March 2013

IMPACT Prepares Ironworker Contractors for Growth in Competitive Recovery Economy

The construction industry is on its way back, according to a Jan. 4 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics announcing that 30,000 new construction jobs were created across the United States in December 2012. As conditions improve in all sectors of the U.S. economy, construction industry contractors must ensure that they remain viable in the competitive recovery market by investing heavily in their human capital. IMPACT is doing just that: Ensuring that ironworker contractors and their employees--a large portion of whom are ironworkers themselves--have the superior skills they need to compete in the expanding marketplace.

A dozen attendees from four contracting companies joined IMPACT in Arlington, Texas, Jan. 14-17, to attend the newly launched Project Manager Academy (PMA), a course aimed at contractor leaders, project managers and future project managers.

"The experience contractors take from this course not only benefits their own business, it benefits ironworkers, owners, developers...the entire industry," said Kevin Hilton, IMPACT CEO. "We are raising the bar on quality for everyone."

Marvin Ragsdale, labor co-chair for IMPACT's Texas Mid-South Region, echoed Hilton. "Texas Mid-South ironworkers and contractors are committed to improving our management skills as we compete to gain market share," he said. "And, the feedback we received from this course proves that our managers are implementing valuable new skills in the field."

PMA, conducted by IMPACT in partnership with leading construction industry consultants FMI, includes a curriculum designed to cultivate leadership skills and hone knowledge needed in the construction industry, of which project planning, billings and cash flow and communication styles are just a few examples.

According to ironworker Harvey Swift, field operations manager for Bennett Steel, Inc., Sapulpa, Okla., PMA has the power to yield real change in the behaviors and practices of contractor leaders, with the result of "highly improving company profitability." Swift said, "I think attendees will make a real effort to implement process, cultural and institutional changes at our company." All of which are needed to survive in an increasingly competitive industry. Dave Bennett, management co-chair for IMPACT's Texas Mid-South Region, owns and manages Bennett Steel, Inc.

One participant indicated that he "learned how important it is to focus on the customer and to address their concerns." Another lauded the course's focus on building internal relationships at contracting companies, in addition to time management and personal life balance.

A 30-year industry veteran said, "I learned a lot of things about myself and things I need to focus on to do my job better. We should all take what we learned here and not forget to apply it."

IMPACT provides educational opportunities for ironworker contractors across North America, with the goal of doubling market share by 2021. IMPACT also regularly offers courses for ironworker contractors, in partnership with FMI, at the Annual Ironworker Instructors Training Program in Ann Arbor, Mich.