An "Equipment Rodeo" for Students
Saddle up partners, this isn’t your average rodeo! On August 2nd, the Emery Sapp & Sons (ESS) Springfield team lasso’d in more than three dozen future potential employee-owners to experience an “Equipment Rodeo” at their office. This experience was the first event in the Springfield Contractors Association’s (SCA’s) inaugural Build U program. Build U is a brand new, four-day summer program designed to give students that are interested in exploring a career in construction a comprehensive overview of trade opportunities. Combined with learning labs and job site tours, Build U allows students to discover which trade is the best fit for them while making connections in the industry.
With dozens of 16-19 year-old students enrolled, the inaugural Build U event took place on August 2nd through 5th. The students were equipped with gas cards, lunch, t-shirts, hard hats, safety glasses and had transportation provided throughout the day. Each student gained real life, first-hand experience by engaging in job site tours, operating heavy machinery and participating in activities involving different skilled trades including carpentry, flooring, welding, roofing, plumbing, electrical, masonry and concrete. Most importantly, students were able to connect and network with local industry professionals and hear straight from the source why a career in construction could be a great option for them. This also provided students the opportunity to get their “boot” in the door at these great local contractor companies before graduating high school.
ESS’ very own Sydnee Lindsey, Workforce Development Training Coordinator, has been working hand-in-hand with SCA during her 5 years as an employee-owner. If you aren’t familiar with SCA, they are a dynamic organization in the Ozarks region. In partnership with local industry firms, SCA has galvanized momentum for the construction trades. The Build U program is just one of the ways they are reaching the community and helping to recruit top talent in the Ozarks region. Working with Sydnee and a host of industry ambassadors, the SCA Workforce Development Committee has developed valuable materials to help amplify their mission including career-path videos, interviews and a website that could be a one-stop-shop for anyone interested in the construction industry in the Ozarks region.
Sydnee described the magnitude of the Build U event and the effect it could have on the industry in the Ozark region, “This is the largest event of its type in the region. Nobody has done anything like this where students can go and physically do the work, and not just shadow professionals. I think this could be the future of what recruitment looks like and highlights what the next generation is looking for in a potential employer. It gives us the opportunity to show off what we do and get them interested in the industry. We have a lack of skilled workforce coming in, so our recruitment efforts are becoming more focused on these younger professionals, where we have the opportunity to put them through our own training programs.”
During the ESS-hosted Equipment Rodeo, students got their hands on the following pieces of equipment. Thanks to our local equipment partners for supplying the iron!
Hydro Excavator & Hydro-Vac Truck – Badger Daylighting
55 Ton AT Crane – Carson – Mitchell, Inc.
Mini excavators and Skylift – United Rentals
Mini Excavator – Berry Tractor
Mini Excavator – Superior Rentals
Mini Excavator – Rental Supply
An industry professional was stationed at each piece of equipment to show the students how it worked and what it would be like to operate in the field. Every student got to operate each piece of equipment at the rodeo. They were also invited to participate in activities such as stacking tires and digging in gravel pits.
Spencer Rozzell, Heavy Equipment Operator with ESS, attended the event. He shared his career story and demonstrated his skill level as an operator to the students. “I really enjoyed introducing the construction field to the younger crowd, especially since they were high school kids that haven’t figured out what they want to do yet. It was great to get the chance to show them a different option and that there’s a way to be successful and start making money immediately, without having to go to college. It was also really cool to see the interest in most of the kids. They were clearly there for a reason and that’s because they have an interest in the industry and being a part of the infrastructure growth in their local area. This kind of event is what we need to be able to continue to grow and invest in our industry.”
Megan Short, Director of SCA said, “Emery Sapp & Sons has been a great partner of ours throughout the years. For this event specifically, ESS generously donated some of the PPE, provided a BBQ lunch and hosted a whole afternoon with the Equipment Rodeo. It was really helpful in representing the civil side of the industry and letting students get a hands-on feel for what it’s like to operate equipment. But the time and commitment went a lot further than just planning the multi-day event. Sydnee Lindsey and ESS have gone above and beyond in helping to develop the Build the Ozarks and Build U content and program the past couple of years.”
Check out the Build the Ozarks website and you might recognize some familiar ESS faces throughout the career map interview videos. Megan and the SCA staff say they are excited to figure out what comes next and are looking forward to exploring options for how they can grow this event in the years to come, “The nice thing about this type of multi-day and more intensive event is that it gives people a bigger idea of the opportunities. It also gives them the opportunity to make industry connections and share these career path opportunities with their friends. We would love to grow this into a two week program where students could potentially earn high school credit for participating!”
Kudos to SCA and the ESS Springfield team, working to build the future workforce one event at a time.