Roofing is considered the 4th most dangerous job in the United States (Western States Roofing Contractors Association). No one wants to roof forever but when does a roofer decide they’ve worked long enough? When they can no longer climb a ladder? When their knees ache from cramped positions? When their back gives out from hauling material? In a profession where physical attributes are necessary for daily work, aging catches up and makes any roofer ask, “when will ever I get off the roof”?

Working Through the Prime of Your Life

Craig Hardin, 40, is welcoming his 4th child in the next few months. Owning his own company, there is a necessary drive to support his family. As much as he’d like to get away from the endless ladder climbs, he mentally knows that his skillset of roofing will be the provider. This leaves him in a delicate position knowing that roofing is not a profession that gets easier as you age. He is forced to ask himself what his future holds and how is he going to prepare for it.

Before engaging in this meta life decision, it’s important to understand the WHY behind the passion of roofing using Craig’s example. Having years of experience in the carpentry trade, he knew he was good with his hands. Metal roofing became his area of expertise as he learned the folding techniques through zinc classes and trial and error. Craig became a student of the traditional roofing techniques by tearing off old roofs throughout historic Maryland areas. He started his own company to have total control over his future which is not a foreign thought to most roofers once they acquire a skillset.

The challenges of owning one’s own roofing business comes with far more than only roofing. Learning how to bid a job profitably is crucial. Running books is another aspect that easily gets overlooked. Procuring materials for upcoming jobs as prices fluctuate is necessary. Hiring help is critical to reduce too much time being spent on jobs. So, to go along with the physical aspect of roofing, running a business successfully is a skillset that must be adopted.

A Standing Seam Enthusiast

Craig is not your ordinary roofer. He knows he can make more money stapling down shingles but what he’s doing is different. He’s hand crafting a metal roof that is providing decades of protection to the homeowner. A roof is not a piece of art that provides little value to world, it’s his creative outlet to the world while also providing a benefit to society. This fulfillment is what keeps bringing him back to the task at hand.

He know there’s more money in different areas of the country but he’s a family man looking to stay close to home. He wants to be the one to raise his kids and be their role model. Building a roofing company that has many workers and turns him to a salesman is not who he is. He’s a roofer at heart. Which has him asking the same questions that many of the people who are reading this post ask? What’s next?

Can I design a new product? Can I start a consultation business? How can I provide for my family when I’m not on a roof? These are the thoughts that emerge after he’s seamed his 30th panel of the day knowing that he’ll get through this job, but what about the next? And the next after that? In such a demanding profession, it’s tough to know.

He invited me on a job site recently and I saw a one-man army take down a complicated roof by himself. No workers because he doesn’t want to deal with the BS that comes along. It was an impressive display of a hard day’s work and I walked away with a greater appreciation for what it takes to be a roofer. It inspired me to share his work ethic with the rest of the community because it was that spectacular. I don’t expect this post to bring a light to the end of the tunnel, but in this specific niche market of traditional / architectural sheet metal roofing, expertise doesn’t go unnoticed and there will be opportunities that you won’t see coming. I hope this post continues to motivate those out there that are working hard day in and out.

If this post resonates with you, feel free to share your thoughts. We’d love to hear them.