Seek Journeymen of the Future

Ed Sellers / August 2017

The Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry continues to be honed under the leadership of its dedicated volunteer members and professional staff. In my opinion, these people work with great purpose to the benefit of the entire industry dealing with the many issues our industry faces daily.
    
It is worth noting that AWCI’s membership numbers are at an all-time high. People recognize the value of the association and the positive impact it has on our industry.
    
Fortunately for all of us, the construction market continues to improve even with the skilled labor shortages. All contractors agree that more skilled-labor is needed for our industry to replace retiring workers and meet the new levels of construction. Like most contractors, my company relies on hourly employees. Even though my company is a union contractor, we are very active in finding individuals to go through apprenticeship training because we cannot rely on others to do it for us. They are still our employees, and they contribute to the success of our business.
    
It is important that we all seek candidates who can become the journeymen of the future. Recruitment is critical—including office staff, not just workers in the field—to fulfill our contractual obligations. Recruiting from competitors is a double-edged sword and does not cover the needs of our industry. Wage inflation could outpace our ability to protect our costs in the bid/build cycle. Securing the sons and daughters of our existing tradespeople has provided us with many of the best job candidates, but that recruitment approach has limitations. My company has looked further to the inner city for employees, as an example, and it has proven to be a great success. We also seek candidates from local trade schools.
    
Although recruitment is a challenging issue, I believe those companies that tackle it will see positive results in the end.  We have survived the downturn, and employment in our industry is headed back to pre-recession levels. Companies can’t afford to wait until the constraint of labor takes over their ability to manage their business. Active recruitment and training is on the agenda for many companies, and I suggest it would be a wise investment for others.
    
It’s among the important ideas we have been sharing at the AWCI. Come and join us in the discussion.

In addition to being 2017–2018 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Sellers is president of OCP Contractors, which has offices in Cleveland, Columbus and Toledo, Ohio.