Industry News

Manufacturing Plant and Training Center in St. Louis, Missouri RLS LLC, manufacturer of the Rapid Locking System line of flame-free press-to-connect fittings for HVAC and refrigeration systems, has announced it will be moving into a new 80,000 square foot multipurpose facility in St. Louis, Missouri, which will serve as its corporate headquarters and will include Read more

Manufacturing Plant and Training Center in St. Louis, Missouri

RLS LLC, manufacturer of the Rapid Locking System line of flame-free press-to-connect fittings for HVAC and refrigeration systems, has announced it will be moving into a new 80,000 square foot multipurpose facility in St. Louis, Missouri, which will serve as its corporate headquarters and will include a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant, training center and showroom.

RLS will be relocating manufacturing from Shelbina, Missouri, where it has been sharing a plant with its sister company, Cerro Flow Products. Both are part of the Plumbing and Refrigeration sector of Marmon Holdings, a Berkshire Hathaway company. All RLS operations are planned to be consolidated into the new building by the end of 2021.

“We’re very excited to have manufacturing, office staff and training all under one roof,” said Paul Schubert, president of RLS. “The larger, upgraded facility will significantly increase our production capacity to meet the growing demand for our products. And the new training center will allow us to regularly educate HVAC/R contractors and distributors on our patented press technology, which is easily identified by our unique double circular press and flares.”

After originally introducing its press fittings in 2015 under the ZoomLock brand through a private-label agreement with Parker Hannifin, RLS has experienced tremendous growth since relaunching under its own brand name at the end of 2019. To support this continued growth, RLS has recently added more than 10 new positions in sales, marketing and engineering across the U.S., and is currently hiring.

“As more and more contractors discover the many benefits of using press fittings over the traditional brazing process, they continue to choose the time-tested and field-proven technology provided by RLS,” said Schubert. “As a result, we are continuing to invest in the facilities, equipment and people needed to meet demand.”

RLS press fittings connect in 10 seconds using a battery-powered tool and jaws, replacing the time-consuming process of manually brazing HVAC/R joints. The fittings result in faster, more consistent connections that reduces total installed costs, while also increasing jobsite safety by eliminating the use of an open flame.

For more information on RLS, visit rapidlockingsystem.com.

As part of National Backflow Prevention Day on August 16, Watts managers have announced that they will award 10 scholarships to licensed plumbers in the United States seeking to get their initial backflow tester certification. Each scholarship will cover the cost of the backflow certification course(s) and exam. Recipients will also receive a free one-year Read more

As part of National Backflow Prevention Day on August 16, Watts managers have announced that they will award 10 scholarships to licensed plumbers in the United States seeking to get their initial backflow tester certification.

Each scholarship will cover the cost of the backflow certification course(s) and exam. Recipients will also receive a free one-year subscription to Syncta™ backflow test management software.

“Our goal is to support skill building and growth within the plumbing and backflow testing industries and, more broadly, support the trades,” said Watts Marketing Manager Danielle Swanson. “We are getting behind the plumbers/testers who are new to the field and who will be tomorrow’s unsung heroes of water safety.”

For more information about the Backflow Tester Certification Scholarships and how to apply, go to https://www.watts.com/bts.

Talk resiliency with customers after downloading PERC’s free power generation guide In celebration of National Preparedness Month, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is encouraging construction professionals to download its new resource, The Ultimate Guide to Power Generation. This free, downloadable resource gives construction professionals an in-depth look at propane’s capabilities as a resilient Read more

Talk resiliency with customers after downloading PERC’s free power generation guide

In celebration of National Preparedness Month, the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC) is encouraging construction professionals to download its new resource, The Ultimate Guide to Power Generation.

This free, downloadable resource gives construction professionals an in-depth look at propane’s capabilities as a resilient energy source for residential, commercial, and industrial use by:

  • Detailing the different types of propane power generation including prime, standby, towable and portable, and micro-combined heat and power (CHP).
  • Educating construction professionals on how to bundle propane generators and propane appliances for more affordable protection.
  • Sharing case studies of residential and commercial projects relying on propane generators and micro-CHP systems.

“If you think about the number of systems and appliances that are powered by electricity—whether in a home or commercial building—you can get a sense of the impact a power outage can have,” said Bryan Cordill, director of residential and commercial business development at PERC. “Recent vulnerabilities in our electric grid have prompted Americans to take a closer look at their energy selections and we want them to know they can rely on propane power generation for true peace of mind and security—all without sacrificing cost or environmental impact.”

Propane’s stability and portability make it the ideal backup power energy source. Propane-powered generators offer an efficient, versatile solution to keep homes and businesses running and protect them from the damage a power outage can cause. Available in a wide variety of capacities, there’s a model that can meet the needs of any size home, business, or commercial building. Plus, propane can power other major energy systems, too, reducing a building’s reliance on standby power.

“We want construction professionals to be well-versed in propane’s role in a resilient design and encourage them to start a preparedness conversation with their customers,” Cordill said. “After all, preparedness is the best defense.”

Download PERC’s backup power resource for free at Propane.com/Generators. To learn more about the benefits of propane, visit Propane.com.

CONSTRUCTION WORKFORCE SHORTAGES REACH PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS EVEN AS CORONAVIRUS CONTINUES TO IMPACT PROJECTS & DISRUPT SUPPLY CHAINS Eighty-Nine Percent of Contractors Are Having a Hard Time Finding Craft Workers, While 88 Percent of Firms Are Experiencing Project Delays and 93 Percent Are Affected by Rising Materials Prices Construction firms are struggling to find enough qualified Read more

CONSTRUCTION WORKFORCE SHORTAGES REACH PRE-PANDEMIC LEVELS EVEN AS CORONAVIRUS CONTINUES TO IMPACT PROJECTS & DISRUPT SUPPLY CHAINS

Eighty-Nine Percent of Contractors Are Having a Hard Time Finding Craft Workers, While 88 Percent of Firms Are Experiencing Project Delays and 93 Percent Are Affected by Rising Materials Prices

Construction firms are struggling to find enough qualified workers to hire even as they continue to be impacted by pandemic-induced project delays and supply chain disruptions, according to the of a workforce survey conducted by the Associated General Contractors of America and Autodesk. The survey results underscore how the coronavirus pandemic has created constraints on the demand for work even as it limits the number of workers available to hire.

“Market conditions are nowhere near as robust as they were prior to the onset of the pandemic,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “At the same time, the pandemic and political responses to it are limiting the size of the workforce, leading to labor shortages that are as severe as they were in 2019 when demand for construction was more robust.”

Simonson noted that nearly nine out of ten firms (88 percent) are experiencing project delays. Among these firms, 75 percent cite delays due to longer lead times or shortages of materials, while 57 percent cite delivery delays. Sixty-one percent of firms said their projects are being delayed because of workforce shortages. And delays due to the lack of approvals or inspectors, or an owner’s directive to halt or redesign a project, were each cited by 30 percent of contractors.

An even higher percentage of firms, 93 percent, report that rising materials costs have affected their projects. These rising materials costs are undermining firms’ abilities to profit from the work they have, with 37 percent reporting they have been unsuccessful in passing those added costs onto project owners.

As a result of these supply chain challenges, more than half of firms report having projects canceled, postponed or scaled back due to increasing costs. Twenty-six percent of firms report their projects have been delayed or canceled because of lengthening or uncertain completion times and 22 percent say changing market conditions have led to project delays or cancellations.

These challenging market conditions are a key reason why 26 percent of respondents expect it will take more than six months for their firm’s revenue to match or exceed year-earlier levels. And 17 percent are unsure when to expect a return to previous demand levels.

While the pandemic has led to project delays and cancellations nationwide, contractor expectations of recovery do vary by region. Forty percent of respondents in the Northeast expect it will take more than six months for their firm’s volume of business to return to normal, compared to only 12 percent of respondents in the Midwest, 22 percent in the West, and 34 percent in the South.

There are also some differences by project type and revenue size. For instance, 100 percent of building contractors and 97 percent of firms that work on federal government projects report at least some projects were canceled, postponed or scaled back, compared to 61 percent of utility infrastructure contractors and 56 percent of highway and transportation contractors. Two-thirds of the firms with revenues that exceeded $500 million increased their headcount in the past 12 months, compared to just over half (53 percent) of midsized firms—those with revenues of $50.1 million to $500 million—and slightly more than one-third (36 percent) of firms with revenues of $50 million or less.

Despite these challenges, contractors report as much difficulty filling positions as they experienced before the pandemic. Eighty-nine percent of firms that are seeking to fill hourly craft positions report having a hard time doing so. And 86 percent of firms seeking to fill salaried positions are also having a hard time hiring.

There are two main reasons so many firms report having trouble finding workers to hire. The first is that 72 percent of firms say available candidates are not qualified to work in the industry due to a lack of skills, failure to pass a drug test, etc. The lack of qualified candidates affects union and open-shop firms almost equally: 70 percent of firms that always use union craft workers exclusively and 74 percent of open-shop firms report a lack of qualified candidates. And 58 percent of respondents report that unemployment insurance supplements are keeping workers away.

As a result of these shortages, almost one-third of firms report they have increased spending on training and professional development. Most firms, 73 percent, report they have increased base pay rates during the past year. And just over one-third of firms have also provided hiring bonuses or incentives during the past year.

In addition, 37 percent of firms report engaging with career-building programs at the high school, collegiate or career and technical levels. Thirty-one percent have added online strategies – like Instagram Live – to better connect with younger applicants. And roughly one-in-four say they have partnered with government workforce development or unemployment agencies or used software to track job applications.

Many firms have turned to new technologies to become more efficient operators. Fifty-seven percent of respondents report the rate of technology adoption at their firms has increased over the last 12 months. And 60 percent said they anticipate the rate of technology adoption at their firms to increase within the next 12 months.

“Challenges often drive resolve, and we started to see this acutely in the construction industry last year” said Allison Scott, director of construction thought leadership and customer marketing at Autodesk. “The continued investments in hiring, training and technology highlighted in this year’s study show that even while dealing with ongoing challenges nearly two years into the pandemic, the industry remains committed to building better with a resilient workforce.”

Association officials called on Washington leaders to take steps to help address challenging market conditions and labor shortages. They urged House members to quickly pass a bipartisan infrastructure measure that already passed in the Senate. And they called on the Biden administration and Congress to work together to boost investments in career and technical education.

“The federal government currently spends only one dollar on career training for every six it puts into college prep, despite the fact only one-in-three jobs requires a college degree,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “Boosting federal investments in career and technical education will help attract and prepare more people into high-paying careers in construction.”

Association officials added that they were supporting members’ efforts to address labor shortages. This includes launching a targeted digital advertising campaign, “Construction is Essential,” and providing resources to help members establish or improve construction training programs. And the association’s “Culture of Care” program is designed to help firms retain newly hired workers.

The association and Autodesk conducted the Workforce Survey in late July and early August. Over 2,100 firms completed the survey from a broad cross-section of the construction industry, including union and open shop firms of all sizes. The 2021 Workforce Survey is the association’s ninth annual workforce-related survey.

Click for survey materials including national, regional and state fact sheets, survey analysis and event remarks.

Milwaukee Tool will, once again, expand their footprint in the United States (US) with the announcement of a new manufacturing facility in Clinton, Mississippi. Anticipated to open in November, this new facility will accommodate increased capacity for the company’s growing business. The project is a more than $7 million corporate investment, and is part of the company’s recent commitment to creating 1,200 jobs in Mississippi. “At the core of everything we do at Milwaukee Tool is our dedication to Read more

Milwaukee Tool will, once again, expand their footprint in the United States (US) with the announcement of a new manufacturing facility in Clinton, Mississippi. Anticipated to open in November, this new facility will accommodate increased capacity for the company’s growing business. The project is a more than $7 million corporate investment, and is part of the company’s recent commitment to creating 1,200 jobs in Mississippi.

“At the core of everything we do at Milwaukee Tool is our dedication to delivering disruptive solutions that drive enhanced safety and productivity for our users. The new Clinton facility, as well as our ongoing investments in U.S. operations and manufacturing, are critical to ensuring we can continuously deliver this innovation to our end users and distribution partners with speed and agility,” said Steve Richman, Milwaukee Tool Group President.

Milwaukee® will invest more than $7 million to establish the new 357,000 square-foot facility which will act as an expansion of the company’s current facility in Jackson, MS. During the last decade, the company has grown their employee headcount in the state from 526 in 2010, to more than 3,659 in 2021. The company last expanded in Mississippi in April, announcing plans to construct a facility in Grenada. With the announcement of that expansion, the company committed to creating 1,200 overall jobs in the region within eight (8) years.

Milwaukee has designed, engineered, and manufactured products in the United States since 1924, and is dedicated to driving growth and creating jobs in the U.S.

“Throughout the last decade, Milwaukee Tool has experienced rapid growth across the globe, with sales growing more than 20% each year. Amid this growth, we’re going to continue aggressively investing in our product development, and diversifying our manufacturing base through expansion projects in the United States,” said Joe Galli, Chief Executive Officer at Techtronic Industries.

In the last five years alone, Milwaukee has invested $368 million in domestic expansion projects and now employs more than 7,600 people in the U.S.

Currently, Milwaukee has manufacturing, distribution, and operations presences across the nation in Greenwood, Olive Branch, Grenada, and Jackson, MS; Brookfield, Menomonee Falls, Milwaukee, Mukwonago, and Sun Prairie, WI; Greenwood, IN; and Cookeville, TN. The company is also building a new hand tool manufacturing plant in West Bend, WI, which is anticipated to open in 2022.

U.S. manufacturing has been, and will continue to be, a critical part of the company’s global footprint.