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John Sheridan - The Rise of Metal Roofing Training - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

John Sheridan - The Rise of Metal Roofing Training
February 28, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of a live interview with John Sheridan of Sheridan Consulting. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast. 

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Hello everyone and welcome to MetalCast. My name is Heidi Ellsworth with MetalCoffeeShop. We are all about metal so, of course, in our second episode we need to bring an expert in, a gentleman who has been roofing, putting on metal installations, but also training for decades. He knows more about metal installation than anyone I know. So please welcome John Sheridan to our MetalCast podcast. Welcome, John.

John Sheridan: Hi, Heidi, how you doing?

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I am great. Thank you for being here today.

John Sheridan: Thanks for having me.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Well, you and I both, we talk about it all the time, metal is growing whether it's roofing, siding, rule forming, whatever it may be, we are seeing it everywhere. And so I really wanted to bring you in and get that perspective of what you've seen in the metal industry and also what is so critical right now. But before we start with that, I would love it if you could introduce yourself to everybody who you are and your amazing businesses.

John Sheridan: Been in the metal business, industry, for plus or minus 50 years. It'll be-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Wow.

John Sheridan: 50 years in September.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Congratulations, that's awesome. We got to have a party.

John Sheridan: I'm going to pop a cork in September. The first 30 years, 25 to 30 years, were spent with companies, and those companies were primarily commercial so I had a lot of experience in commercial sheet metal. That started out way back in the '70s with residential and then that morphed into ... That company grew to the point where they started to do more commercial work. So I've always been in charge of sheet metal shops and sheet metal production for companies and just have learned that over the years.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: You have probably forgotten more than most people know about sheet metal then is what we're saying.

John Sheridan: I don't know about that. About 20, maybe 25 years ago, I decided to go out on my own. I had a couple of different variations of that. Had a partner for the first few years and then have been primarily out on my own for the last 20 years or so. And also, about 20 years ago I started to train specifically for a European metal concern. And from that it just morphed into training more systems for more companies, different variations of trainings, jobs like consulting. It just grew into what it is today. It's been pretty interesting.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Wow, that's amazing. And that's shared in consulting, and then you're doing training all over. We're going to talk more about that. But you also have shared in tools, right?

John Sheridan: Right. Right. To supplement the training, I decided to start selling tools A, because I'm familiar with just about every tool out there, and B, it's a good thing to not only teach people techniques but the tools associated with those techniques. It helps get the message across better and it helps people do the job right the first time rather than fight through a bunch of tools that are not conducive to what you're doing.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right. The right tool is what makes every project. Or destroys it if you don't have the right ones. Go ahead. What are you seeing around the demand for metal, John? Because you've been, I mean, like you said, it's almost 50 years in September. How has metal grown both, I mean, roofing, siding, just overall?

John Sheridan: Metal has A, become more accessible. While there were just a few different types of systems and manufacturers way back when there are a lot of systems out there now. Those systems are in a lot of different forms, and those different forms of fuel to just about everybody in the market. From agricultural buildings to very high-end commercial projects, there's a metal to fit that requirement.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And people love the look of it.

John Sheridan: People love the look of it, people love the longevity of it. It has a lot going for it from a cost effective standpoint.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We're seeing that a lot. I mean, in working with the Metal Roofing Alliance and the Metal Construction Association, we are seeing these reports coming in just on the growth of metal and the use of metal across the board. I mean, the growth, the demand for metal construction has continued to grow, but we're not seeing the labor force actually keep up with that demand, right?

John Sheridan: That's true, that's true. I saw a chart a few weeks ago that out of 100%, 83% of the market in residential roofing is shingles. Or, some of the higher-end materials but primarily shingles. So 75% of that 83% is shingles. That other 17% is metal. There is plenty of room to grow and there are plenty of desire in that group of people that are shingling now to move into metalwork. I think the demand is definitely there. There's a huge chunk of people that want to move into the metal business and don't just have the resources to do it. Just start looking. Scrambling around looking for resources to try and kickstart that.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Because it's really being driven from the owners, right? The homeowners, the business owners wanting the longevity, the durability of metal. So they're going to their contractors and saying, "This is what we want," and the contractors are like "We don't do that." And so they're realizing they need to get into that. This may be a simple question, John, but I think it's really important. I mean, I know there's probably a lot of people out there listening to this who are saying, "Well, if you roof you roof, right, it doesn't matter. If you're putting on an asphalt roof or you're putting on a metal roof what's the big deal?" Which we know is a huge deal. Just maybe talk a little bit about that. The differences between a crew who is very knowledgeable in asphalt shingle installation compared to how ... What does it take for them to get into metal?

John Sheridan: I guess the first step is to pick a system. Pick a system that's popular in your area, see what your competitors are doing in that area. Pick a system first, find out ... I'll give you an example. I had a guy come through one of my trainings, he's based in Florida. Right off the bat Florida has very strict requirements. The only system that he could go after in Florida was a mechanical lock 1.5" that was approved by Miami-Dade. Do a little research, find out what system works in your area, find out what manufacturers supply that system in your area, see what information that manufacturer has available to you as far as getting up to speed with that particular system.

McElroy, for instance. We were talking about McElroy earlier. They have metal shingles, they have agricultural panels, they have mechanical lock, they have a snap lock. They have a pretty good variety of systems. If you can get tuned into what works in your area you have a much better chance of moving from a shingle contractor into something that you can actually make money with. And that's the key. If you're not making money it's a wasted exercise.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It really is. Okay. Pick your system. And then as you're looking to get your crews trained, talk a little bit about what goes into that. That contractor from Florida who talked to you, tell us his journey. How did he get into your trainings and how did that work?

John Sheridan: Shingle roofer. Did huge shingle projects and hated it. It was monotonous, repetitive, not very rewarding. He's seeing all these metal roofs going up around him. And he's a very smart businessman and knows how to set the business end of it up, and just decided to go for it. The initial step for him to go for it was to have somebody just get him tuned in. It was a three-day training, but in those three days, I was able to kickstart him to the point where he could buy the equipment that he needed, be familiar with the tools that he needed to get started, have some sort of sense of what people to look for to help him get going. Initially, his guys are going to have a learning curve, and he's going to have to supplement his workforce with subcontractors that know what they're doing to build up his guy's knowledge base. You know what I mean? So all of that came together for this guy and he's killing it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it.

John Sheridan: He's only been doing it for a few months and he's doing really well.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: So this was the owner of the business who came to your three-day training to really understand how to install the overall of metal and what that meant to his business. And then when he went out and started looking for crews, he knew what to look for, right, for what the crew ... How the crew should be on their installations.

John Sheridan: Right. He knew what system he was allowed to install in Florida. He targeted people that were familiar with that system, brought them on board to help his guys get up to speed, and that's what he's doing, that's what he's doing. He's building his company. He's transitioning from shingles into ... He wants to be primarily a metal contractor now.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Awesome.

John Sheridan: That's what he's doing. It's pretty cool to see that happen.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Very cool.

John Sheridan: The most critical part of that is following up and keeping in touch with these people because he has asked me 1000 questions. You can only learn so much in three days. Nobody is going to become an expert in three days.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right, right.

John Sheridan: To have some sort of a dynamic in place where you're available to help them through some ... Even if it's just five minutes on the phone, that little bit of help helps people get to the point where they can take it and run with it.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It makes a huge difference. So now did he have employees or was he working all with crews?

John Sheridan: He has employees.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Okay.

John Sheridan: So we did that. We did the initial training for his guys so they had some basic stuff to get started with. And then when he got bigger jobs he needed help so he brought in people that were familiar with that system. Everybody learns everybody rises together. It does him good, it does the subcontractors that he's bringing in, it does them good. You go out and you do a quality job and that just feeds on itself.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It does, it does. You're able to train in all the systems, right?

John Sheridan: I'd like to think so.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: What's the most popular systems out there right now? Is it regional? What are people asking for training-wise?

John Sheridan: It is somewhat regional. It's not so much which systems are popular it's which systems you're comfortable with. All right. All systems are popular somewhere.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Okay.

John Sheridan: An exposed fastener agricultural panel system might be popular in Texas and absolutely not popular in Montana. A mechanical seam would be popular in Florida, not particularly a snap lock system. Metal shingles are really popular in Wisconsin but maybe not somewhere else. So geographically some systems dominate and you just have to target what works best for you where you're at.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: You and I have been working with MetalCoffeeShop, and Sherwin-Williams, and Sheridan Consulting. We've all been working on this big overall project of MetalVue. We've also been working on just really bringing this to the forefront the need for training, the need ... What's happening out there with installers. And you touched on this before, but I'm really interested in what you're hearing from business owners who you've worked with on selling metal roofing. I mean, it sounds like your gentleman from Florida is knocking it out of the ballpark. What are you hearing, that connection between selling it and then installing it? And what's happening out there in the market with that?

John Sheridan: I think the selling end is a little bit easier than the installation end.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Okay.

John Sheridan: People that have been selling their whole careers or their whole company careers can sell anything. The problem is to have a workforce that can transition into a new product that you're introducing into your customer base. As you get people asking about metal roofs, you want to be able to service that sector. MetalVue to me is the most comprehensive way of attacking that transition that I've ever seen. I mean, it's amazing.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: When you put that all together I agree with you 100%. For everyone listening to this, and hopefully hearing it, we're going to be following up actually with a webinar later on in the month of January 2023, depending on when this comes out. We're going to be following up with a webinar just to that point, John. What is this MetalVue program? Because it's so comprehensive and there is so many things. I mean, from the beginning from sales to marketing to getting leads to installation, training the crews.

I mean, this is what I've seen through my career is, a lot of times an owner might get really excited and I'm like "Yes, we're going to sell metal roofing," but they don't have the processes in place for the training and for then the installation. And then, like you said, if you don't have a good installation word spreads, right, and then all of a sudden you've lost your business. So that installation really is a key in the middle of ... You can get all the leads, you can get all the sales and everything, but if you can't install a really good project you're at a loss.

John Sheridan: I mean, there's several ways to attack that. Let's say that MetalVue is generic. Okay. It provides generic information for somebody to get started in the metal business, gives them links to different services that that can help you get kickstarted, okay? Off of that, you get a link to a specific manufacturer. And again, I'll bring up McElroy because they're in the program. McElroy has specific systems, they have specific requirements for those systems which is important. If you're selling this to a homeowner and you want a warranty, you want to make sure that you're putting it on the way that McElroy wants it put on. Or Central States or Metal Sales, whoever.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right.

John Sheridan: Once you get the generic base information in place then you want manufacturer-specific information to provide a product to a customer. Okay? Once you do that you can train your guys on that specific system with manufacturer specs. So I can go into a place and introduce people to a couple different systems in a day or two, they can pick one or two of those systems and do a more intense training, get their people up to speed with specific manufacturer specifications that will give them an opportunity to provide that homeowner with a warranty. That's super critical.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: That's key. It's very, very important. To summarize that too. For everyone out there who you're listening, you're going what is this? What are they talking about this MetalVue program? The MetalVue program is basically focused on manufacturers who are bringing all the tools together that ... And Sherwin-Williams is actually bringing it all together but they're working ... The hub, the center, the people you got to get involved with first are the manufacturers. For example, McElroy Metals, they're going to be providing trainings all across the country this coming year. And John, you're going to be part of that.

John Sheridan: Well, and give yourself some credit too. I mean, all this stuff is going in and out of MetalCoffeeShop so you're like the hub that all this stuff is emanating from. You know what I mean? It's critical to me to have a place like MetalCoffeeShop where all that information can come in and go out to where it's needed. You know what I mean? And get to the right people in a controlled sort of manner. It's huge.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It's fun. It's fun too. Bringing all this together I think we've both had some sleepless nights trying to figure it all out but this is really fun. And so this trainee is going to be available across the country. And like John said, through MetalCoffeeShop we're going to actually have all this. We already have information in the directories both for Sheridan Consulting, Sheridan Tools, for the MetalVue program, the Passport program, which we aren't even talking about at this point.

We were talking about sales and all the training and teaching on sales. A big piece of it is the Passport program from Sherwin-Williams which basically utilizes EagleView measurements, along with other measurements if you want to bring in some other services, to create the cut, to get that to the manufacturer so they have all the dimensions, they know what they need. It makes it attainable for contractors out there with this technology which is pretty cool, and it helps the contractors and the installers, once they get on the job because they have all that information already. It's a whole trail that really leads people from the very beginning all the way through, like you said, that warranty for the homeowner.

John Sheridan: No, that's huge. That's huge for somebody to have access to Passport and be able to get an EagleView of a project, have a cut list generated from that EagleView, and then use that to order the material from whoever they want to order the material from. That is huge.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: And then from there the manufacturer delivers it, or your distributor delivers it. It's just this whole system that really, really is working and is ... We're right at the beginning of it. As we're looking at all of this, John, and we're looking on how contractors can get involved, I think we ... They're probably out there going "Okay, first" ... And you just said it, thank you, MetalCoffeeShop, check it all out. You can check out all the manufacturers who are in the program, you can read up on everything. You can get your tools, talk to John, get involved, and understand the MetalVue. But really more than anything, it's that first step, is to get in touch with Sherwin-Williams and they will get you in touch with a participating manufacturer. We said McElroy a bunch of times, but there's a bunch of them out there. Drexel Metals, Central States.

John Sheridan: Vicwest. All those guys.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Oh, and they're great. And they all have directories on MetalCoffeeShop too.

John Sheridan: The important part of that is that they're all geographical to a lot of them. Some service more areas better than others. It's important that we deal with everybody.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right. For the people out there who are maybe saying, "Well, I haven't worked with any of those manufacturers but I have my favorite metal manufacturer." Talk to them about it. Those metal manufacturers, talk to them about it. Have them come to the MetalCoffeeShop, have them talk to Sherwin-Williams. It's going viral, right?

John Sheridan: Right.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It's about people talking about it.

John Sheridan: And I'll be supplementing that with video content. That's going to be generic video content that'll help people see basic concepts associated with metal roofing. It's not going to tie them or commit them to any specific manufacturer, but it'll be good information that they can then look forward ... Look deeper into finding somebody specific in their area.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right, right.

John Sheridan: All that stuff helps. You cannot get enough information. I've been doing it for 50 years and I'm still learning things.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Me too. Me too. I want to circle back just a little bit on the training and on your videos because that is ... Right now for all of you out there, if you go to MetalCoffeeShop and you go to John's directory, you're going to see his YouTube links. If you just go to YouTube and put in John Sheridan and metal insulation you're going to see all these great videos that he's done over the years but you're doing a whole bunch of new ones right now, and that's happening just like in a couple weeks, right?

John Sheridan: Yep. We have a video scheduled, or a video scheduled in Nashville in a couple of weeks. That'll be your first video that you can get out there and see what response we get.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Right. It's going to show how to install ... Which systems, John, are you going to be video or recording?

John Sheridan: I'm going to be doing three systems. An exposed fastener system, a nail strip system, and a snap lock system.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Perfect.

John Sheridan: We'll be running generally through those three systems and just go through a general installation on a mockup and explain the installation on that mockup. Just get people tuned into a couple of different options. Okay. We'll supplement that with stuff that's a little more detailed. Okay.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: As we're going through.

John Sheridan: Right.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: Because you're going to have a lot of trainings.

John Sheridan: I don't want to blow people's minds right off the bat.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We would be remiss if we didn't mention ... I mean if you want to have your mind blown just see some of the things that John's done with zinc, and with copper, and with some of these ... What do they call them exotic metals? I don't think they're that exotic but I've heard that term. I mean, some of those are pretty amazing.

John Sheridan: I appreciate that. I'd say that 95% of the market in the US is not exotic metals, okay? 95% of the market in metal is painted material, okay. So if you ignore that market, A, you're going to run out of people to train, and B, you're not really growing the metal industry.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it.

John Sheridan: I have both ends of the market covered. I have an entry-level thing that I'm going to be doing through the MetalVue and through MetalCoffeeShop, and I have the craziest, most exotic details that you'd ever want to see on the ... I just scheduled four trainings for that in North Carolina.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: I love it.

John Sheridan: We're going to be doing that at the same time. We'll have both ends covered. Hopefully-

Heidi J. Ellsworth: It shows your expertise, John. That's the thing that's exciting about it. To be able to share that just rich craftsmanship.

John Sheridan: None of that happens though if there's not people out there that are willing to learn and are interested in doing it. You know what I mean? You can be as sharp as you want to be, but if nobody wants to do it, who cares? You have to have people that are willing to learn and commit the time and the resources to take in three days and sitting through one of these things because they're pretty good.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: They're pretty good. That's awesome. Well, John, thank you so much for spending some time on this MetalCast. We're going to have you on a lot. Everyone out there, you're going to be hearing ... You're going to get a lot more of this expertise, what's going on out there in the world of metal. Bottom line, your entry point right now more than anything is the MetalVue program with Sherwin-Williams, and training with John Sheridan and Sheridan Consulting. You can find all of that on MetalCoffeeShop on all the information you need, and you can always know how to get ahold of us. We're here. We want to get more people into metal, right? Make more money with metal. That's how it goes.

John Sheridan: Appreciate that, Heidi. I'm always here for you.

Heidi J. Ellsworth: We'll have you back, John, this is going to be great. Thank you all. Thank you all for being here today. Thank you for watching. We will be bringing this MetalCast to you multiple times throughout the month. And we're also going to be bringing a lot of the experts from the metal industry in here just to talk about metal, and what's happening, and what's going on. Join us again. Be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast channel along with get your notifications, you Don't want to miss a single episode. And we'll see you next time on MetalCast.

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