Power Construction is one of the city’s largest and oldest union general contractors and continues to earn 90% of its work from repeat and referral customers. Unsurprisingly, they’re all about building—but more than the magnificent structures they’re known for. They “build what matters,” whether it’s a more inclusive workforce, the careers of their employees, or the relationships they seek to nurture across the city.
Power has been a strong employer partner to Revolution Workshop (RW) since day one, hiring nine graduates of our programs in the last two years. Their backing of RW doesn’t stop there, though. They've taken a deep, multi-faceted approach to supporting our work—from teaching classes at the shop to lifting us up among their peers and their broader network. “Power has set the standard for what employer involvement can look like,” notes Business Services Manager Jackie Gallo. “There’s a whole team of Power employees that are genuinely committed to helping RW grow in the right direction, and they’ve made us much stronger as a result.”
Opening the door to opportunity
Troy Schaumleffel, Power’s General Labor Foreman, is a friendly face around the shop, and for good reason. He oversees the company’s 275+ union workforce of carpenters, laborers, and operators. A core part of his job is getting to know his teams out in the field—their skills, their gaps, and how they can grow. He brings those insights to RW through everything from participating in our mock interview days to inviting guest speakers from the various unions and sub-contractors he works with. “I want the companies and unions to get to know RW, too. If they’re working with us, they need to know how important our partnership with RW is.”
A common theme in our conversation with Troy was opportunity. He joined Power back in 1989, right out of high school, and he’s appreciative of his career trajectory with the company. That’s one of his motivations for hiring from RW. “So many of the trainees I meet at RW have worked hard to get back on their feet after what life threw at them. And when they come to me looking for stability, for insurance, for a good job, I know we can provide that. We can give them an opportunity.” And he knows that each success story is a win-win. The company gains a solid employee, and that new hire finds a sustainable career.
One such success is RW grad Juan R. He’s been with Power for two years now as a carpenter’s apprentice. “We sponsored Juan into the union because he performs well. Everytime I check in with his foreman for feedback, I always hear positive things,” Troy said. Juan embodies all the reasons he consistently hires from RW—”he’s willing to learn and he has a positive attitude.” And that’s really what Troy is looking for. “I tell everyone, ‘I can open the door for you, but it’s up to you how far you’ll go.’ As long as they’re getting better each day, that’s what matters to me.”
Power is also deeply engaged in helping RW grow in demand-driven, sustainable ways. They’re a charter member of our Employer Advisory Council (EAC)—a group of industry experts with a pulse on the field. Power, along with our other EAC members, meet quarterly with our team to assess our curriculum so that we’re training to the gaps that currently exist in the field. They take a very proactive approach, providing jobsite tours, teaching classes, and more. “Power’s involvement in the EAC has helped us set the priorities of our curriculum on the areas that help trainees succeed at a job, not just land one.”
Power’s VP of HR, Shahara Byford, is also part of RW’s growth as a member of our Board of Directors. "I have always been passionate about the construction industry and giving back to the community, so Revolution Workshop is a perfect blend of those two important aspects of my life. I am honored to serve on the board and help RW impact the lives of local Chicago residents." She also pops into the shop herself, leading real and candid sessions with trainees on their rights as employees and how to navigate difficult worksite conflicts. “I enjoy my time with the trainees. Their hard work towards a new future is always something that inspires me every time I visit."
RW’s Executive Director Manny Rodriguez summed it up best—“Without support from companies like Power Construction, there really is no way that we can be successful. They’re willing to teach other companies how to collaborate with organizations like us, while also meeting the real need for talent and diversity in their sector. It’s not an either or—we can all work together to achieve both goals, and they’re showing the way. That, to me, is invaluable.”
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