How Can You Quickly Get Nine Quality Employees?


How Can You Quickly Get Nine Quality Employees?

BCMC Session: Kids of Today, Employees of Tomorrow: Best Practices for Developing a Local Workforce
Randy Rickels, Shelter Systems Limited • Justin Richardson, Richco Structures • Shawnee Gunnett, Big C Lumber Structural Building Components


Learn how one CM finds success recruiting students

“Getting into schools is free – I advise everyone to do it,” says Randy Rickels, safety officer at Shelter Systems Limited. “The first time I recruited with the local carpentry program we had four kids come in for internships and two of them stayed. Those two told their friends that were graduating the following year and we got two more of them. Today, out of the carpentry program we have nine guys out in production that have been there for three years. And the other guys love them because they’re hard workers,” adds Randy.

Randy speaking during the BCMC session

Shelter Systems Limited in Westminster, Maryland, had previously tried to recruit from schools but Randy wanted to try again with a new approach. “After hearing we had tried it maybe five or six years prior, I still thought it would be a good opportunity,” says Randy. “Getting into schools is really important, especially tech schools, and that’s what I try to focus on. One of my biggest goals is to get production employees into plants because production employees are so hard to find and retain.”

The carpentry program at the Carroll County Career and Tech Center in their community had Randy present in their classroom so he thought it would be a neat opportunity to bring them in for a plant tour as well. To get the students engaged during the tour, Randy shares his story about getting into the industry and keeps it fun. “I give them an introduction to how I got into the industry and it makes the story unique and alive and makes them want to follow in your footsteps,” says Randy. “When we walk into the production area, we have a brief safety discussion and then break them into smaller groups because I’ve noticed when you have smaller groups they’re more focused and they have more opportunities to ask you questions and speak to you one-on-one.”

A group of students posing at the career center

Randy finds that a little friendly competition can keep the students on task while also getting insight on which students are taking initiative and may be a good fit for the company. “I started a simple truss activity that would be educational and fun for the students,” explains Randy. “I go over the design sheet and I tell them the first team to complete it wins and gets a prize. It’s awesome to see what kids take charge of that group and be the leader and that potentially right there could be the next person that you hire that successfully works out in the production area.”

Another recruitment avenue Randy recommends is partnering with students in the community through groups such as Habitat for Humanity and the Boy’s and Girl’s Club. “I’ve learned that being out in the community and getting your company’s name out there and making it attractive can draw students too,” shares Randy. “There are plenty of kids that need jobs and their moms and dads want them out of the house so I always tell them to send them our way and to fill out an application.” 

Sign outside Carroll County Career and Technology Center that reads Thank You Shelter Systems for Your Support

Randy also shares a tip on getting involved in local job fairs. “I always take one of our production or design guys with us,” he says. “It really helps having someone there that can talk to the students and can build a relationship right off the bat to determine if they’re the right fit for the company.”

Shelter’s success in recruiting students has been a rewarding experience. “It’s the best thing to watch someone that’s 18 years old come out of high school, to train them and push them to do better,” says Randy. “We developed a funnel or a guide for opportunities so they can see where they’re at and where they can be in the next year and in the future.” 

Recruiting students can be a great investment for growing your business and finding employees that are going to stay and grow within the company. “My biggest thing is always investing the resources because they’re going to pay off in the long run,” shares Randy. “It’s quite the feeling to get these kids involved and I’m a firm believer that hiring kids is the way to go because they’re the future of tomorrow.”

For additional workforce development resources, visit and read through the collection of CM case studies