Course Descriptions

  Instructor: Jamie McAdam

Year 1
Business relationships

Learn how working effectively with your attorney, banker, insurance agent and others results in a sum greater than its parts. You don't need to be an expert on every aspect of running a business; the key is to find partners with specific strengths. Choosing the right business service and partners and developing those relationships will improve your competitive position and simplify your life.

  Instructors: Magnet Theater

Year 1
Communication workshop

The focus of this workshop is to sharpen collaboration, leadership and innovation skills that emphasize experiential learning and enable students to become world-class collaborators and innovative problem solvers—all while having FUN!

Using highly experiential exercises, facilitators not only explain the principles of improvisation, including active listening, communication, smart risk taking and innovation but by using students' experiences "in the moment," also will show these lessons and how they can be applied to improve business innovation and creative problem solving.

  Instructor: Amy Schuman

Year 1
Introduction to family businesses

Working effectively with family members requires creative collaboration and an understanding of the unique aspects of this complex system. Although not all future executives are sons or daughters of company owners, nearly all are touched by the family-business dynamic. This session addresses a variety of topics, such as business adaptation and succession strategies.

Year 2
Career development and succession planning

Career development and succession planning is tough in any organization but can be especially challenging in a family business. You'll identify alternatives to a "sink or swim" approach to leadership development. You'll examine pressures on the senior and junior generations and learn ways to help family and non-family managers address the challenges of transitioning leadership from one generation to the next.

Year 3
Governance for family business complexities

Most family businesses become more complicated as they grow. Over time, the business environment becomes tougher, the ownership group becomes larger and the family becomes more complex. How do successful next-generation leaders address these multiple challenges? You'll examine systems and structures that exemplary families put in place to foster unity, communication and ultimate success across the generations.

  Instructor: Tom Henry

Year 1
Financial concepts

This session offers a practical and easy-to-follow program that provides an effective way for nonfinancial people to gain essential skills and understand financial reports. This course introduces the managerial finance concepts needed for effective decision making and control within an organization. Topics include financial balance-sheet analysis, budgeting, break-even analysis, and other key financial tools and techniques required to manage a company. This session likely will involve some pre-work and definitely will be the basis for some group or individual work after the October meeting.

Year 2

This session goes through the process of creating a detailed budget. The budget is then used to understand overhead and how overhead is allocated to jobs. With such information, you can then determine how to price a job. Several different pricing methodologies are analyzed.

  Instructor: Karen Cates

Year 1
Leadership workshop

Learn how to lead and influence others by tapping your reserves of leadership skills and power. Through an engaging classroom exercise, you will examine how your behavior affects outcomes within your organization and view it from a different angle. You'll gain insight into how your personality and leadership style help or impede your ability to work with others to develop new solutions to challenging problems.

Human resources: recruiting and hiring

Each year of the FEI, you'll discover additional ways to align your business and human-resource strategies. This year, this session will focus on bridging core talent needs and bottom-line results through effective recruiting and hiring systems. The workshop provides you with a framework for understanding how people fit into your business model, as well as ideas for leveraging people as a source of sustainable competitive advantage.

Year 2
Human resources: motivation and retention

This second human-resources session moves beyond finding the right people to developing strategies to keep them. A case analysis of a new manager who faces dire professional challenges will shed light on strategies to avoid motivational pitfalls and maintain a productive work force. Through an understanding of the factors that influence motivation, leaders can diagnose motivational problems and take action to manage them.

A fundamental fact of leadership is that nothing stays the same. Internal and external forces can affect your business, forcing you to implement strategic changes to maintain your competitive advantage. In this session, you'll learn how to identify factors that precipitate change; understand why people and organizations resist acting on new strategies; and learn the usefulness of a stage model to implement strategic change.


Learn how to integrate your vision and values into the everyday operations of your business through a well-designed culture. This session will provide a framework for understanding the different components of culture and how they can operate as a powerful retention strategy. Appreciate the strengths and hazards of using culture as a managerial tool, and understand the ways your business can welcome new members and teach them about "the way we do things around here."

Year 3
Conflict management and terminations

This final human-resources session underscores the strategic importance of managing nonperformers. The best-laid plans for hiring and retention can be undermined by employees who cannot or will not meet performance expectations. In this session, you will learn a simple but effective framework for understanding the nature and sources of problem behavior and build a tool-box of effective strategies for managing difficult conversations around terminations. Lessons learned can be applied beyond the employment relationship.

  Instructor: Loran Nordgren

Year 1
Networks and Decision-making

Year 2
Influence and Teams

Year 3
Motivation and Negotiations

  Instructor: Tim Calkins

Year 1
Marketing fundamentals

Marketing is the process of connecting products, services and ideas to customer needs. Every business has to think about marketing; an organization will only succeed to the extent it profitably meets customer needs.

In this session, we explore why marketing matters and review the core theories of marketing. These include segmentation, targeting and positioning, the four "P's" and differentiation. The class will discuss the two ways companies compete and how you can understand what your customers want. The class also will discuss why every customer is not a good customer.

Year 2
Using marketing strategy to build a business

For many business executives, the core business challenge is simple: grow a well-established business. In this session, the class will discuss how executives can use marketing to drive growth over time.

The session begins by highlighting why established businesses are so important; new businesses are exciting, but established businesses usually matter more. Next, the session presents a model for thinking about established business growth. Finally, the class reviews strategies for building an established business.

The class will discuss how pricing and promotions can play a role in building profits. The class also will discuss when particular strategies generally will work and when they will not; there is no perfect strategy for every business.

Year 3
Building strong brands

Brands are incredibly important. For many businesses, the brand is the most valuable company asset. A strong brand can help build and differentiate a business. A weak brand is a major problem. The program defines branding and explains why brands matters so much.

The class will focus on positioning, a tool for defining how your brand competes in the marketplace. Understanding positioning is essential for building a strong brand. The class also covers brand portfolio strategy.

Finally, the class explains how to create a strong marketing plan. Marketing plans are important tools for building brands and businesses. This session clearly lays out how to create a good plan that will help your business.

  Instructor: Melody Camp

Year 1
Personal development and relationships

The opening session is focused on building a group culture in which you will be asked to assess your self-management skills and ability to relate to others by completing the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator before class. Camp will prepare the results and delve into personal and professional development areas to help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, behavioral style and interpersonal skills and learn how to use this information to relate to others. People develop these skills to varying levels, and FEI is an ideal forum to be purposeful and deliberate in this area.

  Instructor: Vanna Novak

Year 1
Presentation skills

Make the impression you want to make by communicating confidence, competence and credibility to others. In this workshop, you'll learn to make powerful and persuasive presentations that spur people to action. Superior presentation skills can make all the difference in influencing decisions and being perceived as a leader.

Year 3
Speak to persuade: when being informative is not enough

Truly effective leaders are the ones who not only get people to listen when they speak but also get them to take action. Learning how to do that takes practice. Once you've heard what it takes to be a persuasive presenter, you'll get the opportunity to practice and apply the various strategies and skills while getting on-the-spot coaching and feedback. Through the use of individual and small-group exercises, you will learn how to:

  • Project an image of confidence and competence while building trust
  • Be concise yet convincing when responding to questions
  • Respond effectively and maintain your composure when asked tough questions
  • Never be caught off guard for an extemporaneous speaking situation
  • Develop and deliver a presentation specifically designed to persuade and get buy-in

How do you become a truly persuasive and credible communicator? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall ... practice, practice, practice. This session will give you the opportunity to do just that in a supportive, high-energy setting.

  Instructor: Duane Musser

Year 1
Introduction to public policy

Individuals in the roofing industry can accomplish public policy goals. To that end, this class will help you understand the government process. The course begins with NRCA's Government Relations Primer and reviews the legislative process and basic methods of communicating with elected officials. You will then examine NRCA's Congressional Directory covering the White House and cabinet agencies; U.S. Senate and House of Representatives leadership; the makeup of individual congressional offices; the congressional committee structure; and a glossary of legislative terms.

The second half of the class focuses on how to work collectively to accomplish goals by forming coalitions. This is followed by discussion of why it is important for those in the roofing industry to be politically involved, particularly through industry political action committee. The class concludes with a review of case studies of public policy issues successfully influenced by NRCA.

  Instructor: Tom Shanahan

Year 2
Risk management

During this class, you will examine and discuss the importance of the risk-management process: risk identification, risk analysis, designing the strategy, implementation and review. Too often, understanding risk is left to chance, which can lead to serious trouble. Understanding and managing risk is relatively easy and often overlooked as either too time-consuming or difficult to do. Included in this discussion is a comprehensive look at effective safety program strategy and implementation. A theoretical behavioral model for safety is used a basis for discussion and understanding. As you know, safety in the roofing business is crucial; however, safety often takes a backseat to production and profit goals. A solid risk-management process will anticipate and manage deadly pitfalls, improve profitability and bring peace of mind. You will be asked to report on risk-management activities taking place in your company and evaluate their efficacy.

Year 3
Crisis management

As a follow-up to the risk-management class, this third-year class looks at significant events that can occur and how they should be handled. Sometimes, a simple "event" can lead to dire consequences all because someone said, "I'm sorry." Interestingly, the opposite is true, as well — a serious problem can be mitigated because the company's spokesperson said the "right" things. The class will discuss the importance of not only recognizing but managing crisis. Your crisis-management strategy must align with your vision and mission. We will show the components of a successful crisis-management plan; steps to take to implement it; how to deal with the media and your employees when things go wrong; and evaluating a crisis. A case study is used to highlight key points in the class.

  Instructor: Tom Shanahan

Year 1
Introduction to strategic planning

This class is placed at the end of the first week because it ties together concepts from previous classes. During this class, you will examine the structure of the strategic-planning process. This is accomplished through readings from and discussions about The Executive Guide to Strategic Planning. Using this book as a guide, you will evaluate strategic-planning processes in your company. Planning always is taking place regardless of the formality level of the process, but whether it's strategic or effective is a question you'll be asked to consider. Many firms spend a lot of resources on strategic planning only to find that their well-crafted vision and mission statements turn out to be nothing more than something to print on a business card. You will be challenged to compare and contrast methods; debate success stories; and create a vision and mission statement for your company or areas of responsibility.

Year 2
Strategic planning

During the second year, the class is divided into two parts. The first part looks at the effects of culture on planning and execution. The second part is devoted to understanding "visioning." All successful leaders are able to cast a vision that others not only see but believe in. How does that happen? One thing everyone seems to agree on is that successful leaders are incredibly passionate about their particular vision. What is your vision for your company? Where does your passion lie? Are they aligned? We'll look at this and discuss how to get there or make improvements through effective use of the strategic-planning process.

  Instructor: Karen Cates

Years 1, 2 and 3
Leadership activities

Each year of the program will include a team-building, leadership or decision-making component to enhance the culture, networking and learning opportunities of the FEI class. Ideally, the entire group will complete FEI together and have constant opportunities to learn from one another. This also will provide opportunities to experience the value team building could have within individual companies.

The exact nature of these activities will not be shared with participants before the day of the class.

Year 3

This class focuses on effective coaching and how it can change the way you communicate with employees. Coaching is more than just showing or encouraging someone how to do something. During this class, students will participate in an exercise designed to practice effective coaching communication skills through role playing and discussion.


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