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CRCA History

The Chicago Roofing Contractors Association, (CRCA) was born of Fire. Chicago is the birthplace of the first Roofing Contractor Association in the US dating back to the 1870’s and the Great Chicago Fire….CRCA. The Great fire of 1871 was a devastating loss of property and life. And, after the fire there was a great shortage of labor and equipment to rebuild the great city of Chicago.

Moses W. (M.W.) Powell owned a roofing company in Chicago, and prior to the formation of the association, heard of men who claimed to work for him falsely. Once these individuals had the customer’s money, they would apply inferior products, and never return when leaks and trouble started on roofs. It was then that Mr. Powell stated that his customers should “Know your Roofing Contractor”. He also thought that an industry association might be needed to help address this customer protection and many other industry problems.

Additionally, after the 1871 fire devastation, there were simply not enough resources at any single contracting firm to handle the onslaught of work needed to rebuild the roofs of Chicago. M.W. Powell and others with the same high quality standards for their firms, decided to help the community rebuild quickly. Mr. Powell organized his fellow contractors of like mind, pooling their manpower resources, equipment and materials to meet the demand for reconstructing Chicago. It was this event plus the need for quality firms to set themselves apart that fueled the birth and set a solid foundation for CRCA as we know it today.

As the demand for roofing after the Chicago Fire waned, the CRCA’s key driving purpose changed to “impose a standard of quality and performance upon the roofing laborer and to keep ineffective roofing systems out of the marketplace”. Through the early 1900’s CRCA grew from just a few firms to many servicing the Industrial, Educational, Commercial and Industrial growth of Chicagoland. Further purposes of the Association included:

  • Elimination of Unscrupulous and Below Standard Contractors
  • Training and Education of Roofing Crews
  • Organization and Dissemination of up to date Technical Material for the Roofing Contractor.
  • Communication between roofing contractors and other construction and design professionals.

The M.W. Powell Company is still in business today, run by his family, like many other CRCA Member roofing contractor firms in Chicago. The many firms that made up CRCA then had many of the same goals as today.

In the new Century, CRCA has developed a new mission, new purposes, with different people many new contracting firms, some related to the original founding members of CRCA.

And, CRCA Members have moved with the times and technology, continuting to offer roofing systems of all varieties, from single ply reflective adhered, mechanically fasted and ballasted systems, to vegetative ballast roofs, protected roof membranes, built up asphalt and coal tar, as well as modified bitumen systems in low slope applications. For steep slopes on all types of buildings, CRCA Members install shingle, shake, wood shingle, slate and tile.  And, the new photovoltaic solar energy roofs are all part of CRCA Member expertise.