With skilled construction workers -- particularly foremen -- increasingly difficult to recruit and retain, Tri-State Construction's staffing approach makes it the go-to subcontractor for general contractors throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The 31-year-old commercial and industrial contractor, which specializes in poured-in-place slab-on-grade and slab-on-metal deck flatwork, has ramped up production and won more government jobs since the mid-1990s by asking local union halls for additional carpenters and/or laborers as needed. Unions constantly fight for better wages, so the best crew members have no trouble finding work. “They finish a job with us and go right onto another jobsite with a new contractor,” says project manager Kyle Gagliardi.

Good foremen are harder to come by, so Tri-State grows its own. Workers put all they have into whatever project they're working on, and they need a sense of purpose. It’s important for employers to keep them in the loop when they get on a jobsite because they want to know when they are ahead on the job. “We maintain a strong team of leaders by giving our guys a set of goals to achieve and by going beyond the weekly paycheck,” says Gagliardi. For example, Tri-State recently bumped a young apprentice up to a foreman salary in hopes of keeping him on the payroll to be groomed into a foreman. “It’s not like they hit a ceiling with us," says Gagliardi. "The longer they're with us, the more they're compensated above and beyond their union rate.”

Tri-State helps general contractors successfully complete projects via extensive pre-planning, monitoring, and coordination. The company owns four total robotic stations for site layout and produces its own CAD files to ensure accuracy. By investing in the latest building information modeling (BIM) software, Tri-State is able to build projects in-house before stepping foot on the jobsite.