Creating Craft Training with C3: Retrospective with Bundren Painting and Drywall

Bryant Black

Director, Workforce Development
Greater Houston Partnership

As a commercial painting and drywall company, we are consistently striving to learn new things and  to develop a sustainable process for investing in our future workforce.  Having been in business since 1984, our company has evolved, grown and seen many changes and substantial improvements in the construction industry including the relentless drive towards safety and technology.  Amidst all the new designs, processes, technology, media, equipment and product evolution; the backbone for making everything work seamlessly is a well-trained and career-oriented craftsman who knows that the company they are a part of truly wants them to achieve great things.  The increase of technology and lack of skilled workers over the last few decades required us to rethink the old ways and to begin investing in our employees’ personal and professional growth.

Our journey had begun! As a company, we were on our way to new and exciting territory. Three years ago, we held a strategic planning meeting in our conference room that set the stage for creating a lasting training program within our company. The intention of that program was to elevate the skill set of our workers by recognizing that a skilled and safe craft worker was an asset to our company and the community. We also noted that the entire industry suffers from a growing skilled labor shortage that has increased over time. We learned that to grow and sustain our workforce, we would have to up our game and establish a viable recruiting and training program. At that moment, we had no idea where this change would take us through a journey of simultaneously reinventing our company and dramatically increasing our ability to create deeper relationships with our industry, clients, and most of all, with our employees.  Some of the brainstorming ideas from those initial sessions were white-boarded, cataloged, redesigned, tested and prioritized over the following year.  The foundation was set, and even the slight improvements were immediately noticeable in our workforce attitude and performance.

Fast forward a year and a half. We joined C3 for the pilot of the craft training endorsement program. We immediately saw the parallels in the C3 program and our original intentions. We also saw the massive benefit that was offered by being a member of C3.  The baseline metrics we were planning to measure were already being developed by our peers and acted on in our market.  This C3 movement that we are now a part of promised to be a serious and dedicated challenge for us to implement in the beginning. The commitment to our core values and mission continue to drive us to get better every day and the C3 process is helping make that change possible.  The ability for our team to join C3 and become something greater than our current company, to continually learn and contribute was exactly what we needed for Bundren to go to the next level. C3 is how we create a sustainable workforce.

We designed our training program for skilled craftworkers and then we re-designed it again and again. Currently, we have pilot tested numerous versions of our training programs one piece at a time and when we proved they worked as expected, we rolled out the change to our field and management personnel.  We capitalized on our relationships with manufacturers and vendors. We began to capture and implement sourced information that was relevant to our plan and that added immediate and lasting value to our employees and our company.  Throughout this on-going process, we are consistently adapting, overcoming obstacles, assessing the pros and cons of what we were going to implement, and reinforcing our core intention of having the best trained, most capable professional employees and craftworkers who go home safe to their families every night knowing they are part of something bigger and that they have a career with Bundren.  As we continue to evolve this process, one thing has become very clear; we needed resources and partnerships that we had never had access to or thought we needed in the past. C3 is how we learned about the possibilities and the solutions that we want to achieve in the future for our company and for the industry.

After having our first pilot meeting with the Construction Career Collaborative, we had questions, concerns and most of all, an even bigger desire to be a part of this program as it aligned perfectly with our intended path.  C3 opened their resources to us and through that association we have been able to collaborate with our clients and peers to make an impressive impact on the commercial construction industry here in the Houston market.  Without an abundant amount of resources and shared desire of C3 and its member companies to elevate the level of craftworkers in the construction industry, our industry will continue to suffer from that lack of skilled craftsmen.

This is where C3 shines above most other craftworker organizations we have been a part of.  The collective push to deliver quality requires a commitment to develop those individuals who possess raw talent or to attract and retain craftsmen that are looking for something more than a paycheck.  The investment in these employees starts the minute you officially hire them.  At that moment, as a company, we are dedicating time and resources to building a career path within our company for a construction professional that we hope will be an active member of our company and remain with us for a very long time to build a skillset and grow personally and professionally.

While overcoming obstacles and finding opportunity in all we do, this C3 challenge has been one of the most rewarding processes we have embarked on.  We believe that the future of our company and our industry has to consistently evolve and change for the better in order to remain viable.  Having the confidence in the fact that our journey is integral to elevating the level of our craftworker and instilling pride at all levels of our company offers its own reward.  As more and more owners and contractors are raising the bar alongside us, C3 projects will be completed by skilled craftworkers and we can achieve a higher level of quality together.  The ultimate result will be a better industry that can capitalize on technology and processes, to provide safe and consistent projects with forecasted results.  As we at Bundren continue our journey, we will continue to share our story and invite any individual, company or owner to reach out to C3 to see what we are all about, and how we can bring value to your projects.

At Bundren, our company motto is, “We are in the business of building partnerships” and our goals and objectives are there for our workforce as well as for our clients.  We believe that creating well trained craftsmen and offering a career path builds a partnership within an organization and across an industry. We are committed to the C3 process and to the success of our peers in the industry.

Michael Fiorenza
Chief Operating Officer
Bundren Painting and Drywall

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