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Why The Commercial Construction Industry Needs More Skilled Workers

Why The Commercial Construction Industry Needs More Skilled Workers

“Work in construction” is a common answer carpenters and construction workers give when asked what they do for a living. That answer is a broad one. It actually encompasses many areas of expertise, including framing, roofing, siding, remodeling, finishing, and other specialties in between.

Commercial contractors today are struggling with skeleton crews because they just can’t find experienced and skilled workers. This doesn’t seem to make sense. Not when there are more than enough workers available for residential construction.

Shouldn’t any talented carpenter able to swing a hammer and read a tape on a commercial construction site as easily as he can on a residential one?

Let’s take a look at the specific requirements for commercial construction work:

Skills Needed

First things first. Commercial construction involves much more than knowing how to swing a hammer and read a tape. Often times commercial workers must have skills in not only carpentry, but also masonry, concrete, metal work, welding, electrical, plumbing, equipment operation or some variation. Once an accomplished worker achieves this skill set, he might be more inclined to start his own contracting company than be limited by the rules of a corporate office.

Corporate Structure

Residential construction jobs tend to provide a certain amount of leeway when it comes to schedule and skill level requirements. It’s not too far out of the realm to see a residential crew consist of a retiree, a third shift worker looking for extra hours, and a teenager on summer break. For the most part, days off are pretty easy to come by. Commercial jobs tend to be more structured, with tighter deadlines, and not all carpenters can commit to the rigid schedules. Commercial jobs also may require travel and extended time away from home, which makes it difficult to appeal to middle-aged workers with families.

Job Opportunities

Many residential workers are members of the community, and people you know personally. When someone is laid off from an office or manufacturing job, word of mouth travels quickly, and it’s not long before a local residential contractor offers him a job. Commercial work requires a different skill level, one that is usually more sought out and specialized.

How Can Commercial Contractors Find Skilled Workers?

The commercial industry is in a bit of a role reversal today, with contractors having to seek out workers instead of the other way around. The potential employee must be a reliable skilled worker who has no problem traveling and working under a hierarchy of management on a large crew. Here are some tips on how a well-balanced, skilled crew can be put together:

  • Pay More. Higher pay is the obvious solution to find more talented workers. Commercial contractors need to adjust their profit margin or charge more so that employees can enjoy a trickle-down effect.
  • Hire Nationally. Commercial companies with assignments throughout the US can consider hiring workers near the job sites, rather than near their own home headquarters. Contractors can simply meet them on the job site. This approach would greatly expand the talent pool.
  • Hire Recruiting Companies. In the same way that professional sports teams should always be on the lookout for that skilled free agent, commercial construction companies should be too. It’s not a bad idea to partner with a recruiting or job service organization that is constantly in touch with employment seekers.
  • Over hire. While many manufacturers employ ‘just-in-time’ inventory management to minimize their overhead, a commercial construction crew must have a surplus of workers on at all times. There should always be some work to keep carpenters busy during slow periods. Paying dependable workers to handle a broom is better than stretching them thin and missing crucial deadlines because of a short crew.

Growth Outlook

The National Association of Home Builders reported that nearly half the residential and commercial builders in America reported a labor shortage in 2014 indicating a true problem. This coincides with a 13.1% growth forecast in 2015 and an early 9.2% projection for 2016 for the commercial building sector. While these numbers may seem alarming, the silver lining in here is that supply and demand will create an incentive for people to get back into the construction industry. The younger workforce should see the potential for higher pay in commercial construction, and those looking to switch careers one last time in their 30’s will be more open to entering the carpentry industry.

There will always be some uncertainty in commercial construction. It’s an industry that ebbs and flows with fluctuations in the economy. The same can be said of just about every industry. Builders who want to grow and expand will need to take a look at how corporate sales and technology giants find their employees. Approach workers like the highly skilled professionals they are and enlist the help of headhunting agencies to find them.

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Commercial Flooring Trends – Out With the Old In With the ?

Commercial Flooring Trends – Out With the Old In With the ?

Flooring in commercial sector has a much different purpose than flooring in residential settings. Home flooring is generally chosen for luxury and aesthetics. Commercial flooring, on the other hand, is chosen for its performance and maintenance requirements. Simply put, commercial flooring is installed based solely on its ability to withstand rugged wear and tear, high foot traffic, and daily spills. At least that was the case yesterday. Modern advancements in commercial flooring are making design more accessible, with interesting textures, patterns, shapes and color options. The best part is that these improvements come without sacrificing performance.

The Old (Safe) Guard

For decades, the go-to flooring in the commercial industry has been monotone 12” X 12” tiles – not exactly awe-inspiring. There were three main reasons for using these tiles: 1) they were virtually indestructible; 2) they were very easy to maintain; and 3) commercial flooring only had to be practical, not pretty. The first two reasons will always be current. Durability and maintenance are primary concerns for commercial properties. But the third reason has gone by the wayside. Today, modern design matters.

New Design Trends

The main problem with 12” X 12” cream speckled tiles is that they’re a constant reminder to customers and employees that they’re in a commercial setting. The old argument was that commercial buildings weren’t designed for comfort. Don’t businesses want customers and employees to feel invited? It turns out they do. Many businesses have found great success implementing these simple new design trends into their commercial buildings: Reinvent Traditional Patterns We’re not about being anti-12″ tile. Their functionality is superior. By simply replacing some of the monotone tiles with different colored tiles, commercial spaces can be entirely transformed. Consider selecting an accent color, perhaps one that is used in artwork or on the walls. It helps to get creative and place the color tiles strategically, so that they look like intentional design elements. When done this way, 12″ tiles can be one of the most striking flooring options available. Rectilinear Hexagonal Shapes One of the simplest ways to improve the look of square tiles is to change their shape. Rectilinear hexagonal shaped tiles are 6-sided hexagon shapes that are formed in a straight line. The hexagon patterns provides a subtle yet significant update. Since the shapes can align with each other in a number of different ways, color-blocking patterns can be created to add contrast and drama. Striated Tiles and Striped Carpet Linear patterns are popular in commercial design for a number of reasons. They make spaces appear to be larger, for one. Linear patterns also act as a subliminal guide for visitors, leading them through your space. Striated tiles feature linear grains with markings on them. These tiles set a luxurious tone in a commercial bathroom or meeting room. When tile isn’t an option, striped carpets provide a unique and durable alternative. Hotel owners might apply striped carpets to stairways to make the environment look more grand. Photographic Laminate One thing commercial property owners and managers have a hard time justifying is investing large sums of overhead into flooring, which has no measurable ROI. Laminate flooring imprinted with the looks of wood, granite, or stone can be installed for a fraction of the cost of other options. Modern technologies have made the photographic prints more realistic than ever, with laminate coating is stain-proof.

The “Hot 4” Materials

If you’re looking for additional flooring options, the four materials listed below are unique and stylish with great performance and durability. Terrazzo The ultimate combination of durability and beauty has to be terrazzo flooring. This is a flooring that’s here to stay. Terrazzo is a composite material poured into the surface on-site. With terrazzo, surfaces, textures and finishes can be customized by incorporating quartz, marble, granite, or glass into the material. Terrazzo can be also used for retrofitting a commercial building, with hints of marble and quartz sprinkled through the terrazzo tile that will replicate the same elegance as actual marble and quartz, at a much more affordable price. Carpet Tiles There are certain commercial settings where carpet is much more desirable than other flooring materials. Some of these applications include hotel rooms, offices, and other businesses where sound absorption and foot comfort is a priority. Laying carpet rolls is risky because if one section becomes damaged the whole piece must be replaced or patched. Carpet tiles provide a much better option, with interlocking grips that make them easier to install the carpet rolls. Because they are tiles, the same color blocking methods discussed above can applied for endless design variations. Resilient Flooring Resilient, or vinyl, flooring is well known for its durability, affordability, and maintenance. Modern resilient vinyl floors have the same performance attributes that made the material so popular 30 years ago. What’s new today is the high end design. Today’s resilient flooring has been reinvented with modern images that can replicate hardwood, stone, and granite. Textures can be even added in for additional authenticity. Polished Concrete For heavily traveled commercial areas with extremely high foot traffic, polished concrete flooring may be the best solution. Polished concrete is one of the most affordable surfaces on a per-year performance basis because it will last for the entire life of the building. Polished concrete has an unmistakeable shine and can take on a variety of colors for limitless design options. Often times, polished concrete is an affordable alternative to marble flooring. It reflects light and so can used to soften and brighten commercial areas.

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5 Key Trends in the Hotel Construction Industry

5 Key Trends in the Hotel Construction Industry

Last year, almost 3,000 hotel construction projects were active in the US at the beginning of the year, which represents more than a 10% growth from 2013. As the economy recovers, many hotel owners are looking into ways they can attract new clients and increase profitability. Today more than ever, it’s all about creating authentic, one-of-a-kind guest experiences. Here are some key trends evolving as hotel industry growth continues:

Going Green and Providing Context

Millennials in particular are becoming increasingly conscious about protecting their environment. In response to this, there’s been a growing trend in the hotel industry to offer improved water and energy conservation services beyond O+M procedures such as laundry. Guests are looking for enhanced experiences that come with high-quality room control systems. These systems typically include air conditioning controls, ventilation, heating, and in-room lighting, as well as occupancy sensors that save energy by lowering thermostats in unoccupied rooms. By providing ecologically responsible features such as these, you’ll align your hotel services with guests who desire a holistic, environmentally sound setting. The green trend goes beyond efficient mechanical systems. Guests want to stay in hotels that also “look” green. Today clients are looking to get away from standard cookie-cutter hotels and would rather stay in authentic hotels that reflect their setting.

Renovating Historical Buildings

Repurposing facilities such as factories and old office buildings is a great way to infuse new designs with a bit of history and offer a truly one-of-a-kind guest experience. Structures that are most in demand for this type of renovation date back to the late 1800s and into the first few decades of the 20th century. These building make good candidates for reuse because of their natural ventilation and good floor-to-ceiling height. While there are tax credits and local development incentives available to alleviate costs, transforming these structures into luxury hotels is no simple task. Renovators will have to ensure that key historic features are preserved. These features are usually decorative details that apply to lobbies, guest rooms, and the HVAC and MEP systems.

Renovations and Upgrades

Many hotels are leveraging renovations as a way to shift their business model and change their target market. Whether your goal is to remain relevant and up to date with current trends or appeal to a wider demographic, renovations to room and guest bathrooms are necessary from time to time. Look at renovations and upgrades as opportunities to not only appeal to your existing clients, but also attract a new client base that may value your updated features, amenities, and aesthetics.

Mixed Use Projects

Prior to the economic downturn, large scale mixed-use projects were popular among development models. This model is resurfacing in urban areas such as New York, where hospitality projects are being integrated with entertainment venues, retail storefronts, housing, and office spaces. The trend today is to link hotel projects to bigger developments. Being part of a bigger story such as a theme park or convention center can help increase a property’s visibility, with the goal being that the hotel becomes the ultimate main attraction.

Select Service Hotels

Some hotels have achieved great success by focusing on features they don’t provide, rather than on those that they do provide. These select-service hotels represent one of the most popular models for new construction projects for US chains. Select-service hotels may incorporate modest eating facilities, small meeting rooms, indoor or outdoor pools, mini-convenience stores, guest laundry facilities, business centers, and fitness rooms. What these hotels don’t provide are restaurants and banquet facilities. Select-service hotels have become more popular today because of the demand for increased value. Guest are willing to pay for services they want, and don’t want to pay for services they don’t want. By cutting out extraneous services and focusing on select key services, hotels can align their offerings with the needs and interests of their clients. This type of business model requires a deep understanding of the clients’ behavior and motivational factors.


As the economy recovers and the hotel industry continues to grow, cookie-cutter approaches have become yesterday’s model. Today clients want intimate experiences that mean something to them, and are willing to pay for that authentic experience. Create an environment that your guests will remember, and they’ll keep coming back for more.

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