Jeff Johnston talks future legislative efforts championed by trade organization
Grand County has numerous large construction firms but few can claim the size and scope of Granby based business The Roofing Company, owned by 42-year industry veteran Jeff Johnston.
Earlier this year Johnston was recognized for his, and his firm’s, professionalism and industry involvement when he was named the new president of the Colorado Roofing Association, a trade association compromised of industry leaders throughout the state. Johnston, who has been roofing in Middle Park and throughout Colorado since the mid-70s, was proud of his recent selection as president of the CRA and said he hopes to pursue several legislative items at both the state and federal capitals as part of his new volunteer role.
The CRA is a trade association with roughly 300 members, according to Johnston, and includes all of the large-scale roofing contractors in Colorado. The CRA has a training center where prospective workers can be trained in every aspect of the roofing process from metal roof installation to shingles to flat roof construction techniques. The organization is also highly involved in legislative lobbying efforts and Johnston sits on the CRA’s legislative coalition.
Johnston was appointed as the next president of the CRA by the organization’s Board of Directors, which is made up of state industry. As president he is responsible for issuing a monthly message through the CRA newsletter and also helps set policy priorities for the CRA’s lobbying efforts. He outlined the areas he hopes to focus on as president of the CRA in an interview early last week.
“One thing I am really pushing, my biggest goal, is state licensing for roofers,” Johnston said. “It is a state licensing program that would be monitored and run by the state. I hope to get that off center and really rolling.”
According to Johnston there is an industry wide issue in the roofing business wherein some firms do not meet legal requirements regarding workman’s comp and liability insurance. Additional, according to Johnston, some firms skit the spirit of the law by employing workers as independent subcontractors. In Johnston’s view the licensing process would alleviate many of these problems, which sometimes hurt private citizens who contract with firms who operate in bad faith.
At the federal level Johnston said he plans to focus on both regulations and immigration issues.
“The biggest two issues are regulation, getting rid of so many of the burdensome regulations that the feds have, and immigration,” Johnston said. “Nobody can find help. There is a Visa cap and it is not even close to what we need. There were 66,000 on the last go round. We were going to put in for 5,000 but they were all gone by the time we got ahold of our attorney.”
Johnston started his firm in 1976, which was originally based in the Fraser Valley. From it’s initial creation up through the mid-1990s The Roofing Company was a fairly small operation. In 1995 Johnston said he made a conscious decision to pursue large commercial work and from that point on The Roofing Company began growing by leaps and bounds.
“We just exploded,” Johnston said. “We were growing anywhere from 20 to 40 percent per year. Before the Great Recession hit we were doing about $16 million in business a year, more than any other mountain roofing contractor. We did large scale projects in Vail, Steamboat, basically every place that had a tower crane we were there.”
After the recession in in the late aughts Johnston was forced to drastically downsize his workforce. What was previously a field workforce of 220 workers and an office staff of 36 was reduced by roughly two-thirds.
Since the recession Johnston said he has decided to stabilize the size of The Roofing Company at its current state, performing roughly $10 million a year in work. The Roofing Company now employs about 90 people and most of Johnston’s employees have been with the firm for decades.