Blog - Recruiting Update

Top Wood Jobs Updates and News Releases:

January 1, 2017

Top Wood Jobs, LLC Aquires Michael Strickland & Associates, LLC Recruting: 

Mike Strickland of Michael Strickland & Associates, LLC has decided to retire.  Mike began his recruiting business in 2003 and has provided candidates to many of the leading companies in the wood products industry since beginning his business. Mike began his career in the wood products industry in 1972 as hourly operator and advanced to the position of Plant Manager.  He held management positions with many companies in the wood products industry including:  Bruce Hardwood Flooring, Coastal Lumber Company, Georgia-Pacific, Willamette Industries and Champion International. Mike helped grow the industry through his plant management and recruiting efforts over the years. Mike will enjoy his time with his wife Gail and playing more golf and travelling. Mike has turned over his business and connections to George Meek of Top Wood Jobs, LLC.  Mike would like to thank all of the companies and individuals that he has worked with during the his time at Michael Strickland & Associates, LLC.

This will provide Top Wood Jobs with additional contacts for jobs and candidates.

December 14, 2016:

Job Hopping and Career Advancement:

As a recruiter for the wood products and building materials industry, and successful at moving my career forward I find people all the time that do not like their jobs at all and would be better off leaving for something they are more satisfied with. If someone is looking at career advancement, they should be advancing every 3 years. Employees look for individuals that have successfully advanced their careers. If someone is simply moving from one job to the next and it is not a career advancement, I often question why they left and many times it is because they either did not get along with people well or made bad choices with the companies they worked for. Some simply had bad luck with jobs. Employers like candidates that have stayed for at least 5 years per job, but if they advanced their career because of job hopping, they will often consider them for management positions.  Sometimes people simply are not doing what they would do best at and then simply have a tough time with the job. A great book to read to help people with that and their careers is What Color is Your Parachute. It allowed me to locate my dream job and be very successful. 

October 28, 2013:

The Lack of Skilled Labor

I started working in the wood products industry in 1975 with my first job feeding a tepee burner for a sawmill and plywood plant in Kalispell Montana that was used to burn waste wood. I left that plant to Plum Creek MDF where we then took the residuals that were burned in teepee burners and used the wood to make MDF panels. Since those early years I went on to support building new plants and consulting to the industry and started working as a recruiter full time in 2010 after looking at what was coming to the industry and saw recruiting as being a good opportunity for me.

To be successful at the recruiting business you need to have good recruiting skills, understand the needs of employers for the industry you are working, have good connections and a lot of very good resumes. When our industry started to have its downturn in 2008, there were a lot of people laid off and resumes were available. Jobs for recruiters slowed up, but there were always jobs for people with technical skills whether it be engineering, maintenance or production jobs.

The 76 million baby boomers were really starting to head towards retirement in 2008, but with the stock market and IRAs decreasing in value, many baby boomers held on to their jobs as long as they could until their IRAs bounced back up. For many their IRAs are now back to where they were in 2007 and possibly even better, so now the Baby Boomers are ready to get out after a delay in their retirement plans and the tough times we just went through.

Many employers did not have good systems in place to keep track of where their laid off people went. Some of them either changed industries or now with their retirement programs back up are retiring. I have had many of the largest wood products companies contact me as they are very concerned what is going to happen in the next five years with their work force that are scheduled to retire. The past recession made it difficult for employers to hold on to all their good people and did not have the funds to support training their younger or less experienced employees so they don’t have the people to promote from within. The larger companies have increased their recruiting work force now and the smaller companies are reaching out to recruiters like Top Wood Jobs to locate people with the skills they need.  Unfortunately the some of the larger company’s recruiters don’t have the industrial experience that seasoned recruiters have that understand the needs of the employers. For some of these companies they are experiencing higher turnover with less experienced candidates.

This is my fourth year of full time recruiting full time after working in the wood products industry for 35 years. I have seen my business increase each year and I have been forced into turning down more clients and sending less resumes per job because of the demand. For any recruiter in this business long enough they will prioritize their work based on specific criteria. I can’t work on all the jobs I can get, so my focus goes towards the clients that get back to me in a timely basis on the candidates I send and I get the highest fees. When I have clients that don’t get back to me on the resumes I send and they negotiate my contract fees down to the lowest possible fee, they don’t see the resumes I send clients that do get back to me right away and pay me higher fees or retainers. Wood products companies operate their businesses the same way. They support best the clients they have that show them the same urgency that the supplier does and gives them the most business.

When you look at all the jobs there are to fill it is based on the number of candidates that employers need. There are far more sawmills than there are OSB plants and there are more production workers than there are salesmen. 50% of my jobs are production management jobs and 50% are maintenance and engineering jobs. Lumber and plywood make up about 50% of my jobs while OSB and the growing market of wood pellets makes up another 25% and the remainder are for the rest of the wood products industries. With the increase of new wood pellet mills and the startup of OSB plants there has been a surge in the past year with those industries. OSB plants are mostly up now and there are some more wood pellet plants to start up. Plywood and lumber plants are seeking more high level positions to fill retiring employees.

Everyone wants to hire a 35 year old with 50 years of experience, 6 Sigma, a college degree and a clean resume. I suspect that because of the loss we will see in baby boomers retiring now and lack of trained experienced younger workers, we will see companies give in to hiring older more experienced employees where they can. Recruiter fees will increase and companies will put a higher emphasis on training and hiring from within while  training their less skilled employees.

I see my business continue to increase over the next five years and beyond as employers struggle to locate the skilled and experienced candidates they will need. Wages went down through the recession, but wages and benefits will go back up to be competitive in the shrinking marketplace for skilled workers.

George Meek