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  • The following article was written by Jon Silver of the Daily Journal of Commerce and is re-published with permission.

    PSF Mechanical installed HVAC equipment for the Husky Stadium renovation, completed in 2013. The firm is competing to add staff amid a local building boom.

     

    PSF Mechanical just hired its 350th employee.

    It’s no secret that construction firms around the country are struggling to find experienced employees.

    In a nationwide survey of contractors, 82 percent of the respondents said they expected it will become harder or remain difficult to recruit and hire qualified workers this year, up from 76 percent in 2017.

    Among firms in Washington — where there has been a tech-fueled building boom — a whopping 85 percent said they thought it would be a challenge to find workers to hire this year.

    The survey was released earlier this month by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage Construction and Real Estate.

    Still, hiring needs continue to climb. In the AGC survey, 83 percent of in-state contractors said they expect to add to their headcount in 2018.

    Ken Simonson, chief economist for AGC, commenting on the survey results, noted that while contractors “think the overall market is going to expand, I think they see it as a challenging year to find the workers and to win the contracts.”

    Nationwide, construction employment rose by 30,000 in December, led by specialty trade contractors, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction employment in the Seattle area increased 5 percent from November 2016 to November 2017, to 97,800 workers.

    Firms under pressure to bulk up their staffing are addressing the need in a variety of ways, such as increasing base pay, adding training or improving benefits.

    One local firm, PSF Mechanical, has found its own formula for staffing success.

    The Seattle-based mechanical design-build contractor announced it just hired its 350th employee, and plans to hire more in the run-up to a busy spring.

    “We’re still recruiting heavily for some crucial engineering, account executive and field positions,” said LeAnn Affholter, PSF’s vice president of human resources.

    The firm is working on a number of large projects locally, including Holland Partner Group’s 970 Denny apartment tower in South Lake Union, The Molasky Group’s Arrive apartment tower in Belltown, Columbia Pacific Advisors’ Danforth mixed-use tower on First Hill, Kilroy Realty’s 333 Dexter office complex in South Lake Union, and Alexandria Real Estate Equities’ 1818 Fairview office building in South Lake Union.

    Traci Staffen, PSF’s marketing manager, said the company has been hiring at a steady clip for the past several years and its needs are split evenly between corporate and field positions. Around a third of its staff is corporate.

    PSF’s website on Wednesday listed six job openings ranging service field supervisor to senior project design engineer.

    “It’s always hard to find good, qualified engineers and experienced project managers,” Staffen said.

    It’s hard to find field labor, too, she added. “Everyone is feeling the pain.”

    One problem contractors continually face is maintaining appropriate staffing levels since big plans can get upended at a moment’s notice.

    “Things change constantly,” Staffen said. “Project schedules slip, things move, key clients don’t sign their leases yet.”

    “You have to work hard to anticipate those possibilities so you don’t have lulls,” she said. “People make a mistake by not anticipating those type of things.”

    Workers who are laid off when projects vaporize sometimes have to be recruited back later.

    The company finds its employees by casting a wide net. It relies on employee referrals, word of mouth, social media, and job-posting sites like Indeed, Monster and Glassdoor.

    PSF also recruits on college campuses and among veterans leaving the military. The company endows scholarships for the construction management and mechanical engineering programs at Washington State University and the University of Washington. And it advertises on Orion Talent, which connects employers with military vets.

    Even competitors can be a good source for new hires — no poaching required.

    “We all know each other,” Staffen said. “When we have a hole to fill, we can call and say ‘Do you have anybody who’s not busy over there and looking to make a change?’”

    Once PSF has hired new staff, the company works to keep them around. New employees get a bonus after 90 days, and company culture is a source of pride.

    “People tend to be very happy here,” said Staffen, who joined PSF in 2006. The company is celebrating its 120th anniversary this year.

    PSF works to bridge the culture gap between office and field staff, holding catered lunches, office meetings for field staff, and even ugly Christmas sweater contests.

    “We have people that genuinely like what they’re doing and work well together,” Staffen said.

    CORRECTION NOTICE: At PSF Mechanical, we believe our employees are our best resource for finding excellent candidates. The information about the referral bonus published in the journal is misquoted and should state that for PSF employees who refer someone for an open position, and that person is hired and remains employed for 90 days, the employee who referred them will receive a monetary reward.

     

  • PSF is among 80 Puget Sound firms included as finalists in the Puget Sound Business Journal’s 2017 Washington’s Best Workplaces competition. This is PSF’s fourth year participating in the competition, and our third year as finalists. PSF will celebrate this accomplishment with all of the Puget Sound finalist companies at Safeco Field on August 3rd.

  • The following article was written by Mike Landers, of Bluebeam Software, Inc. and is re-published with permission.

    “What you’re doing, you can do better,” explains Martin Marty, Application Support Specialist/Network Administrator for Seattle-based PSF Mechanical.

    It sounds so simple, yet achieving “better” can be extremely difficult within the world of AEC. While some are quick to point the finger at AEC for being behind the times in terms of technological advancement, it should be noted that AEC is also a world where the work is constant and goes on bid by bid—leaving little time for “trial projects” or “experimentation” that allow firms to develop and improve processes.

    Because the nature of construction revolves around time or lack of it, the increasing value of preconstruction cannot be understated. The approach to the work can dictate success, and companies like PSF are cognizant of the need to streamline, maximize and standardize preconstruction practices aimed at improving lean and achieving standardization.

    Read More

  • For the third year in a row, PSF has ranked amongst the 100 largest private companies in the Puget Sound area. This list is one of the oldest lists that the Puget Sound Business Journal publishes and includes 100 privately-owned companies that are globally headquartered in Washington, and ranked by the previous year’s revenue. Congratulations also to our partners and friends for making this list:

    Absher Construction Co.
    Appollo Mechanical Contractors
    Bayley Construction
    BNBuilders, Inc.
    Central Welding Supply
    Cochran Inc.
    GeoEngineers, Inc.
    GLY Construction Inc.
    J.R. Abbott Construction, Inc.
    Keller Supply Co.
    Kidder Mathews
    Lease Crutcher Lewis
    Lydig Construction Inc.
    MG2
    NBBJ
    Parametrix, LLC
    Prime Electric, Inc.
    Rafn Co.
    Schuchart Corporation
    Sellen Construction Co., Inc.
    Tulalip Resort Casino
    Venture General Contracting, LLC
    W.G. Clark Construction Co.

  • For the second year in a row, PSF has ranked amongst the 100 largest private companies in the Puget Sound area. This list is one of the oldest lists that the Puget Sound Business Journal publishes and includes 100 privately-owned companies that are globally headquartered in Washington, and ranked by the previous year’s revenue. Congratulations also to our partners and friends for making this list:

    Absher Construction
    BNBuilders
    Bayley Construction
    Central Welding Supply
    Cochran Inc.
    Foushee & Associates Co., Inc.
    GeoEngineers, Inc.
    GLY Construction
    J.R. Abbott Construction, Inc.
    Keller Supply Co.
    Kidder Mathews
    Lease Crutcher Lewis
    Lydig Construction
    MG2
    NBBJ
    Parametrix
    Parker, Smith & Feek Inc.
    Prime Electric
    Rafn Co.
    Schuchart
    Sellen Construction