WATERLOO — The construction business presents a difficult equation to solve.
Weather, project dry spells and the need to travel long distances for work can wreak havoc on a construction company’s recruitment efforts.
Yet even after a year of record rain, cold and snowfall, Peters Construction Corp. was well positioned to provide for employees, said President Brad Best.
“We’ve been very fortunate to recruit and retain wonderful, skilled employees in a tough market,” he said. “We do our best to be transparent about the challenges and opportunities in front of us. We celebrate the wins, too — what went well and why it went well.”
Retention efforts focus on everything from work-life balance, compensation, safety, benefits, and more.
“Our team has constant opportunities to get better,” said Gabe Berger. “In addition to a focus on developing new skills and new leaders, Peters has a large number of employee shareholders, creating a very unique opportunity for those that are part of our team to be owners of the company.”
In addition, Peters bids on regional projects as often as possible, so employees can be no more than an hour’s drive from the Cedar Valley at the end of the workday.
“Family is a priority for our company,” said Joey Rains. “It is more likely that Brad would be disappointed that you skipped a family event for work than he would be if you asked for time off.”
Laura Kann also appreciates the workplace culture.
“I never miss a child’s school performance or a doctor’s appointment because Peters gives me the freedom and flexibility to adjust my schedule to meet the needs of my family,” she said. “I don’t need to use vacation or personal time to attend events or appointments with my children.”
Although Best has been with the company for 19 years in various capacities, several employees have many more years on him. One even marked his 45th anniversary with Peters this year.
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Part of the longevity comes from doing things differently, said Best.
“In construction, there’s a lot of fluidity,” he explained. “A project can last one day or two years. It’s challenging to forecast out too far, but we try to do a good job of being out in front of things.”
Peters recruits new employees through programs offered by Hawkeye Community College and the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. Another facet of these efforts is using current staff as mentors and trainers.
“We empower our people to train that new generation and integrate technology into our practices,” said Best. “These tools and techniques have helped us work more efficiently and safer. With iPads, laptops, and computer-generated processes, this is a much more technical industry than anyone ever thought it would be.”
The investment continues to pay off, developing the team at all levels of the company, noted Gabe Berger.
“There are a variety of training opportunities through both Master Builders of Iowa and through the apprenticeship program that we have partnered with Hawkeye Community College to help create,” he explained.
The varied, regular opportunities for professional growth have made a big impact on employees, said Ryan King.
“Commercial construction is a profession with hazards around every corner,” he explained. “Employees are trained in the dangers of our trade. Peters has weekly safety talks and regular safety meetings to keep us up to date in trouble areas, and we are provided with safety equipment for the task at hand. We are rewarded each quarter for our efforts.”
King has worked for Peters for 28 years and plans to remain there indefinitely.
“I am very proud to say Peters Construction is not just my job; it is a major part of my life,” he said. “I consider my co-workers my family, and we look out for each other. Peters Construction is a quality organization, and I can’t imagine working anywhere else.”