The construction industry is traditionally focused on family—whether it’s a multi-generational building firm or supplier, or a crew who becomes like family working side by side each day. They’re all working to create a better home environment for families. This common thread is no different for Valli Moore, president of RBH Insulation, a successful insulation installer in the Southern California market, who is now grooming her daughter Sarah Vignery to eventually take the helm. Vignery currently handles Human Resources for the company, while she and her husband are raising a two young children at home.
Valli had humble beginnings as a 16-year old writing up estimates for a large construction company. When she joined RBH Insulation, a series of good decisions and fortunate events led her up the chain to become President, winning the respect of some tough, old-school trade pros. She said she values her installers and treats them like gold, providing them with great benefits and paid vacations.
“I treat people like I want to be treated,” she says. “They don’t make hard workers like this anymore. A lot of younger people are not interested in working with their hands or doing hard labor. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with labor in the industry.”
Valli has learned to keep customers first and expects the same from her new hires. “I always inform anyone that comes to work for us, if the customer wants to talk to you, you spend time with them.”
Future Labor Issues Rely on Innovation
Based in Hawthorne, Calif., RBH has a mix of residential and commercial new construction and remodeling jobs, but in California, that means tearing down and gutting the home. “Very few “from the ground-up” new homes are being built,” she explains.
Although Valli’s employees have stuck with her for decades even through the pandemic, she has seen building crews dwindle, at a time when home improvement skyrocketed unexpectedly during the pandemic. She’s also seen innovations in the marketplace to alleviate labor issues, including insulation.
“We’ve relied on fiberglass batt insulation for years and are always on the lookout for new products and installation methods,” she said. “In fact, in the past few months, we were able to field test the next generation of this material, PINK Next Gen Fiberglas insulation from Owens Corning. It’s a nice material, soft and easy to handle and gets my workers on to the next job quickly.”
For homeowners, Valli pointed to the value per inch of fiberglass and good sound reduction from the exterior as well as room to room.
“We had great results with this new material on the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program house in Vista, Calif., a charity for injured veterans.”
Gary Sinise, the actor and humanitarian known from the film Forrest Gump, founded the charity to help injured veterans and first responders, by adapting their homes to their individual needs. Valli and RBH have donated their services to two of the foundation’s homes.
Safety is Key for RBH
For Valli and RBH, safety is twofold: she wants her workers to be safe and comfortable, and for customers to feel good about what is behind their walls.
“We think about worker safety in our warehouse and on the jobsite before anything else, she said. We also care about the planet and try to be good to the environment.”
Valli and her workers stay away from any products containing harsh chemicals. They look for products with no funky odors, low VOCs and less dust—avoiding any materials that are not good to work around. She wants her customers to feel good about what is behind their walls.
“We care about the health of our crew, the homeowner and the planet,” Valli says.
Insulation Materials Quality Impacts Bottom Line
Valli emphasized the importance of a quality insulation job, because nothing gets done until the insulation is installed. She stressed the quality of materials on her jobsites as being number one, and says it never pays to skimp. Price is important, but ease of installation and performance are a must to keep the job moving.
“If it’s cheap and takes my guys three days longer to install, it's not worth it. It has to have good recovery and thickness to do the job right.
One of the most important quality aspects of a good fiberglass batt, she explained, is recovery; that is how it regains its shape and thickness out of the bag where it gets compressed. Recovery is make or break on a job, explains Valli, so you don’t have to double up on layers.
“If the fiberglass batt doesn’t regain its thickness, you have to double it—that’s double the material and double the labor. It’s money out the door. And, if it’s not a six-sided installation, it won’t pass inspection.”
For a California contractor, that means with Title 24’s new QII standards, (Quality Insulation Inspection) RBH has had to very cautious about their recovery, cuts and install. Valli has ingeniously gotten ahead of inspections by introducing them to their batt insulation material before they see it on a job.
“They know our jobs, our workers and that we do quality work. It’s very rare, but there’s nothing worse to slow down a job than not passing inspections,” says Valli.
She explains that like dominoes, every sub-contractor gets backlogged when an inspection fails.
Future of the Trades
While market innovation has alleviated some of the labor issues, Valli remains diligent about getting younger people into the industry, like her daughter Sarah and other bright young women and men. She even goes to high schools and vo-techs to try to build interest in the trades.
“You can make really good money in this business, and not have college debt," says Valli. "Or adults can switch careers and choose to leave the stress of the corporate world behind. It’s a healthy wage and if you work for a great company like mine, you get benefits and that is so very important.”
For Valli, it all comes down to hard work that you can be proud of.
“What I love about this business is the sense of pride and community, to drive through a neighborhood and say, oh we installed the insulation on their renovation or their attic,” she says.
She plans to use the best materials possible and hire the best people, as she prepares the next generation to continue to take RBH Insulation to the next level. Keeping it in the family.