The crisis level shortage in skilled labor for construction and related fields is whacking companies in a painful place: the sales ledger.
Daryl Blume, president of Largo-based BCH Mechanical Inc., a plumbing/piping, sheet metal and HVAC contractor, says his firm recently turned away a few jobs. Most of the requests, Blume tells Coffee Talk, came from general contractors on projects more than halfway complete but lacked properly trained personnel to finish the job. BCH couldn't spare any employees.
A 40-year-old firm with $98 million in sales last year, BCH Mechanical is in better position than most to pass up work. Current projects include a hotel on Clearwater Beach; the USF St. Petersburg business school; and a large expansion for Lakeland Regional Medical Center.
But Blume, who has been with the firm for 36 years, says the labor shortage remains his constant No. 1 challenge. The company has 50 open positions, from plumbers and pipefitters to inside office work. He says BCH will only bid on work it's confident it can do right, with the right internal labor supply, without compromising quality. Says Blume: “We are in a market where we have to be able to say no.”