Keeping up with the roofing industry is key to offering the best quality service you can to your customers. But beyond trends and short-term changes, investing in roofing education and training for your team members is a great way to stay ahead of the game. When you dedicate time to training, you can keep your team involved with new products and resources as well as anticipate and prevent problems. You can also boost your reputation in your area by driving your installations to have the quality workmanship Firestone Red Shield Contractors are known for.
We spoke with Alain Gonzalez, vice president at Isaacs Roofing in Palmetto Bay, Florida, to get his take on the value of proactive education. In business for over 20 years, Isaacs Roofing is a family-owned business that values quality and takes pride in a robust approach to training and development. Let’s see how Gonzalez approaches training, makes it valuable for his employees, and why he encourages others in the industry to make training a top priority.
Gonzalez began his career in the roofing industry as a roofer, moving up throughout his life to his current position today. Gonzalez’s uncle, owner of Isaacs Roofing, always impressed the value of quality upon his teams, emphasizing that the entire company must be unified under this same approach. Quality comes through experience and training, and that’s why Isaacs Roofing continues to prioritize education as a necessary part of their business.
At Isaacs Roofing, training is simply part of each team member’s job description. It’s part of the team’s monthly cadence, and Gonzalez places it high on his priority list. “We focus on quality and production speed,” he says. “We hold multiple types of training throughout the year, covering topics from safety and production to new techniques and products.”
For example, when he is in the process of vetting a new piece of equipment Gonzalez and his project managers will first receive training from a manufacturer representative. Then, the information will be passed along in a series of training sessions to the teams out in the field. “When we take on new products or technologies, we don’t look back,” says Gonzalez. “We’re committed to what we decide to train because we have to make the best of our training time.”
When it comes to ensuring training practices are implemented, Isaacs Roofing assigns a non-working quality assurance team member to every project. Gonzalez notes their role is to make sure the quality is on point and that every technique is being put into practice. Unique to Isaacs Roofing, this investment in quality helps hold team members accountable to what they’ve learned during training.
Gonzalez is constantly looking forward, asking what will give his company a competitive edge and allow him to produce better quality roofs at a faster pace. These findings inform his training goals. “No one source covers everything,” he says. “We have to source from different parties to achieve our goals.”
A variety of training formats are also helpful in conveying information well. Historically, very large groups in classroom settings haven’t worked well for Gonzalez’s teams. Instead smaller, intimate on-site training sessions result in the best intake of knowledge and true understanding. Gonzalez also makes training mandatory, compensating his employees for their time and carefully communicating each training session’s value and importance.
“I help our teams understand that we’re looking for them to be all-in with training, to ask questions and to learn,” Gonzalez adds. “We explain beforehand why we’re doing each training so that we can open up a conversation and motivate the team to attend.”
One of the most significant roadblocks when it comes to training, according to Gonzalez, is the fear that increased efficiencies and new processes will eliminate jobs.
“It’s not about losing jobs,” he says. “It’s about getting things done more efficiently and easily.” Gonzalez is careful to emphasize that new systems and products won’t lead to smaller teams—instead, the teams already on board can tackle more work in the same day. There’s never a shortage of jobs in the pipeline, so training on better products and processes helps Gonzalez’s employees get to that work faster.
“When there is resistance to new systems and products, showing the teams how these new resources can work to their benefit really helps,” Gonzalez says. For example, sometimes it takes a side-by-side “test” to show the impact of a new piece of equipment or a new technique.
“It’s important for me to reinforce that you’re building your toolbox,” Gonzalez mentions, “and that you’re putting in the time to allow you to teach someone else and help us grow.” Sometimes the “inertia factor” gets in the way—change can be difficult, and often teams like to keep things the way they’ve always been. Other motivating factors can include quality award programs from manufacturers like Firestone that contractors can work toward earning.
Overall, no matter what Gonzalez pushes for the next better, safer option consistently in order to keep the company moving forward with purpose.
Special considerations such as the COVID-19 pandemic aside, digital options for training have been on the rise for years. Gonzalez believes there’s a major place for digital training in the roofing industry, though it may take some time for the industry to get fully up to speed with the available opportunities.
For certain topics, digital training is ideal. For example, new products lend themselves to video introductions. Employees can watch content from manufacturers, such as Firestone, to learn the basics and start conversations within their teams about how each product could be implemented in their work. However, digital training can’t replace all training—teaching new equipment, for example, tends to work better in person.
For Gonzalez, training is one way he achieves long-term business goals. “We look at the big picture,” he says. “A bit of investment today, in the long haul, makes everyone better.”
Each bit of investment, then, leads to a long-term ripple effect. “When you have well-trained employees they need less supervision, and the end product is typically built at a higher standard,” Gonzalez adds. This translates into a great reputation in the industry, which allows the company to attract the best employees and clients. All of these factors add up to create stability as excellence translates to the market, which acknowledges Isaacs Roofing as a source of quality workmanship.
“This elevates the company as a whole in the industry and elevates expectations,” he says. And Isaacs Roofing’s quality doesn’t go unnoticed. Their commitment to quality has been passed down from previous generations, and Gonzalez says that’s why they take it so seriously. Training, then, becomes part of continuing a longstanding family commitment to great work.
Gonzalez’s main advice when it comes to training is simple: just ask. “You’d be surprised to see how willing people are to help you find an answer,” he says. “Ask employees what they want to learn, ask others in the industry how they train, and ask manufacturers what’s new.”
No time for training? It may be time to reevaluate your approach. Gonzalez emphasizes that training affects more than your bottom line. It impacts employees as well, and a robust training plan is part of each company’s responsibility to equip their team members with what they need to succeed.
But keep in mind that it’s possible to overload your team with information. “You need to pick what you want to present to your employees carefully,” Gonzalez notes. “Too many changes at once isn’t helpful for anyone.” A good cadence with training—Isaacs Roofing trains on technical installation procedures about once a month and safety much more often—benefits all involved.
The bottom line is to make sure you’re training, Gonzalez says. “It’s important for you and for your employees. Keep your team safe out there—it’s what’s most important.”
Beginning his career in roofing at the age of 15, Alain Gonzalez serves as vice president of Isaacs Roofing in Palmetto Bay, Florida. As part of a family business, Gonzalez builds on the tradition of quality the company began over 20 years ago. Gonzalez’s responsibilities at Isaacs Roofing include business development for commercial roofing, operations, production, and overseeing the estimation process.
Isaacs Roofing is a State of Florida licensed and insured roofing contractor, specializing in the complete installation and repair of industrial, commercial and residential roofing systems. Isaacs Roofing is dedicated to providing excellence in customer service and full satisfaction based upon ongoing training and years of practical experience. From prompt estimating to final cleanup, their goal is to exceed your expectations and provide you with the best roofing experience..