Fresh recruits: How three firms attract and retain employees
With competition for employees tighter than ever, three firms share their unique approaches to recruitment and retention.
One of the biggest challenges facing the construction industry has been labor shortages, and the LBM industry hasn’t been immune. To recruit top talent, whether for the truck cab or the corner office, dealers not only need to promote their companies, but also communicate the value of the industry as a whole—that it’s a place for steady employment, endless opportunities, and fulfilling careers.
Here’s a look at how three industry players bring value to their employment opportunities for the benefit of employee and employer alike.
1. TW Perry
TW Perry has long been a community fixture in the Washington, D.C. metro area, and the LBM dealer transforms that reputation into an employee recruitment and retention tool.
“We’ve tried to be more purposeful and intentional as being a good place to be,” says CEO Gary Bowman. “One thing I’ve tried to be more intentional about this year is in explaining that, as building material dealers, we fill one of the three basic human needs—food, shelter, and clothing. The shelter part doesn’t always get played up as much. We provide a vital role in our community and our economy, and everyone should feel proud of their role in that service. They’re part of something bigger than just the 40-hour-a-week job.”
But it’s often even more direct than that, in the form of giving time, talent, money, and materials. As a team, for example, the employees volunteer with the local organization Rebuilding Together, helping to fix up homes for elderly or disabled homeowners. The company also donates materials for other non-profits, like SOME (So Others Might Eat), to improve the lives of the less fortunate.
The dealer also provides materials to support The Idea School, a local charter school that teaches kids building skills such as carpentry, electrical, and plumbing. Each year, the students build a tiny house using what they’ve learned.
Finally, TW Perry recently began working with the Youth Leadership Foundation in support of their mentoring program. This summer the company hosted an IT intern from that organization, expected to be the first of many. The young people are highly capable, lacking only the opportunity to learn and develop values that will help them succeed.
“By aligning ourselves with these charities, it furthers our goal of being community minded and it helps to draw people to us,” Bowman explains.
It’s also a source of pride for existing staff. “Our employees know—they’ve seen it, they’ve lived it,” says Elisa Kerneklian, Director of Human Resources. “Whether they’ve helped at a Rebuilding Together site or just heard through Gary’s meetings, including [hearing about] additional giving by the management team.”
TW Perry also puts those efforts to work for its employee base in the form of continual development and education programs. “We’ve always had the same philosophical approach to find the best, brightest talent,” Kerneklian says. “We like education. But while college is great, a high school education combined with the right attitude to learn can also be great.”
Along with its work with local schools and vo-tech programs, the company offers a tuition assistance program that reimburses 100% of costs, including books, for everything from one-off computer classes to college degrees. A recent boot camp saw the dealer’s 32 managers attend 12 days of college classes, a mini-MBA program of sorts, where they learned about business, financial acumen, managing human capital, logistics, sales and marketing, and more.
TW Perry extends its generosity directly to employees through profit sharing as well as an incentive program for recruiting new hires. Quarterly companywide meetings keep staff abreast of financials and performance while reaffirming mission and values.
“We’re very intentional about letting everyone know that the company exists for shared prosperity of shareholders, employees, their families, our vendors and suppliers, our customers, and also the broader community,” Bowman says.
It’s all part of building up both the company and the individual employees to be proud of what they do and proud to work for TW Perry. Says Bowman, “When you combine all the elements of what we call shared prosperity, it sets a very positive tone for the company.”