“I’ve looked everywhere, even at my competitors, where can I find truss technicians?”
This is a question heard at some point during almost every conversation with component manufacturers these days. The answer isn’t as simple as saying, “Oh, call Truss Techs and ask them to send you a few candidates.” No, the need for truss technicians has surpassed the supply and they’re not out there on every street corner. The fact is—you may have to start the work of creating your own supply.
Perhaps the first place to look when all else fails is right in your own plant. Do you have a tech savvy sawyer or set-up man who would like to move into the design field? Are you willing to invest in them to help them get the added skills they need to succeed with evening or day courses? One can’t assume that, because they can read the output from your proprietary design software, that they have the wherewithal to create the input.
Back in my manufacturing days, I liked to get apprentices from my local high school. I had a relationship with the local Vocational-Technical Colleges too. These were fertile grounds for getting young people (and Veterans looking for careers) that had the drafting and fundamentals of engineering skills we were looking for as prerequisites for technicians. The veterans are a great resource because they have a connection to the local community, they want to be here. Additionally, the vast majority are trained (and trainable), dedicated, and highly motivated. This is not a resource to overlook.
Today, I highly recommend that you get yourselves on a first-name basis with the local high school guidance counselors and voc-tech educators and department heads. Entice them to come out to your plant to see the level of automation and sophistication there is in both your design office and plant. They will be amazed and it will surprise them for sure. These are the folks that are closest to the kids in their classes and schools. They are the ones best suited to give you the names of the ones most likely to succeed in your business. The same goes for your state and regional two-year technical colleges. Do you know what their curriculum is for the Architectural or Engineering Technology Associates Degree? Are they teaching anything with regard to lightweight wood framing? Are they adequately covering flow-of-loads and codes and standards? Do they know what you need? Have you ever reached out to tell them?
I know, this is answering a question with a lot more questions. There isn’t an easy answer but there is more than one way to start the solution for the future. These curriculums are also well suited to fill positions of component and material sales, take-offs, manufacturing leads, etc.
You don’t need to go this alone either. Get with your local SBCA Chapter, Home Builders Association, Associated General Contractors, or supply line partners and take the first step. Open the lines of communication and share openly what you do and how you do it. The high schools and technical colleges would love to hear from you. The ball is in your court…will you shoot or pass?
Thanks for reading, SS
From the Archives
Our “Question of the Day” series by Stan Sias, published from 2014 until 2017, continues to generate feedback today. Although all of the articles since December 2015 are posted in our online Library, the earlier pieces are now only available in full-issue PDFs. So, from time to time, we’ll bring back a few of these that deserve another look, From the Archives…