Companies are always on the lookout for employees who will stay long-term and are committed to growing and improving. Likewise, employees want to work for companies that will provide them with opportunities to develop their skills.

Mentorships are a great way to help employees, both new and experienced, expand their knowledge and personal development. They focus on positive workplace behavior and performance, providing employees with the training needed to be successful.

Traditionally, mentoring relationships have involved senior employees guiding their younger colleagues, but hierarchy and age aren’t necessarily important in modern workforces. As long as mentors have experience that can help others learn, this is all that matters. For instance, younger employees can teach older employees about ever-changing technology in the workplace.

Successful mentoring relationships can also naturally create a rich multigeneration office culture by combining the top qualities of each participant. Senior employees traditionally have a great work ethic, loyalty and dedication. Whereas, younger employees may come to work with new ideas and passion. Together, they can make for a positive and effective team.

Research has shown that workers who have a mentor enjoy greater job satisfaction, and mentors learn from those they are guiding. But, mentoring in the workplace not only benefits the mentors and mentored, it also benefits companies with increased employee retention and knowledge sharing. On top of that, mentoring programs have shown to increase company diversity, with participation expanding minority representation in management-level positions.

Top Benefits of Mentorship in the Workplace

Mentors
Mentored
Company
  • Better Job Satisfaction
  • Better Job Satisfaction
  • Better Employee Satisfaction
  • Increased Pride
  • Increased Self-confidence
  • Higher Employee Retention
  • Improved Communication Skills
  • Desire to Achieve Goals
  • Diversity of Leadership
  • Improved Knowledge Sharing
  • Skill Development
  • Increased Knowledge Sharing
  • Experience for Leadership Roles
  • Greater Probability of Promotion
  • Improved Company Culture

Something important to note is that mentoring relationships should never be forced. This can cause employees to resent the idea as an obligatory task. Instead, sharing the positive benefits with employees and offering to help connect them with a mentor, when and if they are ready, is most effective. To be prepared, companies should gather information about employee skills, communication styles and career goals. A major key to successful mentorship relationships is connecting employees who communicate well together, can connect on a personal level and are working toward attaining similar goals.

In the end, mentors need to feel that their time is valued in order to achieve a successful mentorship relationship. Those who are mentored must think of the experience as an investment in their growth, rather than a sure path to promotion.

Apprenticeships prepare workers for highly skilled construction jobs. Employers invest time and money in hands-on training, often along with regular classes. The model provides valuable real-world experience and educational instruction for workers who would like to break into an industry that is new to them. The end goal of an apprenticeship is attaining national skills standards and becoming licensed in a particular skilled trade.

There are many benefits to apprenticeship. However, many people often overlook apprenticeships, instead opting to attend college or beginning their career with an entry-level position.

Here are the top three reasons to consider an apprenticeship:

  1. Learning While Earning
    Going off to college or a trade school can be a great educational experience, but it can cost a lot of money that many simply do not have. On top of that, it can be challenging to hold a full-time job in order to pay for expenses while in school.

    Apprentices are paid a basic living wage (the national average is $15/hour) to start while also learning and gaining experience every day. As an apprentice’s skills grow, wage increases and promotions often follow.
  1. Access to Ongoing Mentoring
    Apprentices are usually assigned a mentor who is an experienced construction professional. The mentor’s role is to help plan and guide an apprentice’s learning along the way. They provide valuable feedback and support to improve an apprentice’s skills and are always available to answer questions.
  2. Increased Future Opportunities
    Being involved with the day-to-day operations of a business during an apprenticeship, which usually takes two to four years to complete, allows apprentices to make connections with many important people within the industry.

    Future employers will also see the hard work that was required to complete the apprenticeship and will surely value that education and work ethic when considering hiring an individual.

    In addition, apprentices have the potential to earn college credit toward a degree through their apprenticeship program, should they decide to work towards gaining an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at a later date.

The apprenticeship model prepares workers to compete in today’s economy. The hands-on training keeps apprentices current with innovations and technology. Moreover, the majority of apprentices stay on as full-time employees upon completion of an apprenticeship, allowing for a successful long-term career with a competitive salary without college debt.

The RK Apprenticeship Program helps provide skills for a much needed construction workforce. If you are interested in starting an apprenticeship in construction, click here to learn more about what our program offers.

 

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year was anything but predictable or normal. Predictions for 2021 are cautiously optimistic with a combination of positive and some negative growth for the construction industry, arguably one of the largest sectors worldwide. Although large hotel and higher education projects have declined recently, others have increased, such as healthcare facilities and warehouse construction to meet current needs.

Because of measurements put in place to keep everyone safe, businesses have had to change how they function and communicate both internally and externally, limiting in-person interactions. This has also caused delays in some projects. The need to know what is happening on a job site has become greater than ever. As a result, even in an industry that is otherwise resistant to embracing new technology, construction has seen an increase in adoption of construction-specific technology, from BIM to 3D-printing, facilitating a more versatile way of working.

Without further ado, here are the top eight construction trends predicted for 2021.

  1. Keeping focused on safety with continued social distancing, protective gear and enhanced protocols for cleanliness
  2. Increased hiring for seamless execution of current and unexpected future projects
  3. Implementation of construction-specific equipment and technology to supplement a declining workforce
  4. Expanded distribution and manufacturing facilities to meet current e-commerce demands
  5. More complex urban development and infrastructure projects
  6. Renewed focus on sustainability and renewable energy
  7. Expanded use of modular construction, increasing quality while also reducing costs and project timelines
  8. Increased construction cost and pressure on the bottom line, as net profits remain slim

Construction companies must prepare themselves for the uncertain future. Luckily, with many recent innovations already in place, the construction industry has begun to optimize processes in all phases of construction.

Key developments in the construction industry will likely continue to grow and change as we progress through 2021, and we look forward to it.

 

Digital Builder, 2021 Construction Trends: 20 Insights from Experts, 12.17.20
Construction Dive, 2021 Outlook: 6 Trends that Will Influence Construction this Year, 1.04.21
Chad Fisher Construction, Commercial Construction Trends For 2021, 12.07.20
Method:CRM, Key trends in the construction industry for 2021, accessed 1.19.21
Let’s Build, 5 construction trends you want to look out for in 2021, accessed 1.19.21

Culture is the character of an organization. It’s the values, traditions, behaviors, interactions and attitudes displayed every day. Workplace culture is to an organization what personality is to an individual.

Positive workplace culture attracts talented people, affects happiness, engagement and satisfaction, while also improving performance. A company’s culture is influenced by everything from leadership and management to workplace policies, practices and people.

When looking to work for a company, the primary factors are often the company’s brand value and compensation to employees. While many believe these are enough to attract talent, work culture often plays an even bigger role in retaining good employees. Workplace culture makes some places great to work and other places miserable. It affects relationships between employees and leadership. This can mean the difference between working with each other for the common good of the company or arguing every step of the way.

A company’s culture is so important in bringing out the best in employees even during not-so-great times. Negativity not only crushes creativity and an employee’s will to perform but also stops the development of dedication to a company’s success.

When it comes down to it, humans are relatively simple beings. Working in a positive environment with a good culture affects the way we think and how we act with one another. So, make your workplace a positive one!

RK strives to create a rewarding workplace for employees by hosting several employee-focused events and recognition ceremonies throughout the year, check them out here.

By: RK Steel

When it comes to choosing materials, steel is preferred among designers because it can be used to rapidly build economical, durable and safe structures. However, its downfall is the tendency to react with oxygen and water, causing corrosion.

Applying the correct protective coating to structural steel upon installation can give a steel frame a long life, limit corrosion and reduce ongoing maintenance needs. Older paint systems consisted of five or six coats but, in recent years, have been replaced by fewer coats of thicker film. These paints are composed of three main ingredients: pigments, binders and solvents. Each layer applied has a specific function.

Breaking Down the Layers

Primer is applied directly to clean steel, providing corrosion resistance and good adhesion to the subsequent layers. Intermediate coats help to build up the total film thickness; generally the thicker the coating, the longer the life of the steel. In addition, these layers decrease the permeability of oxygen and water, delaying moisture penetration and improving tensile strength. The finish coat not only gives the paint job the desired glossy appearance but also acts as the first line of defense against condensation, weather and sunlight. An additional stripe coat is often applied directly to welds, fasteners and external corners to bring the thickness in those areas to satisfactory levels.

Paint Application Methods

The method of application used can have a significant impact on the quality and durability of the coating. Airless spray is often used under controlled shop conditions. Brush, rollers and air spray are typically used for on-site application.

Temperature and humidity are the main conditions that affect the final paint job and can be more easily controlled under shop conditions. Air and steel temperature can affect how the solvent evaporates, as well as drying and curing times. Paints should not be applied when there is moisture present or if the humidity level is high. This can affect the overall paint application and drying time.

Metallic Coatings for Structural Steel

Hot-dipped galvanizing is sometimes applied to structural steel surface. It is a process that involves immersing the steel components into a bath of molten zinc, leaving the surface uniformly coated with more durability, abrasion resistance and increased protection. Since this requires a dipping process, there are obvious restrictions on the size of pieces that can be galvanized. However, when it can be used, it is a highly sustainable, producing minimal waste.

Conclusion

The primary quality of steel is its physical strength, or load-bearing capacity, which is generally long-lasting. It is only compromised by corrosion, adversely affecting the steel’s safety. The life of a structure depends on the rate of reaction to its environment, as well as the protective coatings applied. Corrosion protection must be applied from the onset to minimize this process, preventing or greatly reducing the rate of corrosion.

By: RK Steel

The United States is the world’s largest importer of steel, importing approximately 35 million metric tons last year, which accounted for 33% of all steel used in the entire country. Nearly 60% of this total imported steel originates from five countries, 25% of which comes from Canada and Mexico.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration placed tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports coming from various countries to the U.S. The goal of these tariffs is to incentivize U.S. companies to buy steel and aluminum from U.S. producers, with the idea being that this will make the domestic metal industry stronger.

What is a Tariff?

A tariff is a border tax or duty placed on a particular class of imports or exports. Tariffs have been used by governments since the 18th century. Originally, their main purpose was to raise revenue, now they are more often used in order to make foreign products less attractive to consumers; protecting domestic industries from competition.

Steel and Aluminum in the U.S. Construction Industry

Raw steel has many uses in the construction industry, including reinforcing steel in structural concrete, structural steel framing, miscellaneous metal framing and supports. Although the tariffs will affect all these, the single biggest impact will be on structural steel in steel framed buildings.

The cost of structural steel is typically composed of four main elements – raw material, fabrication, delivery and erection at the site. While the cost of these can vary over time and by geographic location, raw steel is typically around 30% of the total cost per ton of structural steel.

What Effect Do They Have?

For those involved in the construction industry, the tariffs raise direct and immediate issues. Contractors are often required to supply and use large quantities of various types of steel products. These tariffs present contractors with considerable uncertainty and financial risk.

These tariffs are a direct charge on imported steel and aluminum products, however, the effect of the tariffs is not limited to imported steel. Volatility is rising in the domestic steel market due to the anticipation of higher cost imported steel, as this will likely lead to an increased demand for domestic steel. The result has been a surge in domestic steel prices.

Challenges Facing Contractors Moving Forward

Contractors main concern will be in relation to price fluctuations between the time they submit a bid to when the contract is awarded. The most likely response to this heightened risk will be an inevitable increase in bid prices to cover the risk of fluctuation. In addition, they may add a clause which limits the amount of time a price can be held.

By: RK Steel 

Testing Welding Candidates Before Hiring is Key

Quality and safety are top priorities when it comes to steel fabrication. In order to produce high quality products, it is important that steel fabricators test welding candidates before they are hired. Some companies will even retest certified candidates to ensure they meet company requirements.

The most efficient way to test welders is to have the capabilities to do so in-house. That said, there are few steel shops in Colorado that test in-house. The majority of shops send their tests to an outside source; results can take over a week to get back and can cost around $20,000-30,000 a year.

Companies that test in-house save time and money with certified weld testers that can review four to five tests a week. On average, two out of five candidates pass and move onto the interview process.

Tests and Standards for Welding Candidates

A 6G test consists of a 2” pipe weld. The test takes an hour and is examined with side bends. Some companies perform an industrial radiography test to examine the internal structure and integrity of the weld.

The structural steel tests are the 3G, vertical position, and 4G, overhead position. These tests go through a four-hour process starting with the visual test. During this test, the inspector looks for any discrepancies or holes that would compromise the end product. The coupon then goes through a root bend and cap bend test. If the candidate passes the bend tests, they are certified, and deemed a good candidate for hire.

Inspecting Steel Before It’s Installed on a Project is Required

Even with a team of certified welders fabricating steel projects; on-going special inspection requirements are necessary for all projects. These inspections are done by an outside party unless you are an AISC certified fabricator and erector, which employee certified testers to perform in-house inspections.

RK Steel is a premier shop for end-to-end design, fabrication and erection of structural steel and miscellaneous metals. RK Steel abides by the AWS Structural Steel and ASME certification standards. We pride ourselves on weld testing candidates before interviewing. Contact us to discuss your steel needs.

Wind energy is growing across the United States, with nearly a quarter of the states producing 10 percent or more of their electricity from wind farms. Triple the amount produced just a few years ago.

Over the past decade, Colorado has doubled the number of wind turbines in the state to nearly 1,900. According to a report released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, wind energy produced 14 percent of Colorado’s electricity in 2015 with more turbines planned for the near future.

Decreasing Emissions, One Blade at a Time

Wind power is a cleaner source of energy than fossil fuels, and because Colorado is one of the country’s leaders in wind energy production, it’s helping the state comply with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan was established to focus and take action on climate change by reducing carbon pollution. Wind power has grown both nationally and internationally in recent years and has drastically reduced carbon dioxide emissions worldwide.

According to the American Wind Energy Association, “Wind energy is leading the United States to a low-carbon future. Not only is wind energy reliable and affordable,” said Emily Williams, Senior Policy Analyst, “but it’s providing sustained emissions reductions in the sector that contributes the most to climate change, the power sector.” Each wind turbine avoids approximately 4,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, which is equal to taking 900 cars off the road. Multiply that by 1,900 wind turbines in Colorado alone and it’s like removing 1.75 million cars from our roads.

Technology Advancements Increase Production

Over the last 10 years, innovative technology breakthroughs have increased reliability, efficiency and capacity of wind turbines making them more affordable than ever.

Improved Weather Forecasting: Better forecasting has been a major factor in the increase of wind energy production. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologists examine the forecast for energy potential from wind and notify utility companies so that they can adjust the turbines to pull the maximum wind power.

Larger Turbine Blades: To continue the shift to cleaner energy, more wind has to be captured. One solution has been to increase the length of turbine blades by a few additional feet. This small increase could generate more than double the electricity. Taller towers and longer blades could make wind the leading producer of energy worldwide.

Better Gearbox Design: Improvements in gearbox design have reduced their maintenance costs and increased their lifespan, reliability and load sharing between gears.

Transmission Improvements: Energy is collected from the wind farms, typically in rural areas, and transported through large transmission lines to urban areas where the majority of electricity is used. The electricity then travels through smaller distribution lines delivering electricity directly into buildings. New technologies, such as Dynamic Line Rating (DLR) which increases ampacity, High-Temperature Low-Sag Conductors (HTLS) which doubles capacity load and Flexible AC Transmission Systems (FACTS) which enhances controllability and increases power transfer, have allowed for increased capacity within the transmission grid.

Job Growth for Colorado and Beyond

The wind energy sector currently employs nearly 90,000 Americans, with 300,000 more jobs expected by 2030. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Wind Turbine Service Technician ranks as the fastest-growing occupation over the next decade. Wind energy is continuing to expand in Colorado, which will not only provide hundreds of new jobs to Coloradans but will also save energy customers money.

RK Steel has been assisting in the design, engineering and fabrication for the production and maintenance needs of one of the world’s leading wind turbine companies in Colorado. Some of our major projects in the wind energy sector have included custom-built shipping stands to steady blades during transportation on trucks and railroads, special lifting equipment tools and custom metal parts, such as those used to assemble the hubs of wind turbines. For more information about custom-built products that RK Steel can build for you, contact us at rksteelestimating@rkindustries.com.

By: RK Steel

Steel canopies are durable, attractive, versatile and offer a convenient way to create a sheltered space. They can also provide significant cost savings as they only require concrete piers rather than full concrete slabs. Steel canopies can be built as freestanding structures or as add-ons to existing buildings and have a variety of uses.

Why Steel Canopies?
Wood canopies require significant ongoing maintenance and have been known to fail in severe storms. They can be costly to build and are not portable. Tent canopies can be great for a temporarily shaded space outdoors but lack durability and will quickly deteriorate after repeated exposure to the elements.

What Purposes Can Steel Canopies Serve?

RK Steel is an expert at fabricating and installing steel canopies for Balfour Beatty, Denver Transit Partners and the Regional Rail Stations providing protection from the elements for riders awaiting the next train. These particular canopies (pictured above) were 40′ long and installed as an assembly to reduce costs. RK Steel prefabricates canopies in a climate controlled shop to ensure that on-site installation will be smooth. Contact us at rksteelestimating@rkindustries.com to discuss your steel canopy needs.

By: RK Mechanical

Working outside during the winter can leave construction workers susceptible to hypothermia, frostbite or trench foot, a decaying of the feet due to prolonged cold and wet conditions. In extreme cases, workers without proper personal protection equipment can also suffer shock that could even lead to death. Not only do workers need to stay warm and dry to prevent health risks, but it’s also important to eat properly, stay active and keep an eye on coworkers.

Productivity is often delayed due to harsh weather. So, work hours should be scheduled during the warmest part of the day. Below are some recommendations to stay warm, healthy and safe during the winter season.

Winter Clothing and Layering Reduce Injury Risks

Clothing should be selected to suit temperature, conditions, duration of the activity and location. Wearing proper clothing and layering can reduce sweating and the risk of injury. It’s best to avoid cotton material, as once it gets wet from rain, snow or sweat, it will begin to extract heat out of the body. Some alternate material choices are fleece, wool, Thinsulate, nylon and polypropylene. Weather can change rapidly, therefore it is important to plan and dress accordingly.

The top nine types of clothing to wear while working in the cold:

  1. Thermal insulated coveralls
  2. Thermal polyester underwear
  3. Fleece or wool liner for hard hat
  4. Insulated gloves, mittens should be worn for extreme temperatures below -17 degrees
  5. Wrap-around eye protection
  6. Scarves
  7. Thick socks: layer two pairs to stay warmer longer, but avoid a tight fit which restricts circulation
  8. Insulated boots
  9. Waterproof/windproof external layers

Warm Break Areas Help Re-energize

When spending long hours exposed to the elements, a warm area to rest will help workers warm up and re-energize. Breaks are of the utmost importance, but without a warm and comfortable place to rest, breaks can be useless. For long-term construction projects, setting up a warming shelter is a must. Temporary tents with portable heaters can be used for smaller projects.

Incorporate a Buddy System to Stay Safe

Avoid traveling or working on your own unless someone knows your route and estimated time of return. Workers in frigid weather can show signs of uncontrolled shivering, slurred speech and erratic behavior. Keep an eye on your peers to help them stay safe.

If a co-worker is showing early signs of Hypothermia, like uncontrollable shivering, apply these treatments to help:

If more severe signs are present, such as slurred speech or erratic behavior, call for emergency help right away. While waiting for help to arrive, provide warm drinks, extra layers and heating blankets, if available.

Hydration and Good Snacks are Important in the Winter

Save Your Skin from Freezing Temperatures

It’s especially important to stress these simple points to people who may not be accustomed to cold temperatures. Holding safety meetings to help workers identify the signs and symptoms of cold-related illness and injuries and training them how to prevent and treat these injuries can save lives.

At RK, we take safety seriously and empower our employees to stop work if unsafe conditions exist. We encourage our employees to take responsibility for their own safety, as well as that of those working alongside them. Working responsibly in cold weather is no exception.

RK assesses how every aspect of our work integrates to improve your project. From conception through completion, we streamline the process while maximizing value. The combined skill set of our seven business units makes us the region’s most powerful single source for mechanical contracting, custom manufacturing, steel fabrication, prefabricated construction, facilities services, electrical work and water treatment solutions. If you would like to know more about our safety procedures or have questions about what we can do for your business, contact us at communications@rkindustries.com.