The Elusive Search: Finding Quality Employees - IE3: Business Tools for HVAC & Plumbing Contractors  

The Elusive Search: Finding Quality Employees

Twenty years ago, while attending a construction conference, I heard one of the speakers discuss the declining trend of available construction work-power.  At the time, I had no problem finding employees. I dismissed the speaker’s predictions as perhaps a regional crisis, and a touch of “the sky is falling.”  I was completely wrong.  The latest statistics predict an HVAC industry talent shortage of over 138,000 employees by the year 2022!  In my opinion, I think this number is conservative.  

So, as HVAC contractors, how do we attract employees to our industry? 

Retain Existing Talent: 

To paraphrase Yogi Berra, “If they don’t wanna work for you, nobody’s gonna stop ‘em.”  As owners and manufacturers, we must constantly look at benefit packages, perks, training, and a workplace environment which causes the employee to ask, “Why would I ever want to leave?” 

Social Media: 

This resource can be as broad and diverse as you allow it to be.  Facebook, LinkedIn, Monster, etc. provide a huge stage to promote your company along with a large audience of potential employees.  These resources seem to appeal to the younger generation.  Also, consider adding a “Hiring” page to your company website. 

Current Employees: 

Announce to your existing employees that you are hiring.  They have a vested interest in inviting the “right fit,” and typically know the work ethic of anyone they recruit.  

Community Colleges: 

Local community colleges with an HVAC curriculum are a valuable resource for talent.  Most community colleges have intern programs that work with local businesses.  These recruits have already chosen to make a career in the HVAC industry. 

Veterans: 

The U.S. Department of Labor has a Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) www.dol/vets/hire, complete with an employer’s toolkit to get started.  Many veterans already have training in HVAC. 

Staffing Agencies: 

Staffing agencies do a great job doing the basic “vetting” (drug tests, background checks, etc.).  Be sure to interview staffing agency recruits to verify their actual experience and abilities. 

Belong to ACCA: 

Perhaps the most valuable resource for finding talent is the information you receive when interacting with other contractors.  Attending the IE3 Show will surround you with a diverse group of contractors and learning labs that allow you to make informed decisions on finding recruits.  Also, keep an eye out for ACCA’s Workforce Development Program.  This is a great time to be a member of ACCA! 

Hopefully this article will serve as a forum for other methods of finding new talent.  Please share your thoughts and any recruitment strategies that either worked, or did not work for you. 

Lanny Huffman

Lanny Huffman

Lanny Huffman is President of Hickory Sheet Metal Co. in Hickory, NC. He has been a member of the ACCA Board of Directors since 2014.
Lanny Huffman

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