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The Power of Proper Training - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT

The Power of Proper Training - PODCAST TRANSCRIPT
February 29, 2024 at 12:00 p.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with Johnny Walker from APOC. You can read the interview below, listen to the podcast, or watch it on YouTube.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello, and welcome to the very first Coatings Talk from CoatingsCoffeeShop, brought to you by APOC. My name is Heidi Ellsworth, and we are here today to talk about everything coatings. And of course, where do you start? You start with training. So we are very excited to have Johnny Walker with APOC, the National Technical Manager of Roofing and Waterproofing, with us today. Hello, Johnny.

Johnny Walker: Hello, Heidi. Thank you for having me.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We are so excited. So before we start off, let's go through a little bit of housekeeping. First of all, this is being recorded and will be available within 24 hours for you to share out to the industry, with your friends, your family, your other roofing professionals, so they can learn more about the coatings industry and specifically about training.

We also have the chat open, so please tell us where you're from, what you do, what kind of company you have. We'd love to have the chat, and feel free to make comments throughout the entire, or ask questions, throughout the entire presentation. We'll be sure to involve you in this great discussion.

So let's get started. First, as I've already said, welcome to Johnny Walker. But Johnny, can you introduce yourself and tell everybody a little bit about you and APOC?

Johnny Walker: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm the National Technical Manager for APOC Roofing and Waterproofing. I've been with APOC about 14 years now. I started as Southeast District Sales Manager, and I've kind of mixed around in my roofing career, and my professional career in general. I've always been in management, and always in a technical role. I worked for a casino as a facilities manager there, and in that we did roofing and siding and waterproofing. You name it, we did it-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Everything.

Johnny Walker: ... in the maintenance department. So I've been in roofing, in one form or another, I know I'm giving away my age a little bit, but pushing 40 years. Started out picking up shingles off the ground, then I did some tear off of shingles and then went into distribution. Ran coatings jobs, was an independent rep, a manufacturer's rep, a sales director and now it's National Technical Manager. So long, long history with all different types of roofing, from repair to restoration, to full new tear offs.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I'm telling you, your experience, Johnny. I've been able to spend time with you on several different videos, webinars, podcasts. I'm always, I just love it. So thank you so much for being here today-

Johnny Walker: I'm honored.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: ... and for APOC being such an amazing sponsor. I love it. And we're seeing all kinds of people coming in through the chat. So thank you everybody for sharing who you are, where you're from. We're excited. The chat is open. We did have one question that I just want to make sure that we let everybody know, we asked, "Where can you find this?" So you can find all the future Coatings Talks on CoatingsCoffeeShop, underneath the RLW, Read, Listen, Watch, segment of navigation. And you'll see Coatings Talk there. This is our first, so we are very excited about it, and we are launching it off with a lot of people in here visiting, and I'm seeing a lot of names that I know. Hello everybody, this is great. So let's get started.

Johnny Walker: No pressure on the first one.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: No pressure. There's a lot of people you know on here, Johnny. Okay, so what I'd like to start out with is really, the state of training in the industry. So what are you seeing? In fact, Johnny, you and I were just on a call earlier this morning and one of the first things that came up was the importance of training, and quality. What are you seeing in the industry?

Johnny Walker: So obviously training is key, and its so many factors to it, whether it's safety, proper application. We see that, in our industry, that improper training leads to so much liability and so much just bad feelings about restorations in general, coatings. Like they're really good systems, but they are truly systems. You can't just paint the roof. And that all starts with training. I mean, it is in high demand. And also, to talk about labor shortage as separate bullet point here, but right now the roofing industry in general, it's really hurting. I mean, all of commercial industry, construction industry, they're hurting so bad for good, qualified, trained people. And having the ability to train and get out there, and not just the guy out in the field, but the people who are selling it as well. We don't want them to misrepresent, make sure that they understand what a system is, versus just painting a reflective coating on a roof.

So getting that, and of course using technology, we're seeing, what did we do during COVID? We all ended up to be experts at Teams and Zoom, and all of the other platforms, and that was a technology thing. And it was new to a lot of people then, and we're still using it today. So using technology like this, different sales tools, different technology tools, to get out there. We're starting to see a lot of drone usage in the industry, and that has its own training rules. There's a lot of liability related with drones.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Johnny Walker: Drone inspections and making sure that training also covers your liability aspect of it. "Can we do this? Should we do this? What's the liability involved?"

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, and it seems like, I mean, I know some people would say liquid applied systems, coatings, they're all the same. But we know that's not true, and there's just a lot of training that also I think is, I'm seeing out there industry-wide, on the different types of systems. And really building up that roof restoration, or that full system, liquid applied system. I hear a lot about that, Johnny, that's going on.

Johnny Walker: Yeah, absolutely. When we talk about a system, what is a system? A system is properly prepped, properly primed, properly patched. I mean, made watertight, and then properly protected. So it's a lot of Ps there, but to get to that true waterproof... I ask people all the time, "What is the main function of your roof?" To keep the elements out. And if you're just painting the roof, and unfortunately there's a lot of people out there, I use the analogy of Chuck in a truck. That they're just going out there selling a bucket of coating on a roof as, "Hey, I'm going to waterproof your roof." And that gives the industry a bad name, because the roof still leaks. And of course they think it's a product failure, and it's not. Maybe Chuck wasn't properly trained, he didn't understand the steps that he had to go through. "I didn't know I needed to do these. I didn't know I needed to reinforce around pipes or penetrations, or maybe these seems to be stripped in," and all those types of things. And really understanding that.

And then also, with the technology side of that, understanding is the roof restorable? Training on, how do we determine that? "Is your roof even a candidate for restoration?" There's some roofs that just need to be torn off. They just need to be replaced.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, training is not what it used to be. When you just say, "Okay, we're going to just sit down," but there's training... And I love what you just said, when we look at the state of the industry, it's all across the board. It starts at the ownership level, through sales, production, service departments, the whole nine yards. And so that training has really taken on, as with everything in this day and age, a whole new level.

Johnny Walker: Yeah, a hundred percent. I fully agree.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And so, I think one of the things to really... What does training look like today? So I was kind of leading you there, but what does training look like today? So yeah, what does it look like for you, Johnny? Because you do this every day.

Johnny Walker: Yeah, we do, we do. For us, we do virtual training, like we're doing now. We do a lot of hands-on, we have classrooms, several different locations in the country. And to really get to, who are we training? And what are we training? Because what I train a counter salesman might be different than how I train the contractor applying it. And how I train the building owner on diversifying his business with fluid applied restorations, is going to be different than how I train the installer actually applying it.

So we have multiple different classes that we do, depending on what that person needs to learn, what part they're taking in it. Our industry is a multipart, right? So whether we sell through distribution, whether the contractor, you have a contractor buying through distribution, he's dealing with that salesperson, maybe the inside and outside. They all need to be trained and understand, because we don't want them to over-promise and under-specify, right? We want to make sure that they understand what a system is, and how it goes right.

And then ensuring that the guys actually applying are getting trained, and certifying those applicators, that they've been through our training course. And they've done the hands-on, and they've done all the pipe penetrations and field seams and scuppers and drains and curbs and base flashings, and they understand how that all works and how that gets repaired.

So we do a lot, I mean a lot, a lot of in-person. We schedule all the time. We've got training classes pretty much every month that we list on our website, and it's a simple registration. You attend virtual, I do multiple webinars or Teams calls every week, throughout the country. It's just the easiest way to get to somebody quickly. And of course, utilizing all the technology out there.

But it's a matter of understanding everything is different products that you have. You have acrylics, you have silicones, you have asphalt, you have urethanes, you have PMMAs, you have all these different types of systems out there. And each one of them has its own unique application situations, things that are specific to it. And to really get our industry on track and doing good quality work, we've got to make sure that everybody gets fully trained.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, I mean I think that's the key, and I hear it over and over and over again. And I think it is really interesting, I like what you're saying about who we are training, and why. And I think that why really leads us to, it's a risk for roofing contractors and roofing companies out there, when they don't have, I loved how you said earlier, the certification. Are you certified? Have you really gone through the process? Do you really understand it? So talk a little bit about some of the problems you're seeing out there, when there's a lack of training.

Johnny Walker: So, I think the biggest problem we see is that whether they're, it doesn't matter what product they're buying or where they're buying it from. It could be a maintenance person, it could be a contractor, as I said, Chuck in the truck, and I apologize if Chuck's on here. I'm not calling you out.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: No, he's here to find out more, so that they can get the training.

Johnny Walker: They're going out there and they're purchasing product, and they read a label. They do minimal research, they go out, they apply it to a roof and then almost immediately the building owner is not satisfied. And that's the customer satisfaction part. The goal is to make sure that you meet his needs, and contractors have to understand what are his wants and needs, but also what are the needs of the roof that you're working on? What does it really need? Just because the building owner wants to buy a Yugo, but he wants you to warrant the Cadillac.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right.

Johnny Walker: You have to meet that in the middle. You want to meet his expectations, his wants and needs, but you have to really look at the roof. It's more important about the roof needs, and try to meet in middle with that building order, and make sure they fully understand. Because we get calls all the time where it's just they went out, and they coated the roof. Or as I say, they painted the roof. They put down one coat, maybe two coats, and they called it a waterproof system.

Now there are definitely some waterproofing characteristics in the coating itself, but if you've got bad seams, bad scuppers and drains and all these types of things that were your problem to start with, just putting a fluid applied system over the top, or a fluid applied coating, isn't going to watertight that for very long. With expansion and contraction, it's going to fail. So we get those calls all the time. "Hey, my maintenance guy put this on." "Hey, my roofer put this on, and I still have leaks." Or it's peeling up, and it's the wrong product in a ponding water area. So educating everybody so they understand, that limits that risk.

And getting that training, you want everybody to have confidence in it. You want the building owner to have confidence, the applicators have to have confidence and the contractor, the owner has to have confidence in the system. And it only takes a couple of failures for all of that confidence to go away. And then, the industry is damaged by it. So when I'm talking to this, I'm not just talking about my company, but in general. I want everybody to be successful, everybody to do proper restorations, because it helps the overall industry. And that means that there's going to be more of that happening.

Restorations are great. They can be extremely successful, profitable for the contractor and extremely durable for the building owner, when done appropriately. But it has to be done right. That all starts with the training.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I just think, as we talk about the risk to the roofing company, that is key. Because without the right training of employees, on the right products... It's not just training, it's training on the right products, and being able... And the sales team to be able to, now you have, if that roof doesn't perform, your reputation's at risk, you're obviously at risk for financial issues and it lowers the confidence of your employees, and the overall culture.

Johnny Walker: Well, and we find that we've got a lot of companies that try to diversify. Diversify their business, which is smart, but they go in it with minimal knowledge. Think, "Oh, this is easy, it's just painting the roof." And they go out there, and we've had it where, they put it on and they had blisters, and all these types of things. And we asked, because we weren't involved, "Did you do a blister survey? Did you do an infrared? Any type of?" "No, we didn't do any of that." Come to find out that the system's wet.

Now, that liability falls directly back on the contractor, because as a roofing contractor it's his job to understand what the national codes require and expect. No more than 5% in the membrane layer, and no more than 8% in the insulation layer, moisture. If they're not verifying that and they're doing the work, they're going to be liable when the failure comes. And proper education because when we train on it, we're not just trained them on, "Hey, this is how you put our product down." We're training them on how you get to a successful system, and limit that liability.

I talk about the four P process. Prep, prime, patch and protect. Well, the fifth P is the most important. That's profit. When we educate, that's why we're all in business, right?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right.

Johnny Walker: When we educate, we try to educate so they get to keep their profit. They don't have to worry about the liabilities and the callbacks, and the failures, and all those types of things.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Everything. It is so true. Like we said, it just really goes into that, what it does for your company. I've heard you say this many times, and I can see, there are many contractors on here who I know have this culture. They are amazing. But it is really that culture of training, in your company, the making it right there with safety. I mean obviously, safety, training, it all goes together. So talk a little bit about how really investing into training, and a lot of the time, it's just getting in touch with your great manufacturers, to get the right training. What does that do for your company culture?

Johnny Walker: I think all of us out there at some time in our career have worked for that company, that cared about their employee, they cared about the quality of work. And there's so much that goes into that. We think about safety, we think about training on the product, that everybody truly understands. And those companies are excellent to work for. When you have a company that cares, and they want to do jobs right, and they're properly training their employees.

Because the last thing you want to have happen is that it's the employee, the guy who put it on that's getting yelled at. "Well, you must have done something wrong. You didn't clean it, you didn't this, you didn't that." Well, if he's never trained, how is he supposed to know? And as they say, things roll downhill.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yes, they do.
Johnny Walker: So, the guy at the bottom ends up getting yelled at, and he's just doing maybe what he thought was right. But if a company's not providing proper training, they're not going to have the full buy-in from the employees. If they're just winging it, that fly by night, they're not going to have that full buy-in from the employees. And you want them, I want the guys on the roof, I want them to take ownership in their work.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. And pride.

Johnny Walker: I want every guy up there to be doing the best job possible. That gives them pride, but it also helps the company. Just a massive amount of pride there, and like I say, it's why we're here. It all starts with proper training.

When you talk about brand reputation and those things, I have the bullet points here, but it's so important, for us for example. And that's what I've said already. It's not just me. It's not just my company. I want everybody to do it right. I want all the systems to be successful, because that helps the industry in general. And if the industry's doing well, so are we. But if poor workmanship, poor quality, poor installations continue to happen, it just hurts the industry. And people get a bad taste in their mouth.

And that company out there that's not investing in training, and ensuring that they're getting that quality training, is going to have a hard time growing their business and truly diversify. And this economy is special. We're not going to get into politics, but we're going into a tumultuous election year, and we've got a lot of things going on internationally. And we know that all affects business, that affects the stock market and larger companies, it affects them on how much they want to spend on those roofs. So restorations are a way to get there, doing it proper. And these companies that want to diversify in this time, and look at repair and restoration, maybe they were a shingle company, maybe they'd never done it before. Get in, get the proper training and really understand and be successful out the gate. Don't have to go through all those struggles, and failures, and issues, before you figure it out. Getting your proper training, then you can grow your business and mitigate overall risk for your companies.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And I really love, is exactly what I'm thinking, too. And maybe you can, I mean, you work with roofing companies all over the country, so I'm sure you have seen roofing companies who have invested in training, and that then correlates into their business growing and getting more jobs, having a higher brand reputation. What do you see of the companies out there who do that?

Johnny Walker: Yeah, so I mean I've got several companies, especially up north. There's a couple that I'm thinking of. I'm not going to call them out here, but in the winter time, they invest heavily, heavily. They don't lay their people off. They're all working. And you know what they're doing? They're training. They have mock roofs set up, they have safety classes all the time, tie-off classes. Understanding roof access, and how to tie off properly. And they run classes where they actually educate non-roofers, people that want to come into the industry.

These companies just have such a spectacular reputation in their market. They're just so well invested in it, they don't have the issues. Everybody feels good about them, and that's the goal. We want new business. We want those referrals.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Exactly.

Johnny Walker: And having those people that have invested in proper training, these companies are just incredible. And here in Florida, there's one company, they're constantly doing trainings. And we've been invited in, and they bring in the entire team, and everybody gets paid for the day. And they've invested in that, and it takes an investment. But the reputation of these companies is just phenomenal.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Which then turns into growth and profit.

Johnny Walker: Right.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Which is exactly what you want.

Johnny Walker: That we do. Exactly.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I know, I know. So as these roofing companies get their teams trained, I think there's a great thing... I'm always thinking sales and marketing, Johnny. So I'm always kind of like, "Yeah, you're doing this training. You should talk about it, talk about it to your customers. Talk about your commitment to training, that culture of training."

So through the training, when you have this quality workmanship, what are some of the benefits you see? Not only with customers, but maybe even suppliers and distributors?

Johnny Walker: Sure. Those who invest in the training, I mean obviously we're seeing just far better, far better results with the systems. Easier to land more jobs, callbacks are eliminated. That's the four P process. That's the point of that, is if you do it right the first time, you eliminate those callbacks and you get to keep your profit.

There are different levels of training. You have beginner and intermediate, and as we call it, the black and gold level. And that lets you get the different warranty. So initially, you're in a material warranty, then you get a labor and material, then a labor and material non-prorated and then into an NDL level. So as you continue to have those successful products, more warranties become available to you. And of course, those are sales tools, right?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Johnny Walker: Material warranties are easy to get because we're not really covering the workmanship. But once you get up to that next level, they've got to do it right, because it ultimately comes back to the contractor, on whether they've done it.

But having that quality workmanship is just overall. And I can see it when I go and do roof inspections, we do our final inspection, and you get that contractor who's heavily invested. And on his punch list is three or four items. And then you get the contractor who's not heavily invested, and you have two pages of punch list items. I mean, that's just a huge difference. So now that's more work they have to go fix. That's more labor dollars out of the company coffers, and it's night and day. And it's just a simple investment. It's just a simple, "Hey, we're going to do this. If you want to be in this industry, invest in that and get the training."

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, and you said something right there that is just so important, when you think about ROI. Because you know, obviously that fifth P, I love profit. But when you think about ROI, if you only have two or three things on your punch list on every job, you're making more profit, you're getting a return on investment for every dollar you put into training, because of that. Compared to, how much more money does this person have to spend, who has two pages? And so now, all of a sudden, you're offsetting that cost of training, time, paying your employees to be trained and it becomes very obvious. It's something, for anyone who's sitting on here who's trying to make this point in their company of saying, "We've got to do this." There's some black and white numbers right there.

Johnny Walker: Well, and the other side of that is, God forbid it goes to litigation. As I say all the time in my training, "Litigation negates profit exponentially." And all of a sudden, the job that you were making money on, you've lost money on. And you talk about a return of investment, well, that's a negative return of investment. I mean, you have to... Limiting that liability. And it's just simple training.

And with us, we get involved with our contractors. It's not just the training. During a labor and material process, we go out and do inspections. We do pre, in progress and final inspections. And the larger the job, the more often we're going to be out there. And our contractors love that, because it's not just them dangling out there. It's not just on us. We're going out there and making sure, because a lot of times we can fix simple things, and do some remedial training on site. Just say, "No, no, no. This is how it's done." So we're heavily invested in that.

Like I said, again, we want every project to be successful. Because that leads to, for us, you talk about return of investment. I'm here doing the training, my company's invested. And how do we return on investment, is to have successful jobs out there.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right. Yeah. That's it. Have happy customers. I love that, that last bullet point is customer satisfaction. Because really, at the end of the day, your customers are satisfied when they have a quality, strong roof with a long warranty, and they know someone's going to be there to take care of it.

Johnny Walker: Right, right.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Johnny Walker: Absolutely. Yeah, I say that all the time. It's about making sure the roof is watertight, primarily, and then pretty, secondarily. We don't do this for aesthetics. We do this for durability, longevity, prolong the life of the roof and keep the roof watertight.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: But a pretty roof is nice, as a byproduct.

Johnny Walker: Yes.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So, as we're talking about this, and talking about the training, and really using this not only obviously risk mitigation overall for your company, but also using it yourselves in marketing programs. Whether that is recruiting employees, getting new customers, helping to grow your business. There are certain things that are very tangible, that can help, and that's the certification. So can you talk about that, Johnny?

Johnny Walker: Yeah. You know, in the past, we used to just have approved companies. Like, "This company approved applicator," and we would provide some general training. But we found that what we're doing now, and it's really working is, we're certifying the actual applicator. I absolutely want to train the building owner, or the contractor, the company owner. I absolutely want to train his sales force and his specifiers. But when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of the business of, "How is this product going on? How is it properly prepped and primed and patched?" We've started to certify the individual applicator.

And with our labor and material warranties, they have to have a certified applicator there. Somebody who's been through the program, and understands how everything's supposed to do. We train these certified applicators to be, it's almost like a train the trainer type thing. That's the guy I want on the roof. So he's your superintendent, your foreman. He can go back and self-inspect, and self-train on the job, for everybody. Obviously, we're happy to certify all of them if they want to come, but we definitely got to get at least a couple of guys on that roof that they're going to self-inspect and watch that system.

But also with that, having the certified employees, it leads you into loyalty programs, and all of that types of things. But being able to tell your prospective customer that, "Our guys are certified, they've been through it, they're trained," and be able to prove that certification, and have that copy of that certificate. So, "No, listen, our guys are good. Chuck in the truck isn't certified, but we are. " You know what I mean? That's going to lead to more business, and it's marketable, it's promotable. And it's something that we're happy to help our certified contractors promote, is that type of certified program.

Anytime you can prove that you've invested in training, and that you've gotten your guys, it's absolutely without, hands down, it's going to help you grow your business. It just proves that you're legit.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It does.

Johnny Walker: It adds legitimacy to your business.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I also think, right now, you and I were talking about earlier, or at the beginning, about the labor shortage. And we know there's a lot that... The industry has become, it's really understanding the importance of training that individual installer. But there is a sense of pride, within that, to have that certification. And that's something that HR departments and owners of roofing companies really should be talking about when they're recruiting, as they're interviewing, that, "This is what we do. Have you seen that?" I've seen it a little bit, but I'm curious at what you're seeing.

Johnny Walker: Absolutely. So having those guys trained, I laugh about roofing in general. I say that once you get into roofing, you're pretty much stuck, right?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Johnny Walker: We see it all the time. Guys bounce around from contractor to contractor, from distributor to distributor and from manufacturer to manufacturer. And sometimes all of them in between. But when you're actually talking about your installers, your certified installers, we've seen that already. Where they're very valuable to these companies out there. Being able to go into a company and say, "Hey, no, no. I've been certified with APOC for five years," or certified with whoever for however long. I mean, that gives them legitimacy, and makes them more valuable. They're saying, "Hey, we've got proved experience, years of experience, he's been through training," that's valuable to all the HR departments out there.

Anybody that's looking to hire anybody, but also, retain people. If you invest in your employees and get them trained, and get them certified, and give them the time to go to the class. And that's what we're really talking about, with investments. Like, hey, they have to come out of the field and go somewhere to be trained. And it may be a day or two, or however many. That's an investment. Some manufacturers charge for their training, some don't. We don't, on our side. You register and show up, and I'm going to train you because again, I want them to be certified.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: You want everybody.

Johnny Walker: [inaudible 00:32:16], what?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: You want everybody trained.

Johnny Walker: Yeah, training, man. Putting that investment into your employees, it helps you retain them. It shows the loyalty to them, it shows a dedication to them. And it will definitely, from what I've seen, help slow that migration, bouncing around so much. Not that it's not going to happen, but it's definitely going to help you retain those employees.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I think that's so true. And we have a really good question from our friend, Mitch Rabin. Hello, Mitch. He said, "You're certifying the installers," or, you said roofer, Mitch. But I'm, assuming you mean installers, "You are certifying the installers. Do you still have a company certification? Can you explain that? How the company is certified, and the installers?"

Johnny Walker: Sure. So I mean, obviously, when you get into a business agreement with a company, and that's what a warranty is, right? You're in a contractual agreement between the installing company and the manufacturer. There's always going to be some documentation there that yes, the company will be listed as a certified or an approved company, an approved applicator. A contractor, approved contractor,. And there is some documentation there that basically, to simplify it, that says, "Hey, you're going to do things according to our specifications." That's the oversimplification of it. So we do have that.

And every company that becomes a certified contractor with us, they send their guys in, we certify their employees, their employees get a certificate individually. But then we also give the company a certificate, and then they fill out their approved applicator agreement with us, and then they're listed as an approved contractor. I hope that helps.

And like I said, and again, we're happy to train. We have different levels of training. Like our two-day training, for example, we do both a full day of classroom and a full day of hands-on. And we have a lot of sales guys and owners that will come for day one, because we go over a lot of the documentation and the paperwork that's all involved, inspection forms and all of that, that may be, and specifications, so that they fully understand. But we also teach them how to sell, which is a whole nother side of the training. "How do I go sell this? How do I sell a building owner on this idea?" So we do that, as well.

And a lot of times, they'll leave after day one, and then the other guys continue on for all of the hands-on, right?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: For the training.

Johnny Walker: Because the owner that's wearing a suit and tie every day is not going up there and spreading VersaMat. He needs to understand the concept of it, and he's probably done it in his life, it's how he got where he was at. But he is not the guy doing it anymore, so we want to make sure that there's two levels of training there.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it. We have some great questions coming in. So I want to finish up with Mitch. It says, "If those applicators leave the company, then does the company remain an approved applicator? They tend to move." So yes, but you would want to get-

Johnny Walker: Yes, they would stay, but we would just need to make sure that somebody else gets trained.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Gets trained. And you also-

Johnny Walker: You're not going to remove them from any list, it would just be a matter of, if whoever they sent is no longer there, then we want them to send somebody else again. We want it to be done right. That's all.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, and you also said for your top warranties, that that also will require that you have certified installers on the job.

Johnny Walker: Correct. So that's like, now that doesn't mean that, for example, ABC Roofing had three guys certified, and they went over to XYZ Roofing. ABC is still a certified applicator, and they can still bid jobs, but in that interim we need to get their new guys trained.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Trained. Right.

Johnny Walker: And that's why we certify the individuals because that's what was happening, we found that they would shift and they would move. And with that, that two or three item punch list would go to 20 items, and we realizes, "Okay, there's nobody trained on the roof anymore." So that's why, it's like, "Okay, who's your certified installer? So we can verify that." And we work with them. If it's a pending contract, or something like that, we've got teams all throughout the country. We'll come to them.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And train on the roof.

Johnny Walker: Do trainings there if we need to.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's excellent. And then Renee, hello, Renee. Twice in one day, this is awesome. That is what she was about to ask, was this training that you're talking about, on helping with estimating, selling, how to sell? Talk just a little bit further about that, and how does that work with the certifications?
Johnny Walker: Yeah, so that's separate. That's not required for a certification. It's more the hands-on and specifications, safety, handling. That's all of the stuff that my certified installers get. The other part of it is more of a sales class. It's diversifying your business with fluid applied restorations. But in that, we talk about the sales side of it. Why would anybody want to do this? What are the benefits of fluid applied restoration, versus a tear off? Being green, and all these types of things, and not filling dumpsters. And we talk about those sales points.

We talk about the Energy Star, or the energy reflectance of a system, how long it can prolong the life of the roof. And truly understanding how you go to market, and how you sell these, and what roofs should and should not be restored. Which is huge for them to know. I mean, there's so many out there that I see all the time, that roofs were coated or, quote, unquote "restored," that should have never been touched. They were saturated, they were in absolute disrepair, and somebody sold them on a restoration. And of course, it immediately failed. It's not a fault of the product, it's a fault of that roof wasn't a good candidate.

So understanding all of the liabilities and things that they need to look into to help prevent their liability, but then all the attributes of it. There's some roofs that need to be torn off. Some roofs are great candidates for restoration, and how they understand that, and how they learn that, and how they go to market. We do a little bit of that in our single day, but we also do those in a [inaudible 00:38:55]. A lot of times we travel to the contractors, and we'll have that with the owner and his sales team.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah. Excellent. We have another question here, and it's going to kind of go with our next topic, where we're talking about saving time and raising profitability with liquid applied. But Nick asked a really good question. He says, "You talked about lack of contractor diligence leading to subpar coating product, or installation. Outside of that, what disadvantages slash problems do you see with fluid applied application?"

Johnny Walker: Not that there can't be product failure issues, but they're very rare. We usually see that fluid applied restorations fail in one of a few ways. The most common failure, unfortunately, is a result of improper installation by a contractor. That could mean that it was improperly cleaned, improperly prepped, improperly primed or not primed at all. Didn't do a moisture survey, put acrylic in ponding water, tried to put acrylic over silicone. And this all starts with education. So we see a lot of that, and it's just simple, basic education will eliminate the biggest reason, or the biggest thing that we see for fluid applied restoration failures.

The other issue that we see, and this is where we see, as I say, under specifying and over promising, and this is a salesperson issue. You get an overzealous independent rep, or a salesperson in distribution, or even a manufacturer rep, that just wants to sell buckets. And he's pitching the idea that, "Hey, I have a miracle in the roof. This is all you have to do, and it will solve all your world's problems." And that doesn't exist. So we see that as the number two reason, it's just, it was under specified and over promised. "Hey, all you have to do is put down a gallon of this and it'll stop all your leaks for 20 years." That's not going to work.

And then the last problem is true product failure, but it's rare. And I think 99.9% of the companies out there, when it happens, step up immediately. Because is the last thing you want is to have that out there, that you're having failures that are product failures, true product failures, and you're not taking care of it. So good companies, good manufacturers, are going to step up and immediately squash that. Replace the product, do what's necessary to make it right, and that's the least reason. But I hope that answered the question.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, I think one thing on that question that I would like to kind of pursue a little bit too is, there are roofs that are meant for liquid applied systems, and there are roofs that are not meant for, I mean, they're just not a good candidate for liquid applied applications. And I think that's part of this question too, is if it's installed in the wrong place, that's bad for everybody.

Johnny Walker: Inspection, inspection, inspection. When we look at whether the roof is a candidate, we're looking for lots of things. What's the age of the roof? What's the makeup of the system, all the way from the deck up? How many layers of roof are there? How old is the roof? Do they currently have leaks? Do they have ponding water? Do they have ponding water? Do they have ponding water? All these things. Have we done a moisture survey? Are there any trees growing through the roof? All of that leads to, has the roof been properly maintained?

I look at it almost like a traffic light, a green, yellow and red. A green is it's been properly maintained, the roof looks great, they have no active leaks. The roof is dry. That's a beautiful candidate for a restoration. We can do a system on there, and prolong that life almost indefinitely. The roof is in good shape, you can do that. And we've got several of those out there that are working beautifully, hundreds of them.

The other thing though, is that you see a lot of them that shouldn't be restored, they're saturated. And having that yellow is, "Okay, this roof's got some question. They do have a couple of active leaks." Taking that next step, using technology to determine how much of that roof is wet, where's the water flow? How does the water flow, in this system? That's a yellow. So it's like, "Well, it looks really good, but we need a little more data."

And then you get into the red, which is, they've got leaks everywhere. There's water squishing up on it when you step on the roof, you have plants growing through the roof system. And I'm sure that everybody on this call has probably been on that roof. I've been on many, many, many of them. For whatever reason, shopping malls are the worst, strip malls. I don't know why, but I see that type of a roof situation. Well, that's a red. Now that doesn't mean that something can't be done, that just means it's not a candidate for restoration. As I tell my contractors all the time, "You can always try to band aid the roof, but you don't offer any type of warranty with that. It's like, "Listen, you need a tear off. We can't restore it. You need to tear off, but we can go up and try to mitigate some of your leaks." But for all these things.

And then of course, one of the most important things we look at is safety of the roof. Is there deck deflection? If you've got deck deflection all over the place, well, that may not be structurally sound. I had a project, I think everybody remembers the condo that collapsed in Miami area. Shortly thereafter, a lot of those condos had structural engineers come in. And I had a contractor, came to me and he says, "Hey, I want to put a restoration on this roof system." And I asked him about all of the documentation we just talked about, and he sent me everything. But he also sent me the inspection report from the structural engineer who said, "The roof system has a history of moisture intrusion, and therefore the roof must be torn off and the system, the structural components properly inspected."

There's no way we could accept that liability and say, "Yeah, go ahead." Could you imagine if that roof collapsed? That building collapsed? So looking at all of the systems will help you determine whether that's a viable candidate or not. You have to, there's so much more to look at than just say, "Oh, yeah, I could paint that."

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, and that's really what comes down, the training. The training is what allows you to have this knowledge to know when it's the right candidate or not. But also, as we look here too, saving time and raising profitability. I mean, that's really, and I do want to, Lorna sent us a great note in here. It says, "Showing your employees that you invest in their professional development improves retention." So that really kind of goes to everything we're talking about right here. So just maybe quickly go through some of these bullet points on how the training helps all of this.

Johnny Walker: Yeah, so I mean, for example, looking at productivity. Understanding, how are we going to get the system down? What's the best way? Are we going to spray apply? Are we going to roller apply? For example, on a flat roof system, one of the things that I found is extremely productive is to basically bridge your roof system off. And say, "Hey, this bucket in this space." Then your employees don't have to worry about wet mil gauges, and all these things. They take that bucket in that pre grid space, no more, no less, spread it out. And a lot of times they'll mix the bucket, pour it out, draw it back with a squeegee, and back roller it. Doing that system, I can do 200 square feet in about five minutes, myself. By myself. It's extremely productive.

And having that training on that and understanding that, "Hey, this is how it's done." Or if they're spraying silicone, okay, what's the importance about cleaning the machine? Understanding that if you don't clean the machine, you could lose thousands of dollars in hoses. Mitigating that risk there. But understanding how to properly apply it is going to massively increase your productivity. There's lots of different tricks of the trade, as they say, that if you go to the training, you're going to learn.

You're going to learn that, "Hey, oh, there's this really cool roller tool I can use to put fleece on seams." "Oh, this is how I install full polyesters." Not every roof needs that, but if that's what it is, go into that and understanding. Not having them to guess on the roof, and make all those trial and error issues before they finally figure it out. They can come to a good training and learn it, and know it. Absolutely going to increase productivity.

And as far as the processes and quality assurance, it all ties in. Just understanding the process, the order of assembly. This goes before this, then this, then this. Doing it wrong can cause a failure. I've got one right now that a gentleman, and again, did it on his own. God bless him for trying it, but he said, "Hey, I can't get the polyester to stick down." Well, come to find out, he didn't put down a base layer, he was trying to put everything on top of the polyester. And we use a very heavy polyester, it's not going to saturate through. So the entire system was loose.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, no. How [inaudible 00:48:41] that first.

Johnny Walker: You talk about risk management.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah.

Johnny Walker: He literally has to tear this entire thing off-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, I shouldn't laugh.

Johnny Walker: ... and start from scratch. You know what I mean? Fortunately for him, it was a small roof, it was a thousand squares or something. But that, just simple understanding, and investing in that training, will limit all of that. And that was a gentleman that, again, he was trying to diversify his business, had never done, this was his first coating job ever.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, wow.

Johnny Walker: But did not invest in training. Went and bought the product, went out on the roof, started having failures and called manufacturing. That's their first stop. "Well, it couldn't have been me." We go out and investigate, and of course we use all of our tools to investigate, and we determine what's going on. And he's like, "Oh." But taking two days out at a time, sending some guys to that, would've solved all that problem. And he would've had a completely successful restoration on the first shot.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: The first time. That makes sense. I want to talk a little bit about technology, because we mentioned this at the beginning, and just what you're seeing with the technologies out there that are starting to kind of change the landscape.

Johnny Walker: So, one of the things, the worst thing is, when I first got into... Well, I shouldn't say when I first got into roofing, when I first came to APOC, an infrared scanner was like $14,000. And it sat on your shoulder like a video camera. Now they're handheld, and they're four or $500. And if you really want an extremely good one, you spend a couple of thousand bucks. And it's still just a handheld thing. But they take video, they take photo and infrared at the same time. They're just incredible tools, just something like that. And we see a lot of contractors out there starting to utilize that.

Now, I will tell you though, it in itself has its own training. If you're a company operator that wants to get into that, I absolutely encourage it. But invest in that person that's going to do it. You need to go get your Level 1 or Level 2, thermography. Go get the certification, take the addendum for roofing inspection, roofing infrared or roofing thermography. Because there's times of the day that you're supposed to do it, different times of the year will affect that. Some roofs can be infrared, some cannot. And again, it's basic knowledge.

But using tools like that, we're also seeing drone technology becoming very, very prevalent. And again, now that has its own training. A lot of people don't realize that there's actually FAA Part 107 tests that you have to take, to be a licensed drone operator. So it's not just training about the coating, it's all these different things. So we have some contractors out there that do both. They have the infrared certifications, and they have the drone license, and they actually have spent the money and invested and got the drone with the infrared on it. And they don't even have to go on the roof to do the infrared survey. They go up just after the sun goes down, they do their infrared and they create a report. But they've got all the certifications. That's something we would accept.

When a company doesn't have that, and if it's needed, if it's required for that particular roof, then that's just another expense that you have to hire somebody to come in, and they have to do it. There's advantages and disadvantages to that, but understanding what those technologies are, we are seeing a lot of, what is it, CompanyCam being used by-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Great product.

Johnny Walker: So, a lot of the contractors using CompanyCam, and it is so nice for me. They will go up, and they'll take 800 photos, and send me a link for CompanyCam. I don't have to download anything if I don't want to. And I can look at every photo they took.

We've got a lot of companies now using tablets, doing reports on tablets. We have inspection forms, and punch lists, and all those types of things. And they're all in PDF format. And with the right tablet, you can absolutely use those and fill those out, and literally just hit the send button and send it out. Instead of, okay, you got to hand write it, bring it in, scan it, email it. And all of that technology is great.

And we do train a little bit on that, in our training center. We've got infrared cameras that we show. We have moisture probes that we show, and how to use those, how to determine if a core is dry or not. And that's all technology, and it all takes extra training to learn it. And then also, just different visual comparatives and all those types of things, when you're trying to figure out mil gauge, millage of the system. And I think that pretty much covers it, there.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Yeah, no, I mean that's great. And I'm thinking about the softwares, the inspection softwares, there's just so much out there. So knowing that you can get this at training, but also I'm just going to encourage everybody, talk to your software companies. Ask them for training, talk to your equipment companies, to your infrared and the drones. There's great drone training that we're seeing coming across the board. So yeah, this is really important.

And when we look at training practices specific to coatings, we did have one question here.

Johnny Walker: Sure.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: "What challenges do you experience when doing virtual trainings for coatings, versus in person?" That kind of goes with this slide.

Johnny Walker: Yeah, so I mean obviously with a virtual, there's no hands-on. We have heavily invested in video. We've got, on our website, apoc.com, we've got I think 80 videos, 80 detailed videos. And they're very specific, step by step by step by step. So, they generally follow the prep, prime, patch and protect process. And we did that in all of our details. So, you can go and search by each type of system, whether it be a metal roof, a single ply roof or an asphalt roof. So we're heavily invested in that.

It's the hands-on portion that is hard, when you're doing an online. We do have a lot of contractors who will come to us with years of experience with other manufacturers, and they really understand the process. So we'll kind of talk through it, and we can do that virtually.

We do a lot of virtual inspections, as well, talking about, go back to technology. Contractors are many, field technical guys are few. So we do a lot of that, and we understand that, we don't want contractors to have to wait. So we can get on our iPhones and FaceTime, or we can get on Zoom or Teams, or any of the apps that they have that they want to use. And I can do a virtual inspection there.

But even if we're doing a virtual training, to answer the question, that's the biggest thing. It's getting the hands on, the touch, the feel, the smell. It's one thing for me to say, "Hey, it takes 64 wet mils to saturate polyester." It's another thing to see what that actually looks like. Because the guys in the field aren't out there measuring that going, "Okay, that's 64 wet mils, now we imbed the polyester." But if they visually see it, and they can feel it. "Okay, that's how wet it looks when it's at that rate." That's the type of thing that you lose out with, when you're doing the virtual.

But a lot of times, we'll break it up. We'll do the virtual, and then we'll do in the field or at their shop, hands-on. Because we still want to get those guys trained.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So, hybrid.

Johnny Walker: [inaudible 00:56:38] getting those applicators trained.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That hybrid approach. And then that way, that's when you can do all the mixing product, temperature, moisture, all that kind of stuff. And I am actually going to flip to the next slide, Johnny, because this has been so great with all the questions. But I don't want to, with our few minutes we have left, I don't want to miss this. So, finding coatings training. This is, right now, people are asking, "How do you do it? Where do you go?" Let's talk about how people can find training from APOC.

Johnny Walker: So, for us, you can go to apoc.com, and they're at the top of the page. There's a link that says training, or education, rather. Click on the education link, and you'll find the latest classes that are available. We're just rolling up, wrapping up the end of the year. We have some classes that are going to be scheduled coming in January, February and March. We generally will list three months in advance, so that you can look at it. I don't know that that's been updated just yet, but they are coming. And it always is a continual update. So every time you go there, you're going to see the next new month come up. So, once we get through January, you'll have February, March and April and so on and so on and so on. So we're always going to have at least three months of trainings there for you.

We have three training centers in the country right now. We have our largest training center in Tampa, Florida. We actually have a lot of contractors come here from up north, in the wintertime. They'll come down with their key guy, usually the owner and a key applicator, their superintendent or their foreman. They'll come down and spend a couple of days here in sunny Florida, and get a little bit of vacation and a really great education. So we're there, I've had people come in from Belize. I've had Central America. I think the furthest one was Argentina. To Tampa.

We have another training center in Phoenix, Arizona, which is just a little bit smaller, but it's set up very much like the Tampa training center. And then we have another one in Andover, Massachusetts, at one of our plants. That one isn't really set up for indoor hands-on, but we have an outdoor area, so we're not utilizing that during the winter obviously, right now. We're looking for another facility up there.

But then we also work with some of our distributor partners. Sometimes they have a really beautiful location, and they'll host a training, where we come in and we'll do the training there and certify those types of people. Or their customers that they bring in. We've got one of them coming up January 9th, in Rutherford, New Jersey, I think. I think it's Rutherford.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And you can also, I know because we spend time together at the trade shows, you're doing demos.

Johnny Walker: Oh, yeah.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And I mean, that's not a full training, but you can start getting the feel for it.

Johnny Walker: Yeah, absolutely. So like I said, we do the live field trainings as well, where we'll go out to the individual contractors, if that's the only way we can get it done. We do trade show trainings. We're going to be at IRE, we'll be at IRE coming up here, and we'll be doing some live demos there as well. With lots of different products that we have. We offer much more than just the fluid applied restoration products, but a wide range of repair products and foam adhesives, and all those types of things. So we'll be demoing quite a bit there.

And of course, we do a lot of webinars. And really if you just reach out to me, or go to our website at our training registration, there is a contactless link there as well. And if you can't make one of the trainings, just reach out. We will find a way to make it happen.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's perfect. And all of this is on CoatingsCoffeeShop. On your directory, we have trainings. We actually have a video tour of your training center in Tampa, that we did. So a lot of great, great information that is out there.

Johnny, thank you. This has been tremendous, and great questions, everyone. Thank you so much, and thank you to APOC for sponsoring this. Johnny, it's just been great.

Johnny Walker: Thank you, as always, Heidi. It's always a pleasure.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Always a pleasure. The hour goes by so fast. Thank you all for watching. Please stay tuned. We are going to be having our next Coatings Talk in January. We are going to be doing those the second week of every month on Wednesdays, at 11 o'clock. So they're easy for you to find, we will be doing this every month. Please join us, and please check out CoatingsCoffeeShop and all of the podcasts, trainings, videos we have. We'll be seeing you next month again, on CoatingsCoffeeShop, Coatings Talk.

Thanks a lot, and have a great day.

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