The challenges of hiring loom larger

By |  September 14, 2018
Photo by Kevin Yanik

The challenge of finding good, quality employees isn’t getting easier for aggregate producers. Photo by Kevin Yanik

“What’s the biggest challenge your company faces these days?”

It’s a question I typically ask aggregate producers, manufacturers, dealers and allied trade partners to keep a finger on the pulse of the aggregate industry. Lately, the answers center around labor, hiring and the challenge of finding competent people to fill the skilled, technical positions so vital to our industry.

The hiring process isn’t getting any easier, either. If anything, the search is becoming more aggravating. As some producers can attest, finding an applicant who can pass a drug test is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Quality help isn’t readily available like it once was, begging the question of what happens when producers no longer have the manpower to complete essential tasks. Furthermore, how can producers grow their businesses if they don’t have the necessary people in place to operate and maintain equipment?

Setting priorities

Fortunately, a number of producers managed to grow their businesses this year, and they’re making significant investments in equipment that are keeping the suppliers who support them especially busy. As detailed in the article “Equipment buying trends upward,” demand for equipment is up and suppliers expect interest in new technology to continue into 2019.

The conundrum of who mans and maintains equipment is still very real, though. But as one manufacturer shares, some suppliers are now providing a manpower solution when equipment assets are leased or rented.

“In Texas, the word is if you lease a truck you get an operator with it,” says Mark Krause, managing director of North America at McLanahan Corp.

The concept could foreshadow how manufacturers and dealers further differentiate. Some have already elevated their value by offering platforms that monitor equipment and relay critical performance details to producers. These platforms strive to simplify fleet management, drive uptime and increase efficiency.

When these platforms first surfaced, they set the suppliers who offered them apart. Considering today’s hiring challenges, producers would surely gravitate toward programs that offer operators along with leased or rented equipment.

Out-of-the-box ideas like this are critical to ease the hiring pains producers feel. But the ultimate solution to the industry’s labor woes is for societal priorities to change. Most parents never entertain the thought of their kid becoming a welder, mechanic or some sort of technician. They’re hell-bent on sending their kids to a four-year college from day one.

Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of industries like ours to change that mindset. Until priorities change, short-term fixes like a lease-a-loader, lease-an-operator program will have to do.

Comments are closed