A persistent worker shortage remains a top industry concern across the country. In an effort to attract future generations to the construction industry, contractors in the Madison, Wisconsin area created Kids Building Wisconsin. The 6th annual Kids Building Wisconsin was held on May 11.
Paul Christensen, owner and CEO of 1901, Inc., a member of SMACNA and the Madison Area Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (MSC), has been on the Board of Kids Building Wisconsin for the last five years and is passionate about growing the trades with the next generation.
“The biggest reason I am involved with Kids Building Wisconsin is to help build our future,” explained Christensen. “Everyone knows about the labor shortage in construction and it’s only going to expand when more of our great leaders retire. Kids Building Wisconsin is great exposure for kids to experience the construction industry. The kids get to see how much fun it is to work with their hands, and their parents are learning and asking questions about their kids’ future opportunities.”
1901, Inc. had a variety of activities for the kids to participate in at the event. Kids shooting nerf arrows high in the air showcased hydraulics and shooting small balls into kiddie pools required accuracy. Kids also got to meet and have a picture with 1901, Inc.’s mascot, Felix the Fitter!
“We had life-size kids construction cutouts of the different fields throughout the industry,” continued Christensen. “The cutouts said, ‘Hi, I’m a sheet metal worker, and I make X amount for an annual salary.’ The kids get their picture taken with the cutouts and pretend to be a sheet metal worker or plumber, etc., and then you get to see the wheels turning with parents going, ‘wow, they make that much money?’ It is a cool event that gets kids excited about construction, and it shows the parents about the opportunities that are available for their children.”
To showcase their Fire Protection division, J. F. Ahern Co., also a member of SMACNA, had kids help them put out small fires. They were mini-firefighters for the day!
1901, Inc. and J. F. Ahern Co. proudly participate in Kids Building Wisconsin each year, sharing information and excitement of the sheet metal industry and the construction trades to the next generation.