Contractor Resources

How To Maintain Roofer Wellness: Three Business Owners Share Their Insights.

9 MIN READ

The roofing industry is notoriously tough. Working on a roof is physically and mentally demanding, and will push you to your limits if you’re not careful. This is why we hold safety to such a high standard. But there’s more to protecting your well-being than gear and regulations. For long-term success in the roofing industry, you must also prioritize health and wellness.

Health and wellness are the fuel that drives people. When properly maintained, they can minimize the threat of injury, keep you sharp and help you unlock your full potential, allowing you to bring your absolute best to the job site. They also promote happiness, reduce stress and improve your overall quality of life.

Business owners have a responsibility to maintain the health and safety of their employees, which is why it’s so important to have a comprehensive wellness plan. However, unlike the clear-cut standards of safety regulations, wellness is a personal journey influenced by various factors on and off the job. This can make creating a wellness plan that fits your organization a challenging and complex process. To help point you in the right direction, we interviewed three business owners — Matt Weston of Calendar Construction, Donavan Morgan of Roofs By Don and Megan Sims of Meg Sims Roofing — to see how they maintain health and wellness on and off the job. They shared their insights on a variety of topics, from healthy eating and sun protection to supporting employee mental health and wellness.

Matt Weston of Calendar Construction

In 2015, Matt Weston and his wife Erin started Calendar Construction, which services Charleston, West Virginia, and the surrounding area. Recently, they’ve expanded to include Calendar Roofing, which specializes in residential and commercial roofing in northern Michigan. Speaking with Matt, he shared some of the ways he integrates health and wellness into his organization.

Using Sun Protection:

As we all know, working on a roof all day in the sun can greatly impact your physical well-being. Yet, Matt is constantly shocked by the number of roofers who don’t apply sunscreen, “You don’t want to get burnt because when you’re wearing all your harnesses and safety equipment, and your skin’s irritated, you’re going to be irritated and not feeling your best.” So, to help protect his crew, Matt always stresses the application of sunscreen and supplies his team with long-sleeve UV-blocking shirts.

To minimize the effect of harmful UV rays even further, Matt explains how he schedules his day around the sun, “The most work is taking the shingles off, cleaning them up and then getting the shingles on the roof. So, our goal is to get that accomplished as soon as possible. If we can get all three of those things accomplished before 10 or 11 in the morning, before it starts getting warm, that allows us to function better throughout the day.”

He also likes to plan his midday break when it will be the most beneficial for his crew, “Usually we use the hottest point of the day to take our break, and in that hour, hour and a half, it might cool down five or six degrees. So, you’re reenergized and rehydrated, and the weather is more in your favor.” Of course, working in the sun is unavoidable in the roofing industry, but Matt can decrease direct exposure as much as possible by working around it.

Working in Pairs:

Many hands make light work, and the lighter the work in roofing, the easier it is on the body. To maintain employee health and wellness, Matt makes everyone work in pairs to ensure his employees don’t overexert themselves. “They feed each other. One person is taking the shingles and handing them to the person who’s nailing the shingles down, which speeds up the process, and it’s less work for the person installing the shingles.” There’s also a secondary benefit, “People can keep an eye on their partner in case they start getting tired. They can regulate each other.” When nailing, it can be easy to get in the zone. Having someone there to look after you is an excellent way of ensuring you don’t accidentally push yourself beyond your limits.

To maintain his employees’ mental health and wellness, Matt regularly checks in with his crew: “I’ll buy them lunch or take them to a restaurant after we’re done working and reflect on everything. I ask them how they feel and if there’s anything I can do better as a boss.”

Separating Your Professional and Private Lives:

Matt understands the pressures and stress that come with being a business owner. He’s experienced firsthand the difficulty of separating your professional and private lives, and the toll it can take on your mental health. So, to ensure he always makes time for himself, Matt creates space between himself and the job, “I have to physically go do something to get away from work because, in this industry, it’s time-consuming. You’re not just physically roofing. You’re bidding on jobs. You’re dealing with current, past and possible customers. So, you have to physically step away.” Matt does this by getting away on his boat, spending time with his family and engaging in hobbies that keep his mind occupied.

Another way Matt maintains his mental health is by using the car ride home to reflect and unwind, “I reflect on how the day went and think to myself, ‘Maybe we could have done this better.’ And I make a mental note or physical note on my phone. And then, by the time you get home, you’re done with work as soon as you walk in.” Matt also uses this time to catch up with loved ones, calling his wife or parents so the job doesn’t become all-consuming.

Donavan Morgan of Roofs By Don

Donavan Morgan is the owner and operator of Roofs By Don. Committed to quality and creating an exceptional roofing experience, Don serves the regions of Atlanta, Marietta and Norcross, Georgia, and has been featured on HGTV. Don believes that “health is wealth” and thus takes employee health and wellness incredibly seriously. Here are some ways Don works to make his team happy and healthy.

Keeping Your Crew Educated:

A big issue Don sees in the roofing industry is the misrepresentation of proper safety guidelines and procedures, “The one I hear the most,” says Don, “is, ‘Yeah, climbing a ladder, you need to have three points of contact,’ or ‘You’re not tied off correctly.’ But who’s actually certified? Did they get certified as far as being tied off? Or is everyone just acting like they’re teachers, and no one took the class?” While it may be well-intended, sharing safety advice with no frame of reference can create a false sense of security on the job site, leading to accidents and injury.

To ensure everyone is following proper safety guidelines, Don strives to get every member of his crew certified by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. To make this as easy as possible, Don brings the training to them by employing an OSHA-certified trainer and holding a roofer education and safety event. The event allows his employees to get OSHA-certified and rub elbows with representatives of the safety industry, test products, ask questions and better understand how to stay safe.

Thinking About Your Sales Force:

You don’t need to be working on a roof all day to feel the pressures of the industry. Don believes having good mental health is critical to maintaining the wellness of your sales force, “You have to have good mental health because that’s what’s going to get you through all the ‘no’s.’” Most sales forces work off commission, and hearing ‘no’ repeatedly can be a stressful and disheartening experience. So, to help keep their spirits up, Don puts a positive spin on the daily grind with a thought exercise, “If someone wants to pay you $1,000, would you hear 100 ‘no’s’?” This encourages his salespeople, inspiring them to maintain a positive outlook and keep working for the “yes” because, as Don says, “Once I get the ‘yes,’ it’s gonna be worth hearing all those ‘no’s.’”

Don also keeps his sales force properly hydrated, ensuring team leaders keep water in their vehicles and reminding them to ask for water when needed, regardless of whether they seal the deal or not, “Even if someone says, ‘Hey, I’m good on the free roof inspection.’ You say, ‘No problem at all. It is 90 degrees outside, though. Do you happen to have a bottle of water?’ That will go a long way during the summer.”

Appreciating Your Crew:

Showing your crew members how much you appreciate their hard work can do wonders for employee well-being and mental health, and it’s something Don goes above and beyond to provide his employees. When it comes to the “how,” Don follows a simple mantra: “We’re regular people, so we like to do cool stuff.” For Roofs By Don, that means treating the team to boating trips, go-karting and other fun activities. He’s a proud sponsor of the Atlanta Hawks, so he regularly treats them to basketball games and Atlanta Braves games. He’s always finding ways to show his crew members they are valued and respected.

Don also does everything he can to support his employees outside the job, “We like to be what’s called ‘Dream Facilitators.’ We ask, ‘What do you guys like to do outside of roofing?’” Don encourages everyone to share their passions and interests with him and then does whatever he can to get them closer to their goals. As Don says, “Roofing is not supposed to kill your dreams. It’s supposed to enhance your dreams.” By supporting his crew members outside of work, he can make the roofing industry a positive and uplifting experience that enhances their quality of life.

Megan Sims of Meg Sims Roofing

Megan Sims started Meg Sims Roofing in 2020 and serves the community of London, Ontario. In just a few short years, Megan has grown her organization into a thriving business dedicated to providing the absolute best for her clients and employees. As a former CrossFit trainer, Megan sees the body as “the vessel that is doing everything for you throughout the day, including your job.” With these employee health and wellness tips, she can help you take wellness and roofing to the next level.

Warming Up:

To help get everyone’s bodies physically ready for the day, Megan likes to lead her crew through a quick, 10-minute warmup. Utilizing her background as a personal trainer, Megan caters these warmups to the specific muscle groups used while working on a roof. “If we’re roofing, then it’s a lot of bending, so trying to warm up those muscles that are going to be keeping you in that position. And then, I’m also trying to open up the opposite muscles.”

Like Don, she believes roofer education is essential to maintaining wellness and always explains how stretching strengthens muscles and helps decrease injury. In addition, she uses this time to go over the job, review safety procedures and pinpoint potentially hazardous areas—all in 10 minutes! This has had such a positive impact on her employees’ health and wellness that it’s become an essential part of their day, and they are quick to remind her if it’s ever forgotten.

Eating Well:

To maintain the physical wellness of herself and her crew, Megan stresses healthy eating habits on the job. For example, she recommends protein bars throughout the day, but warns of being tricked by misleading labels, “There’s a lot of things out there that say high in protein because it has peanut butter in it, as an example. But peanut butter, if you look at the macronutrients, is mostly fat with some protein and no carbs.” So, when looking for the right protein bar, Megan follows this rule, “It’s protein, carbs, fat. It’s not a protein bar if there’s more fat in it than protein.”

Megan starts every day with a homemade oat parfait loaded with protein and energy, which she calls her “Super Gains Oats.” “That has like 900 calories in it,” she laughs, “For a reason, because I know that I really need to start myself off with something good.” She also makes her own protein pancakes, which make great on-the-go snacks and make it easier to maintain a healthy diet with her busy schedule.

If you’d like to try either, Megan was nice enough to share the recipes with us.

oat pancake recipe

super gains oats

Encouraging Physiotherapy Services:

As a former personal trainer, Megan is fully aware of the toll working on a roof takes on the body and the lengths one must go to fully recover, “Even with regular mobility, the job is very repetitive. So, I would have to spend equal amounts of time in the opposite positions to mitigate those situations.” To speed up recovery and reduce the risk of injury, Megan routinely gets deep tissue massages, sees a chiropractor and receives acupuncture.

She also makes these services available to her employees, “I give my employees massage or chiropractor gift cards for them to take care of themselves outside of the job and have those types of self-care moments for themselves, especially when we’ve had hard weeks.” Megan works to break down the barriers and misconceptions many people have about massage therapy, “Some people look at [massage therapy] as something that’s bougie. Like, ‘Oh, only fancy people do that.’ But that’s totally not true,” she told us. “So, I try to kibosh those sorts of thoughts by actively talking about it all the time, saying this is what I do on a regular basis, and then also making it possible for everyone.”

She’ll do this during her pre-work warmup or talk to roofers one-on-one. Knowing that it can be challenging to find moments to talk on a busy job site and that some may feel uncomfortable coming to the boss with a problem, Megan does her best to create opportunities for open communication, “I’ll have them come on the drive with me or be my assistant at that moment and then check in on their actual life and how things are going for them outside of this job.”

What You Can Do:

It’s important to remember that every business is different, and wellness is a very personal process. What works for some might not work for others. However, we hope that the shared experiences of these three business owners have shown you the multitude of ways you can elevate and maintain your, your crew’s, and your business’s well-being.

A special thanks to Matt Weston of Calendar Construction, Donavan Morgan of Roofs By Don and Megan Sims of Meg Sims Roofing for taking the time to participate in this blog.