Finding a perfect-fit hire depends on several different factors, ranging from the specific skills and experience that person would need to have to what kind of company culture an organization is leveraging in the search process. How organizations approach and progress through their hiring process is also impacted by various considerations.

When hiring for positions that are filled infrequently, processes that worked in the past may not be effective. This is often when organizations consider the services of a recruitment firm. Yet, this too can be difficult to navigate based on past experience and the urgency to fill important roles.

This case study details a changemaker in the roofing industry as well as some of the challenges the company faced when hiring for a critical role, our approach to overcoming these obstacles, and what the company learned while working with us. Let’s dive in.

Who is Great Lakes Systems?

If you weren’t already aware, roofing is an incredibly complicated system. Not only are the jobs physically demanding and challenging, but they require a specific set of skills and knowledge. Great Lakes Systems (GLS) is a proven roofing company with a history that spans more than 50 years of quality performance and customer satisfaction. 

The company provides single-ply commercial and industrial roofing systems, which are complex in ways that residential roofing is not. GLS works closely with building owners, architects, contractors, and facility managers to ensure the roofing systems meet the unique needs of its customers — which could include a new roof, roof repairs, or preventative maintenance. 

GLS prides itself on its team’s deep knowledge and expertise with state-of-the-art assessment tools, training, roofing products, and technique in order to provide roof owners with all the information they need to make the best decisions that work for their goals and budget. Because of this mindful process, GLS has been able to install more than 10,000 roofs and service thousands more. To date, the GLS team has applied over 60 million square feet of roofing.

The Hiring Challenges

GLS is a small but growing organization with 50-60 employees currently, and its clientele continues to expand. The opportunities for continued growth and success are constantly budding. In this case study, helping them fill a critical Estimating Manager position uncovered new ways for their business to progress. Despite its successes, GLS had several factors that increased the difficulty of its talent acquisition process. 

Establishing a Positive Company Culture

GLS described its culture as “changing” noting there was a growing shift into a team and employee-centric environment. Roofing (and construction in general) is considered a “hard” industry and not all companies proactively foster positive cultures. Within the roofing industry career growth is typically outward versus upward and many organizational structures are relatively flat. An overwhelming majority of roofers don’t often consider their roles as pathways to lifelong careers. 

However, in the case of GLS, as the company continues to grow new opportunities for upward mobility will continue to become available, and therefore important for its company culture to reflect that. Even more, they wanted to ensure that their employees who have dedicated their time to the company know they are appreciated and that GLS was actively working on ways to help them develop

This also meant that as GLS searched for a candidate to fill the Estimating Manager role, the company needed to find a candidate who understood its goals and could fit into the culture being established. That individual would need to connect with the employees and break down the walls often separating those who work in the office and those in the field.  

Hiring a Critical Role

For a commercial roofing company, the Estimator plays an important role. This individual will provide not only estimating services but also oversee activities on projects. They will estimate labor, materials, time requirements, and other critical factors that contribute to the overall cost of a project. They will also gather blueprints and specifications, attend meetings, review historical data, conduct surveys, track contracts, prepare bid packages, and utilize CAD software to design and finalize plans. It’s a pivotal position that coordinates information between the customer, project manager, engineers, and architects. 

GLS was preparing to hire a new Estimating Manager, as the individual who previously held the role was gearing up to retire. GLS wanted to find a candidate that would help increase revenue in their production division. This individual would be an integral part of the management team and help GLS to evaluate new technologies that would improve their efficiencies. 

This role requires very specific knowledge and skills — it is not an easy position to hire for given how close-knit the industry is. The majority of individuals who could fill this position would likely be working for a roofing company already and would not be available for any kind of contract work. GLS quickly recognized they would likely need to break into pools of talent in other industries they hadn’t considered for prior roles in order to find quality candidates with a range of skills and experience that would fit their needs.

Reshaping Internal Hiring Dynamics

GLS had not previously done a lot of hiring for executive roles and it was becoming increasingly clear their process was not as efficient as they needed it to be. GLS was already in the process of reshaping its Human Resources department and some of the internal dynamics of the company. The search for an Estimating Manager became the perfect opportunity to rethink how they hire for similar roles, test the culture they were establishing, and validate a process they could continue to implement across the board. 

A goal of GLS is to be a forward-thinking player in an industry that is often viewed as incredibly static. The company was looking to increase the caliber of employees hired, the quality of roofs installed, and the overall services provided. They realized that this starts internally, with the right hiring dynamics and core values in place. GLS needed to create a way to ensure that candidates (and their current employees) understand the company was ready to invest in employees that were willing to invest in them.

Previous Hiring Methods Weren't Cutting It

Previously, the company was able to find candidates mostly through word of mouth. For some positions, GLS had used social media and job boards, and on occasion other recruiting services. 

However, this time their typical methods were not sourcing viable candidates. And this particular position was too important for their business to let it remain unfilled for long. GLS reevaluated the role and decided that enlisting the services of a recruitment firm might be a worthwhile effort. However, they had serious concerns about which firm to consider and if the process could be different than they had experienced before. 

GLS heard about AEBetancourt and our process through a business referral before engaging with us for this project. As they learned more about our Recruitment-as-a-Service model, they began to see how we could fit into their hiring goals, work within their ideal time frame, what our partnership would look like, and how their involvement in the search process was still critical to success. 

Our Approach to Solving Their Hiring Needs

Before starting the search, we wanted to ensure our team had a clear understanding of GLS, the company’s talent needs, and the skillset we would need to look for. We kicked off the beginning of our comprehensive process with a detailed questionnaire for the specific role and reviewed the information. The answers helped shape a complete profile that framed how we would approach sourcing candidates for GLS. 

It was important that we create a partnership with GLS, working alongside the company as a consultant for not only the search but all the ways in which the company could position itself as a quality employer. We walked their hiring team through a process that not only helped to establish their criteria for a perfect-fit hire, but also assisted in determining interview questions, refining their internal hiring and onboarding process, crafting an employee value proposition (EVP), and the importance of company culture to the hiring efforts. 

We worked to define what a perfect-fit hire looked like to them while solidifying the partnership with GLS. We were able to use what we learned to cast a much wider net within different talent pools. Together we developed a strategy to source local candidates from different industries as well as candidates within the roofing industry but outside of the region. The results were a deep list of interested candidates that we were able to quickly filter and refine because we had a good understanding of what the GLS team needed. 

How Great Lakes Systems was Involved

Based on the previous experience with recruiting services, the GLS team expected they would again be hands-off with the process. However, they quickly saw that our process was different here too. 

Once it was clear that GLS was still at the center of this search, they recognized there were some internal hiring processes in place that weren’t as efficient as they could be. The GLS team needed to reflect inwardly and create clearer definitions of what they were looking for, which would play a role in the process overall, as well as how long it would take to find that candidate. GLS also set into place a revised form of their company culture, which helped to move the search process along. 

GLS used this search as a learning experience. As multiple candidates were interviewed and feedback was collected, they were able to get a better understanding of what they wanted and determine the right questions to ask candidates earlier to help determine whether they would be a good fit. This allowed them to take what they learned and apply it to other roles they hired for and reevaluate the parameters and criteria they have set. The search for an Estimating Manager prompted a search for a secondary role underneath the manager, which GLS was able to identify from the pool of candidates our team sourced.

The Results of Our Partnership

Our process ensures that we don’t just “sell” a candidate to a client, but ensure they understand all the reasons a recommended candidate would be a perfect fit and provide quantifiable reasons for optimal hiring results. 

We were able to locate a candidate for the Estimating Manager role who was a perfect culture fit, was from the area, and had estimating experience. However, their experience was from a related industry with a different estimating focus. GLS relied on our consultative approach again to help them review their goals and prioritize their needs for this role. GLS determined that fit and talent were aspects they desired and needed most to help them proceed as a forward-thinking leader in the roofing industry. The specific tools and process of estimating they used could easily be learned by the right individual. GLS hired the candidate and has been extremely pleased with their decision.

We became a partner to GLS and served as a trusted resource for information on not only making the right decision but on how the company could create a results-driven hiring process moving forward, which also included succession planning and smoother transitions. The GLS team has implemented much of what was learned throughout this search into their hiring process. They now have a framework for how to define a perfect-fit hire, create key questions, conduct better interviews, and follow-up that is being used across all position levels. 

How can partnering with the right recruitment firm help your organization? Start by reviewing this guide to working with recruitment firms. Get a clear overview of our industry and the essential elements needed to make informed decisions.

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Great Lakes Systems delivers the best roofing products on the market, to provide the roof owner with the information they need to make decisions that work best for them. Visit their website to contact them or follow them on LinkedIn or Facebook to learn more about their products and services.