Focused on Encouraging a Workforce Youth Movement

In the operations of his own company, as well as his work with a large regional trade association, Tom Mullen is dedicated to stabilizing his industry’s labor shortage problems

Focused on Encouraging a Workforce Youth Movement

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Owning a business and worrying only about operating it successfully might be enough for many people. Yet when Tom Mullen purchased North American Pipeline Services in 2012, he immediately joined the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey where he sits on three committees: labor, legislative and young professionals.

The trade association has more than 1,000 members in public and private sectors who work in heavy, highway, marine and utility construction. The association’s goal is to improve working conditions and otherwise advance the work of represented contractors. Mullen’s committee assignments have him regularly involved in labor relations and apprenticeship program discussions. 

The work of the committees and Mullen’s own work at his company are similar. For example, like many trade organizations, the association is trying to help members attract a younger generation of laborers to the construction industry. There definitely is lack of willing workers in the industry “because of the hard, physical labor required to do the work, out in the elements, and working in sewers is not exactly a glorified job,” Mullen says. “It takes a special person to work in those conditions, and it tends to deter most from getting into the industry.”

To attract a younger generation to the company, Mullen works hard to show employees that they’re valued and part of a family.

“Our solution is to treat our employees very well on a personal level,” he says. “Today’s emerging generation doesn’t want to be a number. That, of course, plays full circle into our culture of transparency and having a level playing field. We have employees with 20 to 30 years of experience and a great attitude who are ready to teach those young people who really want to learn.”

It seems to be working. Mullen says that the company has low turnover and has begun to develop a reputation as a good place to be employed, which is self-perpetuating.

“In some cases, people who were hired on here later reach out to peers and say, ‘Hey, you might want to make a career change and come over here to work.’”

Read more about North American Pipeline Services in the July 2020 issue of Dig Different magazine.


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