There is a Difference featuring Heidi Ellsworth, Founder and CEO of Roofers Coffee Shop

March 6, 2024


Welcome to There is a Difference featuring Heidi Ellsworth, Founder and CEO of Roofers Coffee Shop and our guest for this interview during Women in Construction Week 2024. For the past several years we have heard about the last podcast Roofers Coffee Shop and how they are growing a following of professional roofers and building products manufacturers. It was earlier this month that we were actually able to meet Heidi at the International Roofing Expo but it wasn’t until we saw Heidi and her daughter Megan action at the International Builders Show that we knew we needed to have this conversation. Heidi is friendly, kind, approachable, smart, and tenacious. We witnessed her completed thirteen high energy interviews with a diverse group of people in one day with contagious energy and excitement. It is our pleasure to introduce you to Heidi Ellsworth of Roofers Coffee Shop.

My name is Heidi Ellsworth. I am the president of Roofers Coffee Shop, and also all of our other multimedia platforms, Metal Coffee Shop, Coatings Coffee Shop, and Ask a Roofer.

What is Roofers Coffee Shop?


Roofers Coffee Shop is a multimedia platform, so it’s really a publishing group, which is kind of funny because I never knew that until a couple of years ago after we started Roofers Coffee Shop. I always just thought it’s a website for roofing contractors, but really what we’ve turned it into since 2016 is a multimedia platform where people can come and learn everything they want to about roofing. They can learn it how they want to, whether that’s reading, listening, watching. It’s part of our RLW initiative, read, listen, watch.

They can also do business through classified ads, through forums, getting to network, look up directories, find out … Research new products, and also through news that comes out every day.

We have podcasts, just like this, and we also have webinars, we have live panels and we do live-streaming from trade shows.

How did this idea come about?


That is a great story, actually. My business partner is Vickie Sharples. Vickie Sharples started a classified newspaper in the eighties. It was called Roofers Exchange.

Roofers Exchange was, by the late nineties, on every distributor’s counter for roofing across the country. It was something that the contractors would get, they’d be able to maybe see a fun article, they would get all the classified ads and it really fit a niche.

Vickie, she saw the future and she said, “You know what? Print’s going to die and it’s all going to be online, so we need to get this online.” Remember, this was in 2000. Most contractors, a lot of contractors didn’t even have computers on their desk.

At that time. I had been advertising through Malarkey Roofing Company in Roofers Exchange and had just started my own agency, HJE Marketing. I was doing work with Vickie and she said, “Hey, can you come and help? I want to put this online, but Roofers Exchange just isn’t going to work. I need a new name.”

My dad was a general contractor. Everywhere he went through Central and Eastern Oregon, as he was taking his truck or building projects, he would stop at the local coffee shop that had the pickup trucks out in front to get all of this information. Day labor products, information, directions. You name it.

I came back to Vickie and I said, “Hey, where everybody gets their information is at the coffee shop. Why don’t we take that online and make it Roofers Coffee shop?”

She liked the idea, I liked the idea. In 2002, I helped her launch it online, and then she went about growing Roofers Coffee Shop. It did great. I went on and worked for companies like Carlisle, in charge of their marketing communications. I then went to EagleView with a startup and was in charge of their sales and marketing.

Then in 2015, Vickie approached me and said, “Hey, why don’t you come back and let’s be business partners and let’s grow this?” I said, “Sounds like fun. Let’s do it.”

2015 we did a little bit of a relaunch. That’s when we became a multimedia platform, really launching podcasts in 2018. We had webinars in 2017 and on. We started doing our coffee conversations, live panels during COVID in 2020, and grew the platform exponentially since 2016.

In 2020, my dear friend Vickie decided to retire. She retired. She’s still my business partner, and she’s awesome. She is what I would say one of the original women in construction. She did sales very early in her career. She’s done everything, and she still does a lot of consulting and working in the industry. Plus, she is my business partner, but retired.

This is a 100% women-owned business. It has been very fun to see it grow and take off. In 2022, we launched Metal Coffee Shop, which is for the metal construction industry. Then in this last year, 2023, we launched Coatings Coffee Shop, which is for roof coatings, membrane surfaces, and waterproofing.

Then we have our fourth site, which is Ask a Roofer, which was launched in 2020, which is for homeowners and building owners to get information about roofing.

What’s the best conversation you’ve had on Roofers Coffee Shop?


I have to say that it’s conversations with an S on the end, because in 2020 we launched our live thought leadership platform of coffee conversations. Coffee conversations happens the second and fourth Thursday of every month. We bring on panelists from the industry and we talk about everything from Black History Month to building envelope to solar, Pride month. We have talking about severe hail.

You can see the topics are across the board. The conversations we have on Roofers Coffee Shop from a thought leadership perspective are powerful.

As I was thinking about this question, the conversation we had last week was on Black history and Black History month, and we had a panel that were just amazing of Black roofing professionals who are outstanding roofing professionals. We had such a candid, open conversation on how the industry needs to change, how we need to continue to be inclusive, we need to expand diversity.

These are topics that really in roofing are never talked about. In fact, I would say in construction they’re really not talked about.

Our favorite conversations are the ones that no one else is having and that we are able to bring to the forefront and really make a difference in the industry and shine a light on amazing people that maybe just haven’t had the exposure that they need, or the topics have been sitting in the corner and need to be brought out into the middle of the room.

What’s the funniest thing someone has said on Roofers Coffee Shop?


This is going to go back to this conversation about women in construction. I think some of the funniest comments I’ve had have been, well, do you get on a roof? You’re a woman, how are you involved in roofing? What part of that?

These have been conversations that have been for years, and are changing, I have to say are changing, but I always love that question of have you ever been on a roof? I’m able to say, “Well, actually yes, I have been on a roof. I grew up getting on roofs with my dad who was a contractor. I’ve been on many roofs.” In fact, I was on a roof with my daughter, Megan, who works for me, and my son James, who works for me. They’ve been on many safe commercial flat roofs as we’ve taken pictures. We have really been able to put the messages out there about the roofing industry.

I know that that’s not a funny ha ha, but it is funny because you kind of think, “Really? People think that?” That just by looking at you that you can’t be on a roof or you can’t be on a construction site or can’t do certain things.

The great thing is that has changed, and it’s still changing, we’re still working on it, but as part of … I have to throw in a pitch for National Women in Roofing, which was an organization I helped found in 2014. A lot of that has changed. We talk about that a lot on Roofers Coffee Shop.

What does the future of roofing look like to you?


The future of roofing is really about, and this seems obvious, but it’s about the next generation. We are an aging workforce in construction. I think the medium age within construction and within roofing is in the forties, so unless we really make this industry welcoming to that next generation, we’re going to be in real trouble.

We already are. There’s a labor shortage and we’re already seeing that, but opinions have started to change. Really the future are the Gen Zs, the millennials.

Roofers Coffee Shop, it’s about 70% Gen Z and millennial who work for us and are our teammates. That is where I see the future. It seems so obvious, but too often we have people say, “Oh, they don’t know what to do. It’s just not the same.” That is totally wrong. We as an industry have to embrace the new way of thinking, the new ways of doing things, even when it’s uncomfortable, and a lot of times it is. It’s very uncomfortable, but we have to embrace that.

When I look at the young people who are coming into roofing, I am so impressed. They’re generational, they’re taking over their parents’ companies. They’re coming in, they’re buying new companies. They’re bringing technology, they’re bringing diversity, they’re bringing sustainability. They’re demanding mentorship and equity.

It’s a different way of thinking that is so promising for the future of our world. I don’t think they think that. I think the next generation sometimes thinks that everything’s just so bad, but they don’t see what a bright light that they are.

I am very blessed, as I said earlier, to have both my son and my daughter work for me, and with my husband. We all work at Roofers Coffee Shop, so I do see that future. I think that’s it. That’s us Gen Xers in this boomers taking the time to acknowledge and celebrate this next generation. That’s the future of roofing.

What’s it like to work with your daughter?


I’ll try not to get teary on this one because it is one of the greatest blessings of my life to be able to have my daughter and my son and my husband, for us all to work in the same company and all have our own gifts, our own talents, our own abilities to bring this together has been seriously …

Every day I count my blessings that I have this opportunity. I just hope it can last as long as possible. Specifically, when we talk about Megan, my daughter, she is such a bright light when it comes to the future of roofing, just the future overall. She’s bringing technology, multimedia, she’s an artist, she’s a musician. She brings this totally different way of thinking, both to our company and to our everyday work, that really brings joy and happiness.

She calls this her greatest accomplishment so far. Now remember, she’s pretty young, so I love that. My greatest accomplishment so far is she has started within our company The Next Gen Group. She brought all these young people together. None of us old people go to the meetings, but they bring speakers in, they bring folks in. They are engaged, they are trying to learn, but yet they’re also bringing new ways of doing things, new ways of thought to our industry.

To be able to work with her, to travel with her, to do things like we did at the International Builder Show, working together and walking the show, is just phenomenal.

In our company we have a number of parents and children who work for us. Each one of those situations has been phenomenal. I say we break the rules about family and working together and we just keep doing it, because if you go in with the right attitude and you’re respectful of each other and celebrate this next generation coming up, it can only be … It delivers so much joy. Megan definitely does that.

Thank you, Heidi.

You and your story are inspiring to us and those that take the opportunity to watch, listen, and learn from you as an entrepreneur, industry influencer, and all around good person.

Women in construction are often understated in most media stories, so decided to take a closer look and share our findings in this article found on our blog. Take a look –



Watch the full interview on the Draper DNA YouTube channel by clicking HERE.


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