BYC Sept '19 "Spotlight Series" Member: Barnhill Contracting Company
This month’s BYC “Spotlight Series” shines on Barnhill Contracting, Carolinas AGC members since 1950. Robert E. Barnhill, Sr. and R.W. Long founded Barnhill & Long Construction in 1949 using surplus army equipment and machinery purchased from the government after WWII. In 1952, Robert Barnhill, Sr. purchased his partner’s stock and established Barnhill Contracting Company. The company is a family-owned and operated general contracting firm specializing in commercial building, civil infrastructure and transportation services. Barnhill is also one of the largest producers of asphalt in North Carolina, with 15 production plants operating throughout the state. The firm provides public, private and federal construction services across the Southeast. Barnhill Contracting is proudly celebrating their 70th year in business and has successfully grown from being a small, two-man operation to a massive company boasting over 1,150 employees.
Since Barnhill was founded, the company has been deeply involved in countless community-based outreach initiatives geared toward promoting construction education and career awareness to students and adults of all ages. From being active in the Build Your Career workforce development initiative and leading construction-related career fairs at local K-12 schools, Community Colleges and 4-year Universities across NC, to partnering with the NCDOT to develop an OJT program targeted to attract groups of displaced workers, Barnhill Contracting is a shining example of how our CAGC members are giving back to the industry that has given so much to them!
From their early beginnings, Barnhill Contracting Company recognized the long-term value in educating future generations of workers about the benefits of pursuing careers in the construction industry. They also realized the key to the success of the company was a direct result of ensuring the satisfaction of their valued employees by developing a strong commitment to fostering professional development. Being deeply-rooted in this fundamental philosophy, Barnhill has diligently worked to develop a company culture based on being very “intentional” about understanding the needs of their employees and engaging with them at all levels—ultimately increasing retention rates and company growth. The Barnhill “Values-Based Leadership Initiative” is a company cornerstone based on this intentional plan of action and serves as a conduit of communication between Barnhill employees and upper management of the company.
Barnhill was founded by a true entrepreneur who believed in the power of people. They have taken that vision and integrated it into every facet of their business. Becky Felton, Corporate Communications Director for Barnhill Contracting, commented on the longevity of the company and the importance of companies promoting different ways of thinking to develop and encourage a sense of inclusion amongst their employees: “We have been around for 70 years and in that time, we have watched our employees build fantastic careers here – many starting in the field, honing their trade and moving into management. Our Values-Based Leadership initiative supports our mission in the field by equipping employees, from management to first-line team members, with real-world tools to enable better leadership from the ground up.”
Although Barnhill Contracting is a recent addition to the ever-growing team of BYC Ambassadors, they have already become huge advocates and supporters of our Build Your Career program by nominating several company representatives to serve as BYC Ambassadors. Erin Rolandelli, Director of Corporate and Community Outreach at Barnhill, played an instrumental role in working with BYC Program Director, Tammy Ford, to organize an upcoming onsite Ambassador orientation kickoff training session with a large group of Barnhill employees from each of their operating divisions.
Jimmie Hughes, Vice President of Human Resources at Barnhill Contracting commented on why their company decided to become so actively involved with the CAGC Foundation’s Build Your Career program by stating: “We are happy to partner with the Carolinas AGC in the Build Your Career initiative and are proud to be a member of such a proactive industry trade organization that recognizes the importance of workforce development. The construction industry is rapidly changing, and it is up to us to take the lead and develop partnerships that will help fill gaps in the workforce of the future, whether that is promoting careers in construction or partnering to provide training opportunities.”
When asked what benefits their company has seen thus far from developing partnerships with local community and technical colleges and organizations like CAGC and Build Your Career, Erin Rolandelli stated, “We understand how vital workforce development is to our industry as we continue to move forward so we recognize the importance of educating today’s students on the robust career opportunities available in the construction industry. Partnering with other organizations like CAGC’s Build Your Career Program provides us with even more opportunities to expand our education efforts to hopefully put an end to the construction labor shortage.” Barnhill Contracting Employee Relations and HR Teams routinely partner with local school systems to provide students with insight into the career opportunities available in the construction industry. The company also regularly sends their Employee Ambassadors into individual classrooms, attend career days and fairs in several NC schools, and frequently host site tours and educational events representing each of their division areas.
Barnhill Contracting Company has established a very respectable practice of promoting inclusion and diversity in their recruitment and hiring efforts by targeting various groups of displaced workers to provide these individuals with ongoing educational training and employment opportunities. Barnhill currently has 23 participants in their OJT Program partnership through the NCDOT—a program targeted to attracting minorities, women and disadvantaged individuals who have been historically underrepresented in highway construction-skilled crafts. The program, which is funded by the Federal Highway Administration, provides one-on-one workplace training that is focused on the skills, knowledge and competencies an employee needs to master to be better skilled for a specific job.
Carolinas AGC President and CEO, Dave Simpson, commended Barnhill Contracting Company for their “out of the box thinking” as they continue promoting workforce development on behalf of our industry and for being such avid BYC supporters by stating: “A huge congrats to Barnhill Contracting for being named as the BYC “Spotlight Series” CAGC member for September in the monthly newsletter. We are excited to see more of our General Contractors getting involved with the Build Your Career program and Barnhill is definitely paving the way for many more of our valued members to follow their lead!”
Aside from their involvement with the CAGC Foundation’s Build Your Career program, Barnhill is also deeply ingrained in numerous workforce development efforts throughout North Carolina. They are devoted to facilitating educational, training and employment placement opportunities for new, skilled workers entering our industry as they continue “giving back” to the communities they’ve helped build for over 70 years. To mention only a select few of the noteworthy workforce development projects the company has been involved with to promote construction careers:
Junior Achievement of the Carolinas in Charlotte
BizTown Volunteer Partner
Boys and Girls Club of Wake County in Raleigh, NC and Mecklenburg county in Charlotte, NC
Led an all-day workforce development workshop and career dream board activities
Wake Forest HS Design and Construction Academy
Assisted with events and Academy Program; help students obtain internships, co-ops and job shadowing, support SHED competition
hosted Career Fair days at local NC K-12 schools
Also hosting student attendees at several plant locations in NC for site tours
NC State/ECU/Clemson construction Technology forums
Educating students about technology in the industry (NC State/ECU), BIM in Practice Lecture at Clemson, NC State and ECU, Co-ops during year with BIM Department for students at NC State
Carolinas AGC, the CAGC Foundation and its Build Your Career workforce development initiative salute Barnhill Contracting Company for their dedication and commitment to helping us put an end to the labor shortage in the construction industry! Through educational partnerships and outreach efforts designed to continue promoting construction careers to future generations of workers, our Carolinas AGC member firms truly continue to set the gold standard in our industry for what it takes to sustain it for many years to come.
For more information about Barnhill Contracting or career opportunities at their company, please visit their website at www.barnhillcontracting.com to obtain more details. To learn more about Build Your Career or to volunteer to become a BYC Ambassador, please visit our website or contact BYC Director, Tammy Ford, at (704) 995-3901 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.