Pay it Forward – Inspiring the Next Generation of Industry Talent

Originally posted by Erica Lockwood as a guest blogger on Meredith Consulting’s website, March 22, 2018.

As we emerge from last week’s “Women In Construction Week” along with the observance of “International Women’s Day”, it seems quite fitting to address not only the lack of female talent present within the industry today but certainly the overall people shortage being experienced across the country. It’s a real conversation that I have just about daily with industry leaders. Reality is this is not a situation that will change overnight. But, I believe it can be transformed with focus and intention.

Recent statistics have revealed that less than 15% of the total construction industry is made up of women. While a predominantly male dominated industry, I am a believer that with the right outreach and education, we could do much more to encourage young women to consider our industry as an exciting and viable career option. The opportunities are endless and having a concerted effort to make sure young women who are considering career possibilities hear this message is vital.

I have observed a recent trend within a handful of companies where women have been promoted into leadership roles. For example, Taylor Morrison Homes has impressed me with the career advancements and the openness to provide not only leadership roles but also entry level opportunities to women in the workforce. A recent post by Taylor Morrison stated, “women make up 49 percent of our workforce, 30 percent of our executive team and Taylor Morrison is the only publicly traded homebuilder led by a woman chairman and CEO.” Talk about inspiring women to see the possibilities! Way to go Sheryl Palmer for leading that vision!

I perceive mentoring opportunities as one of the most viable avenues for awareness and outreach. Local home builder associations are typically quite involved with a variety of educational outreach programs, for instance, Junior Achievement. This program creates opportunity for discussions geared toward elementary, junior high and high school students, creating interest and spurring curiosity. I encourage our industry to be keenly focused on education and mentorship of our future leaders – young men and women alike.

Although this week had much to celebrate it also felt a huge loss as we learned of Bill Pulte’s passing. Mr. Pulte was a mentor to so many. He inspired creativity, growth and vision to so many of today’s leading industry professionals along with some of the most forward-thinking and impactful entrepreneurs I know. If each one of us might consider paying it forward in honor of Bill Pulte, we may just reach some of tomorrow’s most amazing and creative men and women industry leaders. We can all make an impact – one young person at a time!

JCP EARNS BACK-TO-BACK FORBES “BEST RECRUITING FIRMS” RANKING

I am excited to announce that for the second year in a row Joseph Chris Partners has been ranked by Forbes as one of AMERICA’S BEST RECRUITING FIRMS. Since my parents Joe and Victoria started our company back in 1977, we always strive for excellence in all areas of our business. It is, of course, an honor to make the list, along with so many respected companies, and we here at JCP appreciate all the clients we’ve consulted with to help them build their teams and the candidates who trusted us to help them take the steps in their careers.

As CEO and President, I am very proud of our team that works hard to continue the legacy my parents began over 40 years ago. People make companies great, and I am thankful every day for the people on the Joseph Chris Partners team.

Congratulations to our friends in the industry who were recognized as well.

Now, back to the phones!

Veronica Ramirez

It’s not about placements; it’s about relationships and commitment.

I can’t believe in two months I will have been with Joseph Chris Partners Executive Search for 16 years. Wow, what a ride it has been! 16 of some of the best years of my life, and still going strong.

Thinking back over those 16 years made me decide I might share what made all those years worth it for me, even during the downturn, with all of you. There are so many “recruiters” out there; some call them “Head Hunters”
( I don’t know about you, but I have never “hunted heads” in my life!). But back to my point… in general, those individuals who just throw paper at clients to see what sticks leave the rest of us with a really bad taste in our mouths.

What is it they say? KISS: “Keep it Simple Stupid”. For myself and my ilk, it’s not about making placements. Sure, we all need to eat, but I have never considered myself in sales. Our founder and former CEO used to love to argue that I was most definitely in sales, and when it comes down to it, of course that is true; but I have never in 16 years felt like I was selling anything!

When you choose the right companies to work for, and you know that company inside and out, and you truly believe in them, their culture, and consider yourself an extension of that company, there isn’t anything to sell. All that is needed is honesty and the rest falls into place. I spend face-to-face time with my clients whenever possible. I have crawled through homes under construction and put mud boots on during rainy land development days. I become a part of their team.

Many times, I have foregone placements. When I discover something, or have a feeling that something isn’t right with someone I have already presented, I will tell my clients point blank: “Hey, I know I sent this person to you, and I know you like them, but I am now letting you know that I no longer have faith in them and I am advising you not to hire him or her.” That kind of committed partnership with your clients is why most of the clients I have, I have had for going on decades, and the new ones that I get, I keep.

Same thing on the candidate side. Most of my clients started out as my candidates or came to me through referrals. I treat my clients and candidates as if they were part of my family. I know all about their spouses and children, even their pets, hobbies, and passions. I truly care about putting a company and a candidate together that will be a forever relationship. Who wants to do a replacement search? I guarantee my candidates. Fortunately, I’ve only had three replacement searches in 16 years out of hundreds of placements.

So, always keep it real, and remember to just KISS.

HOME BUILDING’S YEAR IN REVIEW: 2017

What a year it has been for Home Building!  With the market really starting to bounce back, we have been very busy this, Joseph Chris Partners’ 40th year in business.

It has been the year of mergers and acquisitions.  We saw Lennar, America’s #2 ranked home builder, put up $5.7MM to acquire CalAtlantic, the nation’s fifth largest home builder; which very recently was the product of a Standard Pacific Homes and Ryland Homes merger itself.  Lennar is now the largest home builder by revenue and is in 24 of the top 30 housing markets across the U.S.

We saw Century Communities grow by leaps and bounds with multiple acquisitions across the country including UPC and Sundquist Homes, and they also went through an IPO.

We also saw Starwood Capital compete with DR Horton to acquire Forestar, a mixed-use, residential builder based in Austin, Texas.  Ultimately, DR Horton won the game.

And just last month, we saw Invitation Homes merge with Starwood Waypoint; the combined public company will continue operations under the Invitation Homes name.  And, Mattamy Homes announced their acquisition of Royal Oaks Building Group in the Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, market.   Royal Oaks is the largest privately-owned builder in the Raleigh-Durham area and the fifth-largest builder overall in the market; the operations are expected to be completely combined by Mid-2018.

But 2017 was not without its challenges in home building; specifically, builders everywhere struggled with labor shortages.  According to The Brookings Institution:

“More than 32 million workers are employed in highly digital jobs, while nearly 66 million work in medium-       digital positions, and 41 million work in low-digital ones. Indeed, there has been a massive increase in the share of highly digital jobs between 2002 and 2016, when these jobs jumped from less than five percent to nearly a quarter of all U.S. jobs. Over the same period, the share of medium-digital jobs increased from roughly 40 to 48 percent, while the share of low-digital roles declined significantly, from 56 percent to 30 percent. Roughly two-thirds of new jobs created since 2010 required either high- or medium-level digital skills, and some 4 million, or 30 percent, required highly digital skills.”

Builder Online.Com stated: “Anyone still wondering why young people are not breaking down the doors to sign up to be construction laborers, who rank among the “low-digital” competence occupations?”

We at Joseph Chris have seen this struggle with our clients across the country daily throughout the past several years.  Not enough people entered the industry during the long, drawn-out downturn, and home builders are having to get creative to find the talent they need.

All in all, though, 2017 has been a great year!  Joseph Chris Partners celebrated its 40th Birthday and the year kept us all very busy.  So far, things are looking even better for 2018!

Turn Kings Harbor Blue: A Vision in Blue

CEO Veronica Ramirez has a giving heart, and she has always wanted Joseph Chris Partners to be a company that gives back to the community.  I still remember the meeting where Turn Kings Harbor Blue was born several years ago.  After the team decided we wanted to show appreciation for the local enforcement officers that keep our families safe every day, the real work of organizing the event began.  And Senior Recruiter Dawn Bahan was exactly what we needed to drive Turn Kings Harbor Blue to be the success it is today.

 

Dawn, whose father Dennis Dunn was a Captain in the Gretna, Louisiana, Police Department until his passing almost 4 years ago, poured her passion and love for the bravery and sacrifices of our law enforcement officers and their families into the event, working almost a second full-time job leading up to the event’s first launch in November of 2015.  Dawn coordinated with the local law enforcement offices, local business owners and community leaders to organize a free concert for our community, packed with free gifts and food for our local law enforcement officers and their families.  Kings Harbor literally turned blue, thanks to strands of blue lights decorating all the trees and participants in the event cracking hundreds of blue glow sticks at sundown.  The first year was a huge success, and something JCP vowed to support for years to come.

 

This year is a special year for our community, with so many of our neighbors suffering the effects of Hurricane Harvey.  Our office and other Kings Harbor businesses and residences were badly flooded, and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to host our event as we have the past two years.  But Veronica and Dawn and Tiffany Kenton, JCP Project Assistant, didn’t give up, and worked tirelessly with the property management team and leaders in the community to make Turn Kings Harbor Blue a celebration of the strength and resilience of our community, and an opportunity to thank law enforcement and first responders who gave so much during Harvey and afterwards.

 

Turn Kings Harbor Blue promises to be an amazing event, with vendors, food trucks, live music and special guests, and all are welcome to come celebrate with us.  More information about the event can be found here:  https://www.facebook.com/TurnKingsHarborBlue/TKHB

We are World Champions, and we are #HoustonStrong

I have tried to like baseball several times in my adult life. People have tried to make me like baseball several times in my adult life. I got quizzed on baseball trivia and forced to play in a fantasy league to make me pay attention to games.

 
(NOTE: I saw Keuchel pitch his first game ever with the Astros and added him to my roster, and I picked up Correa later in the season when he got called up).

 
But nothing ever made me care about the game.

 
Nothing until I watched this team.

 
As everyone in Houston and, by now, the country, knows, there’s something special about this team. They play the way I imagine the greats once played: with heart, and not for a big, fat paycheck.

 
Not that they don’t deserve the big paychecks.

 
But they play because they truly love it. They never give up because they can’t. From the first post-season game I saw to Game 7 last night, I always felt that they were doing it for us. For Houston.

 

And everyone felt the same way.  Friends and family, our own JCP Team, everyone was texting, calling, sharing pictures and excitement on social media!  Even friends outside of the city and state, our own midwestern office was up late right alongside us, cheering on this team!!

world series champs
When a team is able to mobilize an entire city and beyond, bring the never-before-cared-about-baseball people, like me, out in droves to buy orange and blue and to schedule their lives around games, that team is once-in-a-lifetime special.

 
So even though I’m a new fan, I’m celebrating this win today alongside everyone else in my great city.
My first act is finally throwing my lucky shirt in the washing machine. And I’m headed out at lunch to see if the lines at Academy have gone down yet. I need one of those hats to wear to the parade Friday. And then I have to track down the lady at my nail salon who told me yesterday she was the reason they lost on Tuesday. She had been eating pizza the last two wins, and Tuesday, she had a Caesar salad. So she was getting pizza last night to make sure we won. I’m guessing she got her pizza, and I want to give her a hug for helping us bring that trophy home.

 
To the most amazing team in the world…y’all stole our hearts, you captured our imagination, you allowed us to dream and hope, you reaffirmed our faith in the goodness and purity of the game, you inspired countless kids and kids at heart, you never stopped trying, you made us so proud, and you will be a long-standing symbol of what makes us #HoustonStrong.

 
We love you guys!!

A Portrait in Strength: A Tribute to Founder Victoria Ramirez

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It’s hard to miss with all the pink everywhere, and it’s amazing how many people and organizations have mobilized to work towards early detection and cure of this disease that women have a 1 in 8 chance of getting.

 
And in looking around at the people I know personally who have battled the disease, I feel like it’s even higher. It seems women are getting diagnosed younger and younger, and tragically, dying younger and younger as well.

 

VictoriaWe at Joseph Chris Partners are extremely grateful that our founder, Victoria Ramirez, won her battle with breast cancer. Victoria co-founded our company back in 1977 with her husband, Joe Ramirez, in the garage of their first house. Our President and CEO remembers helping her mom stuff envelopes with materials about the company when she was just a young girl. Being raised in a family driven to succeed through hard work, determination, and a “never give up” attitude, and witnessing her mother’s contributions to Joseph Chris Partners made Veronica Ramirez the woman and leader she is today.

 
Veronica has always been very close to her family, and her mother, particularly. So when they received the news in 2015 that Victoria had breast cancer, Veronica was, understandably devastated. Her sweet and precious mom who has always been a fighter was now in for the fight of her life, and Veronica was ready to be with her every step of the way, from initial diagnosis to surgery and treatment and to finally, the day when Victoria rang that bell signifying she was cancer free!

 
Victoria knew she would beat it. She used the same hard work, the same determination, the same “never give up” attitude that she used to help create a very successful business to attack her attacker and win the war with cancer.
She was one of the lucky ones, and with more support and awareness, we hope someday soon, everyone who receives that diagnosis will ring the bell the way Victoria did. There are so many resources available to help share information on early detection and treatment of this disease. A quick Google search will lead you to that information, but the Komen Foundation has a helpful list of places to turn for help with things like questions to ask your doctor, and a glossary of breast cancer terms here: https://ww5.komen.org/AboutBreastCancer/ToolsandResources/ToolsResources.html

 
Victoria was vigilant about early detection and sought medical help right away. It saved her life. So we’re thankful for all of the resources available to encourage people to stay vigilant about their own health, be aware of warning signs, and get to a doctor if you suspect anything might be wrong.

 
This month, we celebrate Victoria and other survivors, we stand with those presently fighting breast cancer and their loved ones, and we remember those who have lost people dear to them to the disease. Our hope is that Breast Cancer Awareness Month will be something our children and grandchildren just read about because we’ve finally made this cancer history!!

The Importance of a Disaster Recovery Plan

Office floodRecently, our company and community experienced historic levels of rainfall from Hurricane Harvey. My office building was flooded and the community got lots of media attention. As the storm approached the decision was made to close our offices and relocate operations.

We had a plan and were prepared for events that altered the daily activities of our company. It took less than 30 minutes to shut down the company’s home office operations. Employees and tenants in the building were all vacating. The computers were removed, servers disconnected and were relocated to our CEO’s home. In an hour all operations were up and running.

Our next step included uninterrupted phone contact between our clients and the company, our data is stored in the cloud, software was preloaded on everyone’s laptop allowing employee access from anywhere. Our level of service to our clients was seamless and we did not let anyone down.

Our company has been operating from a satellite office for weeks and we hope to return to our offices next month. I would guess that if I didn’t share this information I doubt anyone would know we moved.

A good disaster plan for a small business is crucial. This event demonstrated to me the importance of preparation. I have seen people panic when their laptop didn’t boot-up. Imagine what could happen if the entire company couldn’t boot up!

Every plan should include having access to your data, technology and the ability to maintain a productive working environment. Restoring operations quickly is crucial to the bottom line and maintaining the highest level of quality and service for the people you do business with.

How good is your disaster plan?

Harvey and Irma’s Impact will be felt by our industry for a long time

Sitting on the sidelines in a safe, dry, place was, believe it or not, no easy task for me during Hurricane Harvey. Our Corporate Offices in Kingwood, Texas, are out of order for months to come, and concern for family, friends and co-workers dominated my daily thoughts. Luckily, everyone at Team JCP was safe, and although getting back to work with no office is an adjustment that has been challenging in many ways, it’s a challenge Team JCP can handle! We are 40 years old this year after all….

 
On top of all of that, being in the industry ourselves, we are seeing clients and friends that have been devastated in both Houston and Florida. We have yet to know Irma’s real impact on Florida right now but many will face difficulties for a long time.

 
Apartments in both markets are sure to fill up fast. Brand new homes that have been lost are going to be terrible burdens for both builders and homeowners. And the demand for remodeling in all sectors–single family, multi-family, retail and commercial (we have fish in our 3rd floor offices)–is going to be very high, not to mention costly and most likely slower than anyone would like, just to be sure things are done properly and safely. Standing water and electricity don’t exactly mix. “Tough and Dirty jobs” as Mike Rowe would say, but jobs that will be in very high demand in both markets for a long time to come with money to be made.

 
Team JCP stands at the ready for our clients and candidates. Together we will work hard to turn things around and maybe, just maybe, bring the country closer together while we are at it. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful ending?!

 

Houston flood

Irma

America at its best

Americans are tough and resilient.

The people launching boats from my front yard came from all over the country to search for and to rescue my stranded neighbors, friends, and even their pets from very dangerous flood waters.  In many cases, the rescuers were  not professionals but regular people, using their own watercraft, including kayaks and canoes to rescue people from second story windows and rooftops.

With our office building flooded, Veronica Ramirez, our CEO,  generously paid her employees in the days  following the flood, not to work from home, but to work on projects to help people in the massive cleanup effort that is ongoing.

I am incredibly proud of the people of Houston,  my coworkers and the very brave people, who came to our rescue.

This is the America I know and love.  This is America at its best!Mark's yard