November 3, 2023

🎃 The Post-Halloween Newsletter

Gen Z may be skipping out on the industry but Gen Alpha sure isn't

Happy post-Halloween,

Are you enjoying all your mini Almond Joy bars because your kids have bigger and better things going on in their candy haul from Tuesday?

Life hack: As long as you don't log leftover Halloween candy in MyFitnessPal, the calories don't actually count.

This week, the team at Buildr participated in a Saw-esque virtual escape room decked out in full costumes. Most of us survived.

Ken, Legos, Will Ferrell, Phoebe Bridgers, Will Ferrell, Will Ferrell, Neil Armstrong, Sully, the crying cowboy with sunglasses emoji, Mia Wallace, Will Ferrell, Bob the Buildr, Wanda, Will Ferrell—we had a little bit of everything in here.

Let's get into the construction news and notes, shall we?


🥇 Construction's best places to work…

Construction Dive published an article with tips from folks from some of the industry’s best places to work, per Fortune’s 2023 list of the Best Workplaces in Construction (split into lists of large companies & small and medium companies) including guidance from leaders at Shawmut, Southland, Suffolk, and more. 

Lee Hiscoe, CEO of Shawmut, emphasizes the pride and reward that come from seeing the physical results of labor in construction and has some tips for other small to mid-sized firms seeking growth. Shawmut won 2nd place in the small and medium category, with 95% of their employees reporting it as a great place to work. 

Other firms that made Fortune’s list include PCL, Hilti, Moss Construction Management, and Toll Brothers, all in the large companies category. Leaders including Hiscoe say there are certain tactics they follow that make their companies more attractive to talent:

  • Shawmut is 100% employee-owned,

  • 90% of Denver-based PCL’s employees own company stock

  • Deron Brown, PCL President and COO of U.S. operations, emphasizes the importance of investing in culture and listening to employees,

  • Suffolk’s Chief Growth Officer Suzanne Roeder advises to “sweat the small stuff” aka focus on the little moments in your peoples' lives, both in and out of work

  • Carefully choose who to hire, promote, and figure out who may not fit your culture in the long-term

🔨 Here's the Thing

The construction industry, like many others, has been experiencing a never-ending labor shortage, rendering employee satisfaction more vital than ever if GCs hope to retain top talent. A report from Forrester highlights the growing expression of employee power in the workplace, as we can see with recent strikes, walkouts, and unions. In 2023 alone, over 450,000 U.S. workers participated in 312 different strike actions, signaling a clear shift in employee power that’s revealing valuable insights into misalignments, safety hazards, and other issues from the employees' POV. Workers are expecting more from their employers, and the construction industry isn’t exempt; in fact, with how short we are on labor, firms may as well offer foosball tables and lunchtime massages to go along with their offer letters. 

💬 Contractor Quote

“I bring my son over to the window. I’m like, ‘Hey, check it out. Here’s what they’re doing today.’ And he’s like, ‘Dad, enough.' There is such a rewarding part about construction when you physically put work in place, and then when you finally finish what you started and you walk by it, you go, ‘I’m really proud of that.’” —Les Hiscoe, CEO of Shawmut

⚡️ Punch List

Procore: Building a successful workforce through purpose and innovation (blog)

Buildr: Combining CRM with workforce planning—redefining preconstruction excellence (blog)

ENR: UC Berkeley’s $2B Silicon Valley Campus at NASA’s Ames Research Center (news)

The Preconstruction Podcast: Manasi Pitkar, Senior Preconstruction Director at McCarthy talks essential tactics to recruit, retain and develop precon talent. (podcast)

Kite and Key: America's abandoned megaprojects. (video)

For Construction Pros: Economic challenges to expect in Q4 ‘23 and Q1 ‘24 (news)

Off the Hook: Leveraging technology and culture to build a (DeAngelis) Diamond of a Company with guest Brett Diamond, CAO/Principal of DeAngelis Diamond (podcast) 

SolutionsGC: A crash course on planning and designing a commercial gym. (blog)

The B1M: Australia’s $125BN mega-railway project (video)

CM Mentors: Is construction adapting to Gen Z? (podcast)


Just watching this, you could tear an ACL

Just watching this, you could tear an ACL

See Spot talk: Well, our ultimate Consumables mad lib wish finally came true—Boston Dynamics integrated Spot with ChatGPT to make a walking/talking tour guide. Who would've guessed that Spot's voice would be that of a British 1960's butler? (tech)

Peter Parker Design Build: In a rare Spider-Man/construction industry crossover episode, gamers have been eavesdropping on NPCs in Spider-Man 2 and the construction site has especially fascinating dialogue—unpreparedness, safety issues, overpriced inputs... our guess is these folks don't use Buildr for their preconstruction. (video games)

Shake it off: The Broncos trolled the Chiefs by playing a Taylor Swift song to celebrate Sunday's victory. (sports)

Trailer Park: Put your feet up, it's Friday and we have a treasure trove of trailers for you this week. (Deep breath): Nathan Fielder and Emma Stone's new series The Curse, the new Planet of the Apes, perhaps Hayao Miyazaki's final film The Boy and the Heron, Joaquin Phoenix as Napoleon, a new Hunger Games (a Thanksgiving-time release not coincidentally around the hungriest holiday), Good Burger 2, Priscilla, and Dune Part 2. Clear our 2023 and 2024's, please. (movies)

LA LA land: Cricket and flag football were just voted to be Olympic sports come 2028 in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, LA is bracing for an influx of tens of thousands of extra people which should have no effect at all on LA's well-designed and completely figured-out infrastructure for transportation. (sports)

Name game: In what is somehow an actual news story, Elon Musk offered $1B to Wikipedia if it changes its name to "D*ckipedia." Musk's really made a hobby out of renaming things, hasn't he? (tech)

AI-ter ego: Have you heard about Tom Brady's, Kendall Jenner's, and Paris Hilton's AI alter egos that have confusingly different names? This is one of the weirder pieces of AI news yet. Of course, in 3 months or so, it'll likely be normal to say something like "Vinnie helped me with project drawings," and Vinnie is actually J. Robert Oppenheimer's AI alter ego. (AI)

Charts and graphenes: A mechanical engineer created graphene, the "wonder material" that is 200 times stronger than steel yet lighter than paper. Imagine that input price. (science)

More like a full body dry heave set to music: In a rare acknowledgement (from us) that baseball exists (congrats to the Texas Rangers) a minor league team had an Elaine dance contest on its Seinfeld night. (random)

She Loves AI, Ya Ya: Thanks to advancements in modern technology, a final Beatles song featuring all four members just dropped, along with a short documentary about how it came together. They couldn't just let it be (their discography). (music)

Ball is life: Something cool is happening in the NBA tonight—the beginning of an in-season tournament! This is just what the doctor ordered for anyone that complains that the regular season is just a very long waiting game where everyone's just trying to stay healthy for when the playoffs roll around and that's when it's time to start actually trying (us; we're saying that). Read up on the format, seedings, and predictions. (sports)

Job Site

Missouri-based McCarthy Building Companies is looking for a Solar Software Implementation & Layout Specialist which is a remote role. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Louisiana-based Ryan Gootee General Contractors is looking for a Project Estimator in the New Orleans, LA area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Virginia-based Martin Horn is looking for a Senior Preconstruction Manager/Estimator in the Charlottesville, Virginia area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Florida-based WPC is looking for an Estimator in the Orlando, FL area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Utah-based Mint Construction is looking for a Senior Estimator in the Salt Lake City area. If you or someone you know might be interested, here's the link to apply.

Catch wind of an open preconstruction role? Fill out our job post submission form for a chance for the posting to be featured in a future edition of The SLAB.

Until next time,


PS: Fall is in full swing which means Starbucks and Dunkin' just dropped their holiday menus.

Come next SLAB, we'll be 10lbs heavier from all the gallons of artificial gingerbread and pumpkin syrups. Nothing a good New Years Resolution can't fix.

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