Opinions on Roofing

Christina Koch, Editor in Chief of Carolinas Roofing magazine asked me to be on the advisory board of her magazine.  Since I enjoy writing articles about metal roofing, and having been in this industry for over 37 years, I immediately accepted her invitation.  Then she made the mistake of asking me to provide a “short opinion-based piece” for the upcoming issue.  Those that know me know that I always have an opinion!

Opinion #1Roofing is a great business!!!

I have been in the construction/roofing business since graduation from The Ohio State University Engineering School in 1973.  I graduated from the half of the class that made the top half possible.  I have had a blessed and productive life, complete with a wonderful wife of 37 years, two (2) great children, two (2) great spouses for my kids, and one (1) beautiful granddaughter.  The roofing business has allowed me to provide for my family well.  We haven’t missed any meals, even though we have gone through good and bad times.  I put my faith in this industry and it has not failed me.

Opinion #2 – Be passionate about your work.

My father told me to find a profession that I could be passionate about and it would take care of me for life.  I have followed that advice throughout my life, always being extremely passionate about the metal roofing market and its infinite potential, and it has never let me down.  If you are in the roofing industry only to make money, and you don’t have a deep passion for whatever area you are involved with, you will find the going very tough and inconsistent.  Find that niche in the market (mine is metal) and strive to be the best that you can be.  Not better that someone else, but the best you can be!  You will find that your personal rewards, including financial returns, will be proportional to your passion.

Opinion #3 – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Without being too “preachy”, I want to get the message across that every business as well as personal action should be weighed against this paraphrased Bible verse.  Treating your employees, customers, and family like you would like to be treated will give you a sense of peace that permeates your very soul.  You can be proud and humble at the same time and earn the respect of those around you, while at the same time being extremely productive in all of your business ventures.

Opinion #4 – Make the world a better place than you found it.

Through your involvement in the roofing industry, contribute to a better business and personal climate around you.  If we all did that, the whole world could be changed for the better.  Take care of the way you lead your life and your little piece of the world will be better.  You cannot change the whole picture, but you can change your piece for the better of the whole.  As a mentor of mine told me years ago, “Don’t take yourself too seriously”.  Take care of what has been given to you to effect, and make it better than you found it.

I look forward to contributing to Carolinas Roofing magazine in the months and years to come and will always welcome comments (good and bad) from anyone.  The best way to communicate with me is via email at chuck@metalroofconsultants.net.

Okay, now we will see if Christina asks for my opinion again!

6 Steps To Business Success

This week I climbed through a roof hatch in an elementary school in eastern North Carolina.  On top, I found a flat, ballasted single ply roof that badly needed replacing.  The school district had retained Bill Bilger with Bilger Engineering to create a bid package to add pitch to this roof and add a metal standing seam roof.  They were tying into another metal roof that was over 20 years old.  Across the street was a metal roof I had done for them 16 years earlier.  I was surrounded by metal roofs and that was exciting to me.  As I stood on this roof, I reflected how blessed I have been to still get excited about being in the metal roofing market.

In a previous article I talked about the four (4) S’s of a person’s life and/or a business life that we all experience.  To refresh your memory they are: Survival, Stability, Success, and Significance.  Stop for a moment — Relax your mind — What moments come to mind?  Are you comfortable with the amount of “significant” moments that populate your thoughts, or, are your thoughts cluttered with details about survival, stability, and success? Are you excited about what you are doing now, or just in the survival mode?

I challenge you to GET EXCITED!!!! about your life and business career.

When we are young, we see ourselves as growing up to be firemen, cowboys, nurses, doctors, or others individuals who seem to lead exciting lives.  At that time in our lives, “exciting” is a word that we may not understand, but its meaning is the center of our young universe.  As we grow older and start to mature in worldly things, we put our thoughts on things like “responsibility” and ‘reason”.  When we actually enter the work force, responsibility completely overshadows our “exciting” days of our recent past.  We are taught that we should work hard to support ourselves and our families at a job where we can make enough money to enjoy basics like food and shelter (survival stage), while having enough left over to do some fun things on weekends and vacations (stability stage).  What happened to the “exciting” thoughts that dominated our lives a few years back?  Do we have no choice but to take the job that will support us and our families, even if it is not very exciting or interesting?  NO!!!!

When I was growing up, my father always told me to find something in life that excited me and then pursue it diligently.  I have been in the metal roofing business since 1973 and can say that I have always maintained a genuine excitement about the industry.  I have survived, become somewhat stable, attained a certain level of success, and hopefully have added a certain degree of significance to the industry.  Throughout my career, I have identified six (6) personal characteristics that have helped me to achieve all four S’s.  They are as follows:

1. Expect Success

Expect to succeed in everything you do.  That is not to say that you will always, or even most of the time, succeed.  It is to say, though, that you should enter every venture expecting to be successful.  Be as prepared as possible and see yourself accomplishing the task, project, or career.  It is extremely difficult to accomplish positive results if you are thinking of negative results.  “See” the ball clearing the water; the customer signing the contract; you and your spouse on the beach in St. Thomas.  Your chances of actually being successful increases exponentially with your positive attitude about its achievement.  Remember, success is a path and not a destination.  If you do not reach the level you expected, learn from the experience.  That in itself is being successful.

2. No Exit Plan

Never create an exit plan!  Only think about how you will accomplish your plan and what positive actions you will take.  As soon as you let an exit plan enter into your thinking, your mind tends to drift to that exit strategy whenever the going gets tough.  Concentrate all your energy on how you will succeed and how you will feel after your new success.  You have the ultimate choice on your actions.  If you spend your time and energy moving toward your exit plan, there will not be enough left over to insure success.

3. Set Your Own Bar

Determine what you want to accomplish – and the level of that accomplishment – based on your own feelings and expectations.  Set your own limits, and judge yourself on your own standards.  Unfortunately, the world imposes certain limits and minimums (financial ratios, hours worked, borrowing capacity, credit score, etc.), but you should view those as merely necessary to reach your own, and more important, limits.  Look inside yourself and set your own personal goals based on what you truly know you can do.  Do not let others establish those goals for you.  Believe in yourself and know that you can succeed in anything that you can believe in (a simple thought so eloquently expressed by Napoleon Hill many years ago).  Set your bar high and soar to clear it.

4. Don’t Ever Give Up

As the late Jimmy Valvano said in 1993, “Don’t ever, ever give up”.  It is always easy to blame others, the weather, lack of money, bad luck and many other excuses for not getting the results we expect.  The main reason for most failures, however, is just plain “giving up”.  It seems much easier to just stop when the tough times come (and they always come), but the truly successful person that is striving to make a significant difference does not give in to the seduction of failure.  If a dream is important to you – don’t ever give up on its fulfillment.

5. Develop Great People Skills

While this characteristic may seem rather mundane compared to the others, it may well be the most important.  Whatever your dreams and aspirations in life, you will have to be able to effectively communicate with and work in cooperation with other people.  We all need to be able to help each other in our individual quests for success.  To be able to give and receive the most help, you need to understand others points of views, while at the same time expressing your point of view in a non-threatening manner.  It is a skill that can be learned and it can definitely always be improved upon.  Practicing this characteristic is where you just might find the most significant moments.

6. Listen to Your “Force”:

I am a Christian and believe that there is a Divine spirit that flows through all mankind.  While you may have a different belief of where this “force” within you comes from, you all know that it exists.  It is deep within us all and is always there to guide us, if we are open to asking.  Find a quiet place.  Get quiet.  Relax your mind.  Listen to this internal “force”.  From the Star Wars movie; “Episode I. The Phantom Menace”, Luke Skywalker is told to “Concentrate on the moment.  Feel, don’t think.  Use your instincts”.  From Proverbs 3:5-6, New King James Version, we are told to “Trust in the Lord . . . and he shall direct your paths”.  The “force” is within us all.  Embrace it, listen to it, and you will find a direction and peace that will transcend all worldly problems.  It is something that is truly exciting.

It is always your choice.  You can choose to feel that you are doomed to take a life path that is dictated by circumstances and conditions beyond your control.  Or, you have the ability to find a career path, spouse, hobbies, and beliefs that you are truly excited about.  OK, now, GET EXCITED!!!

The Four S’s of Business and Life

At a recent men’s group meeting at my church, the leader of our fellowship spoke of the four (4) S’s of business and life.  Of course, I immediately thought he was speaking of structural standing seam surfaces, only to be amazed that all analogies do not automatically refer to metal roofing.  As he explained what the four (4) S’s were, I soon realized that these letters symbolized something much more meaningful that our beloved “tin roofs”.  They represent four (4) stages of a person’s or business’ life that should always be followed for the journey to be worth while.  Let’s explore these simple letters and see how they help define our life’s journey.

The first “S” stands for survival.  All of us start our many phases of our lives in a survival mode.  It is necessary to obtain the basics necessary to just exist.  In a business sense, this is when we realize that our sales budgets were too aggressive and our overhead budgets were too low.  We are just trying to survive in order to make payroll and pay rent one more time.  It is a very stressful time filled with doubt, but also conviction that we can adjust and accomplish enough right to at least survive.  All of our grand schemes and plans are reduced to the bare basics during this time, because we quickly realize the reality that survival must be obtained, before any further progress can be made.

The next “S” stands for stability.  After we have survived a personal or business “start-up”, we now strive to be able to stand on our own in a stable manner.  That means developing procedures, systems, and plans that will produce a positive and sustainable direction for your company and/or life path.  Without stability we live in chaos, without any purpose and expectation to consistently reach goals.

The third “S” stands for success.  Now this phase of our development is definitely the most deceiving.  We have the illusion that there is a place called success that we can reach.  It is imagined to be a place where we can rest and enjoy the fruits of all of our labors.  We work hard for this success, have glimpses of what we think might be success, and are continually disappointed that this place is extremely elusive.  I have heard success as being equated to a finish line in a race that is continually moving.  It is during this continual chasing of the moving finish line that we start to believe that we are pretty smart.  We know our trade by then and have had several successful conclusions to projects.  We start believing that we are in control of all elements of our lives and businesses and we can create this success.  We start cutting corners, treating our employees like employees and not business partners, and cannot understand why everyone does not immediately and without question embrace everything we say.  This success place becomes our false idol.  We struggle in this phase until, one day, we realize that success is a path and not a destination.  When we frame it that way, it is a worthwhile goal to find a success path.  One that will have all the turns, ups and downs, smooth and rough spots that any man-made road has.  However, if we put all of our dreams in obtaining a “success place”, the path will be very difficult and discouraging.  I have thought that I had achieved success, only to realize in a relatively short time that this illusion can quickly evaporate.

The final, and most important “S”, stands for significance.  This is by far the most important and lasting of the four (4) S’s.  Significance represents the things that we do that make a lasting effect on us and those that we touch.  Someone recently told me that we are doing something significant when we do something for someone that has no way to repay us.  It is helping another human in a way that makes a positive and lasting effect on them.  I received an email from a person that had worked for my company in the early 1980’s as a draftsman.  I did not remember him when I received the email.  He related how he considered me a mentor and explained in very precise detail the day he left and the encouraging words I had left with him.  He now has a very successful computer software business with offices throughout the USA and Canada.  The important part is not what I said or did, but that it had a profound effect on him in a way that helped him reach even greater heights.  On a note that will be understood by the readers of Metal Marketplace, think of the significance that Wally Schultz brought to the metal roofing industry and to each of us that was fortunate to know him personally.  That significance is and will continue to live on through all of us.

Throughout my personal life and business career I have had to fight for survival many times.  I have been fortunate enough to feel stable, if even for a seemingly fleeting moment.  I have created grand plans to attempt to achieve success, even though it has always seemed just one more job away.  I have had much fewer brushes with significance, but hold them much dearer that accomplishments associated with the other three (3) S’s.  My parents, wife and children have been significant to me.  I trust that I have honored that significance with actions that have been significant to them.  But more than anything, I try to be significant to everyone I meet in personal and business settings.  If I occasionally succeed, then I have obtained something much more that success.