Bridging the Gap Between the Construction Spending Boom and Labor Shortages

by Administrator ‎04-27-2018 01:37 PM - edited ‎04-27-2018 04:26 PM

Construction_Scherbers_April_May Blog_Image 2.jpgAccording to an April 2nd release from the U.S. Census Bureau, construction spending for this year was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1,273.1 billion. During the first two months of 2018, construction spending increased 4.4 percent from the same time period in 2017. This news would be much more exciting if industry-wide labor shortages weren’t continuing to hinder contractors’ abilities to take on more jobs.  


We recently caught up with Missy and Trevor Scherber, owners of T. Scherber Demolition & Excavating, to talk about these industry trends and how they’re bridging the gap between the construction spending boom and shortage of skilled workers. Two primary solutions surfaced: rethinking recruitment strategies and leveraging new machine technology.


Bring Your Recruitment A Game


Construction_Scherbers_April_May Blog_Image 1.jpgAs many of the skilled machine operators from the Baby Boomer generation are beginning to retire, Missy and Trevor have focused recruitment efforts on a younger generation of operators. The key is getting young recruits excited about entering the construction industry and investing in their training.


“Many millennials are wary of entering the construction field because they witnessed the market crash ten years ago,” explained Missy Scherber. “However, the industry is booming now and there is success to be made—creating an opportunity to restore excitement about this fulfilling career path among younger generations.”


Here are some recruitment methods that have worked well for the Scherbers:


  • Get social. Leverage social media to connect with individuals who are interested in entering the industry, as well as showcase your company’s work environment and fulfilling projects.


  • Offer training. Demonstrate that you are invested in professional development. Partner with equipment manufacturers who offer comprehensive training programs in which your new recruits can participate.


  • Get involved. Giving back to the community where you operate your business is not only fulfilling, but also provides more exposure to potential recruits and even clients.


  • Hire veterans. Check in with your regional VA office. It’s a good place to find hard workers and fast learners who are transitioning to civilian life. Additionally, many veterans already have experience in military machine operation, making them more comfortable and adaptable to construction machines.


  • Reach out to vocational schools. Find opportunities to meet with students in technical programs, such as speaking to a class, participating in career days or inviting a group to visit one of your jobsites.


Machine Technology Is Your Friend, Not the Enemy


Construction_Scherbers_April_May Blog_Image 3.jpgMachine technology perceptions vary widely within the industry. Many operators view it as an insult to their skill set, or worse, a mechanism to put them out of a job. In reality, it’s quite the opposite.


“Machine technology serves as an extension of an operator’s skill set,” said Trevor Scherber. “It also makes a huge impact on project efficiency, workload capacity and how quickly we are able to train new crew members.”


The proof is in the pudding. Let’s take a look at how T. Scherber Demolition & Excavating has benefited from utilizing the latest grading technology:


  • Helps prevent common, sometimes costly, mistakes that occur in their line of work, such as over-digging.


  • Eliminates the need for laying stakes and manually checking grade accuracy—significantly reducing operator fatigue and the time it takes to complete the project.


  • Cuts new operator training time in half. The latest machine technology is designed to make machine operation more intuitive and reduce room for error. Additionally, younger generation operators tend to embrace technology utilization and view it as a marketable skill set.

The labor shortage struggle is real. But fortunately, there are ways to combat those challenges and still get your slice of the 2018 construction boom pie. For more information on Caterpillar’s operator training programs and machine technology offerings, visit or contact your local Cat® dealer.


We’d like to hear about how you’re dealing with the labor shortages:


  • How are you recruiting new employees and machine operators?
  • How have you leveraged machine technology as a way to offset labor shortage struggles

by New member mehdi1973us
on ‎05-19-2018 06:34 AM

I was cheerful and happy enthusiastic when this blog was presented. Interesting stuff to read

by New member Fenagh
on ‎08-21-2018 08:37 PM

We at Fenagh have definitely had issues where we need to hire and there is a labor shortage. To deal with this, we revamped the Employment Application on our website and began running Facebook Lead Ads through Hubspot. We're getting a lot more applications now.

by Administrator
on ‎08-22-2018 10:57 AM

Thanks for sharing, Fenagh! That's great to hear you've been able to boost your incoming applications. Have you tried any other social media sites for recruiting? 

by New member technostructllc
on ‎10-12-2018 02:35 AM

Great information. Time management is very important for all of us. 

About the Author
  • I’m an Attachments Product Application & Sales Support Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have been with Caterpillar for five years including roles in the field as a dealer sales support representative and marketing support in the skid steer and small wheel loader product groups. I graduated from Iowa State University with degrees in Agricultural Business and Economics. Our goal is to provide a full portfolio of attachments for our customers to be more productive and versatile with their machines.
  • I am an Industry and Application Rep for Caterpillar. I graduated from NC State with a dual degree in Agriculture Business Management and Agriculture Science, concentrating in Leadership and Environmental Technologies. I focus primarily on the relationships between customers, dealers, and the product specialists for the Building Construction Products division. Growing up on a tobacco and beef cattle farm, I have several years of machine operation experience and agricultural knowledge. Thomas Jefferson said it best in that, "Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness."
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  • I’m a Compact Wheel Loader Product Application Specialist for Caterpillar in North America. I have 11 years of experience, including roles in the field as a dealer technical support representative, and as a distributor business model consultant.  I graduated from North Carolina State University with a Mechanical Engineering Degree, and wanted a job where I didn't have to sit in front of a computer all day.  This job allows me to get out and get my hands dirty, with the goal of providing solutions to customers’ machine needs.
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  • I am an expert Operator and Application Specialist for Caterpillar concentrating on products used in the construction trades industry. I operate, evaluate and train on Cat machines and Work Tool Attachments worldwide. I have a Degree in Agricultural Engineering, Craftsman Certified and was named Apprentice of the Year 1981 at the University of East Anglia, UK.
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  • I am a Product Application Specialist with 16 years of experience in the industry. As a Building Construction Products Global Trainer, I focus on training dealers and customers on machines, attachments and applications as it relates to the construction, agriculture and landscaping segments.
  • I have been with Caterpillar for more than eight years, working in various roles including a materials engineer, a filters product manager and my current position as a parts consultant. My job allows me the opportunity to work with Cat dealers and customers providing insight on how the use of quality filters and fluids results in better equipment performance and lower owning and operating costs.
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  • Jeff Brown is a marketing professional for Caterpillar Skid Steer, Multi Terrain and Compact Track Loaders. Over Jeff's 12 years in the industry, he has visited with and studied the needs of customers across landscaping, construction, and agriculture segments. Delivering innovative solutions that solve customer's problems is Jeff's main focus.
  • I am a North American Product and Application Specialist for Caterpillar. In this role, I have had the opportunity to represent Caterpillar at various trade shows and train customers on new Small Wheel Loader content. I graduated from Purdue University in 2001 with a Mechanical Engineering degree and have spent the past 15 years with Caterpillar in various engineering roles. Growing up in the Mid-West, I have always loved the cold and the unique activities winter enables. Unfortunately, I had to give those up when I moved to North Carolina. I don't care what people say, you never get used to a hot climate.
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