As he launched the panel discussion on recruiting strategies, moderator Steve Little of KPost Company pointed to statistics that reveal a shortage of skilled labor is a crucial problem in all areas of construction. “America is in desperate need of people as employment levels surge and older people leave the industry, and they are not being replaced by skilled people,” he said. “The problem is not limited to roofing. It’s across the board.”
How the roofing industry will solve the labor shortage was the central issue facing participants in a panel discussion titled “Recruiting Strategies: How to Make the Industry Appealing to Today’s Generation.”
The panel included roofing professionals with different perspectives on the industry. Gary Register of the J. Register Company was on the panel with his son, Lincoln Register, who joined the company and is now its vice president. Rob Springer of Springer-Peterson Roofing & Sheet Metal was also on hand. His son, Cole Springer, who decided not to join his father’s company but instead took a job as a project engineer with a general contractor, participated via video. Jayne Williams, the CFO and safety director for KPost, also participated along with Tracey Donels, who joined KPost 10 years ago and now runs its service division.
Little pointed out the panelists include members of different generations with ties to three companies. “We’ll look at these three specific situations, analyzing how these people got there and what strategies we can use to recruit,” Little said. “Attracting talent — that’s what we’re here to talk about.”
Lincoln Register has been tasked with recruiting new employees at his company, and he’s had success bringing in younger talent. “Word of mouth has been my best tool to market to other field guys,” he said. “When I started three years ago, our average employee age was about 34 or 35, and now it’s down to 27. That’s been one of my main focuses — trying to build my team for the future.”
Rob Springer has found offering opportunities for promotion has made his company an appealing place to come to work. “We have asked our young people to start attracting younger people,” he said. “All of our division managers are under the age of 40. They started at the bottom and escalated to a division manager, and so that’s a clear sign of promoting from within. When we go to market with younger people, they see those opportunities taking place.”
Williams finds word-of-mouth appeals from existing workers have been the most effective method finding field workers, while digital media platforms have been helpful in filling office positons. “We’ve gone to LinkedIn and craigslist, and that’s where our focus has been,” she said.
Donels urged business owners not to restrict hiring to people with roofing experience, but look to find people with the right work ethic and character to succeed. “If I can find the right person who is moldable and trainable, I’ll give them a chance,” he said. “I’m looking for people who want to go somewhere.”
Little cautioned employers not to neglect existing employees as they look to add younger talent. He also emphasized the importance of a clear succession plan. “I encourage all of you to make a plan,” he said. “Make a plan not only to find someone to succeed you, but make a plan to retain your current employees, train them and make them a better part of your business.”
“Recruiting Strategies: How to Make the Industry Appealing to Today’s Generation” was presented as a live webinar. To view the archived version on demand, just click here.