As the construction industry booms, design-build companies across the country are challenged with finding trained professionals to do the work. “The war for talent is real,” said Matt Hirsch, President of Primus Builders, Inc. “It’s imperative that we find young, talented construction professionals that can grow with our business. There are a lot of opportunities for the right people.”
The hard part is finding these people. One innovative approach Primus is taking is forming partnerships with local colleges, trade schools and high schools to recruit young professionals with an aptitude for construction. “High school students are an untapped pool of potentially strong employees,” said Michael Morris, Talent Ambassador at Primus. “I looked at several options, and Cross Keys High School was the obvious choice,” he said.
Cross Keys High School in Atlanta, Georgia features a Career, Technical and Agricultural Education (CTAE) program. CTAE offers students a wide-range of courses designed to prepare them for high-demand trade careers. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry professionals dedicated to preparing students to be successful in trade careers. Cross Keys High School has a SkillsUSA advisor working with students in the Architecture and Construction Career Cluster.
Primus sponsored Cross Keys’ trip to the SkillsUSA National Leadership and Skills Conference held in Louisville, KY this summer. “Cross Keys sent a team of 32, the largest contingency from any high school in Georgia,” said Scherita Daniel, Assistant Principal for CTAE. The students performed extremely well, earning top honors in several categories.
One of the students who attended was senior Trae Brown (pictured above, center). “Trae is a hard worker and a good kid,” said Morris. “He had the skills and the attitude to make it as a panel installer in our Thermal Division.”
Panel installers install the insulated metal panels on Primus’s cold storage distribution facility projects. They are among the hardest working people on the Primus team. Each panel is up to 58’ long and weighs up to 400 pounds. “Their job is very physical, but it also requires attention to detail, an eye for safety and a head for numbers,” said Morris. “Even without all of the overtime that’s available in this climate, panel installers have the opportunity to make a very comfortable living.”
Primus extended an offer to Brown. “We were thrilled when he accepted,” said Morris. Brown went to work right away at Primus’s flagship Tyson project in Macon, Georgia. “This project is a big one for us. It’s a 184,000 SF facility addition with a really complex automation component,” said Hirsch. “We needed a strong team. I’m glad Trae is a part of it.”
Brown enjoys the fast pace and the fact that he learns something new every day. “Today I learned more about caulking and how to cut trim,” he said. His time at Cross Keys High School and the SkillsUSA program prepared him for success in the field. “I earned my OSHA 30 certification, so I had a strong handle on safety before I started,” he said. “And I learned a lot about leadership and teamwork through SkillsUSA.”
“The great thing about our partnership is that I get to educate parents about career paths for their children that go beyond minimum wage. I get to tell them about companies like Primus that offer careers on the next level,” said Daniel.
Trae has been an excellent employee and is a great example of how this partnership benefits Primus and Cross Keys/SkillsUSA. Primus looks forward to future success stories!