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There’s an App for That

NEW PLATFORM CONNECTS PROSPECTIVE WORKERS WITH CONSTRUCTION EMPLOYERS

BY KATIE KUEHNER-HEBERT

Contractors, looking for employees for your next project? Construction workers, looking to network for that next job and swap stories with colleagues on how to propel your career?

There’s an app for that: Trade Hounds, the first mobile platform built exclusively for commercial trade workers in America. AGC of America members say it can go a long way toward helping to solve the industry’s workforce shortage crisis.

Developed by David Broomhead, the Trade Hounds app is a cross between LinkedIn and Instagram, allowing construction workers to connect with each other to discuss their jobs, new work opportunities, their families and their life/work issues and share on-the-job photographs.

“We’re working to make this the definitive solution to solve the current labor crisis in the construction industry,” Broomhead says.

Indeed, the nation’s low unemployment levels and tight job market have created a hiring bind in construction, he says, citing AGC of America statistics that 78 percent of construction companies nationwide are having trouble finding qualified workers.

Early on, Broomhead learned firsthand about the challenges of the industry.

“Traditional job boards and resumes don’t suit construction workers, as they’re not able to show their work through photos.”


∼ David Broomhead, Founder, Trade Hounds

“I grew up in the industry — I’m from a construction family who are contractors in Australia, and when I was young I worked on jobsites,” he says. “After college I went into finance in Australia, but then I really saw that the construction trade workers were really underserved by technology in finding jobs and it became my vision to help them.”

The idea for an app geared toward construction workers came to Broomhead while he was having a beer after work with his uncle, who works in construction in Australia.

“I saw there how he was getting his next job — all word-of-mouth about jobs on projects coming up next,” Broomhead says. “I asked him why not use LinkedIn and he replied, ‘What is LinkedIn?’”

“I realized that having a dedicated app for construction workers could really help them out,” he says.

In 2014 Broomhead moved to Boston, and launched the app in December 2018. Workers can stay current on the latest jobs, share their work through text updates or photos, share stories with other workers and give or receive advice.

“Traditional job boards and resumes don’t suit construction workers, as they’re not able to show their work through photos,” he says. “Our app is photo-based, which is better for them. Also, job boards only display active work, but Trade Hounds enables workers who currently have a job network with contractors, similar to LinkedIn.”

To market the app, Broomhead places ads online on social media sites like Facebook, and it’s gained popularity with construction workers through word-ofmouth on jobsites. It’s really caught on: More than 100,000 workers across the country have downloaded the Trade Hounds app, and many have found their next jobs through sharing with others.

“It’s a real sense of community and networking,” Broomhead says. “They all speak the same language and this is a home to them, where they can share not only about work, but also about their hobbies. We also had a 24-year-old plumber post on the app that someone had stolen all of his tools, and someone reading his post then gave him new tools.”

Brian Santos, president of W.T. Rich Company Inc. in Newton, Mass., an AGC of Massachusetts member, one of Trade Hounds’ business partners and “a lifelong member of the blue-collar construction industry and a 50-year builder in the Northeast England area,” says he and his team are excited that Trade Hounds is demonstrating a commitment toward the jobsite construction workforce.

“Trade Hounds is representing an industry of hard-working men and women that have not had a centralized voice that other white-collar industry leaders have been offered,” Santos says.

The app’s focus is to not only provide a unified voice via its online application, but to share that data and various skill sets of those “same hard-working men and women to construction companies so we all may benefit together,” he says.

“We are proud to support this venture and look forward to seeing its development,” Santos says.

David Fontaine, president of Fontaine Bros Inc. in Springfield, Mass., an AGC of Massachusetts member, was introduced to the Trade Hounds app from a friend. “I’m interested in learning more and being part of developing a product that will recognize the value of the tradesperson community, promote interest in the trades, and enhance their day to day experience,” says Fontaine says.

A fourth generation general contractor and construction manager, the successor of the family-owned company in mid 2000s started his career in the field, working side-by-side with tradespeople. Since joining the managerial side of the company full time, Fontaine has since grown the business into new geographies and sectors resulting in significant and continued growth. He has also watched technology evolve and change the industry.

“Trade Hounds has given tradespeople an outlet to showcase the work they’re proud of, to share the pictures and stories that put a smile on their faces, and even to support each other on inevitable days like layoffs,” Fontaine says.

Already the community has encouraged people “to keep grinding” through the apprenticeship years, served as a place for different generations and trades to find common ground, and even resulted in job offers and partnerships for users, he says.

“The best part is,” Fontaine adds, “it is a community where in a time when the industry needs it most, it is a place where you can be unabashedly proud to be a Trade Hound!”

Broomhead is now working on developing functionality on the app so that contractors can post their own upcoming projects that need workers. Trade Hounds has also made deals with companies like Milwaukee Tool and DeWalt, members of multiple AGC chapters, which now post discounts and even giveaways on the app, “putting more money into the back pockets of construction workers.”

Trade Hounds has also teamed with SkillsUSA, a career and technical student organization serving more than 395,000 high school, college and middle school students, Broomhead says. The goal of the partnership is to provide an online platform for trade students to connect with other workers in the industry to discuss job openings, safety and other critical topics.

“Trade Hounds enables these students to develop a professional identity online that they can use to demonstrate their skills when seeking a job after graduation,” he says. “It is a forward step to connect the next generation of construction workers with companies that are hiring and in desperate need for workers.”