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  • Writer's pictureYvonne Root

Association Membership – Now What?

So you’ve joined a construction-related association – where do you go from here?

In our post, Construction Associations for Profit and Pleasure, the topic centered on the why-bother question of getting involved in construction associations. Now, we’ll dive a little deeper and get to know someone who is part of an association and get her take on active membership.

Valerie Miller works at Jim Brown and Sons Roofing. (JBS) She is also an active member of the Arizona Roofing Contractors Association. (ARCA)

Recently, we asked her questions regarding association membership.

What position do you hold at JBS Roofing?

Vice President

How long have you been there?

17 years

What are your responsibilities?

I oversee the residential sales and production teams along with the inside office staff for all three divisions, Commercial, Residential, and General Contracting.

When did you get involved with ARCA? Why?

I started out at JBS Roofing as a commercial reroof estimator, and the person training me (my dad) was on an ARCA committee for either Phoenix bowling or convention; I don’t remember which. I had to attend the meetings with him in between looking at roofs. The next thing you know, I am assistant committee chair for Phoenix bowling with Patsy Hawk at Eagle. My father has always been a huge advocate for ARCA and encouraged us to be involved.

Please walk us through the step-by-step process that you went through to become an active member of ARCA.

JBS Roofing was already a part of ARCA. I started attending meetings for Phoenix Bowling and Expo and eventually joined the committees, and I have chaired them both. By becoming involved with the committees, you meet and eventually build relationships with fellow contractors, manufacturer representatives, and distributors.

How long were you a member before you started noticing any benefits?

The company noticed the benefits right away; the free training and support they offer is one of the best benefits of becoming a member. For me personally, it wasn’t until I got involved with the different committees and built relationships with fellow members where I started noticing the benefit of becoming an ARCA member. When I was put in charge of recreating our residential division at JBS Roofing back in 2010, I leaned on so many fellow contractors for help with processes, procedures, ADOSH rules, contract clauses, and so much more. They were always there to help me and guide me in the right direction. The manufacturers and distributors were beyond patient with my lack of roofing product knowledge and never once made me feel dumb for not knowing how many feet in a bundle of starters or if I needed pails, buckets, or drums. ARCA’s technical committee always answered my questions quickly and correctly. I am not sure if I would be in charge of the Residential Team at JBS Roofing if it wasn’t for all those behind the scenes that helped me succeed.

Do you recall any of your early experiences that shored up your thinking concerning the benefits of membership?

The support I received from my peers over the years was invaluable.

Did you jump right into participation, or did you take it slowly?

I took it slowly until 2008, and then I jumped in full throttle. I never thought about it until now; I have been the co-chair for bowling, four-time committee chair for EXPO and a committee member since 2008, co-chair for membership and marketing, and current chair for National Women in Roofing.

Which do you like best? Why?

It is hard to say which one I like best. I see the value in all the committees; National Women in Roofing (NWiR) is probably the most rewarding. There is such a need for education in the roofing industry, and I don’t mean how to install it. Just the terminology and explanations of different roof types. Roofing is multi-generational in most cases, and so many people have been in roofing for most of their lives they forget not everyone speaks roofing. It is like they speak a second language, and they forget not everyone knows what a scupper is or the difference between a tile and shingle. I won’t even get into the difference between clay tile and concrete tile. I remember being looked at like I had three eyes and a tail when I didn’t know the difference between a 3-tab shingle and laminate. Which by the way, not everyone knows that laminates, architectural, and 30-year shingles are all the same thing. To create an environment where we acknowledge that it’s not easy, you are not dumb, and we are here to help share our knowledge with you. So don’t be afraid to ask is something I am very proud of. I didn’t even know that’s what I was doing when we formed the Arizona council.

Tell us about NWiR and its relationship to ARCA.

This gets confusing. NWiR is a separate association with its own membership fee. ARCA adopted the Arizona Council and created an official committee within the ARCA organization. This allows us to use the ARCA meeting spaces and invite ARCA members to NWiR events. It has benefited ARCA by gaining exposure to outside members who may not have known about ARCA and the benefits of becoming a member.

How much time does your involvement take?

​We try to hold a meeting once a month; I would say maybe 8 hours a month depending on what we are planning that month.

What have you gained through your involvement with ARCA?

I have gained invaluable friendships across the spectrum of contractors, manufacturers, and distributors. I have learned to enjoy golf. I have gained so much knowledge from all of the education classes such as TRI or shingle installation. I am always surprised when someone says they know who I am like I am “somebody important” it is a humbling experience and I have to say it must be from my involvement with ARCA over the years. The most valuable thing I have gained was mentorship; when I started at JBS Roofing there were not many women in the roofing industry, let alone on the contractor side. I knew of one woman who was an estimator for Lyons roofing, I never met her, but I heard nothing but great things about her. If there were women in the industry back then, they were usually hired for their looks as manufacturers rep and didn’t last long. Then I met Patsy Hawk with Eagle Tile. The moment I met her, I decided that’s who I wanted to be. She was kind but not a pushover; she was well respected by her peers, both male and female because she had product knowledge and was good at her job. I don’t know a single person who has a bad thing to say about Patsy. I have watched Patsy stand toe to toe with a good old boy who backed down, and she did it with style and grace. I didn’t want to be seen as a bitchy leader, and I didn’t want to get where I was going by wearing short skirts and low-cut shirts. I wanted to be like Patsy. I hope one day that I am half of what Patsy gave to the industry.

If a potential ARCA member walked up to you asking for your advice and you only had a few minutes to give her, what would be your best tip?

I would say roofing isn’t for the weak, it is never boring, and if you are determined, motivated, and driven, it can be the most rewarding and successful business to be in. Never in a million years did I think I would be sitting here contemplating my roofing career.

What types of classes, workshops, or other events offered through ARCA does your crew or team participate in?

JBS Roofing sees the value in education, and we try to take advantage of all the classes. From first aid, Tile Roofing Institute (TRI) certification, classes put on by the educational committee on roof installations. To the industry classes on COVID, OSHA, any new regulation or roofing standard. One thing that ARCA is really good at is seeing the industry’s current need and getting their members educated on the topic.

How often do they participate? What results do you see?

Sending journeymen roofers and their crews to safety classes and educational classes has shown us that the employee is appreciative that we pay them to better their skills and that we care about their safety. In return, you get better quality workmanship and safer environments on the jobsites.

BTW, we hear there are folks called Shingle Ladies; can you tell us more?

​GAF was kind enough to send their trainer out to teach NWiR ladies how to properly install a shingle roof. It was a hands-on demonstration where members not only got to see all the components of a shingle roof but had the opportunity to install the roof as well. After the class, we decided to call ourselves the Shingle Ladies sung in Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” tune, of course, and for extra fun, we had shirts made up that GAF was kind enough to sponsor.

Anything else you would like to add?

I am thankful my father never treated me like a girl. He treated me like a person, no different than anyone else on the roof. I was expected to carry the ladder, learn the products, and pull my weight. If he had treated me like I couldn’t do it because I was a girl, I don’t know that I would have succeeded.

Thank you, Valerie! Do you have any parting thoughts?

Answering all these questions really made me think about my ARCA journey and my roofing story. I have gained so much by being part of this great industry and ARCA; I know I have only named a few and could go on forever. If there is one thing you get from my answers, I hope you understand that I have gained lifelong friends who help each other succeed in this challenging and ever-changing industry. Yes, we are competitors, but we recognize that there is enough work for everyone, and together, we can create an industry that is good for both the consumer and contractor.

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