Local contractors scramble to fill jobs to meet Louisville's con - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Local contractors scramble to fill jobs to meet Louisville's construction boom

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Local contractors are scrambling to fill jobs to meet Louisville's construction boom -- but they're having trouble finding people who want to work with their hands.

People like Tim Twiddy.

"We've done a lot of clearing and grubbing," Twiddy said. "I love to see things come out of the ground and come together...I love to see them work."

Twiddy is a good guy to have around with the start of construction on a new MSD sewer basin behind the old Jim Porters Good Time Emporium property.

"We're going to dig down in the ground, build a big concrete tank underground," said Alex Sharpe, project manager for Thieneman Construction. "We're going to fill it up, bury it and you'll never see it."

Thieneman Construction can't find enough people like Twiddy.

"We probably need from 15 to 30 to get rolling," Sharpe said.

"And have you filled those positions yet?" asked WDRB's Gilbert Corsey.

"No," Sharpe replied.

"Have you filled half of those positions?" Corsey asked.

"Not half," Sharpe said. 

The competition for contractors is fierce during Louisville's construction boom. The mayor's office cites $11 billion in projects, either planned or underway -- and industry insiders say there are about 3,000 construction jobs to fill.

"Skilled craftsmen, carpenters, equipment operators -- they're all needed," Twiddy said.

The economic collapse of 2008 forced a lot of people out of the building business and they have not returned as fast as the demand.

"The end result is people are stealing workers from each other, and paying them more, and yet we're not filling new jobs," Sharpe said. "They're cannibalizing off each other, which means the cost of construction is going to go up and jobs are going to take longer to get completed."

Thieneman Construction paying $15 to $25 an hour, full time, and that's for the unskilled positions. If applicants have no experience, they say it's not a problem, as they can train on-site, even if you have a criminal record. 

"That's why we do a face-to-face: because everybody deserves to turn the tide, and they need a break, so we look at that," Sharpe said. "So yeah, we don't turn anybody away."

Some may end up like Twiddy, discovering that it's not just a job. It's a passion.

"I've gone back to projects I've done 15, 20 years ago," Twiddy said. "It's pretty exciting work."

Thieneman Construction is based in Indianapolis, but the company just opened a Louisville office to better find employees. It has nine local projects in the works.

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