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Q&A: James Riso on hiring insights for the U.S. construction market

Featured interview with Principle of Briarwood Organization on January 22, 2019

We asked employers across different sectors to share their industry knowledge and hiring advice for our 2019 U.S. Salary GuideJames Riso, Principal of Briarwood Organization–a family owned development company based in New York–provides his insights for the construction market.

Here’s the Q&A.

1. What is your company’s outlook for 2019? (e.g. new sectors/new locations, projects or plans etc.)
Construction here locally should remain pretty strong from what we see. We have a pipeline of jobs in Brooklyn, Bronx and the Queens areas, mostly in those outer boroughs. That pipeline consist of 650-700 units spread across seven buildings.

2. Which areas of your business or industry do you think will have the most growth and why?
The New Construction area is growing. Rental housing & Affordable are leading the industry. We are looking to expand our Market Rate Residential portfolio. Affordable housing has also become quite competitive.

3. How is your industry changing and how is that affecting the skills in demand?
Changes are coming due to more policy initiatives, with a focus on safety restrictions. All the site superintendents are going to need 62 Hours of OSHA training by December 1, 2018. I’ve heard they may have to extend the deadline until 2019 because the agenda has not yet been finalized.

4. We hear from a lot of employers that attracting the best people is getting harder. How do you stand out to attract top talent?
We’ve been around for a long time. Candidates know they could have a job for life when they see us on the market. We also pay well and on time. We have a family bond. And you are part of the family when you walk through that door.

5. Many employers struggle to retain their teams. What have you found successful in improving retention at your organization or on your team?
Our family atmosphere and flexibility is key to retention. I leave my team to their own devices. You have your foreman that keeps track of the schedule for you and you can always count on the internal team to support your site needs. And I really listen to my employees. They can always come to me with any personal or work-related issue.

6. What advice would you give a someone who is struggling to hire the right candidates?
First thing to do when looking for good talent is to ask your peers in the industry if they know of someone that’s available. When that doesn’t work I call Hays. An agency like Hays, have provided some good candidates for our team whom are still with my organization to this day.

7. What advice do you have for the next generation coming up the ranks?
You need to educate yourself and be willing to work hard and learn on the job. School isn’t enough. It only teaches how to retain knowledge but not enough emphasis on implementation. You have to take something from every job site. Every developer and builder does things differently

Want more hiring insights for 2019? Download our U.S. Salary Guide today.

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