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Careers in Construction Month 84 Lumber Spotlights Dynamic Job Opportunities


 

Written by: 84 Lumber

Photography courtesy 84 Lumber


Working at an 84 Lumber store may not be the typical route to working in construction, but 84 Lumber, the nation’s largest privately held building materials supplier, is anything but typical.


“It’s no secret that the construction industry is facing a severe shortage of skilled workers. What’s less known is that the way into construction may not always be with a builder or contractor,” said Ken Kucera, vice president of installed sales and manufacturing, 84 Lumber.


Primarily known as an industry leader in building supplies and services for single- and multi-family residences and commercial buildings, 84 Lumber also operates component plants, door shops, installation centers, and wood product shops. It offers kitchen and bath design services. The stores themselves carry a variety of building materials including siding, decking, windows, trim, roofing, and trusses. It’s where builders and industry pros not only get supplies, but also the help they need to solve the challenge of securing skilled, reliable teams to complete installation.


“Over the last decade, construction jobs have steadily increased, even during economic downturns,” said Kucera, who leads 84 Lumber’s strategy and implementation for growing the components manufacturing business across the country.


“According to the National Center for Construction Education, 40 percent of the current construction workforce will retire by 2031, so the need for skilled workers is showing no signs of slowing. What’s really key for the next generation are the opportunities – a career in construction doesn’t have to be limited to a job site… the task of building America requires workers with many different types of skill sets and career goals.”


“Building a meaningful career is possible with any level of education,” adds Kucera. With internships, mentorships, and good management trainee programs, such as the one offered by 84 Lumber, you can customize the path for your career in construction. “If you’re good with your hands, great; if you have a way with people, consider sales. Any background or talent has a place in the construction industry,” said Kucera.


84 Lumber exemplifies the idea that the construction industry isn’t just about bricks and mortar: it’s about building careers and futures. Associates Chris Cox, divisional installed sales manager at 84 Lumber, and Brandon McGavitt, repairs and enhancements coordinator, highlight the diverse career paths available.


Chris Cox’s journey into the construction industry began in 2003 when he transferred from Coastal Carolina University to study Construction Management at Horry Georgetown Tech in Conway, South Carolina. He started as an intern at Centex Homes and quickly progressed to become a field superintendent. In 2008, after Pulte Homes acquired Centex Homes, Cox continued his career as a superintendent, this time in Charlotte, North Carolina. Following his years of industry experience, Cox moved to 84 Lumber in 2012. Over the past 11 years, Cox has received three promotions, establishing a rewarding career with 84 Lumber.


Brandon McGavitt, on the other hand, took a different path into the construction industry. With a degree in management information systems from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, he initially worked in IT at 84 Lumber for about two years. However, his passion for construction led him to seize a job opportunity as a repairs and enhancements coordinator in the real estate and development department in March 2022. McGavitt appreciates the dynamic nature of the construction field, the fast-paced environment, and the camaraderie with like-minded individuals who share the same blue-collar work ethic.


The Construction Industry is “Never Dull”


Both Cox and McGavitt share a love for the constant change and fast-paced nature of the construction industry. They appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with dedicated teams and to see the tangible impact of their efforts.


“Every day is something new. The construction industry changes almost daily,” said Cox. “It’s the change that motivates you daily, and the best part is, you can be part of the change, too.”


“There literally isn’t a dull moment, and we change gears on a dime. Priorities shift and plans change, and we just adjust to it,” said McGavitt. “It’s hard work, no doubt, but it is rewarding. At the end of the day, you can leave knowing you accomplished something. Honestly, it’s not for everyone and that’s okay. But if you aren’t scared of hard work and have the drive to make something of yourself, this company will reward you for that.”


The construction industry, with its hands-on experience and visible results, offers a unique form of job satisfaction. Completing projects that positively impact communities gives a sense of accomplishment that fuels people’s passion for construction.


“What I love most about my job,” said Cox, “is the opportunity to build and lead special teams that exceed both internal and external customer expectations.” He also finds immense satisfaction in witnessing his teams embrace the 84 Lumber culture.


“84 Lumber has always put its people first. Our culture drives us to work hard, exceed customer expectations, and collaborate as one team across all departments,” said Cox.

McGavitt echoes this sentiment, describing the moment he knew that this would be his lifelong career with a store manager telling him he could be someone in this company.


“He wrote an email to several of my bosses at the time and just told them that I could be/do something great at this company, and I’ve never forgotten that.”


For those interested in a career in construction, Cox offers valuable advice:

“Be humble, let your hard work and work ethic do the ladder climbing. Learn to listen; and what I mean by that is really engage a mentor early on. Learn the tasks of others that support your position. In other words, have humility. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Make mistakes but learn from them. Lastly, never take your work home. Work/life balance in the construction industry is key to a long successful career.”


For information on career opportunities at 84 Lumber locations across the country, visit: https://www.84lumber.com/careers/current-openings/

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