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NAVIGATION

August 17, 2018
Construction

Photo: Daniel Portnoy

Oscar Morejon helps to supervise construction projects.

A Day in the Working Life

Construction

Mike Vogel | 2/26/2016

» $37.25 billion
» 4.4% of Florida’s GDP
» GDP rank:No. 10

» Employment: 568,848
» 5.2% of total employment
» Employment rank:10

Employment numbers for the construction sector reflect a universe dominated by subcontractors — some 70% of construction workers are listed as “specialty trade contractors,” with 20% involved in “construction of buildings” and the remainder in “heavy and civil engineering construction.”

Oscar Morejon
» Assistant Superintendent, Suffolk Construction

A Start as an Intern

Oscar Morejon started with Suffolk Construction as a Florida International University intern. Suffolk founder John Fish would be delighted to hear how well he’s absorbed Suffolk’s culture — to the point of being able to quote the founders. “We build people and relationships before we build buildings.” Says Morejon, “I thought it was about hammers and screws, and I realized it’s more about people and culture.”

Morejon is a Miami native born to Cuban immigrants. He had his own handyman business doing pressure cleaning, remodeling, fencing and was growing it. He studied construction management at FIU, which led to an internship with Suffolk. After his internship, he joined Suffolk’s Career Start program, which rotates new employees for two years through all aspects of construction management.

Now, the 25-year-old is one of several Suffolk assistant superintendents building Met3, a complex of towers on a full block of downtown Miami. He’s been with one tower from the time when the basement — a rarity in Miami — was 26 feet into the ground and covered in mud to now finishing a 32-story tower.

He starts at 6 or 6:30 in the morning and ends about 12 hours later, working five days a week and every fourth or fifth week on a Saturday as well. “I was fairly green,” Morejon says. “I’ve seen this project from beginning to end, which was very neat.”

Marlon Rameshwar
» Roofer, Advanced Roofing

Rising to Journeyman

Marlon Rameshwar reroofs commercial buildings for Fort Lauderdale-based Advanced Roofing. The state forecasts 6,000 job openings for roofers in the next several years. To address the worker shortage, Advanced Roofing led the creation of an Associated Builders and Contractors apprenticeship program. Starting roofers earn $12 an hour on average. The apprenticeship program graduates students at level 2, leadman on a crew, and making $18 to $20 per hour. Rameshwar is in the second year of a three-year program. “I wanted to be a foreman or a lead some day,” he says.

Marc Plancarté Senior Superintendent, Miller Construction Shortage of Help Building a 10,000-sq.-ft. medical office building in Pembroke Pines, Miller Construction senior superintendent Marc Plancarté monitors a jobsite full of subcontractors. His typical day begins at 6:30 and ends when the last worker goes home, usually around 4:30. He says this job is a reward compared to his last — renovating space while a Fort Lauderdale beach hotel was open and operating. After 15 years with Miller, he’s a shareholder. He’s gregarious and cheerful about everything happening around him. “Everyone wants it done as fast as humanly possible,” he says. The current difficulty in construction is finding qualified journeyman subcontractor workers. Many packed off for other places in the recession and haven’t come back. On his last job, “it was so difficult finding dry wall finishers. Dry wall finishers!”

Marc Plancarté
» Senior Superintendent, Miller Construction

Shortage of Help

Building a 10,000-sq.-ft. medical office building in Pembroke Pines, Miller Construction senior superintendent Marc Plancarté monitors a jobsite full of subcontractors. His typical day begins at 6:30 and ends when the last worker goes home, usually around 4:30. He says this job is a reward compared to his last — renovating space while a Fort Lauderdale beach hotel was open and operating. After 15 years with Miller, he’s a shareholder. He’s gregarious and cheerful about everything happening around him. “Everyone wants it done as fast as humanly possible,” he says. The current difficulty in construction is finding qualified journeyman subcontractor workers. Many packed off for other places in the recession and haven’t come back. On his last job, “it was so difficult finding dry wall finishers. Dry wall finishers!”

Construction Demand

» Construction comprises three of the top four growth sectors in Florida. Building construction, with a 4.7% annual growth rate, tops the list of companies expected to grow in Florida. Specialty trade contractors run second at 4.3% and heavy and civil engineering construction comes in fourth at 3.1%.

» In sheer numbers of new employees projected through 2023 in Florida, construction laborers rank 10th. Other top 50 finishes for construction- related work includes carpenters, first-line supervisors of construction and extraction, construction managers and construction and maintenance painters.

» Construction can pay well. Firstline supervisors median hourly wage is $26. Most trades pay at least in the mid-teens.

» Overall, construction jobs through 2023 are projected to grow 24.8%. Block masons should see rapid growth along with flooring and dry wall workers and helpers in nearly every trade. Helpers’ median pay is $11 to $13 per hour.

» In the recovery, Hispanic workers accounted for nearly 60% of employment growth in construction nationally, according to CPWR Data Center, part of the Center for Construction Research and Training, a non-profit created by North America’s Building Trades Unions.

Tags: Housing/Construction, Economic Sectors, A Day in the Working Life

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