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Roofing Visionaries – Jobba’s Immersive Experience

On August 4, 2022, Jobba hosted the first immersive experience for the roofing industry. The intention of the experience, called Roofing Visionaries, was to bring people together to engage directly with one another and their environment. Guests of Roofing Visionaries included roofing influencers and thought leaders.

Unlike other industry events, there were no PowerPoint slides, lectures, sales pitches, or trade booths. Instead, we visited sites of innovation in sectors related to roofing and facilitated real, intimate conversations with their leaders. We sought to consider untapped opportunities to enable positive growth in our industry.

The Roofing Visionaries Immersive Experience started with breakfast and introductions. Steven White, Jobba Chief Transformation Officer, and Karol Weyman, VP of Marketing, were the visionaries behind this summit. They believe that in order to understand how a technology company like Jobba can best serve people in our industry, we must get out from behind our screens and daily job duties to gain firsthand exposure and reflect on the rapidly changing technological, economic, and social context that impacts.

Immersive Experiences help achieve goals by engaging people at a visceral and human level, deepening connections to each other, our work, and the world around us. Immersive Experiences create an opportunity to touch things, see things, move around, and engage intimately with one another in order to deeply understand and reflect on the rapidly changing context AND connect with one another.

The immersive experience incorporated three ingenious site visits. The site visits for Roofing Visionaries were selected to represent major areas of concern and opportunity: technology and robotics, community and diversity, and environmental sustainability. The first was mHuB – “Chicago’s premier hardware incubator”. mHuB is where people come to build the physical technologies that will change the world. Through prototyping labs, industry partnerships, and a commitment to growing manufacturing within the United States, the mHUB ecosystem is changing the landscape of HardTech development. They are creating jobs and pioneering innovation via the technology ecosystem and a partnership with the City of Chicago.

While at mHuB, guests met with Ant Robotics, which is currently participating in mHUBs Accelerated Incubation Program. Ant Robotics creates robotic solutions for on-demand material handling at factories and manufacturing facilities to help combat the labor shortage, increasing cost pressure, safety and security. Chief Executive Officer, Max Antonenko, gave a tour of mHuB and presented Ant Robotics’ innovative solutions. Antonenko made a statement that stuck with the guests: “Innovation is about overcoming technological contradictions.”

Exposing the Roofing Visionaries to this type of enterprise solution raised attention and interest within the group. Some are interested and actively pursuing ways to invest in potential companies through mHub. Others had people and companies in mind that could potentially utilize the services mHub offers. Supporting innovation, regardless of the sector, will benefit and advance all industries.

After mHub and Ant Robotics, the guests headed to the South Side of Chicago to visit Project H.O.O.D. Project H.O.O.D. caught Jobba’s attention when New Beginnings Church Pastor Corey Brooks camped out on the roof of an abandoned motel to bring attention to gun violence in the neighborhood and raise money for the community center. Brian Alexander, Project H.O.O.D.’s Chief of Staff and Community Health & Wellness Director walked the Roofing Visionaries through how Project H.O.O.D came to be. He also gave us a sampling and understanding of the mission and goals.

Project H.O.O.D.’s mission is to empower people with the guidance, information, and tools necessary to become peacemakers, problem solvers, leaders, and entrepreneurs in their communities. It provides mentorship, training, and community for residents in Woodlawn and Englewood. Pastor Corey Brooks started Project H.O.O.D. with the vision of “Ending violence and building communities, one neighborhood at a time.”

While at Project H.O.O.D., guests went on the roof where Pastor Corey Brooks slept for 100 days. They also took a tour of the church and saw firsthand the difference Project H.O.O.D. is making. Pastor Corey Brooks made a resounding and memorable quote during the Project H.O.O.D. visit, “We want kids to put down their guns and pick up hammers.”

A good example of a disconnect that Brian deals with can be seen in the application process for trade jobs. Brian is working with about 200 applications but only 20 positions to fill. The Roofing Visionaries were shocked to hear this, as the labor shortage has been so prominent these past few years. There are many people willing to work but not offered positions. A significant obstacle is the lack of specific training. The Roofing Visionaries wanted to get to the root of the problem and how to provide proper training.

Following the immersive experience, many guests of Jobba reached out to Project H.O.O.D. A few were able to fulfill the employment needs of some residents from Woodlawn and Englewood. Discovering the number of people willing to work; while experiencing a labor shortage brought new hope, and the Roofing Visionaries are actively working to bridge the gap.

The final site visit for the Roofing Visionaries immersive experience was to Plant Chicago. Plant Chicago is working to make cities healthier and more efficient by developing and sharing the most innovative methods for sustainable food production, energy conservation, and material reuse. Plant Chicago works to cultivate local circular economies.

The Circular Economy is a collaborative economic practice sustained by local circulation of materials, nutrients, knowledge, and money. Empowered by transparency, diversity, and inclusion, Plant Chicago equips people and businesses with the tools to live sustainably. Roofing Visionaries’ guests realized that roofing, like most industries, has an insufficient understanding of waste reduction. Only 3% of materials get recycled, and the industry and people need to embrace “reduce” and “reuse,” not just “recycle.”

Bringing awareness of the need for sustainability to the Roofing Visionaries was Jobba’s intention. “This group of influencers is the seeds for change” Steven White mentioned. For example, 11 million tons of asphalt shingle waste is generated in the U.S. each year, when they are recyclable. Actions are already starting to be put in place. Michael Black from Sutter Roofing emailed us after the summit, “I was able to take some of the processes and things that I learned and apply that to my team.”

Following the three site visits, guests returned to the Robey Hotel for a facilitated strategy session. Guests were given three sticky notes with three statements: “I wonder, “I wish, and I learned.” They then collaborated with each other to incorporate these ideas with the insights they took away from the site visits. Below are some of the significant insights the Roofing Visionaries discovered:

  • Impact is directly correlated with passion.
    • Everyone has the opportunity to make an impact. The way to do so is to start small and iterate. Impact is what is real, tangible, and consistent.
  • Ecosystems are essential for growth.
    • Wendy Marvin, Chief Executive Officer of Matrix Roof & Home, was contemplating how the roofing industry could adopt more sustainable materials and methods. She commented, “If you start with the end of the life cycle in mind, there’s a paradigm shift. We’ve agreed as an industry what materials to use, but they aren’t necessarily the right ones.” Ecosystems and partnering across ecosystems, not just within them, can be vital for growth.
  • Technology should enhance, not replace, human systems.
    • Roofing is an art built on relationships and will suffer if too many aspects become automated. We must keep questioning and validating our intentions behind the technology we implement and continue to use. Having too much technology will start creating data silos. “People don’t live in siloes, so why should we operate in them?” Data silos are notable issues within the roofing industry surrounding technology. What purpose does it serve, not just technology for technology’s sake? There is still room for aspiration in the roofing profession, and technology may be a part of that evolution.

The Roofing Visionaries Immersive Experience wrapped up with a cocktail hour on the rooftop of the Robey Hotel. Thank you to everyone who participated in this exciting event. We hope to have another one in the future with new visits, more guests and discover more opportunities for the roofing industry. To look through our interactive photobook please click here.

Special Thanks To:
Ashley Lukasik – Curator/CEO of Murmur Ring
Jackie Trezzo – Photographer
Carlos Javier Ortíz – Videographer

Our Valued Guests:
Bill Pegnato – CEO – Pegnato Roof Intelligence Network, LLC
John Kenney – CEO – Cotney Consulting Group
Michael Black – Director of the Service & Maintenance Division – Sutter Roofing Company
Wendy Marvin – CEO – Matrix Roofing
Jason Domecq – Co-Owner – CP&M LLC., R3NG LLC.
Alan Marquis – Senior Account Manager – American Roofing Supply Inc.
Blain Young – Digital Specialist – SRS Distribution Inc.
Cecilia Brauer, Regional Sales Manager – BNP Media, Roofing Contractor Magazine
David Almario – COO – Jobba Trade Technologies
Jim Rizzo – VP of Sales – Jobba Trade Technologies
Dennis Keglovits – CCO – Jobba Trade Technologies
Mark Hadding – CFO – Jobba Trade Technologies

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