IKO in the Past, Present and Future. Roofing — and People — Elevated

Submitted by Carol Perkins, Director of Marketing for IKO Industries

At IKO, our slogan is “Roofing Elevated.” As the company prepares to celebrate its 70th anniversary in 2021, I believe our growth and success have been achieved in large part through a philosophy of “People Elevated.” It’s not an official slogan; it’s an attitude born of a sincere and humble desire to serve our customers, distributors, employees and industry.

Since its founding in Calgary, Alberta, IKO has always been a family-owned and -operated business, now in its fourth generation. The company started small, but took a long-term, very methodical approach to realizing its founders’ vision. As a result of its commitment to vertical integration and its supportive, inclusive and entrepreneurial culture, IKO has expanded and grown to become a leading manufacturer of quality roofing materials worldwide.

When I first started working here, over 20 years ago, there were very few women in the company and the roofing industry as a whole. But that was mainly due to the societal norms of the day and a general lack of women available to our industry, not a reluctance to or prejudice against hiring women into a traditionally male-dominated arena.

Times have definitely changed, and for the better, in terms of both IKO’s success and opportunities for women. While IKO constantly innovates and adapts its products and processes to meet the demands and needs of its ever-evolving markets, the company has always remained true to its founding principles. Everyone at every level genuinely lives and breathes IKO’s core values every single day, creating a culture where women can feel empowered and valued.

Throughout my tenure, I have witnessed this unwavering commitment firsthand and have benefited from IKO’s corporate culture, which has always welcomed my involvement, furthered my knowledge and recognized my contributions to the company’s success.

Over the years, I have also been encouraged to step out of my comfort zone and go beyond the company. Participating in industry associations, such as the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) and National Women in Roofing (NWIR), has allowed me to encourage and make young women aware of the many available career opportunities in an industry that has so much to offer them both personally and professionally.

Having said all that, I’m aware of no other time in the company’s history that IKO’s core values have been challenged and tested as they are now, during the global crisis of COVID-19. Providing shelter is among our most basic human needs, and our business is rightly deemed “essential.”

Here’s how I believe IKO has very quickly adapted and acted on those six core values to guide us through this global crisis and how these same values will continue to serve us well in the future.

  • PERFORMANCE ensures we will never stop trying to improve ourselves.

The cornerstone of this core value has always been to make everyone’s health and safety IKO’s No. 1 priority. From the moment pandemic measures were announced, IKO took steps to keep the plants open and operating safely as per the prescribed protocols and arranged for those who were able to work from home to do so.

As states and provinces reopened — or didn’t — according to their individual situations, our employees were encouraged to continue to work remotely while a plan for a safe return to the workplace was put into motion. In the Marketing Department, we created videos and used teleconferencing to keep in touch with our employees and our contractor network.

IKO continues to closely monitor all facilities and implement safety measures as needed to protect the health and well-being of our employees and their families, while continuing to provide excellent customer service both internally and externally.

  • AGILITY combined with knowledge helps us deliver sound decisions quickly.

The ability to keep an open mind, consider alternatives and be prepared to make timely decisions based on sound information has allowed us to keep our plants running to supply roofers throughout North America with much-needed materials.

Not only that, work continues nonstop on our two latest building projects: brand-new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Hagerstown, Maryland, and Brampton, Ontario.

  • HUMILITY creates an honest, open and respectful interaction among all people, internally and externally, regardless of their role.

IKO has always nurtured a culture of active listening, respecting everyone’s ideas and opinions regardless of their status, position or tenure. Because this crisis affects all of us in different ways, enjoying that barrier-free, open access among management, employees, customers and suppliers has made it easier to find solutions and cope with rapid change.

  • INTEGRITY dovetails with humility in that we will meet the expectations of the IKO “family” by being honest, respectful, responsible and accountable.

At all levels of our company, we strive to honor our commitments, act ethically and make decisions we’re proud to stand behind. This has been especially challenging amid the recent chaos caused by the virus; yet, by doing the right thing and owning up to any mistakes, we demonstrate our trust in others and show they can count on us as well.

  • SHARING KNOWLEDGE means working together to share insights in an environment of teamwork and operational excellence, resulting in the best value proposition for customers and a healthy work environment for employees.

Although some of us were or are still working off-site in isolation, it never prevents us from reaching out to learn from the experience and knowledge of others. It is only in sharing the best practices and lessons learned across the functional disciplines within our company, and from outside customers and suppliers, that we can continue to be stronger and smarter. Together.

  • LONG-TERM thinking frames our decision-making to help secure a brighter future.

The present is unprecedented. The future is uncertain. But our past has always been grounded in the belief that every decision we make must consider the present and future effects on our employees, customers and suppliers, as well as on the continued success of our company.

At IKO, we invest and reinvest in our business and our people, always considering the long-term results and basing our decisions on the soundest information currently available to us. We manage and maintain all our assets in good working order and rely now more than ever on the long-lasting, trusting relationships we have built with our people and with those outside our company.

Having seen IKO’s quick and compassionate response to the current crisis, I have more confidence and faith than ever before that its past and present actions, its beliefs and especially its people will ensure the company’s future success for many generations to come.

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. IKO is roofing — and people — elevated.