Talent Development: Interview with Kevin N. Koehler President, Construction Association of Michigan

Did you know the Construction Association of Michigan is launching a Leadership Academy in the first quarter of 2018 that you can send members of your leadership team to? Learn from a President who is taking action to provide leadership training to help more than 2000 companies in Michigan. If your company is not big enough yet to have your own custom leadership training, you can and should participate by enrolling your leaders in this powerful leadership development program. Be proactive or else.

We know that attracting and developing talent in the entire construction industry is a critical issue for all CEO’s, why is CAM taking on this challenge?

Today’s construction industry faces many challenges, but the number one challenge is talent recruitment and retention.   At the Construction Association of Michigan (CAM), workforce development and recruitment is one of our primary concerns. The state of Michigan lost 42% of its construction workforce from its peak of 214,900 in April of 2000 to 160,500 in July of 2017. Three of four skilled trade vacancies through 2020 will be based on the need to replace existing workers due to retirement. Our industry has identified several issues that must be addressed:

  • Attracting younger people to work in the construction industry
  • Effectively utilizing existing training centers and programs
  • Promoting the construction industry as a viable career option
  • Executive Development

What is the key role your new “Leadership Academy” will play in supporting CAM’s strategic plan for its members?

Again, talent recruitment and retention are two of CAM’s primary strategic initiatives. We have developed the 3D – Develop, Design, Deliver Program to recruit and attract new talent.   And now we have designed our CAM Leadership Academy in a partnership with Premier Executive Forums in an effort to do just that: retain and train our future leaders.

The Construction Association of Michigan (CAM) serves more than 2,000 companies. How will this new leadership training academy help to draw more Millennials into their businesses, and reduce turnover?

According to a 2017 Gallup Workplace Study, 51% of U.S. employees are actively looking for a new job or watching for openings. Today, our construction company owners are not only experiencing a talent shortage, but difficulty in retaining key talent. The top four reasons for employee (mostly Millennials) turnover:

  • Lack of training, development and career options
  • Non-competitive pay and benefits
  • Unskilled managers
  • Unhealthy company culture

It all begins by addressing #1, above.

Describe a few examples of how various organizations belong and are involved in CAM activities.

CAM members include General Contractors/Construction Managers, Sub Contractors, Architect/Engineers, Suppliers and Service firms. CAM members join for a variety of reasons. We offer virtual access to construction bidding opportunities statewide, as well as publish the award-winning CAM Magazine, “Voice of Michigan’s Construction Industry”, the CAM Buyers Guide, Labor support, Government Relations, and provide world- class training and safety education through CAMTec, our training center. In addition, our social and networking events offer members the chance to interact with each other. Check out CAM’s website for more information: www.cam-online.com.

How will CAM’s Leadership Academy training also attract more young professionals into the construction industry?

Career-minded young professionals may be surprised at the variety of career development options available to them immediately, that many other industries simply do not offer. In addition, select individuals can explore entrepreneurial opportunities within the industry as well.

Do you expect this leadership training and development to be attractive to other organizations that are not currently involved in CAM?   Why?

The beauty of the new CAM Leadership Academy is that it works for all jurisdictions within our membership and really for all general industries as well. Many companies are experiencing similar employee retention issues and we encourage any Michigan business to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity to develop and improve the performance by utilizing this exciting leadership development program.

The first phase of the Academy launch targets front line managers. Is it your intention that phase 2 will offer leadership training for department heads and middle management, as well as a curriculum for owners and senior leaders in 2018?

Our first phase (base of the pyramid) is designed for front line managers. Our plan, as the Academy evolves, is to develop future programming for middle managers, department heads and senior leadership. We envision a complete Leadership Program, which will include Executive Education. The designer of our curriculum was formerly part of the executive education team at Ford Motor Company, Oakwood Healthcare and St. John Health System.

Do you anticipate that CAM members will encourage their suppliers and/or vendors to send front line managers to this custom opportunity?

Yes, the construction industry is very collaborative. We fully expect tremendous participation, including that CEO’s and business owners will share the news. We are all in this together, and we fully expect a waiting list for the pilot group.

In addition to attracting and developing leadership talent, how will the academy training actually improve the performance of each participant to the benefit of their company?

The goal is to develop talent, future leaders for our companies and our industry. Our approach is development, but the target is increasing each individual’s performance. And to be honest, there is nothing like this in Michigan.

** To contact Kevin Koehler or to inquire about registering your managers for the Leadership Academy call: (248) 972-1101


John Lankford

John Lankford was recognized as the 2007-2010 Associate Business Advisor of the Year in North America and brings proven executive experience and best practices to select companies every year. He served 18 years at the Executive Education Center at Ford Motor Company and is former Senior Director of Ascension Health Learning Institute. John has developed top leaders around the world in partnership with the University of Michigan Business School, the Center for Creative Leadership, Comcast University and GE University, to name a few.

His business expertise has been tapped by prominent business media such as the New York Times, CBS and Dbusiness magazine and has been a syndicated business columnist. He is the author of The Answer is Leadership and Superstar for life…Career Transitions. John’s keynote speaking has landed him on the elite team that trains and certifies the new Executive Coaches joining the worldwide coaching community. John is also former Chief Executive Officer of the Innisbrook Leadership Institute.

Lankford can be reached at [email protected] or call (888) 730-1950

More Posts - Website


Speak Your Mind