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Recruiting at the Source: SMACNA Mid-Atlantic Combines Recruitment with Tours of Sheet Metal Facilities

As part of SMACNA Mid-Atlantic’s strategy to recruit younger workers to the sheet metal and HVAC industry, the chapter organized a June tour of local sheet metal facilities, including Southland Industries and W.E. Bowers.

Scott Sheppard, sheet metal operations manager at W.E. Bowers, discusses blueprints for a recent project.
Scott Sheppard, sheet metal operations manager at W.E. Bowers, discusses blueprints for a recent project.

Along with representatives from the U.S. Department of Labor, recruiters and instructors attended from the Edison School of Technology in Montgomery County, Maryland, and the Phelps School in Washington, D.C. Both schools have construction, architecture, and engineering tracks in their respective curriculum.

“I believe these tours are invaluable as it helps educators better understand and describe what the sheet metal industry is about,” said Bernie Brill of SMACNA Mid-Atlantic. “The attendees had little first-hand experience about our industry and this opportunity gave them an insight and a better appreciation for the work our contractors perform. It also tied together education, training, and the other characteristics needed for one to succeed in this business.”

Recruiters were very interested to learn more about the companies and how they could help their students get into the trades. Questions focused on how much training was provided, what happens after the apprenticeship test, and what kinds of information a student should know before taking the apprenticeship test and applying for a position.

Scott Sheppard, sheet metal operations manager at Bowers, discussed the importance of certifications, but also stressed that students are trained in all aspects of the trade. For example, even if an apprentice has previous CAD experience, he needs to understand what he’s drawing and how to apply it to the sheet metal industry.

At Southland Industries, Construction Manager Rob Delawder started off with a tour of Southland’s “Lean Improvement” wall. Employees are encouraged to suggest improvements and are recognized publicly. He also emphasized Southland’s focus on safety. As one of the largest mechanical contractors, Southland offers many career opportunities and Delawder noted that employees at Southland tend to stay at the company for long periods of time.

Recruiters left with great ideas to share with their colleagues and a better appreciation of the industry. Carlos Nalda, college and career information coordinator at Thomas Edison, is hoping to organize a tour for his students during the upcoming school year.

Additional recruitment tours are already planned for August.

To learn more, contact Bernie Brill or Kyle Tibbs at SMACNA Mid-Atlantic at (301) 446-0002 or bernie@smacnaatl.org.

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