In its quest to find carpenters, Bowers Construction has hosted five open houses in the past two years. The idea came from vice president John Coburn, who wanted a more personal approach for hiring. He also wanted a quicker solution because the process of running an ad and conducting interviews takes a lot of time. Often carpenters would cancel or not show up for an interview. “With the open house, we block out four hours to meet them. It frees our time up during the week. From a time-saving standpoint, it has been fantastic,” Coburn says.

Though attendance has ranged from 4 to 25, the McLean, Va.–based company met its goal of finding one good carpenter per open house. Coburn runs ads in the local newspaper during the two weeks leading up to the event. It is held in the office on a Saturday morning from 7 to 11.

John Coburn (center) with Steve Magill (left) and Marc Shaw, two carpenters hired during open house.
John Coburn (center) with Steve Magill (left) and Marc Shaw, two carpenters hired during open house.

Coburn, co-owners Bruce and Wilma Bowers, their project manager, and staff carpenters attend. Potential employees meet the staff, receive information, and review the company's project binders. They can bring a resume or fill out an application. Coburn says if the staff feels a carpenter is compatible, he asks him to agree to a background check. “While we wait for the background check, we call references,” he says. By the time the carpenters return for a formal interview, they are pre-qualified.