Like many other trade associations, members of the Headwaters Builders Association (HBA) have continued to see fewer and fewer students applying for annual scholarships and entering construction trades. To address this issue, the HBA Board of Directors recognized the importance of engaging potential employees early in their high school careers and Building Our Successful Students (BOSS) was launched. The first step was to replace the Student Chapter of the HBA with the newly formed BOSS program. The existing Student Chapter concept just didn’t fit with the area schools and was not benefiting membership. The HBA Board strives to offer new benefits to our current members in addition to attracting new - what better benefit than being able to highlight their business and potentially gain a new young employee or two?

The focus of the BOSS program is to get directly in front of all students in local high schools who are enrolled in tech ed classes. Knowing that there is still a large emphasis in schools for post-secondary education, HBA Board members built relationships directly with local tech teachers and shared real life stories and facts with students about entering the construction trades. Connecting with students who do not desire to pursue education after high school as well as those headed to a technical school or college has raised the awareness and stature of construction careers as a viable career option. Many students were not aware that so many of HBA member businesses are willing to train on site or work with them through an apprenticeship.

The first eight months of the program have proven very successful and plans for 2019-2020 are even more aggressive. Some of the engagement activities that have taken place so far include:

Connecting Robert Klein, a 26-year-old owner of Klein Construction Inc. and Board Member of HBA with the tech ed class at Tomahawk High School. Allowing the students to hear from someone so close in age and see the success he is having with his own business at a young age was a big motivator for students.

HBA member Pukall Lumber donated nearly all the materials needed for the Wabeno High School Tech Ed students to build a storage shed, which will be auctioned off. Proceeds will go towards Skills USA competitions and other future projects.

All-day field trip for 19 students from Three Lakes High School to two separate construction sites at different stages of construction, guided by representatives of Waldmann Construction Inc. The students were then treated to a lunch sponsored by HBA member Kwaterski Bros. before being given a full tour of their operations, concluding with an in-depth discussion about wood products of the world.

In the coming year, HBA’s BOSS Program plans to build on this initial success by attending multiple career days, as well as sponsoring at least three more schools to allow students to have several trips throughout the school year to the same project so they can see the different construction phases from start to finish.