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Ask the Contractor: Industry insiders bring knowledge to boot camp

Students in the YCCA Job Readiness Boot Camp listen to a speaker during the first week of classes. (Courtesy)

Students in the YCCA Job Readiness Boot Camp listen to a speaker during the first week of classes. (Courtesy)

Twenty-eight fabulous young adults exited the first week of the YCCA Job Readiness Boot Camp with smiles and high-fives, and I left the building with a glorious smile in my heart.

We started the week with a presentation from Deborah Peterson, owner of Coaching Clarity by Definition, and Deborah shared how important it is for these young adults to know who they are and what they want to do, and that life is ever-changing and evolving. Life is about improving and refining.

Josh Lewis, general manager from Foxworth, was a marvelous speaker and shared with these young men and women that life is about hustle, having the desire to learn and have a good mindset and belief and attitude about themselves. It was conveyed all week long by the various speakers that academic skills alone are not enough for young people to become successful adults. Young people need to have healthy relationships, be engaged citizens, and make wise choices.

We had a class on the importance of resumes: what is a good resume, what is a bad resume. And Art Askew from NACOG was a wonderful speaker, and at the end of the boot camp, all of the students will have a professionally prepared resume in hand.

Chuck Merritt and his team from DeCarol brought in oodles and oodles of tools, and his team talked with the students about the tools and gave them a first-class presentation on what, why and when these tools are used.

Family aspects

In order to share the industry and the value of family, we asked Mike Little, his son Brady Little of Chino Heating & Cooling, Jim Johnson and his son Jimmy Johnson of Elan Electric, Chuck Merritt and his son Kurt Merritt of DeCarol Co., Will Orr and his son Wyatt Orr of Earth Resources Corp. and Bill Gagon and his son William Gagon of The Plumbing Store to share the family relationships of working together, what the “older generation” can learn from the younger generation and vice versa.

All of these fathers and sons expressed generational differences. However, one outcome from the conversation was that family businesses remain a substantial force in the national and global economies. But keeping the business in the family takes the ability to work through assumptions, expectations and differences. The fact is, only one-third of family-owned businesses survive to the second generation. And our heir apparent speakers are third and fourth generation!

The dynamics are complex for fathers and sons. The level of emotion that exists in a father-and-son business can be profound, and as the fathers all said, their Gen-X sons think differently than their boomer dads. They bring technology skills and innovation to most workplaces, along with a desire for work-life balance. While dads still bring experience and passion, many struggle to understand a mindset where productivity doesn’t necessarily mean facetime.

Chuck Merritt conveyed to the students that although they may not have that father-son relationship, they can go out and create their own heir apparent partner in a business and be just as successful.

Jim Reed from HR Quality Homes shared his knowledge on construction, again telling the students to show a good work ethic, work hard, hustle (the word of the week), ask questions, be engaged and they can go anywhere and do anything. Jim loved his time with the youth and his talk was full of passion.

Women give Views

We had a segment on Women in the Trades. A huge thank you to Kathy Wright from Haley Construction, Rachel Little from Chino Heating & Cooling, Brenda Genrre from Yavapai Plumbing & Mechanical, Kim Gagnon from The Plumbing Store and Cindy Spahr from 2-A-T Construction. They engaged the students with great conversation and there were many questions. The men in the class were all in agreement that women are a viable and important component of the construction industry.

There are many opportunities available for women in the construction industry, and our speakers all emphasized the growing role of women in the industry. Underestimating a woman’s ability was the largest hurdle all of these ladies expressed they had to overcome, and they have all done that with grace, beauty, emotional intelligence and sparkle.

Tips on expectations

Workplace expectations was another segment of the week and totally embraced by the students. Garth Bascom from Fann Contracting, Patrice Brinkman from the City of Prescott, and Allan Crary and Jeff Fall from Haley Construction talked about what is expected in the workplace.

The students learned that successful job performance depends upon an array of factors including — first and foremost — a clear and full understanding of and commitment to workplace expectations and guidelines. As an employer, it’s easy to assume your employees know what is expected of them and these company representatives shared the importance of making sure to create workplace expectations to ensure everyone is on the same page. Then there is a successful relationship.

PAYP pays visit

The last “life lesson” of the week was a presentation panel by our Prescott Area Young Professionals. I am asking for an age waiver to see if I can apply to be part of this magnificent and profound organization! A huge thank you to Andrew, Miguel, Cody, Megan, Ariana, Maria, Molly, Colton, Tyler, Zak and Wesley.

For our readers that may not be familiar, PAYP is a group of dynamic young professionals within the 21-40 age group (yep I do need that age wavier) working together to showcase the Prescott area as a place for opportunity, growth, and success. PAYP is supported by the Prescott, Prescott Valley and Chino Valley Chamber of Commerce.

PAYP provides unique social networking opportunities to help develop peer-to-peer relationships on both a personal and business level. It provides valuable opportunities for the professional and personal development of young professionals, in addition to promoting the general economic interest of the Prescott area business community.

Members of PAYP have the opportunity to get involved, learn how to make a difference in the community, and become the next generation of Prescott leaders.

We had great discussion from one young peer group to another and it was so refreshing and heart-warming. There was good advice, laugher and genuine heartfelt “talk.” PAYP — you are all fabulous!

To the field

Keven Kullberg and Glen Copeland, closed out our talks before the field trip Friday to Asphalt Paving & Supply and shared with the students concrete grouting, concrete issues, soils, heaving and settling, and their eyes were wide with amazement to hear local issues with soils and foundation problems.

A huge thank you to Mike McCormick for the trudge down to the Asphalt Plant/Concrete Ready mix. The young adults loved it!

And so the week ended. With such pride in my heart with the kids that I have come to adore, they will forever be a part of my life. Their names will never be forgotten; Adrian, Bianca, Brian, Bryce, Cameron, Chase, Dason, David, Gabriel, Jaimy, Jamal, Jeffrey, Jordan P., Jordan T., Joseph, Juan, Kalvin, Karl, Logan. Killian, Mateusz, Mike, Mitchell, Nicholas, Pauliana, Walker, Valdes and Zane.

Their first week ended, and they now know that the vast construction industry is responsible for shaping the environments in which we live and work — the industry that has BUILT AMERICA.

These students now know what today’s construction industry is NOT… artless, basic, boring, unfulfilling, thankless, routine, predictable, unchanging, dull.

They have learned and will continue to learn over the course of the next two weeks that the construction industry is interesting, moves at a pace that is ever-changing, tricky, challenging, rewarding.

Just like our life, we have a lot of years we can see in the rearview mirror, and we need to keep looking ahead, and that is what the construction industry is doing. We are going to see more collaborative approaches for projects such as design-build, public-private partnerships and integrated project delivery.

The labor shortage is going to continue to plague the industry and is at epidemic proportions right now.

And will continue to be a storm. Our local contractors, extremely concerned over the lack of skilled labor, are to be thanked for supporting our boot camp and lifting up the industry.

Our boot camp students heard the construction industry is a terrific opportunity and offers well-paying jobs. And we have lots of jobs available in Yavapai County. There is and will be a continuing demand for construction industry workers — there are “excellent” employment opportunities because the number of job openings will exceed the number of qualified individuals seeking to enter the occupation.

Where would we be without construction?

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