According to Bob Schulz, global construction technology director for The Dow Chemical Company, it is essential for every contractor and every apprentice associated with a specific project to work at top proficiency to achieve lean project execution.
"We can always find resources," Schulz said. "Finding workers who have the necessary skillset is a greater challenge."
According to Schulz, that's where ironworkers' apprentice programs and training prove their value.
In a panel discussion titled "Should we use ironworkers and their contractors?" at the 2019 North American Iron Workers (IW)/ Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust (IMPACT) Conference held recently in Las Vegas, Tony Buzzeo, director of global projects -- hydrogen and carbon monoxide for Praxair, said his company has benefitted "tremendously" by employing ironworkers.
"Engaging contractors that have really good training programs provides both predictability and quality," Buzzeo said. "We get measured on our plant working 24/7, 365 days a year, pumping gas to our customers."
Patrick Duffy, manager of project services for Tampa Electric Co., stated ironworkers' training "pays off," and he is a firm believer there's a return on investment with training. Addressing ironworkers, Duffy said, "Keep it up and keep making it better. You are leading the pack."
"The ironworkers have invited us into their facilities and trained folks on rigging and crane operations and also invited us to some of the business leadership classes," he said. "It's all excellent material. We've gotten nothing but As on the feedback from our folks we've sent. It's great training."
Jim Peckham, construction manager and construction competency leader for Chemours, noted he has worked with both union and nonunion contractors and ironworkers.
"I believe that training, work ethic and pride go a long, long way," Peckham said. "You can certainly be competitive with the open-shop ironworker, but you have to explain the value proposition. Even though the hourly rate might be higher, the total cost at the end of the day is either going to be the same or lower. And if it's lower, that means the job gets done faster with fewer hours, so there's definitely value there."
"Sometimes the lowest price is not the right thing," Duffy added. "We're looking for best value. We need to get off the labor rate conversation."
"I saw the IW training facility in San Diego, and it was outstanding," Schulz said. "But how many owners know that? Make sure they understand what [ironworkers] bring to the table."
Schulz said he believes apprentices are the union's "best advertising" and advised its workers to show up on time, be safe, produce quality work done right the first time, fall back on their training and be willing to learn more.
"You're the face of the union," Schulz concluded. "Knock it out of the park."
Teresa Magnus, principal of Magnus and Co., moderated the session.
See article on BICMagazine.com.