From Day 1, our goal has been to provide you — the business owners and managers of HVACR contracting companies — with the best business management advice and concepts available. Whether its marketing tactics, financial guidance, business strategy or simply insight into what works for other prosperous contractors, each month we deliver this information to help you run a profitable, successful business.
We regularly study the market, meeting with contractors and industry influencers to understand what you need and want from a magazine. A big part of that is identifying trouble areas in your business and providing content to help you overcome those obstacles.
For the past several years, whenever I ask a contractor what they believe to be their biggest challenge, the answer has been the same: finding quality talent.
Its no secret that as Baby Boomers continue to reach retirement age, the industry is having a difficult time filling that void. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there will be a need for 115,000 new HVACR professionals to meet the demand in our industry through 2022.
It’s not all doom and gloom, however. There is a way past this problem — but it’s not going to be easy.
I’ve spoken with many contractors and, while I often hear finding quality talent is a challenge, I have heard from quite a few successful contractors who are full of advice on tackling this problem.
For example, this month we feature a column from Joel Frederick, president of Quarter Moon Plumbing & AC in San Antonio. Frederick offers a fairly detailed outline for where you can look for and recruit this next generation of trade talent.
Some of his advice seems simple enough in principle, but make no mistake — like anything else in business, if you want to be successful you’re going to have to work for it.
This got me thinking about all the different ways contractors have told me their working at solving the labor shortage.
Jason Hanson, president of Sierra Pacific Home and Comfort, says they focus on building their own great technicians.
“We hire entry level and use training resources we can get through the manufacturers or other trade schools, like Ultimate Technical Academy and things like HVAC Learning Solutions at Lennox,” Hanson says. “We build them up and let them advance within the company.”
Hanson’s approach is not unique. In fact, an overwhelming majority of contractors I’ve spoken with are focusing on finding great people and training them to be great technicians and employees. James Kester, owner of Colonial Plumbing, Heating and Air, even goes so far as to partner with the local high school’s vocational program.
“Whether I’m at a high school speaking with students or at church speaking with youth, I look for people who have the personality or the desire to learn,” Kester says. “They don’t have to be from any kind of technical background for me to be interested. I just have to see they have that desire to learn.”
Sometimes, you’re challenged with trying to recruit talent against your competition. In many areas, several HVACR companies are competing for the same talent pool. Linda Couch, chief operating officer of Parrish Services, says the key is to create a company where employees want to work.
“We do everything we can to create a great working environment and create loyalty,” she says. “We create an environment such that people don’t want to leave.”
Chris Hunter, owner of Hunter Heat & Air, agrees that having a great company culture is the best way to fill the skills gap.
“If you know who you are, what you stand for and what your mission is — and you have fun doing it — you’re going to attract people who want to be part of the team,” Hunter says. “They may not have an HVAC background, but that’s fine. I want people with the same values as us.”
Whether its great benefits, opportunity for advancement or simply hands on training and education, what you offer your employees can be enough to get the talent to come to you.
Sometimes, you simply have to make recruitment a priority. Chadd and Keegan Hodges, co-owners of Best Home Services, have grown exponentially from 10 to 145 employees in a short period of time.
“Hiring is our number one priority because our company culture is one of growth,” Hodges says. “We live by a few simple core values — be a family, be fun, be amazing and constantly grow and learn.”