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Senator tours Methuen Construction

Shaheen calls Plaistow company a 'model for other companies'

PLAISTOW — U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen visited Methuen Construction in Plaistow on Monday to discuss the company's workforce development efforts, along with its continued growth despite the industry's difficulties finding qualified workers.

Joseph Barbone, president and chief executive officer of Methuen Construction, led Shaheen on a tour of the facility and spoke about steps the company is taking to grow its workforce. 

Shaheen said Methuen Construction is a "model for other companies in New Hampshire dealing with the tight workforce climate." 

She said she often hears from New Hampshire construction businesses that one of the biggest constraints they face is the lack of qualified employees to fill open positions. 

Recently at the New Hampshire Workforce Development Resource Summit in Concord — which examines innovative strategies and training programs to help businesses find, train and retain Granite State workers — Shaheen released a New Hampshire Workforce Development Resource Guide.

"People can't find the workers they need," Shaheen said.

Still, Methuen Construction has seen significant growth year after year over nearly three decades in business.

The 57-year old company founded in Methuen first came to New Hampshire 17 years ago, relocating to Salem. Then just over a year ago, the company moved again to a 190,000-square-foot facility on 36 acres in Plaistow.

In its beginning in 1960, the company operated with a four-person team and totaled $120 thousand in revenue. In 2001, the company had 40 employees and $35 million in revenue. Today, Methuen Construction has almost 200 employees and totals $115 million in revenue. They also have a 92 percent employee retention rate.

As part of a 10-year growth plan created in 2014, company officials expect that by 2025 they will have 500 employees and be doing $280 million in revenue. Last year, more than 60 new employees came on board, and another 70 new hires should be added in 2018, Barbone said during his presentation to Shaheen.

"What sets us apart from a lot of companies ... we self-perform a lot of the work we actually do," said Barbone. 

Therefore, the company is not just hiring engineers, project managers and administrators, but they are hiring trades people as well.

Executive Vice President Wayne Symonds told Shaheen that the company is able to continue to hire and expand by building upon outreach and recruitment programs, as well as building career development pathways for employees.

Symonds said the company has full-time recruiters working in-house. And he outlined clear entry points for potential employees through their leadership programs tailored to field leaders, future leaders and current leaders. The field leaders program trains trades people, while the future leaders program focuses on recent graduates that are interested in management roles, and the current leaders program concentrates on middle managers looking to move up within the company.

Director of Human Resources Michelle Ferero said she works to create a specific career development plan for any individual interested in advancing within the company. 

"Employees want to know what the path is and being able to show that to them, it's a commitment," said Ferero.

Not only does taking the time to develop the individualized pathway show the employee the company is making a commitment to their future and their success, but it also helps the employee make a commitment to the company.

The company has an apprenticeship program, as well as connections with local colleges and high schools — such as Manchester Community College and Pinkerton Academy in Derry. Methuen Construction works with the outside schools to help make sure students are learning the proper skills to be ready to enter the workforce upon graduation and continue training at their facility.