TOUGH CALL: A Good Problem

By / 10 months ago
Online Poll – Read the scenario below then place your vote at the bottom of the page.

After months of searching, you suddenly have three qualified candidates—but only one job opening. What would you do?

Your company has been around for more than 50 years, and has established a solid reputation for quality products and helpful people. As the store’s general manager, you take your role as the company’s steward seriously. When you hand the reins to the next leader, you fully intend to make sure the company that they take over is rock solid. In most areas, you’re on track. You’ve made the right investments in infrastructure, so the warehouse, showroom and back office functions all run smoothly and have room to grow. The problem that you— and many of your fellow LBM dealers throughout the U.S.—wrestle with is an aging workforce and a tough time attracting the next generation.

Instead of waiting and hoping that the problem would solve itself, you wisely have been working on a solution. A partnership with the local college and vo-tech has given you some exposure to students interested in business and building trades. A modest presence on social media ensures that your company can be found where your target employee audience spends time. A cash bounty for any current associate who refers a new employee ensures that your team is always on the lookout for their next co-workers.

Your strategy worked. You now have three potential candidates.

Candidate #1: Greg. Unlike the other two candidates, Greg already knows his way around your company, having worked for you part-time during high school and while earning his two-year degree in construction management. Greg is a hard-worker, is responsible, and gets along well with your existing team. One reason he connects so well with your company’s veterans is that he has little interest in technology, and in finding newer, better ways of doing things.

Candidate #2: Susan. In many ways, Susan is the opposite of Greg. She has never worked in a lumberyard, and would need training and education to get her up to speed on the LBM business. What Susan brings to the table is smarts (she graduated with degrees in logistics and marketing), and an infectious enthusiasm for business. Plus, she’s tech-savvy, and she sees tremendous potential in putting her skills to work helping your company move forward.

Candidate #3: Sam. Like Greg and Susan, Sam is in his early 20s. He has some homebuilding experience—which would definitely come in handy, and enjoys computers and technology. Sam is also personable and strikes you as someone who is driven to succeed. Unlike Greg and Susan, Sam didn’t finish the college program he began. He says this is because he’s anxious to start building a career.

As you knew that they would, your efforts finally paid off. The good news: you now have three qualified candidates for an assistant manager position. The bad news: you only have one opening. Who would you choose?

1. GREG – The obvious choice, you already know that Greg fits right in. He may not help drive your company forward, but he’ll be a solid, safe addition to your team.
2. SUSAN – If you’re looking to the future, you’re going to need someone with skills not already on your team. You can always train her on the LBM business.
3. SAM – Not as easily defined as Susan or Greg, Sam has a nice mix of construction experience, tech savvy and like-ability that could make for a great hire.
4. HALF AND HALF – Instead of choosing one of three good candidates, why not split the job in two, and offer two candidates half-time positions, and see how it plays out?
What would you do?
  • 9.43% - ( 5 votes )
  • 47.17% - ( 25 votes )
  • 33.96% - ( 18 votes )
  • 9.43% - ( 5 votes )

Something else?
If you’d take a different plan of attack, email your suggested solution to

Rick Schumacher

Rick Schumacher is the editor and publisher of LBM Journal, and has more than 24 years experience covering the industry.