Quick Contractor Questions: Insulation Outlook Interview Series

February 1, 2019

Insulation Outlook staff recently sat down with some NIA members for a conversation about what’s going on in the world of contractors.

1. What is your top priority for 2019?

2. Is the worker shortage an issue for your company?

3. Have you ever used NIA’s resources for your business?

4. What is your perspective of the insulation industry in 2019?

5. What do you think the industry should focus on achieving in 2019?

6. Anything else to add about the unique perspective of an insulation
contractor in this day and age?

Laura Dover

1. What is your top priority for 2019?

Same priority since 1965: Taking care of our customers, safely and with integrity.

2. Is the worker shortage an issue for your company?

The construction business is very “feast or famine” in nature, so when we have the next surge of immediate labor needs, it will be very difficult to find additional skilled workers, or even people with little or no experience. Those people just are not out there. There is no question that this shortage affects all trades in the construction industry, and is one of the biggest challenges we face going forward. We are really focusing on taking care of the employees we have, and doing more with less.

3. Have you ever used NIA’s resources for your business?

We travel a lot, so we use NIA’s Buyer’s Guide: Insulation Products & Providers directory to find suppliers and distributors throughout the country. We have Certified Insulation Appraisers on staff, which helps us take better care of our customers by giving them additional information about how our work can benefit their organization. Also, I really appreciate having access to other insulation contractors, who I can call if I need to bounce off ideas or ask questions.

4. What is your perspective of the insulation industry in 2019?

Insulation is still relevant and important to industry and construction, and 2019 will be a good year.

5. What do you think the industry should focus on achieving in 2019?

We should be focusing on coming together as insulation contractors and suppliers, regardless of size or type of business, to raise awareness of the importance of what we do. The vast majority of NIA members are small contractors, and I would like to see a focus on continuing to prioritize small companies and create additional resources for them.

Joe Leo

1. What is your top priority for 2019?

To get to 2020! Also, to grow the business in an ever-changing union environment.

2. Is the worker shortage an issue for your company?

Yes, we have seen erosion in production and manpower flexibility. Part of how we are handling this is having meetings at the local, regional, and national levels with the union to come up with creative ways to increase manpower in certain locations. The industry is struggling and the market share is shrinking because of the shortages.

It’s a serious problem.

3. Have you ever used NIA’s resources for your business?

Insulation Outlook magazine is a great resource, it’s always out at all of our branches and something our guys are regularly reading.

4. What is your perspective of the insulation industry in 2019?

Booming until 2021, when we’re anticipating a slowdown.

5. What do you think the industry should focus on achieving in 2019?

I think it’s important for NIA to help grow the industry and help educate industry members on the new laws and ever-changing business conditions. Things like mandatory paid leave, or other new regulations, can have a really serious impact, so it’s good to get ahead of what’s happening so you can be prepared.

6. Anything else to add about the unique perspective of an insulation contractor in this day and age?

The industry is ever evolving, there are constantly new advancements, technologies, and products. Some of the technological tools have allowed us to track projects more efficiently. Although, technological tools can be a double-edged sword—you now have so much capability to get and share information, it adds pressure to be reporting that information more frequently, which can leave less time for actually working on the project. Finding the right balance is key.

Matt Caldwell

1. What is your top priority for 2019?

I was thinking maybe work less and make more! In all seriousness, our top priority is going to be the addition of a new office in an adjacent state we’re not currently in. We have the people in place, and we’ve got a large job in the state.

2. Is the worker shortage an issue for your company?

Everyone in the nation is having a problem with that! Yes, we have a worker shortage problem and we’re doing 2 things to combat that: we’re working longer work weeks than normal and even though we’re a union contractor, we have taken in some of the responsibility for recruitment and recruiting our own workforce rather than waiting for the union to have them show up. Union or not, you’re having to go out and find your own people. We’ve had success working closely with the Department of Labor in each state. And we’re working with Helmets to Hardhats—we’re been working with them for a few years. It doesn’t matter where they’re coming from or even what they know—what you’re hiring for is work ethic and integrity, the industry training is going to have to come for everyone. Once we go out and solicit them, then make a determination that they have the right foundation, then we turn them over to the apprenticeship counsel for training.

3. Have you ever used NIA’s resources for your business?

We use some of NIA’s training manuals and resources for onboarding office staff. To kind of give them an idea what we do and do some surface level for the office staff to give them the 10,000-square-foot view.

4. What is your perspective of the insulation industry in 2019?

2019 is going to remain strong, at least in the southeast—and we work in every southeast state. We are seeing that there will be a slowdown mid-2020.

5. What do you think the industry should focus on achieving in 2019?

The industry is in growth mode and we’re going to be for the next decade—our biggest challenge is how we’re going to engage the younger workforce. That is currently the biggest challenge and is only going to get bigger. We need to figure out how we engage the younger generation to come into our industry—both office site and the field. It’s a promising industry that I would not hesitate to bring someone into at a young age. We just need to figure out how we can convince them it’s a good place to park their career.

6. Anything else to add about the unique perspective of an insulation contractor in this day and age?

The only thing I would say that is different than 40 years ago when we started is that we had a very defined scope of work and that has changed. We are now doing a broad scope of not only insulation, but pipe labels and heat tracing, sheet metal work—just a much broader scope of work. There’s a desire to see the insulation contractor handle more than just insulation. You’re seeing a lot of insulation companies that paint, do coatings, do scaffolding—there’s a lot of different things that are expected now.

A special thanks to the following NIA members for participating in this piece:

Laura Dover is the President of Dover Insulation (www.doverinsulation.com), and has been with the company for 17 years. Ms. Dover is the third generation of her family to work in the insulation industry. Dover Insulation is a merit contractor based in North Carolina, and has been in operation since 1965. She can be reached at lauradd@doverinsulation.com.

Joe Leo is the President of Atlantic Contracting & Specialties, LLC (www.atlanticcontracting.com) and Senior Vice President of IREX Contracting Group (www.irexcontracting.com). Mr. Leo has been in the commercial and industrial insulation business for 41 years. Atlantic Contracting services the New York/New England Market, as a full scaffolding, insulation, painting, and abatement contractor. He is President of the Insulation Contractor’s Association of New York City, Treasurer of the Insulation Contractor’s Association of Southern New York, and 1st Vice president of the Subcontractors Trade Association. He is also the Vice Chairman and former Co-Chair of the Building Trade Employer’s Association. He serves on the board of NIA, the Eastern States Insulation Contractor’s Association, and the National Union Insulation Contractor Alliance. He is Co-Chairman of the Trust Funds for both the Heat and Frost Insulators of New York City and Westchester, and sits as a Trustee on the Funds in Connecticut. He can be reached at JLeo@atlanticcontracting.com.

Matt Caldwell is the President of Caldwell Insulation Inc. (www.caldwellinsulation.com). The company is located in Atlanta, Georgia. He founded the company in early 1995 and has 27 years of experience in the mechanical insulation industry. Caldwell Insulation has a primary focus on commercial and industrial insulation in the southeastern U.S. market. Caldwell Insulation is a union shop and their specific area of focus is data centers and hospitals. He can be reached at matt@caldwellinsulation.com.

 

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This article was published in the February 2019 issue of Insulation Outlook magazine. Copyright © 2019 National Insulation Association. All rights reserved. The contents of this website and Insulation Outlook magazine may not be reproduced in any means, in whole or in part, without the prior written permission of the publisher and NIA. Any unauthorized duplication is strictly prohibited and would violate NIA’s copyright and may violate other copyright agreements that NIA has with authors and partners. Contact publisher@insulation.org to reprint or reproduce this content.

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