Commercial HVAC & the Labor Shortage
Is there a labor shortage in the U.S.? Yes! And the nation-wide shortage of workers that you’ve been hearing about isn’t only in the restaurant business! Employees in the specialty-trade contractors in the construction industry are down 14.8% just last month, says the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in it’s July 2nd Economic News Release. While the availability of jobs is up, it seems the availability of workers is down.
There are many different theories as to why this labor shortage came about, but I think we all can agree on the one common denominator – the pandemic. Jobs were shut down, people were laid off, and now there is a huge push to get everything done as quickly as possible. Between fear and the unemployment stipend, workers are slow to come back. But that doesn’t mean that owners and general contractors aren’t still pushing to get their projects completed!
At Allied Mechanical, we never permanently laid anyone off during the pandemic. By using a rotating layoff schedule, we kept our site personnel engaged and consistently working, and our employee base faired well through the shut downs. That being said, we did lose installers and technicians (who didn’t!?). That coupled with the timeline and reopening needs of our clients means the labor shortage is effecting us as well.
By planning ahead, we’ve been able to keep all our construction projects on-track. While we’re still searching for commercial installers, we’re not short staffed enough that our work is suffering. Projects such as Mount Aaron Village and Crossroads at Genesee were able to be continuously worked or restarted after restrictions lifted. Timelines and expectations are being met.
The service department has had it’s own set of challenges. When our Governor shut down businesses, many of our commercial clients closed their offices or went down to very limited staffing. This meant that large pieces of air conditioning equipment sat unused or lightly used and unmaintained for months. Once buildings opened back up and started bringing their staff back to or close to fully capacity, these units needed to be serviced and maintained.
Air quality suddenly became a hot-button issue, and every commercial building wanted to upgrade filters and/or install air purifiers. This new business, on top of our regularly planned maintenances and additional service work, became quite the schedule to manage. Again, we had planned ahead and not done any permanent lay offs during the pandemic, so we had many service technicians ready to go. While we are always looking for new technicians, we are able to cover our existing business while taking on new business at the same time.
A few additional field employees would definitely bring on some much needed help, on both sides of the business. But with the hard work and dedication of our existing Allied employees, we’re on track to make it through the backlog and continue adding in new customers and project. And boy are we excited! We look back at the last year and a half and have a sense of pride over how we managed to triumph through an unpredictable pandemic season. Without amazing leadership and even more amazing employees, we might not have made it!