Fresh recruits: How three firms attract and retain employees

2. RoyOMartin

Investing in the future

RoyOMartin Recruitment Poster
RoyOMartin often features employees in its job ads, showcasing their successes and opportunities while communicating the value of being part of the team.

Like many construction and manufacturing organizations, wood products manufacturer RoyOMartin recognizes that not everyone wants nor needs to go to a traditional four-year college to have a successful career—and not every position within the company requires that track.

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As such, the manufacturer has put into place multiple opportunities for education, with some serving as pathways into the company and others providing advancement opportunities for those already in place.

“You don’t train people. You develop people,” says Ray Peters, Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing at RoyOMartin, which has manufacturing facilities in central Louisiana and east Texas. “We’re trying to raise the capabilities of individuals so they can perform at a higher level. And when they can perform at a higher level, it’s a positive for the organization as well as the employee.”

Four programs make up the employee development program that prepares potential and incoming employees for the manufacturing environment of today and tomorrow:

  1. At the high school level, the company works with schools in its two regions to introduce manufacturing concepts to students that prepare them to move into the company’s facilities.
  2. Certified4Success is a 13-week course designed for newly recruited employees with little to no exposure to manufacturing. “The faster they can acquire new skills, the faster they can move through the organization and increase their financial well-being,” Peters says.
  3. Advanced Manufacturing Technician is a new program in collaboration with Central Louisiana Technical Community College and Northwestern State University as a way to develop individuals to maintain manufacturing operations as they are transformed with new technologies such as robotics.
  4. Finally, the company has established the Maintenance Apprenticeship Program for skill sets such as mechanical and electrical, with graduates absorbed into the manufacturing facilities. With the completion of the first cohort, the skills gap in these two skill sets has been minimal.

3. 84 Lumber

National platform

Typically, the conversation the day after the Super Bowl swirls around the latest Budweiser ad or whether Seattle should have run the ball (answer: yes). This year, quite unexpectedly, the LBM industry was at the center of water cooler discussions and online commentary. The marketing team at 84 Lumber not only went big by buying airtime during the highest-profile television event of the year, its ad was one of the most hotly debated of the night.

The ad, a 90-second spot on live TV plus a nearly five-minute extended version online, featured a Mexican mother and daughter making their way to the U.S. through sometimes harrowing conditions, both full of optimism against the odds.

“The intent of the Super Bowl commercial…was to show that 84 Lumber is a company of opportunity,” 84 CEO Maggie Hardy Magerko told The Washington Post shortly after the ad aired. “The journey of the mother and daughter was a demonstration of the human spirit—grit, determination, and hard work. These characteristics represent what makes 84 Lumber and our country great. We want people that embody those characteristics, no matter where you’re from. If that’s you, our door is open.”

Indeed, the intent of the ad wasn’t merely to raise brand awareness that would bring in customers to the stores, but to attract top talent to fill the company’s ever-growing list of job opportunities.

“We wanted people to know what we stood for and have them say, ‘That’s the company I want to work for,’” says Tim McElhone, Director of Talent Acquisition. “If you have the moxie and those intangibles, we want you here.”

Kicking off a year-long recruitment campaign, the Super Bowl ad was followed by a strong social media push. Another national ad, paralleling the traits of NASA/Mars astronauts with those the company seeks in its management trainees, began airing in May.

Going national, and outside of traditional LBM venues, was intentional. As a way of prioritizing finding quality people, 84 “cast a wide net,” McElhone explains. “A lot of individuals have transferable skills. It doesn’t matter what background you have as long as you have the same end goal, which is to be a key contributor to the company.”

What’s more, it’s important for the greater public to understand the diversity of opportunities, from the more obvious positions of drivers and salespeople to those roles that overlap with nearly every industry, such as IT, logistics, and the executive suite. It’s also a place to establish a career, not just hold a job.

“Our focus right now is to create brand recognition and awareness that 84 Lumber is a great place to work, but also the building material industry itself—there’s so much opportunity that I don’t think a lot of people are aware of,” says McElhone.

Beyond advertising and marketing, 84 is diversifying how it connects with potential candidates, as well, through collaboration with key partners, including trade schools and universities open to mentoring programs.

The campaign is serving as a retention tool, as well. “There’s so much pride we’re seeing in our current associates,” McElhone says. “It proves to us that they’re committed to making 84 Lumber great and progress to higher levels. The most unique thing right now is a passionate workforce that speaks with conviction when talking about the opportunities that 84 provides. Each person has a unique story with a common goal in mind.”

The efforts are paying off, not just in the volume of applications but the quality. And as the company continues to fill positions, “the ultimate judgement of success is the impact that people make to the company and industry,” McElhone says. “We’re looking for game changers; we’re looking for the future leaders of the company.”