Fighting the Labor Shortage Means Developing a Dedicated Recruiting Program

Reaching out to local schools and colleges can be a great way for contractors to find prospective employees. Baker Roofing sponsors Shed Day, an event in which trade school students build sheds that are auctioned off. Photos: Baker Roofing

The roofing industry and the trades in general are facing a labor shortage of epic proportions and it doesn’t look like it’s going away anytime soon. When the recession of 2008 hit, the construction industry lost 600,000 jobs. According to GlobeSt.com, a recent report from the Associated General Contractors of America shows that 79 percent of construction companies want to hire more employees this year, but the industry is only estimated to grow its workforce by 0.5 percent annually for the next 10 years. This means competition for workers is fierce.

Baker Roofing, headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, has implemented an aggressive program to recruit the labor they need. According to Brendan Hale, regional operations officer and former director of career development and recruiting, the company had to shift its approach to recruiting. “We used to only advertise when we had open positions,” explains Hale. That method turned out to be challenging, and they recognized that they needed to try something different. Like a sales pipeline, they realized they needed to create a hiring pipeline in order to have a pool of candidates in the funnel when positions opened.

To build that pipeline, the company increased its online activities. “We’ve got a heavy presence online through social media, staying on top of the latest trends,” says Hale. “We are on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Snapchat with the goal of publishing content that could be of interest to younger people.”

Baker Roofing maintains a strong presence on job boards too, with hiring ads rolling throughout the country to create awareness of their company and the opportunities. The company also relies heavily on word-of-mouth referrals from current employees, friends and family. “People choose to come here because they have confidence in the types of people who work here,” states Hale.

Partnering With Local Schools and Colleges

“We do a lot of outreach with local high schools, especially in Raleigh,” explains Hale. “We sponsor Shed Day where all throughout the state, the trade classes build these sheds that they auction off and our head of recruiting is on the board. We donate time, materials, and money and talk to the kids broadly about construction but more specifically about a career at Baker Roofing.”

Baker Roofing donates time and materials, and its employees help educate students about construction, the roofing industry and career opportunities at the company. Photos: Baker Roofing

Hale notes the company tries to have a corporate presence throughout the schools in their service areas and assists the local offices with building the relationships when they can. “We’re a big company with 22 offices. Right now, we’ve got a presence in the high schools in Charleston, South Carolina; Raleigh, North Carolina; Asheville, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. Every year we try to grow that a little bit with the staff that we have and the resources we have.”

Baker Roofing is a big believer in internships for college students. The company hires interns throughout the company in accounting, recruiting, construction management and estimating. The students work for Baker Roofing over school breaks, and the company has programs in place so that they possibly can be hired full time.

“We are a growing company and we know that people are your most precious resource; if they spent the time with us and we feel they have the right cultural expectations, morals and ethics, we can typically find a spot for them here,” says Hale.

Veterans Are a Resource

Baker Roofing has also turned to the pool of veterans who are looking for work after leaving the service and reserves. “We have a large number of our employees who are veterans,” Hale says. “We have a registered apprenticeship program, so we try to appeal to veterans where they can get started with us, learn the industry from the ground up and utilize their GI Bill benefits.”

When Baker Roofing hires veterans and places them into the registered apprenticeship program, the veterans can receive money from their GI benefits in addition to the paycheck that they are receiving as a Baker Roofing employee. “As they are getting promotions and moving up within the company, the GI benefit begins to taper off. By the time they complete the three-year program, the idea is that they would be on their feet in a stable and long-term position,” explains Hale.

Starting a Strong Recruitment Program

Hale says it’s tough to share advice on how to start and build a strong recruitment program because there isn’t one simple answer. “For smaller contractors, it’s going to be harder. There isn’t a silver bullet out there that will solve all the problems,” says Hale. “It takes a variety of strategies. For a smaller contractor who may have a smaller team, it’s difficult to assign these kinds of tasks to someone who already has a full-time job doing something else.”

Baker Roofing has hired a number of veterans, who can start a registered apprenticeship program while also receiving a paycheck as a Baker Roofing employee. Photos: Baker Roofing

A full-time recruiter is ideal, according to Hale. “Ideally if a company has the capability, they need a champion who does this, and it needs to be their full-time focus. In order to sustain it someone has to constantly be working on it and thinking about it,” he says.

Benefits are important, too. Hale says that Baker Roofing employees have access to company benefits including health insurance, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability, a 401(k) that offers a match. They also offer a clear guide for employees, so they understand what it takes to advance within their career, and they understand what the opportunities are within the company.

If contractors don’t have the manpower or resources to do it on their own, it’s possible to get involved with the many other organizations who are already looking at recruiting into the trades. SkillsUSA and Keep Craft Alive are two initiatives that may offer an opportunity for a roofing contractor or someone on the team to volunteer and help introduce the youth involved to the idea of a career in roofing.

Another area to think about tapping into for recruiting is the female workforce. There is a small percentage of women in the roofing industry overall, and the National Women in Roofing (NWIR) wants to change that. NWIR recently surpassed 1,200 members, and one of the organization’s efforts is the recruitment of women into the industry. NWIR is exploring initiatives that partner with organizations serving women in crisis to help those women get back on their feet and show them what a career in roofing could be like for them.

About the author: Karen L. Edwards is a marketing consultant for the roofing industry and director at the Roofing Technology Think Tank (RT3). For more information about the Roofing Technology Think Tank, visit www.rt3thinktank.com.

Architectural Shingle Roofing System on New Field House Helps St. David’s Prepare for the Future

St. David’s Episcopal School’s new field house features an architectural shingle roof designed to provide long life and protection from algae growth. Photo: Atlas Roofing.

St. David’s Episcopal School’s new field house features an architectural shingle roof designed to provide long life and protection from algae growth. Photo: Atlas Roofing.

Originally founded in 1972 as a high school, St. David’s Episcopal School now serves students in pre-K programs all the way through graduation. Located on a wooded campus in suburban Raleigh, N.C., the school now attracts students from Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, Wake Forest and Cary. And as the student body grows, so does the campus of St. David’s.

The school’s facilities are being built with the future in mind, and when the decision was made to add a new athletic field house, durability and longevity were key factors in the decision-making process.

For the roof on the new complex, the school turned to Baker Roofing and Executive Vice President John Matthews, a parent of two St. David’s students who has worked with the school for the past decade. To ensure that the campus itself was built for longevity, Matthews selected 60 squares of Atlas Pinnacle Pristine shingles in Pristine Desert. Other products installed on the project include ProCut Hip & Ridge Shingles, ProCut Starter Shingles, and Summit 180 Synthetic Underlayment.

The architectural shingles feature Scotchgard Protector, which will help the field house maintain its appearance by resisting ugly black streaks caused by algae. In fact, more than 80 percent of the roofs in the U.S. are prone to algae invasion, so protection is the key to a long-lasting roof. “Having the Pinnacle Pristine shingles means the school will have the best protection and appearance,” Matthews says.

His personal relationship with St. David’s and his commitment to the donors who made the new construction possible meant that this project was especially important to Matthews. “The quality education provided by St. David’s is critical to shaping young lives,” he says. “With that in mind, it was essential I feel confident in the products we installed. Knowing that Atlas stands by its products made me sure of the roof the school would be receiving. The extended premium protection period on the Signature Select Roofing System gave everyone a lot of confidence in the decision to go with Atlas.”

When St. David’s Episcopal School in suburban Raleigh, N.C., decided to add a new athletic field house, durability and longevity were key factors in the decision-making process. Photo: Atlas Roofing.

When St. David’s Episcopal School in suburban Raleigh, N.C., decided to add a new athletic field house, durability and longevity were key factors in the decision-making process. Photo: Atlas Roofing.


On a campus where everything they do is geared toward the future, building a facility with longevity in mind is key. “Knowing my own children attend St. David’s and our family is a part of this community made it extremely important that the work we do and the materials we chose be of superior quality,” Matthews notes. “The Atlas system is a product that will ensure the building offers lasting protection and a beautiful appearance for years to come.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Baker Roofing Company, Raleigh, N.C., Bakerroofing.com
Roof System Manufacturer: Atlas Roofing, Atlasroofing.com

HBI Helps Students Build Construction Careers

HBI’s training process features a unique, hands-on approach that combines technical and employability skills with core academics.

HBI’s training process features a unique, hands-on approach that combines technical and employability skills with core academics.

Washington, D.C.-based HBI, a national leader for career training in the building industry, is dedicated to the advancement and enrichment of education and training programs serving the needs of the industry. Through certification programs, HBI provides training, curriculum development and job-placement services for the building industry. Job-placement rates have remained at more than 80 percent for graduates during the last several years.

For nearly 50 years, HBI and its forerunner, the Manpower Development & Training Department of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Washington, have trained workers in construction, promoted the building industry as a career and helped address the need for qualified employees. Today, HBI is an independent, national non-profit organization and partner in the NAHB federation. HBI’s relationships with local home-builders associations have helped create opportunities for students.

HBI training programs are taught in local communities across the country to at-risk youth, veterans, transitioning military members, justice-involved youth and adults, and displaced workers. Preparing students for success in the building industry is at the core of what HBI does across the country. At any given time during the year, HBI touches more than 13,000 students through its programs.

HBI’s training process, products and services are instrumental in the success of its programs, including Job Corps, Pre-Apprenticeship Certificate Training, Military and Veterans, and Building Careers Programs. Through each program, individuals are trained and ready to pursue careers in the building industry.

“We want our students to know what it’s like to be in this business,” says HBI President and CEO John Courson. “You can’t learn this business by only studying on a computer, from a textbook or in a classroom. They have to get out in the field and experience what it’s like to perform trades in all kinds of weather. I want the last day of training for our students to be just like the first day on a new job.”

A Unique Program

HBI’s Five Steps of Service model focuses on connecting, assessing, certifying, training and placing individuals in high-growth construction careers. The model is a soup-to-nuts process that offers students job readiness, certified training, career connections, hope, confidence and long-term success. HBI’s five steps support students at every stage of the employment continuum. Students are trained and certified in brick masonry, building construction technology, carpentry, electrical wiring, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, landscaping, plumbing, solar installation or weatherization.

HBI students can earn several industry-recognized credentials and put their skills into practice with contractors on community service projects.

HBI students can earn several industry-recognized credentials and put their skills into practice with contractors on community service projects.

Unique to the industry, HBI’s training process uses a hands-on approach that combines technical and employability skills with core academics; students work and learn how to be successful in the industry. Students’ trade skills are put into practice with contractors on community service projects. Students can earn several industry-recognized credentials, including an HBI Pre-Apprentice Certificate, OSHA 10-Hour Safety Training, CPR, First Aid and a National Occupational Testing Institute trade-specific certificate.

HBI training programs do more than just provide job skills. They build character and self-esteem, offering students the interpersonal skills they also need to succeed. Students learn leadership, a sense of responsibility, time management, team work and how to communicate effectively.

“As we work to build careers and change lives among the populations we serve, we want to be sure that our students are ready in every way to be successful at every step of the process,” Courson explains.

HBI’s Five Steps of Service integrates structured education and training with the world of work, including career exploration, job exposure and internships that lead to full-time employment. Each year, HBI recognizes top former students who have graduated from an HBI program and have achieved success in the building industry despite adversity they have encountered through their journey. HBI instructors from across the country nominate former students and the top two are selected.

Dawit Zengo of Alexandria, Va., and Kristy Stringer of Way Cross, Ga., were recognized for their leadership qualities, achievements and potential in the building industry at the 2017 NAHB International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla.

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Baker Roofing: 100 Years of ‘Always Good Work’

Baker Roofing Co., a full-service building envelope contractor, was founded in 1915 in Raleigh, N.C., by William Prentiss Baker. At the time of its founding, Baker Roofing employed only a handful of workers at its Davie Street address in downtown Raleigh. Since its founding, the company has grown to become one of Raleigh’s largest employers. In addition, Baker Roofing’s footprint stretches across the Southeast with offices spanning six states and 18 cities. In fact, at the beginning of 2015, it opened offices in Orlando and Jacksonville, Fla.

Whether you ask a new employee or one of the many employees who have been working at Baker Roofing for decades, they will give the same resounding response that Baker Roofing stakes its reputation, growth and business on its 100-year-old promise of “Always Good Work”.

Whether you ask a new employee or one of the many employees who have been working at Baker Roofing for decades, they will give the same resounding response that Baker Roofing stakes its reputation, growth and business on its 100-year-old promise of “Always Good Work”.

The company continues to be family-owned and operated by W.P. Baker’s grandsons, brothers W. Prentiss Baker III, chairman and co-owner, and Frank Baker, vice chairman and co-owner. Prentiss recollects the company’s founding, “When my grandfather founded the company, he did so with the desire to be the best roofing contractor possible, but I wonder if he ever imagined it would grow into the organization it is today.”

Baker Roofing’s humble, yet confident, beginnings were displayed in its original promise to its clients. Frank Baker describes the foundation for the company’s growth: “When Granddad founded the company, it was during a time in our nation’s history that offered many hurdles for a new business to overcome. Despite this, when he opened the shop, he proudly displayed a sign that’s promise endures to this day: ‘We shall do good work, at a profit if we can, at a loss if we must, but always good work.’”

This year, Baker Roofing celebrates 100 years of upholding the promise W.P. Baker made in 1915. Although the company has grown to employ more than 1,000 people and offer specialty services beyond roofing, like renewable energy and historic renovations, the legacy of “Always Good Work” has never left the DNA of the organization. “As we grow as an organization, the culture of ‘Always Good Work’ continues to drive so much of what we do each and every day,” says Mark Lee, Baker Roofing’s president. “From Nashville, Tenn., to Orlando, Fla., project safety to quality control, multi-megawatt solar systems to residential roof repairs, we will never outgrow or outpace our enduring commitment to the foundation laid 100 years ago.”

Whether you ask a new employee or one of the many employees who have been working at Baker Roofing for decades, they will give the same resounding response that Baker Roofing stakes its reputation, growth and business on its 100-year-old promise of “Always Good Work”.

Learn More about Baker’s 100 Years of History

More information, including a video, about Baker’s 100 years of history and celebration can be found on Baker Roofing‘s website at AlwaysGoodWork.com.

PHOTO: Baker Roofing Co.

Nashville, Tenn., Begins Revitalization of Its City Center with a New Convention Space that Features a Truly Unique Roof

It isn’t often that a nightmare becomes a pleasant reality. Andy Baker, vice president of Raleigh, N.C.- based Baker Roofing, recalls the year he spent as project manager for the roofing of the new Music City Center in Nashville, Tenn., as one of his most challenging jobs. “The logistics, a tight spot downtown, the size of the project and everything that goes along with that—thousands of people trying to work and everyone needs their material in that area at the same time. Even the unique shape of the building made it hard,” Baker remembers. “We’re glad it’s done and we can look back on it now and say: ‘Wow! We did that.’”

The Music City Center was built to be the catalyst for more development in the SoBro neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn. It is intended to create a diverse economy that won’t be affected if flooding occurs, like in May 2010.

The Music City Center was built to be the catalyst for more development in the SoBro neighborhood of Nashville, Tenn. It is intended to create a diverse economy that won’t be affected if flooding occurs, like in May 2010.

Baker and his crew of up to 50 roofing workers have much to be proud of. The completed project is the largest capital construction project in Nashville’s history and was designed to bring prosperity to the area known as SoBro, or South of Broadway, which was affected by massive flooding in May 2010. The Music City Center lies outside the flood-prone areas and hopefully will be the catalyst for more development, which will create a diverse economy that won’t be affected if another flood occurs.

In addition to the Music City Center’s imaginative design that resembles various musical instruments, the building boasts a number of features that are ideal for a high-profile project. Many of these features are located in the most opportune of places—the roof. An Energy Star-qualified thermoplastic PVC membrane covers the 643,752-squarefoot roof while a 186,700-square-foot vegetated roof literally mimics the rolling hills of Tennessee’s Highland Rim. The rooftop also hosts a 211-kilowatt solar-power system on the 1-acre area that is over the Grand Ballroom, a rooftop space that resembles an acoustic guitar in shape. Lastly, the roof collects rainwater that is funneled to a 360,000-gallon tank before it is used to irrigate the site and flush hundreds of toilets inside.

Construction Challenges

Baker and his colleagues knew the Music City Center would present many challenges even before work began. “We knew it was going to be a logistical nightmare going in but then you have to live it,” he recalls. “You would think four city blocks would be a large enough area to work from but there were thousands of contractors working and receiving materials at the same time. Trying to keep truck drivers and suppliers happy was difficult. The community was great though; there were a lot of police officers around to direct traffic.”

Baker Roofing's team of up to 50 roofing workers spent one year working on the Music City Center.

Baker Roofing’s team of up to 50 roofing workers spent one year working on the Music City Center.

Installation also proved perplexing because of the roof’s undulating slopes of 1/4:12 to 12:12. Baker likens the rolls to waves and points out in some places they were almost conical in shape. In the areas in which there was no vegetated roof, the crew fastened two layers of 1.7-inch polyisocyanurate insulation followed by 1/4-inch roof board. Then a 60-mil thermoplastic PVC membrane in a light gray color was fully adhered to the assembly. The membrane features a lacquer coating to reduce dirt pickup.

Photos: Keri Baker

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