A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Workforce Development Post-Meeting Interviews

In a continuation of our series about a workforce development strategy meeting held at Marek Brothers Systems earlier this year, we bring you some interviews taken following the session.

We spoke with Authur Ehmling, the training coordinator who has been with Marek for 30 years.  He explained that his job is to raise the level of the current workforce and to ensure that new hires fit the standard so that the Marek workforce is better than any other.  One of the techniques for achieving this higher standard is the use of workforce “coaches”.  Every worker that comes into the company is partnered with someone who has been trained so that the new worker is trained to the standards expected of him or her.  Ehmling stated that during the first year, each person receives 600 hours of training as well as 1400 hours of actual hands-on work with a coach who shows the new person how to do the job.  While there is no financial reward associated with being a coach, the incentive lies in each person’s career advancement, because to achieve a certain level within the Marek career ladder, a person must be willing to coach.  The following video features more of what Ehmling had to say.

Drywall superintendent Terry Holcombe appreciated the technique Jim Kollaer used during the meeting of only counting an idea as a goal if everyone in the room agreed to it.  He acknowledged that with this method, they were able to set real goals which could be accomplished and not just theoretical ideas which might never be achieved.

Ira LeFevre, acoustical and shade superintendent, explained that many times after past meetings, everyone would leave the meeting but nothing would actually change, because nothing had been truly agreed upon during the meeting.  This meeting was different with the facilitator, Jim Kollaer, keeping the discussion on topic and not letting people get distracted by less important subjects.

Drywall supervisor and foreman James Anderson remarked about the possibility the company has of changing the culture of the industry for the better.  He said that requiring workers to step up to higher standards will cultivate an attitude which will raise the image of the industry in general.

The following video highlights more remarks from these three interviews.

Finally, Katrina Kersch, director of workforce development at Marek Family of Companies, offered some final comments for the day.  She stated that the meeting was an opportunity to clarify the company goals.  “We know we want a better worker, that is someone who has a better attitude about his job, appreciates the tradition of being a craftsperson, is proud of that position, has good attendance, and understands how important it is to meet the needs of the company’s customers.  When you are dealing with over 800 workers in the field, communicating what you want to accomplish can get complicated, so getting specific goals on target is essential.”  Katrina ended her remarks with praise for both the Marek Brothers companies and for ConstructionCitizen.com and with a challenge to get involved in improving the construction industry, as you can hear in this final video.

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