Submitted by Megan Ellsworth

RoofersCoffeeShop® has been delivering networking, information and education since 2002. It is a website community “Where the Industry Meets.” Launched by Vickie Sharples to compliment her Roofers Exchange newspaper, the site soon became the place where contractors came to do business in the classified section, to network in the forum, to stay up to date in the newsroom and to find ongoing educational resources. As a women-owned business, Vickie worked with a team of men and women including her husband Mick Sharples to bring the roofing industry online.

In 2015, Heidi J. Ellsworth joined Vickie as her business partner and developed a plan to relaunch the site into the roofing industry as not only the place Where the Industry Meets” but as a fully digital, multimedia resource for all roofing professionals. Since 2015, the Coffee Shop has launched their Read Listen Watch initiative that allows roofing professionals to learn how they want to, when they want to. They can Read all the latest news in the Newsroom, Listen to podcasts on multiple channels and on the site and Watch videos, webinars and other multimedia live events like Coffee Conversations.

In the spring of 2020 as COVID began to take over the lives of all people, it became clear that there was an essential need for networking and digital communications. Heidi and Vickie brainstormed a new online event that is not a webinar but an opportunity for contractors and roofing professionals to talk, ask questions and find answers in a live format first thing in the morning. Modeled after an initiative from the early 2000s, that Heidi participated in, where Vickie would host Q&A sessions at 6 am for contractors to meet manufacturers, the new Coffee Conversations has taken on a life of its own and is now in season two.

The unique and exciting part of RoofersCoffeeShop is a vision to bring talented men and women in the roofing industry together every day online, along with live events that have transcended the craziness of the 2020 COVID culture. The team behind RoofersCoffeeShop exemplifies roofing respect with a majority of the team being women. The Coffee Shop team has and still works virtually, creating a model of flexibility even before there was a need. It is a core value of the Coffee Shop to support women and men who want to combine a career and family. They can work from their home on their time schedule creating flexibility that works for raising a family, going to school or pursuing and creating their own freelance businesses.

Many of the women involved with the Coffee Shop including Heidi and Vickie have built businesses working with and supporting roofing contractors. Karen Edwards works as RoofersCoffeeShop editor and also has a successful consulting business, Casimir Group. She is also the chair of the NWIR Councils Committee. Karen Sharples has worked with the Coffee Shop for five years and is the heartbeat of the shop, working with contractors, manufacturers and distribution every day. Monica Vornbrock, co-chair of NWIR Events Committee is bringing a Latina flavor to the Coffee Shop with enhanced Spanish communications while running her own marketing and design business. And excitingly, many of the Coffee Shop employees are young, up and coming professionals bringing an all new way of looking at communications and information. That next generation includes Lauren White, Charlotte Galland, Nicole Hougland, Laurel Wittig, Hannah Swanson, Megan Ellsworth, AJ Gehley and Colin Sheehan. And of course, a familiar face at all the tradeshows is Tim Ellsworth, working side-by-side with Heidi handling shows and logistics.

All of this has come together to create conversations, news, education and information that continues to build a sense of community like no other. Much like the passion of founding NWIR, Heidi is committed to building a strong future online for all people. With a commitment to diversity and equality, the hope is to continue creating a space that welcomes everyone to experience the uniqueness and major opportunities in roofing and virtually. RoofersCoffeeShop is all about building business that promotes Roofing Respect. “Where the Industry Meets” is not just a tagline, it is a promise.