October is here, and that means it’s time to celebrate Careers in Construction Month! The initiative is led by Build Your Future™, an organization dedicated to “shaping positive perceptions about careers in the construction industry” to be a “catalyst for recruiting the next generation of craft professionals.”
We talked to several top builders to see what drew them to their career in construction, what their current work in the industry entails, and how they’d advise the next generation of builders. Let’s see what they had to say.
Brad Leavitt was inspired to love the trades among a family of electricians, working for his uncles in high school. After earning his degree in construction management in 2005, Leavitt worked on a hotel and resort project that gave him the necessary foundation to start his firm in 2013. AFT Construction works in new commercial and residential builds, and today Leavitt serves by managing his clients, leading the pre-construction stage and developing the business, especially through social media and his podcast.
“What inspires me most is the new generation getting excited about the industry,” Leavitt says. “Because of social media, we’ve now seen a resurgence in the trades. Educational videos, the podcast and our social media pages have inspired so many young people.”
Leavitt encourages the next generation to help fix customer pain points, from site cleanliness and communication to overall systems. “Our industry can, at times, lack systems and organizations,” he says. “As we continue to educate and create these systems internally, we can help revolutionize the trade.”
Seeking out new premium products that help buildings perform is also critical—and that’s where LP comes in. “We have worked with LP on many of our projects to great success,” Leavitt recalls. “In fact, currently we are building Professional Builder’s house of the year, the Desert Comfort Experience, which is a net zero home. It features products from the LP® Structural Solutions portfolio as key components of the build. The products are incredible and a game changer for us and our industry.”
Sara Bendrick found her first inspiration from her dad, a do-it-yourselfer whose projects popped up here and there as she grew up. With an interest in design, she earned her degree in Landscape Architecture and then joined a small design firm. After a few years she started Sarita Landscapes and continued to diversify her skill set, adding her contractor’s license in 2015. Today, with her project manager, Bendrick says “we balance new clients, design and builds. I devote some of my time to traditional and social media to help grow the business and build general awareness in the field.”
Bendrick has a unique perspective on LP® Structural Solutions products based on her experience in landscaping. “We often get clients asking for suggestions on what to do with the exterior of their house,” she says. “There is a great connection that happens where the house meets the landscape. Having the proper envelope to your house to protect it from moisture is a crossover in our industry.”
When it comes to the future, “I think we’re on the brink of really smart homes and landscapes,” she says. “Whether it’s building a house that can better withstand moisture or building a landscape that collects and filtrates water, people are really starting to understand how the choices they make to their home and landscapes affect their surrounding environment. It’s a great time to be in the industry to help guide people make these decisions.”
With that in mind, products like LP WeatherLogic® Air & Water Barrier have been particularly impactful for Bendrick.
She also recommends that builders open their minds to multiple ways of building, which will contribute to success in a variety of environments and with different types of homeowners. “Expanding your horizons to bridge the gaps will help you be a great resource to your clients and your community,” she adds.
As owner and operator at Rural Renovators, Kyle Stumpenhorst focuses on high-end customer post-frame structures for the residential and agricultural market. The creativity of the industry drew him to it from the beginning. “I was able to take a pile of raw materials for a project and turn it into something I could see and touch—as well as an end product that benefited someone,” he says. “The level of gratification was unlike any other job I’d had in the past.”
After getting his start remodeling his own home, Stumpenhorst grew his skills and company soaking up information all the time, just like he did from the beginning. When it comes to the products he uses, LP Structural Solutions products stand out. “There is one major takeaway—the level of quality and precision is unmatched,” he says. “When you pull together the entire portfolio for a project, it’s awesome how quality a job you can achieve that is strong and lasting.”
As the industry develops, Stumpenhorst reflects that he is inspired by the technology being used for both products and methods. “This is allowing us to become better builders and produce product that will last much longer with greater quality for the client,” he says.
“My biggest advice to the younger generation is to use the massive amounts of educational content that is currently out there from professionals in the trade,” Stumpenhorst says. “Never in the history of the trades has information been so prevalent, allowing young people to learn much quicker.”
Celebrating Career Pathways in Construction
Join us in October 2022—and all year—in celebrating Careers in Construction Month. The possibilities are endless for the industry, and many builders are actively working to bring in a more diverse set of talented individuals to offer their new perspectives. With innovations from LP, such as the LP Structural Solutions portfolio, there’s never been a more exciting time to be in the construction industry.
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