Wright Construction Company: Developing and Retaining Talent

By: Amanda Ibey, Writer|Editor  

   Joe Poston knows there is no single path to attracting talent. “We used to be able to stick a sign on Rt. 103 saying we were hiring and we’d get more applications than we knew what to do with,” says the chief financial officer and part-owner of Wright Construction Company, a general contracting firm with twenty-six employees based in Mt. Holly, Vermont. “That no longer cuts it. Today, we use every tool and try every avenue to bring in new talent.”

   Lately, Joe has had success using social media tools. “We use LinkedIn to find engineers and other professional positions. We’ve had success with Facebook to find carpenters and other labor positions. We keep our Facebook page current by posting a few times a week which helps with engagement.”
Although, Facebook has resulted in many more applications, it doesn’t always translate into skilled labor. Many job seekers have little to no construction experience. “We’re getting bodies, but it takes more resources and training to get people the skills we need.”
   Joe, who grew up in Chester, Vt. and has a degree in Construction Practice Management from Vermont Technical College, also taps into his alma mater to recruit employees. Every year, he and Carl Lavalle (chief operating officer and part-owner) go to VTC’s Career Fair to talk with students about hiring and career opportunities. “For the last five years, we’ve added summer help from VTC’s program, and some interns have gone on to accept full-time jobs with us after they graduate.”
   As a board member at River Valley Technical Center in Springfield, Vt., Poston also knows the value in supporting and mentoring the next generation. “We have to get to the kids at the Tech Centers and show them the opportunities they can have in the trades.” Typically, Joe will bring on a summer intern from River Valley Tech Center who gets invaluable hands-on experience.
   Joe has also connected with the next generation through AGC/VT’s Career Fair. “Last year, I spoke with a student who filled out an application and we hired him for the summer.”
   Developing the workforce is more than just attracting talent at Wright Construction Company. “Carl and I spend just as much time, if not more, trying to retain the people we have instead of losing them to the competition,” says Joe.
   Wright Construction employees regularly take training courses and attend programs through AGC/VT’s training center, and through the Vermont Talent Pipeline Management Program, an employer-led, data-driven process for filling the most critical jobs in the Vermont workforce. (AGC/VT is a resource partner and Wright Construction a member of the collaborative). “We’ve paid for employees to take the Crew Leadership Training and the Site Supervisor Training.”
   As Joe explains, recruiting and retaining talent is an ongoing challenge with no quick fix. But then, overcoming challenges is just part of the daily grind in being in the construction industry.