Is it important to you that the natural slate industry not only survives, but thrives? The next few years will be a turning point of prosperity within the industry if we can work together to achieve common goals. First we must outline a few of the issues, understand the mentality behind the purchasing decision, and then communicate effectively how to spread the message.

1. Understand the Obstacles

  1. Quarry Labor – Finding workers for a hard-nosed job producing slate in the quarries domestically is slim pickings. This affects material output, and if supply doesn’t keep up with demand, the industry will suffer.
  2. Contractor Knowledge – Slate expertise is not being passed down by word of mouth, generation to generation, as often. This leads to less newcomers putting on slate roofs.
  3. Incorrect Installations – This damages the reputation of the finest roofing material available because of unqualified contractors. One bad roof in a neighborhood scares off future business.
  4. Long Term Home Building – Perhaps the biggest detriment to slate is not building homes to last generations. Europeans and our American forefathers built structures that stood for centuries with solid materials. Today’s buildings are built cheaply and quickly with inferior materials.

Complete cohesion within the industry is necessary to achieve the desired results

2. The Golden Circle – Ask Why?

Stealing Simon Sinek’s phrase about the Golden Circle, “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it“. This means that the reason behind why someone would install a slate roof is the most important factor behind the buying decision. In real life, it’s not so simple as factors such as cost, practicality, insurance, and future outlook affect this question.

Let’s apply this thought to the slate industry within 2 main categories, the homeowner and the contractor.

Homeowners – Why invest in a slate roof? Protection. Longevity. Eco Friendly. Aesthetics. These are a few of the benefits but couldn’t the why be because you want to construct the best possible roof that will ease the well being of future generations? Common place American thinking is use and throw away. This is why slate as a material is not considered as often because the initial outlay of money is high, and people want cheap. Add to the problem that roofers who don’t know how to correctly install slate will push unknowing homeowners to lesser roofing materials.

Contractors – Upholding a centuries old tradition of installing slate is prideful. Knowing that you are installing a roof that is going to last 100 years is not only beneficial to the homeowner, but reflects on the mastery of the craftsman. As this concept weakens to future generations, slate roof contractors become less and less. It’s time to usher in an era where the profession of a “slater” should be revered once again.

3. National Slate Association Conference – Collaboration

The National Slate Association Conference will take place in Saratoga Springs / Slate Valley on October 6th – 9th, 2022. This is one of the few industry events that is looking to boost the exposure of natural slate on a greater scale. Aside from events like visiting quarries, the historical slate museum, and industry speakers, the National Roofer’s Contractor Association will be there to continue progressing the Slate Procertification project.

Getting ProCertified as a roofing contractor is passing a comprehensive test that proves skills as a slate roofer. The NRCA diligently works through all aspects of the profession and creates a test to evaluate proficiency. The entire industry benefits from this as installation standards improve, homeowners can select contractors who they know are qualified, and the slaters can know that they’ve passed an exam that proves they are experts in their trade.

The NSA event will bring together the slate industry to help set the course for the future. The idea that the NSA helps promote the industry nationally, the SRCA offers slate training installation, and the NRCA puts together the program to certify the roofer’s ability is a flow that has not been achieved. Meeting in person at an event like this is what the industry needs and we want to hear your voice. Consider joining the industry in Saratoga Springs in October.

Please leave a comment if this post means something to you or email me directly at tom@stortz.com

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