What Makes a Well-Rounded Construction Professional?

• Diane Stephan
• Senior Project Coordinator
• Rafn Company

At the heart of the Rafn Company’s mission statement is “Building Success for our People”. One of the key elements of our approach to obtaining our mission is to foster learning, teaching, and constant improvement. At Rafn this is a combination of safety, craft training, employee development, and green education. Continue reading for our take on how each contributes to creating a well-rounded construction professional.

Safety Training

Rafn is “Serious About Safety” so safety training comes first. With over 30 different trainings provided to our employees, we strive to make trainings easy for our employees to get to and easy to track. To keep production up and minimize travel time, our staff is often trained at their project site. Some trainings are driven by specific project needs which may include anything from flagging, to forklift operation, to rigging, to lift directing and everything in between.

Safety isn’t just about operating equipment properly. A safe employee is knowledgeable about the harmful effects of lead, asbestos, and silica and is trained in the safe handling of such materials. They are also trained in first aid, AED, and CPR so that they can assist in a medical emergency.

“The trainings we have done, the interaction by the team members shows that there is value. Over time, people tend to become complacent and let their guard drop, so it’s important to have these reminders. Some topics are newer, such as silica, so there is a lot of new information to be absorbed and it will be important to continue to train to help the learning curve. Training does take time away from project productivity, but that is offset by the fact that any injuries that are prevented is a greater offset.”

Todd Morran - Rafn Superintendent

The final piece of safety training is the ability to track all Rafn’s certifications. Our web-based system features a one stop opportunity for our management staff or inspector to see what certifications each of our employees has. It also allows Rafn supervisors to easily be aware of which employee certifications will be expiring soon so they can arrange for that needed training.

Craft Training

The diversity of our field crews creates an efficient construction project which saves time and money. Being open shop, our multi-skilled craftspeople can move from concrete to wood framing, to finish work - whatever it takes to provide the best value and keep the project on schedule. Being flexible is key to a successful project and allows us to implement backup plans immediately should the need arise. Our worker’s diverse skills and backgrounds allow us to utilize our crews to self-perform work where we can provide maximum value to our projects.

“Training our people results in great career commitment and satisfaction. For the company as a whole, training has helped us grow in both ability and revenue.”

Shawn Rhode - Rafn CEO

One avenue of training is through the Construction Industry Training Council (CITC). CITC is a vocational trade school that also has an apprenticeship and training program for the construction industry. Jack Rafn was a founding member at CITC, the State approved merit shop apprenticeship program. His involvement has been followed by Rafn’s CEO, Shawn Rhode, who remains an active Board participant at CITC. Gregg George, a Senior Superintendent at Rafn, was in the first class to graduate through CITC’s four-year program nearly 30 years ago. Rafn Company remains a State Approved Training agent and graduates apprentices through the program every year.

Another training source for construction employees is the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) which provides construction management education including topics such as human relations, problem solving, safety, quality control, planning, and scheduling. The ABC also has their Rising Star Program that several up-and-coming Rafn employees have taken to hone their leadership skills and become empowered with the tools necessary to become better leaders within their project teams.

Employee Development

Employee development can come in many forms: day to day interactions, reading an article, watching a webinar, or attending a class or conference. Education is not limited to the technical but can include everyday concepts such as time management and communication. Part of Rafn’s mission to keep employees up to date on their education is by requiring 32 credit hours of employee development per calendar year. We have education and trainings throughout the year including: reading or writing an article, an internal mentorship program, a yearly retreat for Project Managers and Superintendents, webinars, conferences, and software/technology classes. Employee development is part of Rafn’s commitment to ongoing learning, teaching, and constant improvement in our mission to build success.

“In the leadership trainings that I have been participating, the most important lesson that I took away or reinforced is how important making the “human connection” is. The more connected with your people, the smoother everything runs. With all the technology and tools we have, people are still what makes it all run. It has made the jobs I’ve been on much more enjoyable and more productive.”

Keegan Kutschia - Rafn Assistant Superintendent

Sustainable Building Certification

A green building is created not only from green design, but also from green construction and a well-rounded construction professional should be a valuable resource for their clients in building high-performance sustainable buildings. At Rafn, our Green Advantage Certificated staff has demonstrated general knowledge, comprehension, and the ability to analyze green construction concepts, materials, and practices by passing the Green Advantage (GA) Exam. The three-year renewable certification is designed to enhance project collaboration, increase the ability to meet or exceed environmental goals, and is a meaningful way for our staff to show their commitment to sustainable building.

“I think that all owners, architects, and subcontractors would be more inclined to work with, and continue to work with, a contractor that continues to educate and train employees in all aspects of the trade.”

Chris Taylor - Rafn Assistant Superintendent

Rafn was the first contractor in the region to train its entire supervisory staff in the Green Advantage certification program. The Green Advantage certification is the longest standing green building certification targeted specifically to construction field personnel across trades. The program gives emphasis to construction field practices as they relate to the role that construction personnel have in improving the environmental and health attributes of the built environment.

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