, Pennsylvania area. When not working, she enjoys traveling, relaxing on a beach, partaking in good food and wine, taking long walks and yoga.

About Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3)
Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3) strives to find innovative technology solutions to be used within the roofing industry. RT3 provides insights from progressive thought leaders both inside and outside the roofing industry along with practical resources for implementing potential solutions successfully. The organization will encourage and enable contractors to embrace technology as they seek to grow their businesses. With a commitment to disseminate technology advancement information, RT3 will help build the professionalism and appeal of the roofing industry. http://www.rt3thinktank.test.