Every month, Utah Business partners with Holland & Hart and Big-D Construction to host roundtable events featuring industry insiders. This month we invited the top building, construction, and design specialists to discuss the talent shortage, millennials, and safety. Moderated by Richard Thorn, President and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Utah, here are a few highlights from the event.


Rob Moore | President | Big-D Construction

We're in the usual spot where our backlogs are very good. The industry right now as a whole is probably struggling a bit with skilled labor and making sure we've got the labor in front of us to be able to perform our assignments. At stake for us is big ideas.

Jeremy Blanck | Project Executive | Okland Construction

The challenge that we're facing is what type of work do we do, how do we do it, when do we do it. It's forced us all to be a little more strategic. How can we take care of our existing clients and still grow a little bit and take on some new clients? You've got a lot of in-migration occurring and that's just continuing to build our market. So, we're still optimistic about where we're headed.

Craig Zwick | Chairman Of The Advisory Board | Zwick Construction Company

We need to be supportive of local higher education, to the extent that their entry levels allow our best and brightest. Maybe even a non-profit organization. Right here in this valley, we could actually do some pretty significant vocational training. And when you've got an ever-growing Hispanic community, they can go beyond what they've ever imagined if we help them.

SladeOphelkens | President | R&O Construction

Anything we can do to not push everybody to go to a four-year college and to be willing to enjoy the thrill of picking up a hammer and knowing what it's like to actually build something and leave [behind something besides a stack of papers].

Keith Buswell | Vice President | Wadman Corporation

We talk about the kids in high school who are great with their hands. There's a lot of things that they can do, we just need to be able to steer them towards a long-term opportunity in our industry. It's high tech, there's a lot of computer things that they don't have to get a bachelor's or master's degree to be able to work in our business.

Brett Nielsen | Vice President Of Operations | Whitaker Construction

It's becoming more and more difficult to put a bucket in the ground. Damage prevention is becoming more and more of an issue. All three legs of the stool for damage prevention, the owners, the locators, and the excavators, all play a pivotal role. If any of those start to slide a little bit, we're starting to put our people in the general public in harm's way. We all have to step up and do a little bit better to help protect ourselves.

Andrew Jones | Vice President | Tempest Enterprises

It is harder to put a bucket in the ground. We deal with soils and water, and not only groundwater, but potential hazardous environments, and it is becoming harder to look at our success triangle of safety, quality, and production. But the safety and environmental...

To continue reading