Can Construction Keep Growing?


Ken Simonson

Chief Economist, Associated General Contractors of America

Contractors have remained optimistic about most types of building construction. Yet they face increasing labor shortages, price shocks and worries about the effects of trade disputes on both supply of material and demand for projects. Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC, will review the latest data, including the results of AGC’s new outlook survey of contractors, and provide his own fearless forecast of what it all means for the roofing industry.

Ken Simonson has been the chief economist of the Associated General Contractors of America, the leading trade association for the construction industry, since 2001. His weekly summary of economic news relevant to construction, The Data DIGest, goes to 47,000 subscribers. He is a Fellow and past president of the National Association for Business Economics, the professional organization for individuals who use economics in their work. Currently, he serves as an appointed member of the Census Scientific Advisory Committee and the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Data Users Advisory Committee. Ken has 40 years of experience analyzing, advocating and communicating about economic and tax issues. He received a BA in economics from the University of Chicago and an MA in economics from Northwestern University.

What's Ahead on the Legislative Landscape?

Craig Brightup

Chief Executive Officer, Brightup Group LLC

The new Congress will take a different approach to Administration policies impacting the roofing industry.  This could have major implications for issues including workforce development, tax policy, labor relations (NLRB) and worker safety (OSHA), not to mention immigration and health care reform.  Plus, these issues will be debated as we begin the 2020 presidential election-cycle.  Craig Brightup, CEO, The Brightup Group LLC, will provide his analysis of the implications for SPRI members.

Craig Brightup is chief executive officer of The Brightup Group LLC, a government relations consulting firm in Washington, DC. He’s worked with over 20 different organizations since 2009, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and is also a founding member of E Street Partners, a bipartisan consortium providing public policy services to corporations, trade associations and coalitions. Previously, he was Vice President of Government Relations for the National Roofing Contractors Association in its Capitol Hill office, which he opened in 1990. Before that he headed congressional relations for the Federal Trade Commission by appointment of President Reagan, and in 2000 was named to Fortune Small Business magazine’s POWER 30 list of “influential insiders” in our Nation’s Capital.

RCI: A New Era

Lionel van der Walt

CEO, RCI, Inc.

RCI, Inc. CEO Lionel van der Walt will provide an introduction to the Association as it has entered into a new era in leadership and focus.  He will be sharing RCI’s revised strategic objectives; including areas of responsible procurement, building enclosure commissioning certifications, international growth, and the need for increased cross-industry collaboration.  Lionel will also address the need to attract the next generation of talent to the industry, RCI’s partnership with the NWiR, and the association’s efforts to modernize its processes and procedures.

An organizational strategy and analysis expert, van der Walt brings to RCI more than 20 years of international executive leadership and association experience. He spent the early part of his career as an officer in the South African Air Force and, subsequently, over a decade with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). He was most recently President of the Cargo Network Services (CNS) and a member of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Board of Directors.

Van der Walt’s immediate task will be to enhance the recognition and influence of RCI in the industry. He will further strengthen RCI’s mission through continued improvement of the association’s ongoing education and accreditation programs and its publications, which include RCI Interface technical journal, textbooks, and reference guides.

NRCA Roofing Industry Update

Reid J. Ribble


Honorable Reid Ribble, NRCA CEO, shares his vision for NRCA and the roofing industry. He will discuss NRCA's One Voice Initiative, an effort to unite the roofing industry and speak with one voice about matters critical to the industry's continued success. Reid will discuss advancing the roofing industry's public policy agenda through tax, immigration and regulatory reform. He will also address how NRCA can amplify the voice of the roofing industry in Washington, D.C. through working with legislators and officials from the federal government.

Reid Ribble is the chief executive officer of the National Roofing Contractors Association. A roofing contractor by trade, Ribble joined Kaukauna, Wis.-based The Ribble Group Inc., a family business, in 1975, and became company president in 1980. Ribble served as NRCA president from 2005-06 and NRCA's senior vice president from 2004-05. He also was president of The Roofing Industry Alliance for Progress' Board of Trustees from 2008-10.

In 2010, Ribble was elected to the U.S. Congress and was re-elected twice. In Congress, Ribble has earned the reputation of being honest and able to work with representatives from both sides of the aisle.

Reid has been happily married to his high school sweetheart DeaNa since 1975. They have two children and three grandchildren.

Get it on! What it Means to Lead the Way

The Ranger motto is Rangers Lead the Way. Leadership is the core of every skill developed as a Ranger. But, leadership is not a position but rather an example set by every Ranger. Whether approaching the beaches of Normandy or the mountain ranges of Afghanistan, the world is made better when leadership is owned by each member of the team.

Keni Thomas’ stories of Task Force Ranger are extraordinary examples of leadership. And, the stories are not about Generals, Colonels or Captains. For example, Private David Floyd was in charge of one person that day - himself. But his leadership and example saved lives.

In the pace of life, it is easy to lose perspective on our value to others. Make no mistake: Your presence is crucial! The individuals to the left and right are directly affected by the result of your actions. Each team is a puzzle with invaluable pieces.

When you raise your hand or assume a task, you have put on the “uniform”. Duty follows that responsibility. Good is never enough because better is expected.

Keni Thomas helps attendees see themselves in the light of extraordinary. It is a choice made by many each day to impact those around them.

It is the ultimate definition of LEADING THE WAY...

In the summer of 1993 Staff Sergeant Keni Thomas was deployed to Mogadishu Somalia with the 3rd Ranger Battalion as part of an elite special operations package called Task Force Ranger. Their mission was to find and capture a criminal warlord named Mohammed Farrah Aidid. On the 3rd of October, Keni and his fellow rangers distinguished themselves in an eighteen hour fire-fight that would later be recounted in the highly successful book and movie "Black Hawk Down". Nineteen Americans gave their lives and 78 were wounded in the worst urban combat seen by US troops since WWII.

A powerful speaker, Keni captivates audiences from beginning to end as he tells the incredible story of extraordinary individuals and how they fought to bring each other home. Drawing from his experiences on the battlefield, Keni inspires people to achieve greatness by stressing the importance of outstanding leadership at every level, even if the only person you are leading is yourself. His message of "Train as you fight - Fight as you train and Lead By Example" epitomizes the Ranger motto "Rangers Lead the Way!"

Keni sums it up like this, "Leadership has never been about the rank or the position you hold. It's about the example you set. There are people to your left and to your right who are counting on you and its up to you to deliver. But you will only be as good as you prepared yourself to be."

After Mogadishu, Staff Sergeant Thomas volunteered for one more enlistment in the Army. He became an assistant team leader for a six-man ranger reconnaissance team. He earned his master parachutist rating with over 400 military free fall jumps. He completed the Special Forces Combat Diver course, became an Advanced EMT and was one of ten Americans to complete the Belgium Commando Course.

Keni got out of the Army to pursue his music career and now works full-time as an award winning country music recording artist and songwriter in Nashville. He and his band Cornbread were featured in the movie "Sweet Home Alabama" and his music can be heard on country stations nationwide. Keni continued to serve our troops with regular tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

He is a regular guest on all the major news networks as a military analyst and was also a military advisor for the Mel Gibson movie "We Were Soldiers". He has been recognized by the President of the United States, by Congress and has been awarded the American Patriot Award. But Keni is most proud of his appointment as a national spokesman for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation. They provide college educations to the children of our special operations personnel killed in combat or training.

"Our special operations warriors are the tip of the spear. Their's is a dangerous and high risk mission" says Thomas. "Because of that, their losses are disproportionately high when compared to the rest of our military. Taking care of their kids, is the least we can do. It's what those dads would have wanted."

Keni Thomas is a graduate of the University of Florida, and the recipient of the bronze star for valor.

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