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Meet Progressive Materials’ Progressive Culture - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

Meet Progressive Materials’ Progressive Culture - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
June 10, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Matt Clarke of Progressive Materials. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.

Intro: Welcome to Roofing Road Trips, the podcast that takes you on a thrilling journey across the world of roofing. From fascinating interviews with roofing experts to on the road adventures, we'll uncover the stories, innovations and challenges that shape the rooftops over our heads. So fasten your seatbelts and join us as we embark on this exciting roofing road trip.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Welcome to Roofing Road Trips from RoofersCoffeeShop. My name is Heidi Ellsworth, and we are here today to talk about one of the buzzwords that is so important. It's always been here, but today we're recognizing the companies that are really leading the way around culture. Yes, company culture is so important. It has really been one of the most important items and initiatives within the roofing industry for recruitment, retention and just overall employee happiness. So we wanted to talk to the experts at Progressive Materials about their progressive culture and what they've been doing to really make a difference, not only for their employees, but in the industry overall. So I am thrilled to welcome Matt Clarke to the show. Hello, Matt.

Matt Clarke: Hi Heidi. How are you? Thanks for having me today.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, I'm just so glad to have you here. I love this topic and I really love hearing about companies in the roofing industry. We have so many amazing companies. And so let’s kind of start there. First of all, let's start with your introduction. If you could introduce yourself and then let's talk about Progressive Materials a little bit.

Matt Clarke: Sure, yeah, I'd be happy to. My name is Matt Clarke. I'm the Eastern National Sales Manager for Progressive Materials. Been there for approximately seven years, and before that I came from a strong contracting background and basically started my career out of high school with coatings in 2002. So yeah, it's been a great road. Learned a lot, and it's been really, been just really fortunate to be a part of the Progressive Materials company. It's been just a great journey for sure.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Well, tell us a little bit about the company. Just kind of give us the overall highlights of what you do, what you produce, obviously coatings, but also kind of give us that bigger picture too of the history and kind of where you are today.

Matt Clarke: Yep. So the company was started around 2010 by Sean Stumler and he had a small scale silicone coating operation. And back in those days I had known him from the contracting side. So we had been purchasing some material through Progressive, and as time went on, the company grew, but they really had a really strong base with how to treat customers, how to treat each other, what the expectations were and everybody was on board with that. And it really, the company grew exponentially. We make great products, but we have great people too. So that hand-in-hand has really grown the business significantly since that time.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. I don't think there's anything more important than a strong customer-centric culture. And I love to hear that. I mean, the company's not that old then from 2010. And what great success have you all seen, and you know that comes from customers, how you treat your customers and really what you make your business about, customer success. So tell us a little bit more about that and your core values.

Matt Clarke: We have a really strong core values. We are really customer-centric. We love our customers. I mean, we go at the sales. We don't even really considerate it sales. I mean, we feel like family members with our customers. We look at it as a team approach. So we're all working together to get to the same goal. Their success is ultimately our success, and you have to believe that, but you have to be running the marathon and not the sprint. So we are in this for the long term. We treat our customers that way, and that's it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, that's so cool. And you can see it because I mean, just look at, you were a contractor and now you're, that really shows how much you believe in the product and in the company, and I think that speaks volumes when you see that in your employees. From a leadership standpoint in the company, how have you grown and maintained that culture? Because there's different, we look at the generations, there's different ways of thinking. What are some of your tricks to the trade?

Matt Clarke: Yeah. If I was to say it's not a challenge, I'd be lying to you. It's certainly a big challenge. I mean, first of all, you got to hire the right person. Right. So you got to get that baseline right. And what kind of makes it easier for the whole is everybody believes in our culture. It's a really strongly believed in culture, and that has a way of promoting the culture to the new people. And if they don't like it, they typically don't stay around because we are such believers in our culture, in our core values. So it's not just a poster on the wall, it's a belief. Everybody, we recite them all the time, so.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love that, what you just said too about people really have to believe in those core values or they're going to know they're not a good fit or that it's not a good fit for them.

Matt Clarke: Yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And I think sometimes we get so caught up in retention and we have to, and retention is obviously so important, but it's even more important that the people who are with the company believe in what the company purpose and how they go to the market and how they go to business. And so having you say that, that kind of just really hits home and all of a sudden now you have everybody paddling the right direction, in the same direction, rowing in the same direction. As you're kind of looking at that, what are you hearing from some of the other employees but also some of your customers about this culture that it's not just with the company, that you really extend for your customers?

Matt Clarke: They love it. I mean, we have a customer incentive trip every year, and everybody appreciates everyone. The customers is not just their sales rep. Customer service touches them and everybody, it's a big family. So president of the company reaches out Danielle, and it's a very conversational, it's a good thing. I mean, it's just like you're part of the family. It's a progressive family.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I met Danielle at National Women of Roofing last year. What an awesome lady. And she's been leading the company now, what, for a year or two?

Matt Clarke: I think three now. But yeah, she's amazing. She's a great person.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, because that's really where the culture starts, is at the top.

Matt Clarke: Yeah. Yeah. She is, yeah. We all believe in our culture. I mean, it's yeah, it's a really special thing. I mean, it really is.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Matt Clarke: But sometimes it may be hard to explain, but once everybody believes and the wheels are in motion, like you said, it's a pretty unstoppable thing.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, it goes well. Okay. So let's switch just for a second because I'm always curious on what's happening out in the market. And let's talk a little bit about some of the trends that you're seeing in the coatings market. You guys are a leader in that, and with liquid applied, everything that goes along with it. What are some of the trends you're seeing and just kind of some of the market, what's going on out there?

Matt Clarke: I've seen an increase, I think. That's multi-headed. I think that some of it is a lot more education where people thought coatings were more taboo years ago. They realize that they're sustainable option. Coatings are also a cost-effective alternative to tearing off roofs. And with higher interest rates, people are more apt to try a coating versus a full tear and replace, which is exponentially higher. And there's a lot of other good companies promoting and doing good stuff too. The education essay. It's more of accepted roofing system. And also if the economy gets tighter, then the repair business also will increase too. So we're seeing an uptick, but all good stuff.Heidi J. Ellsworth: And it seems to me like with everything that's going on, environmentally, sustainability, all of that, that is also helping to drive the use of obviously white coatings, but also restoration, roof restoration and,-

Matt Clarke: Sure.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: To your point on education, that's what we're seeing. We have so many webinars and lunch and learns and everything that are talking about that restoration and really how to do it, the right education, how well the coatings work. What are you seeing around sustainability and that kind of education?

Matt Clarke: It really resonates. People just don't, it's just education where people were tearing off roofs, we can save this. We only have to replace what's bad, and we can restore it and get you another life cycle out of it, and we can save you money. I mean, it checks a lot of boxes. So I mean, it's just getting, I mean, once people hear the facts, it's a no-brainer, but it's just getting to them and relaying the message that we're a sustainable company. These roofs all can be re-coat it at the end of their life cycle. So you can get a whole nother, I mean, in theory, you never have to tear off the entire thing ever. You just have to replace the bad areas, which makes sense, right? And that's one of the larger portions of landfills is roofing debris. So if we can help out that, then that's a great thing for our environment and people and labor, even taking care of people, like tearing off a roof is really strenuous on people. And if you can get away with coating it, that's a lot better for everything.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, and it makes it in some ways more appealing too to this younger generation coming in when they're seeing, coatings is using obviously a lot of equipment, more automation and it's a cleaner, it's really a cleaner type of roofing. What are you seeing with these young contractors? Because I'm seeing some definitely young contractors coming in who are like, yeah, this is going to work for us.

Matt Clarke: Yeah. Oh, I mean, a lot of some of the more established companies are having labor issues where they're not able to find guys. And if you need six, seven guys to tear a roof off or eight guys where you can get away with a couple less guys and doing the coatings, a guy can run a power washer and you don't need as much skilled labor, which it's been a tough thing for these guys to find the skilled labor. So if they can have a system that works and they can find the manpower to do it, and it saves the customer some money and it's sustainable and saves the environment, I mean, it's just makes the whole process a no-brainer for most.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So when I look at this, Progressive Materials has really positioned themselves to take advantage of these trends. What do you do for education of your team, of your employees so that they're delivering all these new trends, all the environmental stuff, the labor savings, everything? How do you do your training and really keep your employees up to date with being able to deliver some of these messages to the contractors in the design community?

Matt Clarke: So we have multiple educational avenues. We have a full-time trainer that can do field site, on-site training for contractors. We can do the AIAs. We have a couple of people that do AIAs to educate. Interestingly, at Progressive Materials, we have a bi-weekly educational seminar. It's called PMU. So we actually take, everybody can conference in and they pick out just different subjects about the company, like we'll have the chemistry lab talk about how it's made, or the sales people will talk how we sell it, or we kind of have these company-wide meetings, which everybody, marketing might have an angle, but everybody gets a voice and everybody gets to talk. And that really just helps everybody understand what everybody else is doing and educate the positives behind the systems and the direction we're heading.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love that. I love that. I might have to steal that idea. I think that's great, to have everybody help educate each other throughout the company. That's excellent.

Matt Clarke: Oh, it's awesome. I mean, everybody gets to talk about what they want to talk about and everybody has a voice, so it's pretty powerful.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That kind of drives right back to what we started with culture.

Matt Clarke: Yep.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It all comes together. So as you're doing this and really looking at your contractors, what kind of resources are you providing them? And also, let's talk along with the resources. Let's talk about some of that training that now you do it internally, but what are you doing with the contractors?

Matt Clarke: Well, we have one person that does external training. So their position is to train our contractors or help them out however they need. And he collaborates with the sales rep who's, is the feet on the ground. So the contractors, that's how, if the contractors need it, we'll give them whatever they need to help them succeed because everybody hears about the bad jobs and we want everybody to succeed.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. What are you hearing from your roofing contractors on kind of the status of roof restoration and kind of what they're hearing from their building owners? Is the adoption, I know we're talking about it a lot on the ownership levels and the manufacturing levels, but how far is that really starting to go all the way to the end user, to those building owners through the contractors?

Matt Clarke: It's going well. I mean, a lot of it's just the education kind of circling back. I mean, the more you educate the contractors and they can relate it to the building owners, I mean, we also do a lot of AIA presentations, so we're kind of hitting that whole portion. That's kind of like, a lot of schools, and it really just, like our whole mission kind of jives with what they're doing too, just being sustainable, not throwing things away, and trying to check all those boxes. And they run into a lot of budget concerns too. So saving some money on a roof so they can have some kind of program in school is pretty impactful too. And that's pretty awesome to be, not every situation happens that way. But yeah, it's pretty cool. I mean, it's happened. I mean, it's just fun talking to people and they're like, "Man, I wish I would've known about this years ago, and I wish I would've made these choices years ago, but better late than never."

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Yeah, and you're hearing that. That's what's so important, and we're seeing the resiliency on the durability of these systems and the opportunity for re-coats. You're right. It could be forever if it's done right, if the service and maintenance is handled. So how can contractors get involved with Progressive Materials?

Matt Clarke: Well, you just need to, I would visit our website, pmsilicone.com. On there there's a map with your local rep, or there's a form on there you could fill out to get in touch. But that would be the way to get ahold of your rep, would be the first step to figuring it all out.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And they also, everyone listening, as you already know, you can also go to the directory. Progressive Materials has a directory on RoofersCoffeeShop and on Coatings Coffee Shop, and you can get all the information there to get over to them because there's a lot of great stuff. We really, Matt, we're having so much fun with you all on the site and all of the great information and education that you're bringing. You have a great team. It's pretty awesome.

Matt Clarke: Thanks Heidi. Really appreciate you taking the time to give us a little bit of a spotlight here.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Love it. Love it. Well, Matt, we'll have you back because I'm thinking we need to talk more about silicone and all the different types of coating, so maybe we'll do that. We'll do our own little education on our next podcast.

Matt Clarke: Really looking forward to Heidi.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That sounds great. And thank you all for listening. This is just to give you that ability to see what other companies are doing around culture, education, so important. So be sure to share this podcast out to your whole company and to other friends and family within the roofing industry. Of course. Thank you also, starting over. Be sure to listen to all of our podcasts under the RLW navigation of our websites, under looking for Roofing Road Trips or on your favorite podcast channel. Be sure to subscribe and set those notifications so you don't miss a single episode. We'll be seeing you next time on Roofing Road Trips.

Outro: If you've enjoyed the ride, don't forget to hit that subscribe button and join us on every roofing adventure. Make sure to visit rooferscoffeeshop.com to learn more. Thanks for tuning in, and we'll catch you on the next Roofing Road trip.



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