Interesting Times, New Challenges

Nancy Brinkerhoff / July 2019

Being the first woman to hold the title of president of the board of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry is truly an honor. I expect this year will be the start of many changes at the association. As some of you know, our esteemed executive vice president and CEO, Steve Etkin, will be retiring at the end of 2019. We thank him for his time serving the industry and AWCI. I plan to keep the membership informed of our progress in choosing his successor. Our very broad and experienced search committee reviewed a large list of candidates and have narrowed the pool to a shorter list to be interviewed in early August.
    
With all of the struggles that come with the construction industry, we still have an opportunity to be a part of and take pride in the building of America. This is part of what keeps us all on the train: the love of the build.
    
In the current economic environment, most of us are not lacking for projects to bid and perform; our challenges are securing skilled employees/work force and supplies. For long-time companies this is not a new problem, but for those in the field less than 10 years it is a new adventure. Many would say too much work is better than not enough work, and I would agree. So how do we manage the abundance of work with not enough men and women to perform it?
    
It’s unfortunate that most high schools do not promote construction as a viable career path. It is a missed opportunity. Bringing construction-based classes (plastering, carpentry, welding, etc.) back to the high schools is a way to introduce the next generation to the art and career of building.
    
In my observation, the trades were passed from one generation to another at a greater pace 20 years ago than they are today. That has to change. It is vital that we promote the trades to younger generations as a possible lifetime career. Another missed recruitment opportunity has been with skilled ex-military personnel. These are but a few solutions to labor woes that we must explore.
    
I look forward to discussing our industry’s successes and challenges during the upcoming year in this monthly message.

In addition to being 2019–2020 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Nancy Brinkerhoff is CEO and president of Ironwood Commercial Builders in Northern California.