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The Next Generation of Roofers Benefit from Hands-on Roofing Training

By GAF Roof Views

October 22, 2021

Ricky Gass on the roof

The GAF Roofing Academy is a tuition-free training program designed to help students build the necessary skills for an entry-level roofing position in commercial or residential roofing, including solar. Recent graduates, Ricky Gass and Juell Mollette, share their experience with the hands-on training program, as well as how it has set them up for success in their careers.

Interested in enrolling? Visit the GAF Roofing Academy website to find a course near you.

About the Author

More homes and businesses in the U.S. are protected by a GAF roof than by any other product. We are the leading roofing manufacturer in North America, with plants strategically located across the U.S. As a Standard Industries company, GAF is part of the largest roofing and waterproofing business in the world.

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Branching Out into Commercial Roof Maintenance for Schools

Commercial roof maintenance programs are a great way to expand your business and build long-term relationships with school facility managers. You may already be offering commercial roof maintenance services, or perhaps you're interested in branching out. Providing roof maintenance to K-12 schools and universities can be a good source of reliable, ongoing work. But you'll need to consider these facilities' nuances.Schools' Current Roof Maintenance ChallengesIn an educational environment, students' safety and comfort come first. Buildings must be secure and functional, and they must provide an atmosphere conducive to learning. Creating this environment starts with the roof, but this can easily be put off or forgotten about as many school facility managers focus on day-to-day maintenance issues. If students and teachers complain about a lack of hot water or classroom temperatures that are too hot or cold, facility managers swiftly address these issues.However, facility managers should prioritize regular roof maintenance in addition to addressing the most immediate facility concerns. Even something like a small leak from deferred roof maintenance can lead to much larger, and more costly repairs, creating headaches for everyone involved, that could have been avoided.The Value of Commercial Roof Maintenance ProgramsThe roof protects everything inside the school—from books and computers to shop equipment and musical instruments. If a roof leaks, many items could suffer damage. At the end of the day, ensuring a quality roof through regular maintenance not only protects everything inside the building, it can also help extend the life of the roof. Moreover, some roofing system manufacturers may require regular roof inspections to maintain warranties or guarantees. A roof maintenance program can meet this requirement, providing inspection records and evidence that any issues were addressed.How to Develop a Maintenance Program for SchoolsA commercial roof maintenance program for schools isn't much different from what you already do for other commercial buildings. And while regular maintenance inspections can be completed anytime, a neglected roof can often end up requiring repairs that need to align with the school's calendar to plan for minimal disruptions to the students. This can cause inconvenient delays, or date changes that could be avoided with regular inspections and maintenance.GAF Senior Product Manager Benjamin Runyan says that it's important to identify the manufacturer of the existing roofing system to ensure you are using compatible products that won't void the warranty or guarantee. "You want to be looking at this from a maintenance standpoint," says Runyan. "What does the roof look like? How was it built? How have they been maintaining it?"To start, Runyan recommends that you inspect the entire roof system and document its condition with photos and notes. Pay particular attention to the more vulnerable areas, such as seams, fasteners, flashings, edge metal, drains, and gutters. Look for cracks, missing roofing materials, evidence of ponding water, or of birds or other animals, and signs of moss or algae. An infrared scan of the roof can determine if any moisture is present and help pinpoint areas that need immediate attention.Your program should include basic tasks such as clearing debris from drains and gutters, removing leaves or branches, and making minor repairs where existing sealants are losing pliability or are showing signs of deterioration. If you identify larger concerns, you can document that with photos and provide an estimate for the repairs. Also, note how long the repairs should take and what products you'll use.Getting Started with SchoolsPreventative maintenance programs aren't just a benefit to the schools, they can also lead to other school roofing work including re-roofing opportunities. If you're ready to add school commercial maintenance programs to your business plan, GAF has the resources you need to get started. Runyan explains, "Your first step should be talking with your GAF Territory Manager as they will likely already have established relationships with school districts, colleges, roof consultants and architects in your service area."From commercial roofing system specifications to WellRoof® Guarantee Extensions, plus roof restoration options, GAF meets all your needs for stepping into the world of educational buildings.

By Authors Karen L Edwards

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In Your Community

Supporting Latino Roofing Professionals at the 2nd Annual Latinos in Roofing Expo

Spirits were high at the second annual GAF Latinos in Roofing Expo, where more than 600 Latino roofing professionals gathered in Houston, Texas, for networking, business growth, and education seminars—all in Spanish. "To have a conference dedicated to Latinos, I love it," says Jorge Parada. "I'm sitting next to somebody that looks like me, that speaks the same language. It's a different experience from other conferences."Empowering Attendees at the Latinos in Roofing ExpoThe Latinos in Roofing Expo is one way GAF is working to level the playing field for Latino roofing professionals. Rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach, the expo provides education and resources that consider the Latino community's unique challenges. 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So, the way we do business has to feel culturally intended. Do business like Hispanics do business. Speak the language Hispanics speak," says Alan Lopez, GAF CARE training operations manager. Lopez has been a leading advocate for Latino roofing contractors at GAF and in the roofing industry as a whole.Improving Latino Roofers' Access to ResourcesMany Latino roofers have experienced disadvantages when rising in the roofing ranks because of language and/or cultural differences. For too long, the industry has pigeonholed Latinos into labor roles. As a result, Latinos are drastically underrepresented in roofing leadership, despite making up 57.7% of the roofing industry. Improving access to resources and cultural interactions is a sign of the roofing industry evolving."GAF is the front-runner in helping Latinos, because they have given us so many free resources and free seminars in Spanish," says conference attendee Junior Garcia, CEO. 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For example, GAF recognizes that female Latina roofing professionals may experience more challenges than their male counterparts. "There are a lot of challenges we [women roofing professionals] face, but there are opportunities for leadership. Now there are more resources and training and more opportunities to build our skills and build our knowledge, and be able to have the same opportunities as men," says Valeria Avila of Servi Express Roofing. GAF provides opportunities to empower women in roofing and recognizes the benefit of forming better bridges between women and the roofing industry.Resources for GrowthAlthough there is work to be done, the 2023 GAF Latinos in Roofing Expo is another step forward for the roofing industry. 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By Authors Annie Crawford

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A GAF Roofing Academy instructor shows a student how to cut and measure roofing materials.
In Your Community

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This past fall, more than 50 students participated in GAF Roofing Academy training week in Southern California. The free, week-long event united roofing leaders, contractors, and aspiring roofers, eager to learn the trade. The event concluded with a career fair, which allowed students to immediately meet with potential employers. GAF is a leading proponent of roofing education and training, providing countless opportunities like this to align industry leaders, reduce the industry labor shortage, and empower communities from the ground up with long-term, well-paying roofing opportunities.Helping the Roofing Industry and Graduates"The roofing industry is dealing with a labor shortage and lack of skilled labor," says Scott Bolt, a third-generation roofer and president of Celoseal Roofing in Orange, California. "GAF is the only manufacturer in the construction—not just the roofing but the construction—industry that is listening to the call that contractors need help. 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We've complained for years about not being able to find qualified employees, and now I've got 20 eager people knocking on my door who just spent a week learning how to roof. They want to work; they want this opportunity."The academy also fostered mutually beneficial relationships. Bolt of Celoseal Roofing worked side by side with students in his commercial low-slope roofing class. One student in the class brought him a job application, and he offered him a position with Celoseal Roofing on the spot. "Over the week, I had seen his natural potential, ambition, compassion for co-workers, and leadership skills," he says. "He's looking for a career and a change of direction in his life, and we have something to offer him. He'll onboard Monday, so we have our first recruit."Fostering a Rewarding Career PathThe GAF Roofing Academy offers a new path forward for students of all walks of life. Jacob Mosprey from Anaheim, California, worked in security for 17 years. 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By Authors Annie Crawford

January 03, 2024

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