Atlantic Roofers Limited

Mentoring and training help Atlantic Roofers retain millennials
Written by: 
Christine Fisher
Produced by: 
Victor Martins

Some of Atlantic Roofers Limited’s employees have been on the job for more than 25 years. Others are fresh out of high school. That gives the company perspective on generational shifts, and it’s seen one clear change: the next generation of roofers is asking a lot more questions.

It’s not because the millennial crews are rude or flippant. The younger workers genuinely want to learn, but the questions can come as a shock to older workers who learned in a more do-what-you’re-told manner. 

“The new generation is coming in and they want to learn,” says Yves Bradet, president and general manager.

Atlantic Roofers

“If you answer to them that, ‘you’re going to do that just ‘cause I told you so,’ that’s not going to fly, so you have to take the time to tell them why they’re doing a certain task or why they’re doing it a certain way,” Bradet says.

To help its new and long-time employees understand each other, Atlantic Roofers sends its employees to a mentorship program run by the New Brunswick Mentor Apprenticeship Program (NBMAP), which provides mentors, mentees and employers with support and best practices. Through the program, two, sometimes even three, generations learn to work together. The older employees learn how to mentor the younger crews because, as Bradet says, “the way you were taught 30 years ago, 25 years ago or 20 years ago, is different now.”

The mentorship program also helps younger employees understand that if they get a “because I said so” answer, it might be because of generational differences.

Cleaning up the trade

Bradet admits roofing is a hard sell. It’s thought of as a dirty trade. Workers, and especially new workers, don’t want to be covered in tar and asphalt when they get in their trucks to go home.

“How do you sell that to somebody when you’re trying to pick up a laborer?” he says.

When it can, Atlantic Roofers encourages clients to use materials that are faster to install and are cleaner. The industry is starting to push for asphalt-free and preassembled products, like two-part polyurethane adhesive. Bradet says that makes the job more attractive to millennial workers.

Because people today are less afraid to move from trade to trade, it’s increasingly important that Atlantic Roofers retain the employees who do give roofing a shot. Cleaner material selection and the mentorship program are two tactics. Sending staff through an apprenticeship program is another.

Atlantic Roofers supports any of its employees who want to participate in another government apprenticeship program. Through that program, workers can get certified as “Red Seal Roofers,” a designation that permits them to work as journeymen anywhere in Canada.

“Even if most of them don’t want to go anywhere else, it’s a good recognition to have,” Bradet says.

The apprenticeship is a three-year program, and roofers take one six-week course each year at a local community college. They typically take each course during the winter when the roofing business slows down.

“Not everyone wants to go through that, but whoever wants to go through it, we’ll support them,” Bradet says.

Modernizing to better serve clients

The apprenticeship program and other changes give Atlantic Roofers confidence that its crews are well-prepared, and the cleaner materials go over well with building tenants.

“A lot of clients see benefit in having that type of system too because if you have a commercial landlord, for example, with tenants, he doesn’t want to receive several calls from tenants complaining of the smell,” he says.

Clients also benefit from Atlantic Roofers’ new locations, website and customer relationship management (CRM) software.

“Originally it was great to have our [roofing] operations [in Cocagne] because the owner was from here and the workers were here,” Bradet says. “Now, with the evolution of our company, the ownership and workers are not here, so we moved our roofing operations to Moncton to better serve our clients.”

The company also moved its offices from Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. That move was, again, to better serve its clients.

Atlantic Roofers hopes its new website will better serve customers, too, and direct them where they need to go: the industrial, commercial or institutional portal.

On the technology side, the company also implemented new CRM software. That gives customers their own private project blogs, where Atlantic Roofers can shares information like invoices, roof repair progress, roof condition reports and photos.

“They’re looking for information at their fingertips, which we’re used to getting with Google and all of these search engines,” Bardet says.

He says property management firms are centralizing their service people, so fewer people are looking after more buildings. The new CRM software helps these property managers keep track of things like completed roof repairs and roof warranties. On the new project blogs, they can easily access all of that information.

“If we can make it easy for them to manage that, they’re on board 100 percent,” he says.

Some of Atlantic Roofers Limited’s employees have been on the job for more than 25 years. Others are fresh out of high school. That gives the company perspective on generational shifts, and it’s seen one clear change: the next generation of roofers is asking a lot more questions.

It’s not because the millennial crews are rude or flippant. The younger workers genuinely want to learn, but the questions can come as a shock to older workers who learned in a more do-what-you’re-told manner. 

“The new generation is coming in and they want to learn,” says Yves Bradet, president and general manager.

“If you answer to them that, ‘you’re going to do that just ‘cause I told you so,’ that’s not going to fly, so you have to take the time to tell them why they’re doing a certain task or why they’re doing it a certain way,” Bradet says.

To help its new and long-time employees understand each other, Atlantic Roofers sends its employees to a mentorship program run by the New Brunswick Mentor Apprenticeship Program (NBMAP), which provides mentors, mentees and employers with support and best practices. Through the program, two, sometimes even three, generations learn to work together. The older employees learn how to mentor the younger crews because, as Bradet says, “the way you were taught 30 years ago, 25 years ago or 20 years ago, is different now.”

The mentorship program also helps younger employees understand that if they get a “because I said so” answer, it might be because of generational differences.

Cleaning up the trade

Bradet admits roofing is a hard sell. It’s thought of as a dirty trade. Workers, and especially new workers, don’t want to be covered in tar and asphalt when they get in their trucks to go home.

“How do you sell that to somebody when you’re trying to pick up a laborer?” he says.

When it can, Atlantic Roofers encourages clients to use materials that are faster to install and are cleaner. The industry is starting to push for asphalt-free and preassembled products, like two-part polyurethane adhesive. Bradet says that makes the job more attractive to millennial workers.

Because people today are less afraid to move from trade to trade, it’s increasingly important that Atlantic Roofers retain the employees who do give roofing a shot. Cleaner material selection and the mentorship program are two tactics. Sending staff through an apprenticeship program is another.

Atlantic Roofers supports any of its employees who want to participate in another government apprenticeship program. Through that program, workers can get certified as “Red Seal Roofers,” a designation that permits them to work as journeymen anywhere in Canada.

“Even if most of them don’t want to go anywhere else, it’s a good recognition to have,” Bradet says.

The apprenticeship is a three-year program, and roofers take one six-week course each year at a local community college. They typically take each course during the winter when the roofing business slows down.

“Not everyone wants to go through that, but whoever wants to go through it, we’ll support them,” Bradet says.

Modernizing to better serve clients

The apprenticeship program and other changes give Atlantic Roofers confidence that its crews are well-prepared, and the cleaner materials go over well with building tenants.

“A lot of clients see benefit in having that type of system too because if you have a commercial landlord, for example, with tenants, he doesn’t want to receive several calls from tenants complaining of the smell,” he says.

Clients also benefit from Atlantic Roofers’ new locations, website and customer relationship management (CRM) software.

“Originally it was great to have our [roofing] operations [in Cocagne] because the owner was from here and the workers were here,” Bradet says. “Now, with the evolution of our company, the ownership and workers are not here, so we moved our roofing operations to Moncton to better serve our clients.”

The company also moved its offices from Elmsdale, Nova Scotia, to Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. That move was, again, to better serve its clients.

Atlantic Roofers hopes its new website will better serve customers, too, and direct them where they need to go: the industrial, commercial or institutional portal.

On the technology side, the company also implemented new CRM software. That gives customers their own private project blogs, where Atlantic Roofers can shares information like invoices, roof repair progress, roof condition reports and photos.

“They’re looking for information at their fingertips, which we’re used to getting with Google and all of these search engines,” Bardet says.

He says property management firms are centralizing their service people, so fewer people are looking after more buildings. The new CRM software helps these property managers keep track of things like completed roof repairs and roof warranties. On the new project blogs, they can easily access all of that information.

“If we can make it easy for them to manage that, they’re on board 100 percent,” he says.

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