Roofers Local 2, GAF Roofing Academy graduates 40 pre-apprentices

18 students received letters of intent on graduation day


FORTY TRAINEES learned the basics of the roofing trade at the GAF Roofing Academy hosted by Roofers and Waterproofers Local 2. – Roofers Local 2 photo

Roofers and Waterproofers Local 2 and its international, the United Union of Roofers Waterproofers and Allied Workers, recently partnered with GAF Roofing Academy to provide comprehensive low slope commercial roofing training for applicants seeking a career in the commercial roofing industry.

“On Graduation Day, June 23, a hiring event was held in the union hall so the applicants could meet with Local 2 signatory contractors to discuss entry level positions into the trade,” said Local 2 Training Director Matt Wittenborn. “Together with the partnership of GAF, Roofers Local 2 and their signatory union contractors, 18 students walked away with letters of intent to hire that day and went to work.”

Through GAF, newly employed graduates of the program received full tool pouches valued at $200. Those who attended daily received a $250 attendance stipend, meals and light refreshments provided daily.

GAF is North America’s largest roofing manufacturer. 

Demitris Purnell, a GAF Academy graduate now employed with Local 2 signatory Koziatek Contractors in Defiance, Mo., spent more than 16 years in prison before finding the GAF Roofing Academy and recently made a promotional video for GAF about how becoming a union roofer had changed his life.

“Before roofing, I had spent most of my life in prison. Spending so much time incarcerated, I knew I didn’t want to continue on that path,” Purnell said. “My second time home, I didn’t think I was going to get a chance from anyone. I knew there were certain prejudices against people who have felony backgrounds, and me being the age I am, having no skill sets, I thought that I would get passed over. I really didn’t think I’d get a second chance.

“When I started the GAF training academy, things started to get better for me, I saw things differently,” he said. “Sometimes when you’re going through the storm, you can’t see what’s on the other side, but when I found Koziatek and got involved in the union and the apprenticeship program, a lot of things became clearer to me. I knew what my purpose was. Since I’ve been with Koziatek, every day on the job is a good day.

“I work a lot and life is nicer now. I have a career,” Purnell said. “I don’t just have a regular job, I have a career. Every day I wake up and I feel good about it. I’m no longer behind bars, I have freedom to move around, and I feel good about myself because people look at me differently. They no longer look at me as just a criminal, they look at me as a hard-working person just trying to better myself.

“A lot of people are struggling just like I was, trying to find a decent job or good career. If I did this and I made it through, they can too.”

During the four-day Roofing Academy at Local 2’s Joint Apprenticeship Training Center (JATC), Wittenborn and instructors Kevin Martinez and Chris Loveless partnered with GAF Training Managers Gary Pierson, Felix Rosario and Program Relationship Specialist Roderick A. Colvin Sr. to instruct 40 students in the basics of:

  • Occupational Safety and Health.
  • The purpose of insulating a building and the various roof slopes that can be achieved using tapered insulation panels.
  • How to calculate the area of a roof structures surface and convert it into roofing squares in order to determine the amount of material needed to complete a commercial roofing project.

Wittenborn said students were also given step-by-step, hands-on instruction in the cutting of insulation panels to create slope and drainage of roof systems, the welding of thermoplastic membranes, fastening of insulation panels to the substrate and the basics of fall protection systems that are used in the commercial roofing industry.

The commercial and residential roofing industry is booming, with demand for 19,000 new jobs expected by 2028.

Buildings are big business, and protecting, maintaining and repairing properties – from homes to stadiums – is critical to the long-term investment in any building project. Hard-working, dedicated roofers can expect a starting wage of $42,328 per year (or $20.35/hour).

Signatory Local 2 Roofing Contractors that attended the graduation ceremony/hiring event included:

  • Bade Roofing
  • Bi-State Roofing
  • Frederic Roofing
  • Gateway Roofing
  • Koziatek Contracting
  • Lindberg Waterproofing
  • Lorenz & Assoc. LLC
  • Missouri Builders Service
  • Performance Roofing
  • RSS
  • St. Louis Roofing
  • Vac-It-All Services
  • Geissler Roofing
  • Glandt Roofing
  • Joiner Roofing
  • Lakeside Roofing
  • D.E. Martin Roofing
  • Shay Roofing

More information about GAF and future Roofing Academy trainings can be found at:

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