It’s newsletter time again. Wow, another busy month in sales, operations, service, and all other groups. We have a huge backlog, and it is still very difficult to get some equipment, but we are slowly getting jobs completed.
I had hoped to be ready to share in a Town Hall meeting this week the process and program we have used to apply appropriate job descriptions to current positions and reassure us that we are providing wages comparable with the market value for each position, but this task has proven to be a bigger project than we expected. The NSCA Compensation & Benefits Report was released just last month, and this gives us an additional reliable resource to reference and further ensure we are using the correct wage categories. As a result, it will take a couple more months to get completely through the list. It appears we are paying generally where research indicates we should be. There still may be a few positions that will be seeing an increase. This research also shows us to have a few positions that are currently being paid above market. Those positions will not see any movement at this time.
We continue to have success bringing in more business. All the sales teams have had another good run in June, and we have had record sales again. As a result, our backlog continues to climb to over 50 million for the second straight month and our need for employees continues to grow as well. We have over 40 openings company wide, and we are interviewing every day in an effort to fill the positions. We are seeing some activity here, just not as quickly as we’d prefer.
You may or may not know that I have served on the board of the NSCA, National System Contractors Association, since 2004. Just like Lone Star, we do an annual planning session for the NSCA to collect ideas and plan the emphasis or direction of the association for the next 3 years. We always ask ourselves, “what can we do for our member that can make a difference?”. I was asked recently what the most important thing is that NSCA can do for its members over the next three years. Though there are many things an association can do, one of the most important thing I think we can do is to find a way to bring people into this industry. How can we get people into our business? What are the associated industries where we can find people that would have an interest in our industry and make a good living at the same time? The NSCA Education Foundation has been trying to tackle this for years and created a program called Ignite, a program aimed at bringing young people into our businesses by offering them an internship with local companies. Nationwide, NSCA foundation has 200 scholarships available to companies to help offset the costs of bringing a high school student or early college student into the business for the summer. NSCA foundation has a curriculum that has these students spending a week each in multiple areas of the business including accounting, operations and installation, engineering and design, and warehouse. Part of the curriculum includes building a quality resume and interview techniques. This provides a very good experience for these students whether or not they decide to stay in this industry.
The purpose of the internship is to give these students real world exposure to our industry and see if they might have an interest after high school or college. The one thing about this industry, you can make a good living for your family with or without a college degree. Of course, a college degree is a good thing, and everyone should pursue a degree program, if possible, but some graduates are not ready to go to collage right out of high school and this industry is a good place begin a career.
Lone Star is currently talking to a number of school districts and Tech School/Colleges about using the Ignite program in the future. It may be too late for 2022, but the employee need we see today is a long term problem and we need to establish this program now and keep those programs at the top of the list for school districts and Tech School/Colleges for summer employment for their pupils. Ignite is a good program that we have used in previous years, and we are looking for interns for all offices. We have found some very good employees directly out of school in the past, and we welcome employees directly from high school or college.
Ignite is only the first part of bringing in employees. I think the next logical step is for Lone Star to affiliate with a local college and/or Tech school and create a plan where employees can go to school and work at Lone Star at the same time, and they can receive credit for some of the work they do here and classes they take here to count toward their college degree. We have had some preliminary conversations with a school in Denton and those conversations are very positive. These types of things take time, but it is my hope to have a solid plan in place by the first of the year.
SPC. Strategic Planning Committee is meeting the 19th and 20th and reviewing the plan for the year. This committee meets every quarter and discusses our initiatives and reviews them for applicability and how well we have done in achieving them. We see if initiatives have been accomplished as planned, need a little more time to finish, or do we need another initiative to support or replace the current initiative. We have set KPI’s, Key Performance Indicators, for each initiative and we test these to see if the KPI’s were correct and if so, how we are doing against each KPI. Sometimes an initiative moves from one manager to another because the first manager finished their part and another group or team needs to finish it. This is the meeting where initiatives such as One Lone Star and Talent Development were created. We will share the results of this meeting with everyone once it has concluded.
Thanks, everyone, for what you do every day for Lone Star Communications. This year has been challenging for Lone Star and it is going to be a big year for organic growth. Your continued focus on excellence and meeting the needs of our customers shines. Thank you for being a Lone Star Employee. We appreciate all you do!
Until next time, Ray
- Ray Bailey, President