Mission Statement

Established in 1965, the Roofing Contractors Association of Washington continues to bring the roofing industry together to increase success through advocacy, continuing education, professional collaboration, and consumer awareness. The RCAW is committed to expanding a diverse and inclusive membership that promotes credibility and camaraderie within the roofing industry.

History of RCAW

To see where we are in the present and where we are going in the future, it is sometimes a good idea to look at the past. The RCAW has gone through many changes since its inception. The Late Eric Pettersen, a past RCAW President, and Board Member, shared his memories of the RCAW in this article extracted from the 2002 RCAW newsletter and added to by various board members and Executive Directors.

It’s been over thirty-one years since I first started attending RCAW meetings. My, how things have changed! Monthly meetings were held in a restaurant where Bellevue Square now stands. It was truly a “good old boys” club and I was the only kid.

It was a great group of people, proud and successful contractors in their own right – people like Pete Stanley, Merle Wright, Vic Otlans, Mel Bosnick, Walt Crow, Bud Yost, Rudy Baack, Leigh Haight, Oscar Puetz, Bill Spafford, Walt Smith, Jerry Kotson, Vince Pirak, Eddie Larson, Rich Bratland, Monty Moore, Bill Linklater, Pad Finnigan, Don Heldman just to name a few.

Diverse, interesting, friendly, and maybe only slightly opinionated? Yes. Did we have spirited discussions? Yes. Did we have fun and make good friends? Absolutely. What an opportunity it was to get to know most of the contractors in the commercial roofing market within a few months.

It was a completely different association those days. The by-laws restricted the contractor members to only those who were signatory to the Roofers Union Labor Agreements. The primary function of the association was to serve as a collective bargaining group for the labor negotiations and contract administration with the Seattle and Tacoma Locals of the Roofers Union. Further, most of the roofing work in this area, except single-family residences, was done by union roofers.

In the late seventies, the landscape began to change. Open shop construction began to emerge in all markets and the State and Federal Government had the increasing propensity to promulgate regulations that were to affect every aspect of our businesses. It is also clear that the roofing industry needed to improve its image in the community. The hard working and honest people with integrity were not credited with such character to the extent they deserved.

These emerging trends triggered a complete paradigm shift within the association in the late seventies and early eighties. The RCAW got completely out of the collective bargaining business and into lobbying, industry promotion, and membership services. The management, by-laws, and funding all had to be changed to reflect these shifts in focus.

Money was always a problem in the early years because the association was much smaller and depended on dues for financing. This changed dramatically with the advent of the “Industry Fund”. This source of funding was created to provide money for promotion of the industry, improving its image, and to have a presence in Olympia to represent our interests.

The industry fund was a unique vehicle for funding, whereby, the contractors “Taxed” themselves based on roofing labor hours as a part of the collective bargaining agreement with the roofers union. This worked well for a while, but some of the larger contractors provided a disproportionately large part of the funding for the association. The larger contractors were paying in many thousands of dollars per year (in 1970’s dollars) to this fund. This funding source became a big problem with the rapid emergence of open shop construction while the union contractors footed the bill for most of the promotional and lobbying efforts. It was clear after a while the association had to wean itself from this type of funding.

I dwell on this issue because of the significance the “Industry Fund” played in providing the “bridge” money to move the association forward to answering the challenges noted above. It provided a rapid financial momentum to hire a full time “Executive Director”, open an office and to begin the business of industry promotion and representing our interests in Olympia.

It is an important historical fact that these early contractors were not legally obligated to sign a labor agreement with an industry fund provision, but most did. We owe these contractors our gratitude for the considerable financial commitment in those years; for without it I believe the association would not have answered the new challenges of the changing landscape.

The early “Management” was limited to a part time position. “Executive Secretary” more closely described the job. There was no association office and the job consisted mostly of taking minutes and recording the finances. Some of you will remember the names of the people in this position as Bert Bryant, John Morell, and Jack Goodhue.

The first full time Executive Director was Meg Jacobsen, the first woman in any part of the association leadership. With her presence, the rough edges of the meetings began to disappear, and her efforts began the current tradition of putting a positive professional face on the association and moving forward with the new direction. Future Executive Directors included Mary Jacobsen, Lois Sadler, Betty Baxter, Mistie Chiddick, Patti Harmon, Sefton Oxford, Tracey Prociw and now Amanda Fields.

Throughout the history of the association suppliers, manufacturers, and industry professionals have been a part of the membership as non-voting associate members (note as of 2007, all RCAW members have voting rights). Their support has always been an important factor in the success of the association.

During the eighties there were major changes in the by-laws intended to help the RCAW grow. Positions were created on the board for one manufacturer representative and one distributor representative.

The most significant change came when contractor membership was opened to include non-union contractors. We also moved to include members from Eastern Washington. These bylaw changes were intended to expand the influence of the RCAW and to offset the loss of the industry fund financing. We also hoped to attract new talent to the Board of Directors with new energy and ideas.

The relationship that was forged with the Independent Business Association (IBA) and Gary Smith has been crucial to our reference in Olympia. No one contractor or group of contractors has the time or expertise to represent us as he does. IBA and Mr. Smith are a force to be reckoned with on the hill during session for roofing industry rights in our state.

As many things change, some things never do. The RCAW is still the best available forum for networking and keeping up to speed with the industry. And, our events throughout the year prove the RCAW is not always about work.

Now a days, the RCAW provides membership benefits that add to your bottom line. A membership with RCAW will enhance your reputation, create trust in the marketplace, help you tap into knowledge through webinars, educational classes and peer groups including legal, operations, marketing, sales and much more. Your membership in the RCAW will increase your purchasing power with our new membeR resourCe advantAge reWards program, including current member to member benefits, and change your life and business with events and information you never had access to before.

The Roofing Contractors Association of Washington is designed for all roofing industry businesses, residential and commercial alike, as well as associated businesses that want the best for their company, employees, and industry within the entire state of Washington. RCAW is here for YOU, but you get out what you put in just like anything else.

Get involved – network, learn and take your business to the next level.

Join today and be part of the change adding growth and innovation to the roofing industry in Washington.