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Industry hiring: Veterans wanted

The industry is serious about recruiting and hiring U.S. military veterans.

BY HBSDEALER Staff

In conjunction with the 2019 observance of Veterans Day, ABC Supply announced that it has hired more than 1,000 U.S. military veterans since 2017.

The Beloit, Wis.-based roofing materials and building products distributor has made an effort of partnering with a number of organizations, including Military.com and RecruitMilitary.com, to actively pursue veteran job candidates.

ABC’s strategy is just one shining example of a hardware and building supply company recruiting and embracing veterans.

With a labor shortage and unfilled construction jobs still making noise in the building industry, many companies who service builders with products and solutions have turned to veterans in recent years to help fill their ranks. At the same time, these companies are learning that veterans make excellent hires.

“Veterans are making a huge impact at ABC Supply,” said Matt Cooper, VP of ABC Supply’s West Region and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “They are wanted at ABC Supply because of what they bring to the table and the leadership skills they learned in the military.”

BMC, the Raleigh, N.C.-based pro dealer and building solutions provider, has traditionally hired veterans. But the company’s strategy has been ramped up since Dave Flitman joined BMC as CEO and president in the second half of 2018.

At the recent ProDealer Industry Summit, held at Colorado Springs, Colo., Flitman described veterans as a natural source of talent for the industry. Generally, these employees stand out because they are “disciplined, extremely loyal and hard-working. They are thankful to have a career,” Flitman said.

And the connection hits close to home for Flitman — his son Josh is a 4th Infantry Cav Scout stationed at Fort Carson, which is just a short drive from where the summit was held.

BMC has built partnerships with a number of military organizations, including transition assistance program offices, HireMilitary, the Foundation for Women Warriors, and the Honor Foundation, among others.

On its career page, BMC also created a micro site to showcase how veterans have seen their careers thrive at BMC. Within the organization, BMC is providing training about how to better understand the emotional and physical challenges that veterans face when transitioning to civilian life. In the New Year, BMC will begin developing apprenticeship and significant mentorship programs for not only transitioning veterans but for their spouses and families, too.

“We want to attract those who desire to develop their career in a military-friendly company,” says Elaine Gallagher, senior director of talent acquisition at BMC. “We have recognized the continuing comradery of the military blending well with BMC’s core values and deeply permeating our nonmilitary workforce in a meaningful and sustaining manner.  Our military hires have generated new ideas where we have gained a unique perspective from complex problem solvers.”

Lowe’s Home Improvement employs nearly 20,000 associates from the military community, including more than 650 active-duty personnel. In the first quarter of 2019, Lowe’s expanded a program that gave veterans the option of wearing a special camo vest that features a badge denoting their service.

“From the sales floor to our executive leadership, we know military associates are critical thinkers and strong communicators who bring a high level of integrity to our organization,” Mike Piper, Lowe’s associate veteran recruiter says.

“We recognize veterans as a valuable source of talent — not only for our company but within the home improvement industry at large,” Piper explained.

Lowe’s partners with a variety of organizations including the USO, AMVETS, Service the Academy Careers Conference and the Military Spouse Employment Program.

“These organizations have been an outstanding resource to help Lowe’s identify, develop and recruit military talent,” Piper says. Lowe’s also offers differential pay to associates during service, veteran parking and a 10% military discount every day on eligible purchases.

The Home Depot has been a source of veteran opportunities for some time. The company currently employs more than 35,000 veterans and its philanthropic arm, The Home Depot Foundation, has committed about $500 million to veterans’ causes through 2025.

“The Home Depot has been a supporter and employer of veterans from the start — it was a focus of our founders,” explained Erin Porter Izen, director of workforce development and military relations at The Home Depot. “It goes beyond just hiring. There has always been a U.S. flag flying over every store. And in 2011, when veterans’ homelessness was at its peak, The Home Depot stepped in to address the issue through our foundation.”

According to Izen, veterans remain a key thread in the fabric of The Home Depot’s culture. “Veterans have service at their core, which aligns perfectly to our company’s core values, inverted pyramid leadership style, and focus on our customers and communities,” she says.

Organizations that The Home Depot partners with include Hiring our Heroes, Hirepurpose, Military-Transition. org, RecruitRooster/Military.com, Victory, Military Spouse Employment Partnership, The Honor Foundation, American Corporate Partners, and RecruitMilitary. The company also runs targeted programs and direct campaigns for service members.

84 Lumber has hired more than 300 veterans in the past three years with nearly 6% of its total workforce being veterans.

Looking to expand its efforts, the pro dealer created a position within the company last year with the sole focus of building strategic partnerships with veterans groups, schools and community programs.

“84 Lumber has found that veterans make terrific hires and fit in very well with our culture. Veterans often bring an understanding and experience that align with the core competencies of our company,” said Amy Smiley, vice president of marketing at 84 Lumber. “This includes a strong work ethic, leadership skills, teamwork, integrity, and a safety-first mentality.”

Smiley also noted that 84 Lumber provides a work environment that is ideal for veterans, with skills and experiences gained in the military transferring well to a successful civilian career. “This is something that has always been on our radar,” she said. “Our commitment to the military began with our founder, Joe Hardy, who proudly served in World War II.  Since then our country’s service members have always been a big part of who we are and what makes the 84 Lumber family so special and successful.”

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Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared in the November/December 2019 edition of HBSDealer magazine.

 

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