Start-up CM Takes the Road Less Traveled


Start-up CM Takes the Road Less Traveled

For this general manager, other start-ups were more of a model than other CMs.

“Being a start-up, we had limited resources devoted to bringing in people from outside the industry. So we went to a local source for assistance,” said David Green, general manager of Carolina Structural Systems in Ether, North Carolina.

Green reached out to the County of Montgomery, which serves as a one-stop resource to help businesses grow in a community where a large percentage of the workforce is engaged in the manufacturing sector. The county provides grants and incentive programs, advertises job openings, connects industry to the local community college and offers additional resources for promoting businesses.

For Green, the county’s support has been beneficial in finding employees. “At this stage, our business is unrelated to most other component manufacturers in our industry. We are quite simply not in the same place as they are when it comes to recruiting and training for our plant,” said Green. Rather than focusing on margins, market share and retention—the kinds of issues other CMs face—Carolina Structural Systems has more in common with other start-ups. They faced a number of challenges while building the initial momentum they needed to get off the ground, including quickly meeting their workforce needs.

Today, Carolina Structural Systems is a facility with almost 20 employees and, except for the plant manager, all are new to the industry. Just a few months into operations, Green explained that the company growth was right where he expected it to be. “It never goes as fast as you would like it to go, but in our case, we wanted take action when we were ready, and not just because time was passing and we had to take action,” said Green. That was when they turned to the county for assistance.

Of course, not all their employees came in through the county. To cover the plant’s design needs, Green outsources some design work and embraced the idea that not all his designers needed to be under one roof. “It’s short-sighted to say you need all your designers in house. You need to try and leverage the best talent, wherever they may be,” said Green.

In addition to using local and state resources, Green also keeps an open mind on where he finds talent. For example, Green has put effort into attracting people from other manufacturing and construction industries. Through this open approach, Green stressed, the components industry can, “focus on developing new people.”

About the Author: Lena Giakoumopoulos joined SBCA’s membership development team in 2014 and also focuses on workforce development and other management committee initiatives. She holds a masters degree in global marketing and has written for newsletters, manuals, brochures and websites.

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