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As we continue our series on the importance of multi-cultural leadership, we chose to speak to several KPOST Company Latino leaders. These people are some of the first to complete leadership training and implement those teachings both in their professional and personal lives.

“We recognize how important it is to invest in our people; doing so through multi-cultural education has resulted in positive dividends for KPOST. Our leadership team is stronger and our ability to create a more positive work environment has created higher operational efficiencies,” said Brent McFarlin, KPOST Company Vice President. “The results are nothing short of amazing!”

Read on and see for yourself!

Enrique Rodríguez – KPOST Company Project Coordinator

“Through this series, I really had my eyes opened to the possibilities of what I can do. Now I have a different perspective on what it is to be a great leader,” said Enrique. So what does it mean to be a great leader?

For Enrique, it means to invest time in developing others. He knows that being a great leader means being a great follower, and investing time to develop himself and others. It takes commitment and discipline to become a good leader, to take time to grow and to spend time helping others reach their goals.

“In our culture, we work hard and are protective of what we have accomplished. That creates an environment that does not allow for teaching others to become better,” said Enrique. “Now I am secure in the fact that I can lead others, teaching them to be better than me, and still keep everything I have, or even gain more, from guiding others to reach their full potential.”

Enrique chose to truly walk in his new found lessons of leadership. He implemented many of the same teachings at home, where he now has a slightly different attitude on being a role model for his family.

“We spend more time discussing books and reading. Plus we are very focused on how we spend our time together,” he said. “We eat healthier and work toward being our best selves all the time, not just at work.”

Part of Enrique’s transformation is he now knows that anything is possible. He believes he is part of the solution, rather than just a piece in the overall puzzle. Now he really pushes himself to move beyond his comfort zone so he can continue his growth while helping others realize their potential.

“We were asked to pick our three gifts. Honestly, I never really gave it much thought before, but realized how important it is to understand,” he stated. “My gifts are communication, bilingual particularly, empathy and problem solving. Now I keep these top of mind so I can serve others more readily.”

Enrique has noticed an immediate change throughout his team:

“Everyone has noticed the new approach I’ve taken, particularly since I make it a point to have one-on-one conversations so we can discuss how everyone can improve. I show everyone the same respect and they are striving to become better.” He went on to say “This type of behavior and focus is unusual for our industry. At KPOST, we believe in investing in our people.”

Rosa Garcia – KPOST Company Operations Administration

“I recognize that we all have a lot to learn from each other. When people from Latin countries immigrate to the U.S., we want to maintain our culture while still learning about the culture in the U.S.,” said Rosa Garcia. “One thing I did learn from the courses was that it does not matter who you are, if you become a leader you should stay focused on treating everyone the same. You should work to be humble.”

Rosa recognizes the difficulties of having to lead by example, both at work and at home, but fully understands the need to walk the talk.

“I don’t think that everyone is cut out to be a leader,” she stated. “Leadership is for those people who really want to grow with others and learn about other people’s goals.”

Rosa knows that being a leader starts at home, and she is leading her son to become a better parent by teaching him to earn respect from his children. Raised by a single parent, Rosa has 5 siblings and watched her mother act as the leader of her family.

“My mom was my everything – role model, leader, and parent. She taught me to lead by example and now I ensure my children understand the same.”

Rosa realizes that leadership is not just something you do at work, but a way of life, a way of thinking that encompasses everything you do. That became even more apparent when the team was discussing role models, such as Mother Teresa.

“I did not really know that much about her life and how she dedicated herself 100% to others. That had a real impact on me. You do not see people who are willing to dedicate everything they have to helping others like Mother Teresa.”

Rosa has always worked to be the type of person who thinks of others before herself. She thinks about how she can be a better person every day.

“It’s in my DNA to be humble, but honestly I never thought about the positive impact that might have on others,” said Rosa. “I now realize the result that can have on those around me, and am appreciative to be part of the team chosen to participate in the training.”

Luciano Perez – KPOST Company Safety Manager

“After the training, I am much better equipped to understand the role of a leader, how to navigate the Anglo culture, and how important it is to have good communication skills,” said Luciano Perez. “It was a good experience and really made us feel like a more integral part of the company.”

Luciano has to interact with varying types of people in his role, including team members, customers and executives. By having a better understanding of the differences between the Latino and Anglo cultures, Luciano feels better prepared to handle his duties at KPOST.

Luciano also understands the significance of this type of cultural integration, particularly from a leadership standpoint.

“The Latino community is growing and makes up a large segment of the construction industry, particularly in the worker section,” said Luciano. “This program really helped us understand the perspective of the owners and C-Suite leadership team, enabling us to perpetuate a positive corporate message. This certainly helps the Latino employees feel more a part of the organization.”

Luciano had several key takeaways that he feels are areas for growth and opportunity; namely, negotiation and persuasion skills and communication.

“For me, it’s very important to learn how to communicate up and down and ranks. Additionally, learning better persuasion skills enables me to create a win-win scenario more frequently,” he stated.

Luciano also uses his new-found skills outside of the office, particularly the interpretation of body language.

“It gave me a new perspective – a bigger picture to work with. Now I can better interpret body language and learn how to read other people. This helps me to understand the right time to approach someone rather than having to guess.”

The biggest “a-ha” moment for Luciano was learning how to change his mentality to be one of service to others. He has learned that it is important to build a level of respect by choosing differently.

“Leaders live in a glass house. Everything you say, how you dress, how you approach a situation makes a difference. Using slang terms and dressing down no longer work,” Luciano said. “Now I make a point to talk to others about what their potential is and what they can do to move forward. It’s about building others.”

Luciano is taking a financial class and is excited to be learning and continuing to grow. He knows it is important to lead from a place of integrity and that this is a journey.

“We know that other roofing contractors are not providing this type of growth opportunity for their people. KPOST is pioneering this program to develop stronger Latino leaders, making them more valuable to the company overall,” said Luciano. “The more we learn, the more we can commit to quality and leadership.”

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Recently KPOST Company embarked upon a new type of training and coaching program – one of aligning the varying cultures that are a part of their every-day environment, namely the Latino and U.S. cultures. To ensure the process was handled with care, KPOST executives partnered with Ricardo Gonzalez, Founder and CEO of Bilingual America. The outcome was parallel training sessions with five KPOST executives and five Latino leaders identified by the KPOST executive team to begin the journey toward developing a properly functioning multi-cultural environment.

In this, our first post on the subject, we discussed the nuances and importance of this type of training and coaching with Bilingual America CEO and founder Ricardo Gonzalez.

“It isn’t about diversity. Diversity to me is inclusion, acceptance. It’s important, but this training is about the management of the culture. Understanding the nuances of the way people think and what motivates them. How do you leverage them for the good of the organization but also for the good of the people?”

Understanding Cultures

Ricardo’s mantra is “You cannot lead people to the highest levels unless you understand them at their deepest levels.” This is the foundation for the training and coaching series he delivered to the KPOST team. By implementing their SuccesswithHispanics™ course, along with executive coaching sessions, Ricardo is able to educate on the Latino population beyond what is the basic diversity approach used for hiring. His system helps corporate leadership understand who the Latino people really are beyond just being workers. What are the trends? What and how do they think about American businesses? What are the nuances of the culture? Where is the culture going and how does this apply to business development? By answering these questions and understanding at a deeper level, companies like KPOST can be more effective at developing leadership programs.

“We learned a great deal about the differences between leadership roles in Latino cultures and the leadership and management styles used here in the U.S.,” said Steve Little, KPOST Company president. “Our new found understanding will certainly ensure we are able to create stronger development programs for all of our people.”

Cultural Cross-Pollination

“Embarking upon this type of change is not always simple or easy, but it is transformative for the organization,” said Ricardo. “We always work with people in an open, honest manner that is still very respectful for their specific company culture.”

Ricardo went on to say that culture can be sensitive or confusing, and for many in this country it is an emotionally charged subject. What his organization does is not political, but rather creates an open dialogue so that relationships can be developed effectively and all can prosper.

In addition to providing language training for executives, Bilingual America has two primary training opportunities for organizations that wish to embrace multi-cultural awareness. This is the same training that KPOST Company executives and team members underwent in the Fall of 2013 – Success with Hispanics designed for company leaders to engage in a deep understanding of the Latino people and Lideres Exitosos (Successful Leaders), a leadership development course that teaches Latinos how to be effective leaders in a U.S.-based company.

“The leadership training for Latinos covers character and ethics, communication, organizational and negotiation skills while providing an introduction to classic leadership themes,” said Ricardo. “This is often an initial introduction of these themes for many Latinos.”

For the non-Latinos, the training leaves them with techniques to understand multi-cultural management. While every tool may not be used at once, when you need it, the tool is at your disposal supporting opportunities to improve relationships for both Latinos and non-Latinos.

Impact is Very Positive

Ricardo believes that companies that invest in developing positive multi-cultural environments will benefit immensely, particularly those with large numbers of Latino employees. Some of the reasons include:

  • A better understanding of employees’ core values
  • A magnet for talent
  • Reducing accidents and improving safety
  • Expanding leadership development
  • Improving productivity

 

“When cultures are aligned correctly, retention is higher which positively impacts the bottom line,” said Ricardo. “When we can create positive change and are more profitable, it’s a good thing.”

He went on to say:

“For a business leader to care to the depth that KPOST has shown is impressive and necessary for the well-being of their company. Developing large numbers of Latino leaders who will be strong leaders in our companies and communities will only happen through business, not government initiatives. Businesses should have a vested interest in the success of the people who work for them. The ability to invest and hold people accountable is unique to a business environment and something that social initiatives cannot do.”

“Our teams are already excited about the additional possibilities this program brings to our business and are showing positive signs of renewed interest, collaboration and intent to help our organization grow,” said Steve.  “A greater understanding of each other’s core values creates stronger sustainability for KPost. We are thrilled with the results so far and look forward to continuing this journey.”

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From a less than stellar January jobs report, which showed 48,000 of the jobs added were in the construction industry, to stories on the large numbers of young people out of work – 15% of workers ages 16 to 24 according to one study – it makes you wonder what the economic future will be for younger generations in the U.S.

There is much discussion on this very topic in, of all places, the commercial roofing industry. Construction is one of the few industries that is adding jobs and continuing a high growth trajectory. Commercial construction is a significant percentage of that growth, begging an unusual question for young people. If you cannot obtain a solid career path in one of the “cool” technology or financial jobs, have you considered the sexy side of commercial roofing?

Commercial roofing may seem like an “old school” industry, but there are numerous benefits for someone who is up for the challenge, including:

  • Viability – as a growing industry, there is plenty of opportunity for the right person. Roofing is one of the four basic items of a building that needs continued maintenance.
  • Cross-Functional Talent – many of the talents that apply in other business such as accounting, supply chain management, IT services, management and marketing also apply to roofing.
  • Challenging – it is more complex than most people realize, with ever-changing technology government regulations and environmental conditions providing ample opportunities for growth.
  • Not Your Father’s Roofing – there is a method to performing commercial roofing beyond what the average person realizes. There are nuances to correctly estimating, construction and maintaining a commercial roof that is significantly beyond what you see in residential.

 

With the ability to find long-term career paths, something hard to come by in 2014, make good money and receive regular challenges, why wouldn’t young people consider a career in roofing?

According to Steve Little, KPOST Company Head Coach, there is more than one challenge:

“The subcontracting industry is historically made up of generational companies. Typically young people would follow their father’s footsteps into the family business. Unfortunately, it seems today that the children are more interested in computers and not going into the family business.”

Fortunately, Little, who is also the current President Midwest Regional Contractors Association (MRCA) collaborated with other commercial roofing contractors and industry associations, are tackling the challenges:

“It is important to create a subculture that makes roofing sexy. At the Midwest Regional Contractors Association, we started a Young Contractors Council and then asked the question ‘What we could do to make roofing more appealing’. It came down to understanding why they were in the industry, what would help make the industry more appealing, and then learning to speak their language.”

KPOST Company decided they should begin “at home,” and started recruiting younger people into all departments and divisions of the organization several years ago. Our GenX and GenY employees have a different and unique perspective on the commercial roofing industry, particularly with regard to how it impacts their future and the future of KPost Company.

Tracey Donels –KPost Company Service Manager

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According to Tracey, he was a “test case,” primarily because he did not have commercial roofing experience, but as a Gen Xer, has a college degree and had done some minor construction experience. He began in the field and worked his way up to his current position. According to Tracey, it was a great opportunity for him and he is committed to furthering his career.

He also wants to help other young people realize the benefits of a career in commercial roofing. He sits on the Young Contractors Council (YCC) at the Midwest Roofing Contractors Association (MRCA), which currently has 85 members and is growing. Their primary focus is to bridge the communication gap between the GenY and Baby Boomer generations, educate younger people who are in the roofing industry via specialized educational sessions and conferences and to generate a format to young contractors share best business practices . In addition, the YCC wants to provide the benefits of a career in commercial roofing to others with higher education who may not have considered it before.

“Often, when someone is interested in contracting, they choose a different path such as architect or general contractor. They often skip over the opportunities in the subcontractor industry like commercial roofing. We want to show how positive a career in our industry can be by helping other young people understand the career path and viability of being part of a subcontractor business,” said Tracey.

Recently the YCC has held special sessions at the annual MRCA conference. They have had panels of seasoned roofing contractors to a professor from the Kellogg School of Business who spoke on cross-generational management. Last year, the YCC added webinars to allow those who are unable to travel to the conference an opportunity to learn and grow.

“We want to continue improving our educational opportunities through the YCC. Obviously not all of the young people working in contracting have an opportunity to attend a conference, so by adding the webinars and other digital formats will help improve the abilities of young people around the country, our hope is that our efforts will draw more attendees to the conferences in the future,” said Tracey.

Having the opportunity to network with other commercial roofing companies and contractors across the country has strong benefits, according to Tracey.

“It’s amazing what you can learn just from talking to other people in your industry, even if they are competitors. We all have similar issues, and by sharing best practices and learning from others, not only are you a better employee, but you meet people in your age group. It’s powerful!”

Ryan Little – KPOST Company Project Management Department Head

Ryan came to KPOST Company just over four years ago to start a new project management department. He started in the field as a General Contractor superintendent, then a project engineer, estimating and finally project management. With vast experience working for a general contractor, Ryan was not new to construction, but moving to a large subcontractor doing commercial roofing was definitely a change.

“Most people don’t understand how technical commercial roofing is. You don’t see the top of a skyscraper. It is a completely different animal. Roofs provide thermal resistance, and are the primary insulating factor of the building. We have to ensure we work seamlessly with all the other subcontractors to ensure the best roof is installed,” said Ryan. “People don’t understand how intense and difficult it is.”

Ryan understands that it does not matter what industry you are in, you have to grow into your position. He certainly did so at KPOST by working in various areas before ramping up the project management department.

I find it very interesting and extremely challenging. Every job is different,” said Ryan.” We are tasked to keep water out of buildings which is the number one litigated problem in all of phases construction. It takes a team of dedicated people to execute the project to a mutually satisfying success of all parties.”

Ryan is active with the Young Contractors Council of TEXO, the largest commercial contractors association in Texas and one of the largest affiliated with the national Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. (ABC) and The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC).

The YCC meets monthly to network and enjoy education via speakers who provide information on everything from risk management to industry specific education. In addition, the YCC has Small Groups, which also meet monthly to have more intimate conversations on their various industries, their challenges, and how to improve their current situations.

Eleanor Berger – KPOST Company Service/Waterproofing Coordinator

Eleanor started her career in recruiting, a primarily female dominated industry, where she worked her way up to running the accounting office. But she wanted more.

“I was looking for a challenge when I ran across a job posting at KPOST. It looked interesting and really different, so I thought I would give it a shot,” said Eleanor. I have found it really fascinating. It’s a whole new world and I feel lucky to be a young person working in such an invigorating industry.”

Eleanor is dedicated to learning and growing, and has found opportunity to do so in KPOST Services Department. She originally started doing primarily administrative accounting work but in the last year she advanced to being responsible for scheduling (20 crews), ordering all materials, reviewing performance paperwork and communicating with customers – a significantly different role than her accounting job. However she is happy she made the switch and enjoys constantly learning and growing. According to Eleanor:

“In 3 to 5 years I’ll have a knowledge base you cannot buy – you have to learn. I’m happy to be with a company focused on youth and educating its employees. KPost is investing in me and my future and in turn I’m committed to growing the company”

Her advice to other young people considering a career in commercial roofing is this:

“It’s a world like you have never experienced. I feel that from a career perspective, this is the stuff that you day dream about. However, it’s not easy. You will only succeed if you are willing to give 100%.”

Eleanor enjoys her new-found career, stating she spends so much time with her co-workers they have become like family. With the constant changes, learning opportunities and consistent work, there is always plenty to do.

“I’m really glad I came to KPOST. Since advancing I’ve met many of our clients and I’ve actually been up on many roofs, it’s still pretty mind blowing,” said Eleanor. “You definitely get what you give and its a great world, if you are up for it.”

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Called a “world of wonder” by The Dallas Morning News, the Perot Museum of Science and Nature has quickly become an icon, its unique shape adding more character to the downtown Dallas skyline. This unusual building took three years, multiple plans, lots of teamwork and a group of dedicated people who believed in making it happen. Among those were commercial roofing experts KPOST Company, who were recently given the Eagle Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) for their work on the Perot Museum.

“It takes dedication and teamwork, plus a commitment to quality. But more importantly, it requires collaboration amongst all the contractors, architects and designers to ensure that the building comes together on time, within budget and without issues,” said Steve Little, KPOST Company president. “Our team was uniquely qualified for this project because we bring to the table multiple services, talent, and the ability to complete unusual, complex commercial roofing projects.”

The Best Laid Plans

“I believe I saw the first drawings for the Perot Museum in 2008. Of course, as with many projects of this nature, the designs and plans did change,” said Aileen Struble, KPOST Company Senior Estimator. “Our team worked side-by-side with contractors and the architect to ascertain the best materials for the building so that it would be aesthetically pleasing and well-built.”

In addition to recommending various design elements, KPOST Company was tasked with ensuring the plaza and terrace roofing was water-tight. This area contains a water feature along with other complexities, but the KPOST team was up to the task.

Let the Games Begin

The exterior escalator is certainly a dramatic element and provided a challenge for the contractor team. According to Ryan Little, KPOST Company Project Management Department Head, there were plenty of obstacles to overcome.

“The only access to the escalator was through a window or from the catwalk level above. Our workers were using personal fall arrest systems and power grip suction cups to gain access, and then repel down a 30 plus degree sloped roof to gain access to the work area,” said Ryan. “As always, the primary goal is to keep our team and the other workers safe while also completing the work in a quality manner.”

perot stair

There were multiple teams required to install the escalator. For KPOST Company, the collaboration between the subcontractors to provide waterproofing, glass, and plumbing was critical to ensure the enclosure would be leak free. In addition, a gutter was also required but this was no ordinary gutter.

“The surface of the Perot Museum has multiple un-uniform architectural features requiring precise measurements for the entire length of the gutter,” said Ryan. “Ultimately we fabricated a mock-up to ensure the gutter would attach properly since there is no room for error with these types of installations.”

Of course, that was only one element of the overall project for KPOST Company. Another complex portion of the project was the plaza.

“The plaza needed to slope and drain, plus there is a water feature that runs through it, so figuring out how to keep everything water-tight was a high priority,” said Aileen. “In the end we devised a membrane system with tapered concrete and drainage channels.”

Ultimately the KPOST team overcame the challenges with the plaza and terrace areas, working with a strong team of manufacturers to ensure the best roof system. KPOST installed an 80 mil fleece back TPO roof system over the entire plaza and terrace area, which included wrapping hundreds of rebar supports for future structure topping slab tie-in as well as weeks of coordination with other subcontractors to establish curb designs that could be wrapped and waterproofed. In addition, they coordinated the formation and placement of concrete stairs, ramps, water features, and planters that maintained the design intent and constructability of the plaza while also providing a watertight system.

p2To ensure the highest levels of quality, KPOST contracted with an electronic leak detection testing agency to apply small currents across the roof surface as a means to find any breaks in the membrane.  Upon completion of the test, KPOST installed the required high density insulation protection board, drainage mats and protection mats.  As a safety measure, a second test was completed before the structural concrete was poured.

It Takes a Village

“Projects of this complexity require constant collaboration and communication to ensure a quality end result,” said Ryan. “You have to keep your finger on the pulse of the entire project and be willing to pitch in wherever you can add value.”

The Perot Museum is part of the Perot family legacy and a gift to the North Texas area, particularly the children who have a unique place to go and experience all types of science and nature. But it took more than just an idea. It took an entire team of people who believe in the project and wanted to bring it to life.

“It is an honor to receive this Excellence in Construction award from ABC for the Perot Museum project. The museum is an important building, both from an architectural and design standpoint and from the legacy it leaves for the North Texas area,” said Steve. “It’s an honor to work side-by-side with great teams, other contractors, architects and good folks like the Perot family to bring something like this to life.”

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Recently John Boehner sent a message to the White House stating that an immigration bill is unlikely to pass because the president must win the trust of the Republicans. Sounds a little like stall tactics, don’t you think? Are there parties in Washington who believe they have the trust of the American people?

Trust is earned, and while it would be nice if we could stop paying taxes until the boys and girls in D.C. actually earned our trust, we do recognize that will never happen. While there are multiple reasons given for not passing immigration reform, most are short-sighted and smack of hidden agendas – on both sides.

Why stall on immigration reform, or any of the other important issues presently before Congress? Steve Little, KPOST Company president, provided his fresh perspective on the challenges facing the hill today:

Were They Really Trying to Pass Immigration Reform?

Both political parties interest in immigration reform are 100% driven by capturing constituents’ votes. How can they capture votes to get elected so we can do this all over again? I don’t think that either party understands the impact to their daily lives when they make these decisions as they think about who is voting for them. Either they want the immigrant vote or they want the constituent’s vote who does not want the illegal immigrant in the country, but neither thinks about the real impact. It’s a very polarizing position. Politicians no longer respect each other or the system designed by our forefathers.

We live in a time that the backbone of our politicians is becoming weaker because the exposure to information is greater. It used to be that folks could gather round a table, have some meat in their conversation and then go back to Congress and take action. Now it’s all public knowledge and public perception. We live in the information age where every bit of information is accessible 24/7 via some channel, whether it is on television, social media or even radio. Now politicians are afraid to really speak up and come out and stand on a position because it goes into social media immediately, where they are judged based on limited information. Before they can affect change they are bombarded with other’s positions derailing them before they have a chance to affect change. If this trend continues, it will be the demise of our political system.

Bill Clinton Would Still Be in Office

My political stance is Bill Clinton would still be in office if there were no term limits. Some way he got with Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole and the three of them together figured out how to balance the budget, how to affect change, how to do things that were good for this country. Together they pulled all the parties together to do what was best for the country as a whole and not a specific party’s agenda.

How fabulous was it that for the first time in many years this country had a balanced budget. Can you imagine running your household without a balanced budget? Running your business without a balanced budget? Somewhere, somehow, somebody is realizing we have to do something different.

It Can’t Be Radical. It Has to Be Logical.

The tea party had an opportunity to affect change, but they got too radical. The youth, when Obama first got into office, had an opportunity to affect change. They became too apathetic.

It’s like “Come on folks! I don’t care if you are red or blue. Get to a position and stand on it. Otherwise you are going to implode the businesses in this country.”

Ask yourself this – who will stock your grocery shelves? We don’t have a clue. The natural progression of immigrants coming into the entry level pay level has been thwarted by the thought we need to have more educated immigrants to perpetuate science and technology. But at the end of the day, who is going to clean the operating & hospital rooms? Who is going to roof our buildings? Who is going to do the things that need to be done that make this country run every day?

We can get up on our high horses and we can build up walls around our borders to reach high into the sky. We can say all the things we are saying against immigration, but at the same when there aren’t enough fruits and vegetables, when the shelves aren’t being stocked, when the buildings are not being built, because all of our kids want to be in technology, where will we be?

Both Parties are Screwed Up

What was interesting about the election of this particular president was it was the first time we had a non-Caucasian, with limited political experience, with such a polarizing vote from our youth.  I think the reason Obama was elected was we did not have a better choice, and that Obama’s camp offered a breath of fresh air; they offered change. What they did was market to the people that would get off couches, get on their mopeds and go to the voting booth. Actions instead of rhetoric!

Unfortunately, now this party seems focused on putting things out to the immigrants and Latino community about the old fat white guys in the Republican Party wanting to do XYZ. There may not be any truth to it, but because the issue is already so heated, it gains momentum in the self serving media without any ground.

Then the Republicans try to reinvent themselves with the Tea Party, but unfortunately it was a position of what they were not going to do. They kept taking the position of no, no, no, then the media blasts it out, and eventually you tune it out. Why not take the position of yes, yes, yes…..what can they do to affect change?

They have to do something or the Republicans will get slaughtered. There are people completely on the left and completely on the right. What worked for Clinton, Dole and Gingrich was they figured out a way to get to that middle. You are not going to be happy with everything, but if we get to the middle to benefit the country, then it’s the right thing to do. End the end, Everyone WON!

Frankly, border control has been our primary focus and it does not seem to be worth our time. Mexico has managed to improve their own economic status, making it less likely they need the jobs in our country. Now I’m looking to legal people who now are coming in from Guatemala, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. So do whatever has to be done with border control and get on with it.

It’s time to quit with the smoke. All the border control and visa tracking systems are pointless if we don’t have the funds and capabilities to implement and manage them. If they do not come up with some form of immigration reform, in the next three years it will cripple construction which is one of the four legs of the foundation of this country. Soon we won’t need retail employees because over 50% of retail sales are moving online. Now two of the four legs are negatively impacted.   The third leg is food, another industry that immigrants are working in as they arrive in this country. You must grow the food, then package and distribute it or people don’t eat. Three of the four legs broken do not bode well for the future.

My position is what’s the right thing for the country? Not what is right for a specific party. Our political system is so impacted by the media in its own self serving way does not allow the politicians to formulate a plan. It’s time to reach middle ground, developing plans of action and taking charge of the future of our country. No more bickering, posturing and positioning. Meet in the middle and figure it out before our country is in ruins and it will take decades to recover.

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The Radio Shack commercial aired during the Super Bowl was a fun, somewhat self-effacing piece that showed 80’s icons coming into the store to “get their stuff back.” From Hulk Hogan to Mary Lou Retton, with help from iconic characters like Alf, the entire store is emptied of all products, leaving only bare shelves so that the new Radio Shack can emerge with a new fresh feel. Clean look, new design, and lots of possibilities.

It was this commercial that reminds us how we can take some things for granted, assuming they never change, only to find out that there is a whole new way of thinking. Innovative ideas applied to everyday items that we don’t think of often – such as concrete.

Recently the World of Concrete conference invaded Las Vegas, providing education, training and tons of innovative ideas. As everyday items go, concrete is one that we would not give a second thought. It makes up our sidewalks, parking garages, and even flooring, but truthfully, how exciting can concrete really be?

“The World of Concrete is the largest industry trade show in the world. It fills multiple buildings and parking lots with opportunities for education, training, growth, and of course, demonstrations of new products and industry developments,” said Shawn Morgan, KPOST Company Director of Waterproofing. “Most people would be surprised as the size and scope of this conference. People attend from all around the globe.”

What’s New in the World of Concrete

“We are seeing significant growth in the air barrier industry. What started off simply as an energy savings to buildings, particularly in the northeast, has now become mandatory in several states and rapidly gaining popularity across the U.S.,” said Shawn.

Air barriers are designed to control air leakage in and out of buildings, and can take many forms including membranes, open and closed-cell spray foam, and boardstock. Supported across the industry by the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA), air barriers now have their own codes and standards. These codes are being adopted by various states and manufacturers and design professionals.

“As air barriers become more prevalent, we will see additional codes and regulations being adopted by municipalities. The benefits are proven, so manufacturers are organizing in order to provide better options across varying geographies, rather than only the northeast,” said Shawn.

Another interesting development from the World of Concrete is “vector mapping,” a technology that is rapidly gaining notoriety as a method of leak detection. Think CSI – the team needs to find something without breaking ground, and they need to find it quickly. They break out equipment that lets them “see” through walls and underground. Vector mapping provides a similar function.

Using low voltage vector mapping allows for quicker and easier leak detection. The surface of the roof or deck membrane is moistened (not flooded) to create an electrically conductive medium. A conductive wire loop is laid on the membrane around a section of the area to be tested. One lead from a pulse generator is connected to this wire loop perimeter. The other lead from the generator is connected to the structural roof deck. Leaks or breaches in the membrane are detected when the electric current flows across the membrane and down through the breach to the deck, completing the circuit. The technician uses two probes connected to a receiver to determine the direction of the electric current and precisely locate the breach, ensuring faster, more accurate means of leak detection.

“This technology has been widely used in Europe for several years. Now it is rapidly being adopted in the U.S.,” said Steve Little, President of KPOST Company. “It provides an accurate and non-destructive way to chase and locate leaks, something we are always interested in doing to preserve the integrity of a structure. Now when it comes to leak detection, ourwaterproofing team has better ways to keep the building envelope intact.”

While the 80’s may not know what to do with all this technology, the waterproofing team at KPOST will have no problem adopting and adapting.

“We are always looking for better ways to serve our customers. Investing in new technology that allows us to better perform our jobs while also minimizing the impact to our customers is of great interest to us at KPOST,” said Steve. “It’s one of the things I really like about being with KPOST – we put educating our customers first consequently earning their trust to maintain their building envelope for years to come.”

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Because non-profits and charitable donations do such great work in our communities, many of us are happy to support their causes. The majority of these organizations rely on private sector donations and grants to keep their businesses afloat. In particular, the holiday season is a critical time for these organizations to gather donations and support. According to the 2012 Blackbaud Index of Charitable Giving, the last three months of the year account for 34% of overall giving, which is more than one-third of the total, making this time of year important for charitable organizations.

Corporations certainly play a large role in ensuring these charitable groups carry on. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, corporate giving in 2011 totaled $14.55 billion. With recent economic struggles and the generically competitive nature of doing business, why would corporations invest in this type of giving?

Other than the obvious feel good mentality, there is proof from various studies that corporate philanthropy has a positive impact on the culture of an organization. Which begs another question – is it the giving that has the impact or the culture that impacts the idea of corporate giving?

According to KPOST’s CFO and Chief Safety Officer Jayne Williams it’s the latter.

“At KPOST, we believe that you should always pay it forward. We have been so blessed and want to share our good fortune with others.”

Culture of Giving

KPOST executives and team members believe in giving and do so year round. This philosophy is in alignment with their corporate culture, which includes developing award-winning employee safety programs , supporting the community, and providing excellence in all they do.

Specifically with community support, the teams at KPOST make it a point to be involved year round, not just during the holiday season. This type of investment not only allows the KPOST team to give back, but also infuses the culture throughout the organization.

“Our employees see us supporting them and others in the community on a regular basis. It’s who we are at heart, and it’s important that everyone who works with us understand that and believe in it,” said Williams. “We expect every employee to be an active participant in giving back to their community.”

KPOST supports many different organizations in multiple ways. Following is a sample of the type of charitable action they take:

Charitable Causes; KPOST is Involved

  • Conley Design – Packing Party for Troops; Aileen Struble, Senior Estimator serves on the Board. KPOST provides employees to help pack gift boxes for hundreds of Troops.
  • Petey Parker Teddy Bear giveaway; We collect throughout the year for Petey Parker.  Petey and her husband, Jim Fite, dress up as Mr. and Mrs. Claus and deliver a stuffed animal to every patient in several hospitals.   So far we have collected almost 150 bears this year.
  • Toys for Tots; We collect from our employees Toys for Tots every Christmas.
  • Savage Race to benefit ACT; It was the Savage Race where KPOST partnered with National Roofing Partners to collect monies for ACT, an autism charity.  We had 5 employees brave freezing weather to run and even swim in ice water.
  • Bring Your Dog To Work Day; Collect money and items for Operation Kindness.  The last one raised almost $2,000 and 100 lbs. of food and toys.
  • NRCA Community Service Day; Every year KPOST employees participate in the work day at the annual convention of National Roofing Contractors Association.  We perform landscaping, painting, roofing, and other projects on 2 or 3 houses in the host city.
  • Various Charities; Every year we volunteer to provide labor and materials for roofing of local charities.

The KPOST culture invests in community development and corporate philanthropy because the leadership team believes in giving back. The benefits go beyond community support. The employees invest in giving back as well, ensuring that KPOST Company continues to have a strong set of values, high ethics and excellent teams, ensuring they are a highly desired sub-contractor in the commercial roofing industry.

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The headlines regarding immigration reform are vast and varied. From pieces on House Speaker Boehner to President Obama, the news runs the gamut. Is immigration reform dead for 2013? Will House Republicans pass legislation if they can take a piecemeal approach? Is there any chance that a “commonsense” comprehensive immigration reform bill will see the light of day?

Regardless of the headlines, there are industries that are in desperate need of immigration reform, construction and commercial roofing among them. Without some type of reform, these industries will most likely find themselves in dire straits when it comes to filling positions. That is why KPOST Company senior executives Jayne Williams and Steve Little recently weighed in on this important issue. 

Jayne Williams – KPOST Company CFO and Chief Safety Officer

To date, there is not a single bill written that really focuses on people currently in the country illegally. Presently, there is not a clear way for them to become citizens and existing bills presented do not provide one. It is imperative that we take into consideration the large population of people here that need the opportunity to become permanent residents. Perhaps they came over on a visa and chose to stay. Perhaps they came to visit family, or went out in search of a better way of life. Whatever the case may be, our country was founded on the principle that we welcome those seeking opportunity. Our current immigration policy does not support this founding concept.

The construction industry needs a voice. When it comes to worker visas, construction is not even considered as an industry. Typically you will find that technology is considered, perhaps even engineering, but construction is not on anyone’s radar. The construction industry is a significant employer for immigrants, and therefore must be considered when immigration reform becomes a topic of conversation.

For example, in addition to the large numbers of immigrants from Mexico, there are also immigrants from other countries who seek employment in the construction industry, including Cuba, Portugal, and Russia. The construction industry is in desperate need of a temporary worker visa in order to accommodate these people. There are people here interested in performing quality labor that go beyond the temporary agricultural visa.

There are several industries that must be considered and represented when the topic of immigration reform is being reviewed, including construction, landscaping, and commercial roofing. There are industries that employ immigrants beyond the technology and engineering sectors. Even with current programs that allow for work visas, the process is too lengthy. We are all moving quickly to provide quality services to our customers, so taking months to get someone into a position is simply too long.

The truth is we all need to have a workforce. We believe in protecting our workforce and ensuring they have safe, secure environments in which they can thrive. We would love to hire all American employees, but the reality is they do not want the work. We need to fill the positions with those passionate about providing quality work, who desire the work, and are willing to do what it takes to get the job done.

Steve Little, KPOST Company President

Jayne is our representative regarding immigration and is particularly well versed in the topic. She is very familiar with the government and regulatory aspects and has served as a chair of the National Roofing and Construction Association’s Political Action Committee. We are fortunate to have her insights on how the issue of immigration integrates through Congress, and how frustrating it is for employers in the marketplace that policies are being manipulated for constituents, not for the employers.

What if all the recent immigrants stopped working for one week? Historically unions would go on strike, refusing to perform their jobs until a positive change was made to their work environment. What if immigrants did the same? There are many industries that would be severely impacted, so why not make it a point to ensure these people who are here doing a good job are cared for by giving them the opportunity to become legalized citizens?

The construction labor pool is dwindling. Our economists are telling us that over the next 10 years we are going to have a 20% shortage of labor in the construction industry. This is due to the lack of available employees in the market coupled with the increase in business. Bottom line – there is going to be a shortage of human capital.

The birth rate in the United States is dropping. There are 40 million people in Generation Y, which is almost half of the number of Baby Boomers. The next generation will be even less at an estimated 20 million. On top of that we are playing games with immigration, making it difficult for someone to obtain legal status. So, basically we are watching our talent pool shrink and refusing to do anything about increasing it even though it is well within our control.

It’s exasperating to watch our legislators continue to play these games instead of helping us improve the economy.

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What does it take to become a U.S. Citizen?

It seems like a fairly straightforward process. You come into this country, apply for a green card, wait the allotted amount of time and then apply to be naturalized, right? Unfortunately no.

The system is complicated to navigate and the very first step is almost impossible for the common person to achieve – getting a simple work visa and/or green card to be here legally. Following is the information from the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services website on the basic criteria required to obtain a green card:

“Individuals who want to become immigrants (permanent residents) through their qualified family member, a job offer or employment, or a special category will generally be classified in categories based on a preference system. Except for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen who are given the highest immigration priority and a few other exceptions, Congress has set a finite number of visas that can be used each year for each category of immigrants.”

The important items to note are the preference system and the finite number of visas. This system does not take into account a large number of immigrants who are presently here illegally simply because they are not of a special category. It is much more difficult for the common man or woman to obtain legal status than most people realize. For that reason alone, immigration reform is very necessary. For the construction and commercial roofing industry, immigration reform is mandatory to preserve the future of these industries.