Jim Kollaer's blog

Reuters has reported that the new AGC survey released yesterday pointed to the increasing shortages in the skilled workforce that we have been reporting for the last four years.

The Reuters article describes not only the recruitment issues for new skilled workers, but the increasing difficulty of retaining those who have the skills needed to keep up with the demand as the economy continues its recovery.  The article quotes AGC Chief Executive Officer Stephen Sander who said that “competition for the available construction workers was heating up. The survey found that 52 percent of firms reported losing workers to other construction companies.  As a result, companies are raising wages and improving benefits to retain workers.”

The AGC survey shows that those skilled workers who left during the recession have found new positions, and the expansion of the domestic oil and gas industry has created new markets for those workers.   Read more » about AGC Releases Survey Results

According to Giles Lamberston in a recent post for Construction Equipment Guide, the recent AGC study on workforce studies points to both a short and long term need for more skilled workers.

Lamberston makes a couple of great points that I think are important. He writes, “The larger truth is that until blue-collar labor is accorded the same respect given software work and other white-collar employment, young people will opt for college degrees of increasingly shrinking career value.  There was a time when skilled construction trades men and women were honored for their labor.  Now such positions are considered a last resort or an interim job.  Consequently, many of the ‘best and brightest’ drift into careers and professions that are trendier but, ultimately, less personally rewarding.   Read more » about Construction Jobs Available, Workers Not!

According to an article in the International Business Times this week, students from the Red Clay School District in Delaware set a new Guinness World Record for the tallest tower ever built of Lego blocks.  The tower was built in sections by each of the 28 schools in the district, and assembled at the John Dickinson High School in Wilmington, Delaware last August.

According to the IBT article, the students, with a little help from sponsors and friends, constructed a tower which is “made out of 500,000 LEGO bricks, weighs almost a ton, and is exactly 112 feet, 11¾ inches tall.  At more than 10 stories high, it shatters the previous record, held by a 106-foot tower built in Prague in 2012.

“The tower was built almost entirely by students from the Red Clay School District over the summer and the last few days of the 2012-2013 school year.  But volunteer contractors helped with the final assembly last week, placing the tower pieces together using cranes and lifts.”   Read more » about Students Set World Record for Tallest Lego Tower

Editor’s note:  Access, Control and Technology are all important components of a secure construction site. In part three of this series last week, Jim Kollaer explained the second of three keys to security: Control.  He concludes by addressing the final key to jobsite security: Technology.


Technology is the third leg of your ACT jobsite security plan.  Wireless cameras are being used more frequently to monitor jobsites on a 24-hour basis.  In fact, a number of cities and your insurance underwriters require that the recordings from those cameras be stored off-site and be kept for inspection for a minimum of 60 days in case of an accident, vandalism, lawsuit or theft on the jobsite.  Those camera locations should be coordinated with the local authorities and with the neighbors who also might have camera locations that can help you monitor activity on-site.   Read more » about ACT Now on Jobsite Security, Part 4 of 4

Editor’s note:  Access, Control and Technology are all important components of a secure construction site.  In part two of this series last week, Jim Kollaer explained the first of three keys to security: Access.  The series continues here as he addresses the second key to jobsite security: Control.


Control is the second leg of your ACT jobsite security plan, and it begins with the site design and security plan that you develop and implement.  Integral to that plan is the security fencing that surrounds your entire jobsite as part of your ACT plan.  It should be a minimum of 6, but more likely 8 feet tall, and be covered in a material that limits easy viewing at ground level of your jobsite.  It is important, as we have stated, that the perimeter have limited and planned access points.  Some cities, like Irvine, California, require that the fence be covered as long as you are storing materials and equipment on the site or until the structure is secured under lock and key.   Read more » about ACT Now on Jobsite Security, Part 3 of 4

Editor’s note:  In part one of this series last week, Jim Kollaer’s article ACT Now on Jobsite Security began as he explained the many areas of jobsite security which must be covered to protect the job, the workforce, and the owner’s interests.  He introduced one way to remember three key jobsite security items: ACT.  Access, Control and Technology are all important components of a secure construction site.


Access for the workers, equipment, and materials you need to build the project is key to the security of your jobsite and is the first step in your plan.

Workers – It is mandatory that you know who is on your jobsite whether on your crew or working for one of your subs at all times.  It is critically important that you not let unsafe, drug or alcohol impaired or unqualified workers enter the site.  It should go without saying that you do not let thieves on your site for any reason.  Theft rings are becoming more brazen and sophisticated as the economy recovers.  We have seen instances where gangs of thieves dressed in uniforms come on a jobsite, claim to be from the government, steal ID information, equipment and materials, and then leave without ever being confronted.   Read more » about ACT Now on Jobsite Security, Part 2 of 4

This article was originally published in the November/December issue of Construction Savvy.  Reprinted with permission.

My first construction boss told me everything he thought I needed to know about jobsite security. He said, “If it is not nailed down, someone will steal it.”

That advice holds true today but needs to be amended to say, “If it is not nailed down, stored in a locked secure container or tool box, behind an 8-foot-high chained and locked perimeter fence with 24-hour 360 video on a jobsite with one entry gate, a 24-hour armed security guard and dogs, it will be driven off, carried off or destroyed.”

In many cases, quoting one subcontractor, “Some construction jobsites are secure, but many are still like the ‘Wild Wild West’ where it is ‘may the lowest bid win’ and ‘winner take all’.”  “Take all” means that they might take tools, equipment and building materials if you don’t have a jobsite security plan that prevents it.  The industry rebound means you have to pay closer attention to the security and safety of your jobsite.  Last year, according to industry sources, the industry lost over a billion dollars in materials and equipment theft.   Read more » about ACT Now on Jobsite Security, Part 1 of 4

If Jim Kor (Kor Ecologic) gets his way, building a fuel-efficient car may one day be as simple as pressing “print”.  Well, almost as simple.

Kor heads a team of Canadian engineers designing a car whose plastic body can be manufactured with a 3-D printer.  They've already made a prototype of their car, dubbed the Urbee, and are working on a second, more advanced version called the Urbee 2.  David Baker, a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle, quoted Kor from a presentation he made at the 2013 VERGE technology and sustainability conference in San Francisco in October:

“What we like about 3-D printing is it can print anything.  And when you can print anything, you can think of everything.”   Read more » about Maybe Your Autonomous Car Will be Printed on a 3D Printer


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