Recent data from National Women in Roofing shows women make up just 0.5% of professionals in the roofing industry. While more women have entered the trade, the industry still faces a large gender disparity.
There is plenty of room for women in roofing: just ask Ami Feller, owner of Feller Roofing in New Braunfels, Texas.
Getting a Start in Roofing
Feller believes that roofing has one of the lowest barriers to entry in the trades and that many existing skills can translate well to the industry. She can speak from experience, having first worked with her brother Scott's roofing crew in Iowa in the late 1990s. She began on the ground as part of the cleanup crew—but on one job, she offered to go up to the roof. She instantly fell in love.
"My favorite thing in the world is being on top of a roof and being able to see for miles, especially if it's overlooking a lake," says Feller. "It's so quiet and peaceful."
Feller soon became crew foreman and eventually ran the operations side of her brother's company. After gaining valuable business and management experience at other companies, including DHL Express and Coca-Cola, she founded Feller Roofing in 2016.
"Running a roofing company has been the biggest, most difficult thing I have ever done, but it's very rewarding," says Feller. "I love the people, the customers."
Offering a Helping Hand
Feller also loves empowering other women in roofing to succeed.
Determined to help women break free of minimum-wage jobs and step into a promising career in the roofing trade, she reached out to her local Facebook moms group to get ideas and encouragement about forming an all-women crew.
"I'd been thinking about doing this for a long time, so I asked the group if they thought I could do it," she recalls. "Many women told me, 'You can do this; I know someone who would be interested,' so they're really the ones that gave me that final push to do it." She took action— recording and posting a video on her company's Facebook page, encouraging women to apply for the opportunity to be trained in the trade and become part of Feller's crew.
Learning from the Pros
Four of Feller's employees made up the first all-women crew to enroll in and graduate from the GAF Roofing Academy last November. Though relatively new to roofing, they have been getting rave reviews from local customers, and Feller says she is delighted with their progress. She has since hired three more women roofers: she's training them on-site and plans to enroll them in an upcoming GAF Roofing Academy program soon.
The GAF Roofing Academy, which is open to anyone at any level of experience, consists of two weeks of entry-level training followed by on-the-job training. GAF offers this tuition-free program to aspiring roofers to help to bring more qualified talent into the industry.
"My women loved it; it gave them an opportunity to do some hands-on work because they didn't know anything about roofing at all," says Feller. "It was nice to have that hands-on help and learn the concepts of how everything works. Our GAF trainer, Felix Rosario, was awesome."
"The Roofing Academy team is committed to providing professional hands on training to anyone who is interested in a career in roofing," says Brian Cornelius, Roofing Academy Program Director. "Women have a lot to offer the roofing industry, and we encourage all women who are interested to sign up and see what a roofing career has to offer."
After graduating from the GAF Roofing Academy, new roofers are given access to job opportunities through GAF WorkBelt, a roofing-specific job search platform designed to match qualified roofers with contractors who are hiring in their local area. Contractors like Ami who are looking to expand their crew can set up a profile on GAF WorkBelt and attract newly trained roofers to their company.
Building a Brighter Future
Today, Feller's business is a GAF Master Elite contractor* in both residential and commercial roofing applications. She has a fleet of eight, and her hot pink truck says "Home of the Roofer Chick."
"I drive all over town and say to myself, 'I did that roof, and that roof, and that roof.' There's an extreme sense of satisfaction," says Feller. "I also like that I don't miss my kid's life—choir concerts or softball games—and I don't want my employees to, either."
As a single mother, Feller feels confident in her career and chosen industry.
"I see women out there who are struggling. They may not have education or skills, and they're barely getting by. And I know they don't have to live like that," she says. "With roofing, you don't have to go to school for two years or get a college education. You can just start and go, so I'm trying to share that with other women."
Feller is confident about the impact that women in roofing can have in their communities.
"Women definitely can do this! Roofing is a career with so many options and paths, so I would advise women not to be intimidated," she says. "It's hard work, but it's extremely satisfying—and it can definitely be done."
*Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products