Despite Shortage Of Craftsmen, No Shortage Of Great Craftsmanship

Craftsmen are increasingly hard to find in South Florida’s red-hot construction market, but the Construction Association of South Florida (CASF) is spotlighting the wealth of fine craftsmanship found in some of the region’s new landmark buildings.

“It’s crucial to recognize exceptional craftsmanship, in part to alert young people that the path to well-paying, satisfying jobs is wide open,” said John Siegle, executive vice president of the Construction Association of South Florida (CASF). “Virtually all of our area’s contractors report challenges finding enough experienced, skilled craftsmen, and they plan to hire more in 2016.”

Naming the winners of its 57th annual Craftsmanship Awards recently at Signature Grand in Davie, CASF honored 56 individual craftsmen for work that’s seen and unseen in new commercial projects from Homestead to Jupiter.

“South Florida’s skilled trades people are a precious, dwindling resource in high demand,” said Siegle. “Craftsmen are aging, and few young people are taking their place.” The industry is making some inroads to grow next-generation skilled talent through educational programs such as those at McFatter and Sheridan Technical Centers and through the Seminole Ridge High School construction program in Loxahatchee, which CASF helps support. “We’re also working to spread the word to parents, students and school guidance counselors,” Siegle added.

Echoing his concerns, data from the Associated General Contractors’ national 2015 Workforce Survey showed that of Florida companies surveyed, 100 percent are having trouble filling hourly positions and 85 percent expect it will be hard to hire hourly craft professionals in the coming months. Forty six percent reported they are losing skilled craftsmen to other local or more distant employers, as firms “poach” talent.
The CASF competition’s 150 entries were judged by teams of architects, engineers and general contractors. Winning top honors for wide-ranging excellence in this year’s Craftsmanship Awards program were:

  • Best Overall Craftsmanship on a Commercial ProjectMiller Construction Company’s project team built Holman Automotive’s 209,023-square-foot Lauderdale BMW / MINI Service Center near Downtown Fort Lauderdale. Craftsmen wove BMW and MINI brand design features and quality through every part of the facility, from BMW’s distinctive clinker tile to complex plasterwork.


  • Best Overall Craftsmanship on a Residential ProjectMarker Construction Group’s team created the 16,000-square-foot Bella Fortuna, a venetian-inspired private residence in the Las Olas Isles, with meticulous old-world craftsmanship at every turn. Marker Construction Group Principal Grey Marker noted that the labor shortage has some veteran craftsmen traveling the nation – and internationally – to fulfill needs in custom residential marble, tile, metal and stone work.


  • Craftsmen on the Seminole Stiles Joint Venture team won 13 awards for varied projects at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Hollywood. Their work ranged from now-invisible site and pool utilities to high-profile stone, metal and glass finishes.

Among the most unusual feats honored was crane operation by Tommy Dondona of Allegiance Crane & Equipment for lifting the sections of the massive 473-ton Pegasus Statue project in Hallandale into place, with just 24-inch clearance on three sides. Also mind-bending was winner Louis Carpio of Baker Concrete Construction’s concrete formwork project for the Frost Museum of Science’s 500,000-gallon aquarium. Poured with slopes to a 40 degree angle, the pour itself took 26 hours, with over 100 finishers on the job.
A leading regional construction industry organization, the Construction Association of South Florida provides programs, services and benefits to a professional network of more than 400 members throughout Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. Programs range from education and networking to industry advocacy and governmental relations.


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