Theres no business like ... mechanical contracting?

Todd Morgan of Comprehensive Energy Services in Orlando, Fla., may have solved the labor shortage experienced by other contractors. He claims that ces has no problem attracting good people because of its work in the entertainment industry. CES has installed highly customized HVAC and plumbing systems at Universal Studios Florida theme park, Disney World and other venues in such attractions as Terminator

Todd Morgan of Comprehensive Energy Services in Orlando, Fla., may have solved the labor shortage experienced by other contractors. He claims that ces has no problem attracting good people because of its work in the entertainment industry.

CES has installed highly customized HVAC and plumbing systems at Universal Studios Florida theme park, Disney World and other venues in such attractions as “Terminator 2” and “Men in Black.” Two projects have appeared in the pages of CONTRACTOR: “Twister” (January 1999, pg. 1) and “Titanic - Ship of Dreams (this month, pg. 3).

Morgan promotes these projects on ces’ Web site (www.cesmechanical.com), which has attracted the attention of today’s younger and more computer-literate work force. He says that the show-business jobs have proven to be a good recruiting tool, attracting prospective employees from all over the country.

Obviously, not all mechanical contractors get to work — or would want to work — with people who have anything to do with show business. It’s just as apparent, though, that the entertainment industry does a much better job of marketing itself to the public than contractors do.

In fact, many types of businesses do a better job of reaching out to potential workers than contractors do. Some contractors made that point themselves during the recent convention of the Mechanical Contractors Association of America in San Diego in a seminar on recruiting.

Contractors who regularly attend job fairs at their local colleges told other mcaa members how little the students they meet know about what contractors do. No one really expects most college students to understand the intricacies of installing a plumbing, hvac or industrial piping system, but it’s a crime that they don’t comprehend the importance, satisfaction or rewards of a job in mechanical contracting. They have absolutely no idea why anyone would ever want to get into this type of work.

Truth be told, most of the jobs done by Todd Morgan’s company have little to do with show business. Most of ces’ work is in renovation and retrofit hvac and plumbing projects. But ces has discovered a hook to bring people into the company, and then gives them the ongoing training and incentives to keep them interested.

Other contractors talk about how difficult it is to attract and retain good people. They have to find their hook for their own company. It may be as simple as locating existing opportunities — such as at job fairs or on the Internet — to describe to young people the importance, rewards and satisfaction of a job in mechanical contracting.