Our experience this year at NWIR Day 2020 was soooo exciting. Tremco and WTI were honored to share our efforts in building for the future and expanding diversity in our field staffing during the general session. With only 10 minutes to share our story, we feel like we left a lot out. I would like to take this opportunity to fill in the gaps.
Approximately five years ago, we evaluated our field staff which was approximately 400 (seasonally). They averaged 50 years old and went to the contractor next door for $2-5/hour more. With the industry set to grow approximately 10-15% in the next 5 years and our organization projecting 50%+ growth, we knew we needed to change our offering and recruiting to the individual working on the roof. What did they need or want? In addition, we knew we had NO females on the roof. This left us with two questions:
- How do we support our current employees?
- What do most of us in our late 40’s and early 50’s begin to encounter?
- Our children are ready to go to college
- Our bodies begin to need some “extra” attention
- How do we diversify our organization?
Dependents and Youth
With fewer and fewer people going into the trades, we wanted to build a program to encourage young adults to go into construction through higher education. We built a program to pay college tuition for individuals who came to work for us full- or part-time. However, our linchpin was that we would offer each employee the ability to “gift” this benefit to one of their dependents. We wanted our existing staff to remain with our organization and to feel appreciated. This program was not easy and took almost two years to establish, document and build with a University that could support the program for us.
We are happy to share our experience and provide any support to others on how to build a similar program. Educating our youth and encouraging the trades is something we are proud to share.
We wanted to enhance our offering of job security, stability, healthcare and the future of our employees. Our health plan is great; however, hourly employees were charged more for the program, which was a historical carryover from years gone by when our field staff was less than 10% of our organization. We went to work to correct that and make sure those working got the same benefits and rates as all of us. This stopped a considerable amount of exiting employees who could get a cheaper healthcare program at a different contractor shop. Although this put an additional financial burden on the organization, losing employees while in a growth period was a trend we could not afford.
We knew this was going to be a project. Personally, I have been here for over 20 years and we never had a woman in the field as a roofer. How were we going to find women who were interested in trades – and more so, roofing? We spent months debating how to find new avenues of recruiting that would focus on women. We knew we wanted to build a platform for social programs and felt that this would be a way to combine our strategies and reach out to women. We needed a partner organization that could support training for the trades.
We were introduced to a women’s rehabilitation center with the Bureau of Prisons. There we met with women who wanted a second chance and who were eager to start a new life. We started with a job fair and have now expanded to the state level to integrate our apprenticeship training into the BOP systems for both men and women across four states.
Our efforts on this program have ignited our diversity and provided a platform for women to gain credibility of their skills and work ethics back into the workforce. In addition, this program sparked interest in hiring women roofers or laborers throughout our organization, led more and more by the men in the field. The message is spreading that women are passionate, attentive and detailed. They make great crew members and to our delight have had no problems integrating into the teams. Additionally, several women in our corporate organization are elevating their own careers and visibility by taking lead on this program.
We are so happy to share our experience with any of these programs. Feel free to reach out to either myself at firstname.lastname@example.org or Maureen Greeves, Education Vice Chair at email@example.com.
Thank you for letting Tremco and WTI be part of a growing movement of women and individuals dedicated to making the world great.