It’s been a while since we’ve done a "Best of Problem Solved,” so in the spirit of Halloween, we present some of the "best” recent questions and answers. We will let you decide whether the answer is a trick or a treat. Enjoy!
All signs point to lots of hiring in 2014. For what position(s) do you plan to hire next year? If you’re not hiring, are you planning on any major purchases?
There is a terrible dearth of qualified workers in the construction industry in this area. Signing the E-Verify agreement exacerbates the problem. There is a shortage of workers for both the field and the office. And it appears that this year will see lots of construction starting and ongoing.
We stopped taking and bidding work months ago (except what we cannot decline) because we have such a backlog. I could use 10 qualified EIFS/stucco/plaster mechanics right now. We finally hired two more project managers recently, after looking for most of a year.
—Robert A. Aird, Robert A. Aird, Inc., Frederick, Maryland
As you (prepare to) interview potential new hires, what new interview questions are you asking today that you didn’t ask prior to the recession?
Are you on Facebook?
The labor market is tight, and you’re desperate. You could use an extra pair of hands to help finish the job, and your lazy but talented brother-in-law could really use a job. Under what conditions would you hire him?
No way. Happy wife, happy life. Not worth the potential problems if he is lazy and you need to finish a project. You will end up the bad guy.
You just won a big job, and you are going to have to hire more people if you want to finish it on time. What does your company do to ensure that the new hires will adhere to your company’s safety messages, prior to letting them loose on the job site? How has your company changed the way your safety message is delivered in order to meet a tight job schedule?
Jobsite safety isn’t assured by sending safety messages from the office, and increased manpower or a tight schedule is not all that relevant. A clean and well organized site will be safer, and the work can get done quicker and more efficiently. The same things that cause delays and inefficiencies also cause injuries. I always ask a new hire to show me his 10 fingers. Then I tell him that his most important task that day is to go home with all the same body parts that he started with.
— Chris Ball, Ball CM
In what innovative ways have you used or seen people use empty joint compound buckets?
Our warehouse guru built shelves, then installed the buckets on an angle. They store all our different types of caulking. Very easy to separate and see what you have!
—Dan Fulton, Fulton Interior Systems, Evansville, Indiana
If you had all the necessary resources available, what tool or piece of equipment would you buy right now to improve your drywall business? Why?
A money printer
How has the role of women on the job site changed since you started working in the construction industry?
I have worked in the construction industry for approximately 10 years. I am the president/CEO of a lath and plaster company, and my job encompasses both administrative duties as well as scheduling and supervising in the field. As I find myself spending more and more time on the job site, my role in the decision-making process and the overall management of the work in progress has become much more important and respected. As women are given the opportunity to prove themselves beneficial in areas of construction, the trend becomes more acceptable and understood. Organization and management skills, as well as planning and implementing, are just a few of the qualities that women can bring to the tables, which are necessary for smooth running job performance and the completion of jobs on schedule.
—Melissa E. Rudolph, President/CEO, PLASTERTEC Construction, Inc., La Quinta, California
What are the signs you see that indicate your company is getting its groove back?
It’s amazing how morale around the office changes when you actually get paid for a job!
—J.D. Chambers, J & B Acoustical, Mansfield, Ohio
Jobsite radios: Morale booster or safety hazard?
I have played guitar and keyboard in bands and acoustic guitar groups since 1966. Music is my whole life except when I am on my construction sites conducting business. The job site is no place for radios blaring in the background. I have never heard one being played at a reasonable volume. It is a distraction that can lead to mistakes and accidents. Enough said.
—Brian Clem, Clem Construction Company, Dallas, Texas
An architect tweeted the following question: Do or should design professionals warrant their work to be free of defects? We replied with a resounding YES. Were we right? Please explain why you think we were/weren’t correct.
I think you were most definitely wrong to engage in tweeting with an architect. If you must communicate with architects, only do so in writing and copy a third party who can later serve as a witness.