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Sunday, 11 May 2014 22:00

GR ranks 6th in nation for nonresidential construction job growth

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GR ranks 6th in nation for nonresidential construction job growth MIBIZ FILE PHOTO: ELIJAH BRUMBACK

The job market for nonresidential construction in Grand Rapids grew at a faster clip since 2011 than in most metropolitan areas across the country.

The Grand Rapids-Wyoming metro area ranked sixth in the nation for the largest percentage growth in nonresidential construction from 2011 to 2014, according to a recent report from CareerBuilder and Economic Modeling Specialists International (EMSI). In that period, nonresidential construction jobs in the area grew by 18 percent, the report stated.

For proof that contractors remain in a hiring mode, just ask representatives from local firms including Wolverine Building Group Inc., Owen-Ames-Kimball Co., CD Barnes Construction Co. and Triangle Associates Inc.

Over the last 18 months, Wolverine’s full-time employee headcount increased to 120 people from 80, and the company is likely to hire additional help throughout the remainder of the year, said Alexis Macaluso, the firm’s marketing and communications manager.

The 81-percent passage rate for school bond proposals in the May 6 election should mean that contractors specializing in K-12 projects will be busy for the next few years as their backlogs continue to build, which should translate into additional hiring, sources said.

“We anticipate needing — and we’ve already received resumes for — seasoned estimators. These folks, along with experienced project managers, appear to be in demand,” said Josh Szymanski, business development director for O-A-K, which was involved in several recent bond proposals. “Overall, our staff of project managers and superintendents may increase slightly in the next year, but we’re still looking for some pending sales to solidify prior to pulling the trigger.”

In the 2014 Associated General Contractors (AGC) Construction Outlook Survey for Michigan, one-third of firms reported having trouble finding project managers. Additionally, 67 percent of respondents said they expected difficulty in finding qualified construction professionals over the next 12 months, and 80 percent expected it would become harder to find skilled craft workers in the same time frame.

Construction employment in the Grand Rapids-Wyoming metropolitan statistical area jumped 12 percent, or 1,600 jobs, in March compared to a year ago, according to a report based on census data released by AGC last month.

“We’re looking for site managers, superintendents and at least one project manager,” said Jill Monte, director of business development and marketing for CD Barnes. “We’re making due with what we have, but we do need people.”

At Triangle, the company recently hired three new superintendents and two assistant project managers and added Jim Conner as the company’s new vice president of business development.

“It hasn’t been a huge splurge of hiring, but those we’ve added are because of growth in the market,” said Anne Rothwell, the firm’s public and media relations manager. “Clients are picking up speed and we’re following them wherever they go.”

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