Running a successful precast concrete plant isn’t just about manufacturing high-quality products. It’s also about recruiting and hiring exceptional employees that will help reach and exceed long-term goals. But as a result of the construction industry’s ongoing skilled labor shortage, many precast producers have recently experienced difficulty finding the talent they need. That’s exactly why Tom Peterson, regional manager for NPCA Producer Member County Materials Corporation, was excited to connect with a local university to offer a plant tour of the company’s facility in Roberts, Wis.
The process began when Peterson received a call from Professor Heath Wiley of the University of Wisconsin-Stout. Wiley, who teaches a concrete products course in the university’s construction management program, was looking to supplement his students’ classroom learning with real-world experience. Peterson loved the idea, and as a result, 15 students toured the plant on May 3.
Students saw most of the company’s precast operations, including wet cast, dry cast, pipe, hollowcore and prestressing production. According to Peterson, the students enjoyed the experience.
“There were plenty of great questions asked during the tour,” he said. “Some students made comments that they can learn this information in a class, read a book or watch a video, but they never gave much thought to where precast is made and who is responsible for making it. It helped them realize there’s a large, vibrant industry here.”
Peterson added that he feels County Materials has a civic duty to provide students with the information they need to make informed career choices. Plus, hosting plant tours is a great way for the company and industry to attract top talent.
“As a steward of community resources and the industry, we need to put our foot forward to help educate the students,” he said. “We want those in the younger generation to know that there is this industry they can get into that can provide them with an exceptionally fulfilling career. It’s a matter of getting people in the door and having them see what we do and what we can accomplish.”
County Materials will continue developing their relationship with UW-Stout and other local universities to offer more students the opportunity to learn about precast manufacturing first-hand. The hope is that this endeavor will result in the students of today becoming the precast leaders of tomorrow.