Local contractor expanding efforts to train workers in construction

Industry need growing; many companies need hires

CLEARWATER, Fla. - It's hard to look anywhere in Tampa Bay and not see construction. Nearly 90 percent of contractors in Tampa Bay are looking to hire. There's just not enough people with the right skills. That's why one area company is hiring first, then training its recruits.

Sebastian Deleon is cutting a path into his new career. Up until 6 months ago, the married father was living in North Carolina, working a job that made him miserable.

"I was doing something I wasn't passionate about. So I decided to move to Florida and follow my dreams," said Deleon.

He had a buddy working at local contractor BathMasters and learned the Pinellas County company offers a full paid training program to teach the tools of the trade.

"I started from the very, very bottom. I didn't know what tools were what, not the names of them, and slowly but surely I can say that I've accomplished a lot," said Deleon.

BathMasters is now expanding into a 20,000 square foot showroom and warehouse just to meet the needs of their booming business.

"We're expanding rapidly.  Last year we were three times bigger than the year before, and this year it looks like we're going to be three times bigger than that," said Greg Norman, BathMasters founder.

With that huge growth, comes a big need for more workers. But Norman says good help is getting harder and harder to find. So the company's new facility includes dedicated training space.

"We're really low on supply of people. Everybody needs to start training and apprenticing the next generation because it is needed, and not just by us," said Norman.

Sebastian got his early training at the facility, then started learning in the field, side by side with skilled workers.  Now, he's found what he's best at, and puts his training to use every single day.

"When you finish a bathroom in three days and look back and see what you've accomplished, it's just a beautiful feeling," Deleon said.

Greg Norman hopes anyone looking for work, regardless of if they have no experience or even a college degree, and anything in between, will consider a construction career, because the industry's future looks bright.

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