In the Concrete Industry, Price Doesn't Matter -- People Do

By Kimmel & Associates on January 22, 2020

It’s no surprise that the labor shortage continues to impact every corner of the construction industry, including the concrete sector. There simply aren’t enough experienced Project Managers to go around, and those who are open to a move are commanding premium salaries. But the good news is, there’s an easy solution to this problem for companies that are willing to think outside the box and invest in their company’s future.

Invest in Strong Leaders

Companies that are succeeding in this market are taking a unique approach to recruitment. While Project Managers are in short supply, experienced industry leaders are not -- and many of them are open to taking a step back in exchange for job stability and the security that comes with a strong backlog of work. From Vice Presidents to Estimating Directors and beyond, leaders across the industry are pursuing positions as Project Executives and Senior Project Managers in order to utilize their skills and pass on their knowledge to the next generation. Forward-thinking companies are able to bring on highly skilled industry leaders at affordable rates to help meet their company’s current project management needs and to train their up-and-coming workforce for the future. And all it takes is the willingness to look beyond what’s written on someone’s resume and make a long-term investment.

It’s All About the Base

The most important thing to these construction executives is stability. Many people still remember the fear and frustration of the recession, and that makes them risk-averse. As a result, many of them are willing to accept lower base salaries than they have earned in the past in their executive or director roles, as long as the company has a strong backlog and offers job security. The key is a strong base salary - pay above market value now, with the understanding that the candidate should not expect a raise within the first year or two. That way, employees see how much their employer values their skills up front, and they also have the motivation to commit to a long-term career within the company.

Focus on Interpersonal Skills

One of the most common mistakes that concrete companies make when hiring Assistant Project Managers and other support staff is insisting on concrete-specific backgrounds and focusing on impressive resumes. In reality, a piece of paper only tells you so much about a candidate, and some of the most valuable traits an employee can have will not show up on a resume. Interpersonal skills are critical to the long-term success of employees in the concrete industry. If an employer meets with someone who has a background in a different sector or is very green, but that person holds themselves well and will make a great impression on clients and senior management, they are worth the investment. Technical skills are much easier to teach than strong interpersonal and communication skills.

Create Learning Opportunities

Today’s up-and-coming employees are passionate about learning and professional development. Companies who have brought industry leaders on board should ensure that they also build up their lower-level project management team. By pairing a seasoned Project Executive or Senior Project Manager with four or five eager Assistant Project Managers, companies can create powerful training programs for their less-experienced employees and provide both the time and the opportunity for their leaders to pass on their deep industry knowledge. This system has the potential to increase employee engagement and loyalty at all levels of the company by providing exactly what each generation of workers needs.

In this competitive market, savvy concrete companies are not just working toward short-term successes - they’re also planning for the future. Investing in smart, eager Assistant Project Managers and strong, experienced Project Executives now is the best way that employers can set themselves up for long-term success. It will cost more up front to hire the right people, but in the long run, those investments will pay big dividends.

The Author

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Kimmel & Associates

Kimmel & Associates

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Kimmel is an executive search firm located in Asheville, North Carolina. Our professional recruiters are committed to exceeding client expectations. They work with the same dedication, honesty, and attitude of service that has been the Kimmel standard for over 34 years.

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