Payne & Dolan: Building a Workforce
Payne & Dolan, a multi-generational, family business, weaves a sense of legacy throughout its workforce by creating camaraderie among its employees. When the company hires a new employee, they make a long-term investment. Their hope is to hire people who will be with the company for the next 20 to 30 years. If their current workforce is any indication, the trend will continue. At the present time, they employ multiple generations of workers from several families, all of whom began on a road crew. The secret to their workforce longevity is keeping the road crews together. Whether the crew does two jobs in one day, or one job for two months, the entire crew moves from job to job.
Like many companies across industries, the number one challenge is finding workers.
“Every other part of the business is manageable,” said Kurt Bechthold, CEO, Payne & Dolan. “If you need equipment, you can buy equipment. But it is a challenge to find quality people who want to join the team for the long haul.”
The career path for construction begins with working outside in the elements. To work in construction in Wisconsin, it helps to enjoy the outdoors. One way in which Payne & Dolan finds workers interested in a career in construction is by working closely with workforce partners, including Employ Milwaukee.
“If we tried to do it ourselves, we would probably fall short,” said Bechthold. “Finding qualified people is the most difficult thing we face as a business. It is probably the most difficult task for most businesses. The more partners you have, the better you will be able to succeed in accomplishing that number one task.”
Recently, construction industry leaders created the Construction Industry Workforce Coalition to develop and implement strategies for meeting the increasing demand for a local, diverse, and qualified workforce. The Coalition recognizes there are an unprecedented number of projects impacting the capacity of contractors and trades, including large-scale development projects such as Northwestern Mutual and the Milwaukee Bucks Arena, along with road building, sewer and water projects, and other public and private commercial projects. The Coalition is comprised of the following leadership: Employ Milwaukee, Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee, Payne & Dolan, Laborers Local 113, and WRTP/BIG STEP.
The group recently coordinated an industry training. From that class, Payne & Dolan hired two apprentices and two traffic control specialists.
The advantage of apprenticeship is that it is a structured way to gain skills. Going through the apprenticeship requirements allows workers gain the skills to become confident in their job. The apprenticeship program gives workers on-the-job experience to learn a specific skillset, and move along a career pathway. The construction industry is on a positive growth trend. As for a career in construction, Bechthold has this to say:
“It is not an easy business, but it is a rewarding business. It is a career and with good paying jobs. It is a career that will support a family,” said Bechthold. “If you are a person who likes being outside, there is nothing like it. You get to work with and meet a wide range of people and interact with the world.”