I believe in roofing contractors. Their work is at once ubiquitous and obscure. Roofing is visible everywhere, but few know much about roofing work, such as the incredible risks roofing contractors and roofers take every day.
Roofing contractors must possess skills in a broad spectrum of disciplines in order to bid on jobs, win contracts, and install their product. The good ones are masters of math, algebra and geometry. Their command of engineering and physics are things to behold. Just bidding on roofing work is risky on a good day.
Once a contract is secured, the act of physically installing roofs is even more risky. In this country, on average, a roofing-industry worker dies every four days. A worksite injury is sustained every three and a half minutes. These figures are in a continuous state of improvement, but roofing remains the sixth most dangerous business in the United States.
Regardless what a building is designed to be, they are all designed to keep good clean air in and wind, rain, and moisture out. Roofing contractors build the systems that provide the primary shield of protection for the interior environment and indeed the rest of the structure — a simple but important factor since shelter, along with air, water, clothing, and food, is a basic human need.
In a world concerned with energy consumption and global climate change, the role of roofing contractors becomes even more important. Building roofs just to keep out the wind and rain is a thing of the past. Today’s roof is expected to keep the building safe from not only normal weather events, but the unexpected, such as extreme winds and hail. Today’s roof must make accommodations for more and better insulation, and reflecting the suns damaging rays.
Roofing has advanced along with the rest of the technological world. At the same time, roofing systems that have been available for centuries remain available today. Roofing contractors must maintain the ability to install them all. While many assume roofers are poorly educated, the truth is their education begins the day they start work in the roofing industry and does not end until they retire or leave the field.
It has been my privilege to work in service to roofing contractors since 1974. In spite of what many folks think of roofing contractors and roofers, I believe it is important to recognize the incredible risks they take in the process of providing us all with clean, dry spaces. Not only do they meet demands for style and performance, but they even mount solar collectors or plant gardens on the roofs they build to help make our outside world as clean as the inside. They do all these things based on their eternal optimism and near blindness to risk.
I have always felt blessed to play a small role in the roofing industry. With a little luck I will serve many more years, because I respect and believe in roofing contractors and the important work they do.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.