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By Gary Thill
NRCA, along with a coalition of 13 other industry associations, this month is launching the first regional and national forecasting survey for the U.S. and Canada to help manufacturers and contractors better assess market demand and material supply needs, according to NRCA CEO Reid Ribble.
“For the first time ever, we’re actually going to create real data so the industry can forecast for itself,” Ribble said. “We’re really trying to unify the industry around ideas all of us can benefit from and that we can all work on collectively.”
Ribble said the so-far-unnamed monthly forecast will begin on Oct. 13 during NRCA’s townhall conference call, which is expected to draw thousands of participants. During the call, attendees will be asked three basic "up," "down" or "same" market questions for inquiries, contracted work and contracted sales over the past month, quarter and year that will form the backbone of the forecast. Ribble said roofing company executives should be able to answer the questions in about 10 minutes.
The forecast will break the United States into eight different regions and Canada into its respective provinces. An outside firm is building a website that will have access to the data for those who participate, Ribble said.
Along with NRCA members, the forecast will include members of the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA); Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA); Chemical Fabrics and Film Association (CFFA); Cedar Shake & Shingle Bureau (CSSB); International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC); Maruhachi Ceramics of America, Inc. (MCA); National Women in Roofing (NWiR); Roof Coatings Manufacturers Association (RCMA); the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA); Single Ply Roofing Industry (SPRI); The Slate Roofing Contractors Association of North America, Inc. (SRCA); and Tile Roofing Alliance (TRI).
“We’re working more collaboratively now than I can ever remember,” Ribble said. “This is the first time we’ve seen the entire industry lock arms like this.” He said the uncertainty the pandemic created encouraged the groups to work together, but that the effort has been going on since he became CEO in 2017.
While industry data has been available, most was related to new construction. But Ribble said 80% of roofers do reroofing work, which doesn’t get reflected in that data. Historically, manufacturers and contractors were reluctant to share information with each other and among their peers due to competitive fears, Ribble added. The problem has been compounded by increasingly volatile weather, such as Hurricane Delta, which creates nationwide supply problems.
Without forecasting data, manufacturers have been left to guestimate market demand, sometimes leading to supply issues and rapid price increases. But with forecasting data, manufacturers can better predict demand for more consistent price, supply and delivery on all the components roofers need from shingles to screws.
“Information on industry trends, especially in the critical sector of reroofing, can assist manufacturers in better understanding how demand for certain products may shift over time,” said Justin Kosher, PIMA president. “This in turn helps improve the efficiency of the overall roofing industry value chain, from raw materials to product manufacturing to install. A win-win for all industry stakeholders.”
Contractors, meanwhile, will have a measure to see how they’re doing compared to others along with a tool to help determine future demand. “This is going to elevate the entire industry,” Ribble said.