Notes from the NRCA Fall Conference

I had the opportunity to attend the NRCA’s fall conference in Washington DC the week of October 18. Here are some of my takeaways:

  • In general, the attendees were not positive on the short-term future. The overall feeling is that trucking, raw materials, and a decline in demand will make 2011 similar to 2010. Contrary to much of the industry, I’m pleased to report that Duro-Last is having a good year; we are showing solid growth over 2009.
  • NRCA Executive Vice President Bill Good said that some regions and markets are years away from any type of growth. He commended companies as “doing well” if they are seeing growth volume at all in their businesses.
  • An NRCA lobbyist discussed the activities they are working on with Congress and the “insiders” view on the upcoming elections. He feels that Republicans will get 39-45 seats in the House and seven seats in the Senate.
  • An OSHA representative from the Obama administration said that there will be changes with respect to fall protection next year, some prompted by NRCA lobbying. There will also be sweeping changes with respect to crane safety standards – a topic that is important to anyone with a crane of any size. Safety regulations concerning loading roofs will change and contractors with cranes will need to learn them.
  • There was a lot of talk about solar and renewable energy. Rhone Resch, President of the Solar Energy Industries Association, made several points, including:
    • There are 93,000 solar jobs in the US. Resch used Hemlock Semiconductor (based in Saginaw County, Michigan) as an example of solar growth.
    • Solar output in 2010 will grow 100% and another 100% in 2011.
    • Residential systems now comprise 50% of solar wattage installed. This is because incentives are now more favorable for residential installations in the United States and because a large portion of corporate America has lost its tax appetite the past two years.
    • Cumulative Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for solar is expected to be 24% through 2015.
    • The solar industry needs to be subsidy-free by 2016. This is dependent on scale; the volume needs to grow at the current pace or better.
    • Roofers that have included solar as an offering have seen revenues grow 36-50%.
    • Integrators, roofers, designers, raw material manufacturers and others are profitable, but panel providers are losing billions. However, the industry is too big to fail, and this will change the next three to four years.
    • Solar installation volumes are still concentrated in the states with the best incentives.