The startup becoming the “HR department” of construction companies

By Sam Brake Guia September 5, 2019

As Anne M. Mulcahy, the former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation, once said: “Employees are a company’s greatest asset.” This is true for every industry, however, recruiting the best talent is not equally across every industry. Due to talent shortages, economic cycles, laws, and other issues, certain industries will struggle to find talented employees more than others.

The construction industry is a prime example of this. “In 2018, 80% of residential contractors and over 50% of commercial contractors reported difficulty filling craft worker positions, according to two separate surveys,” states Nicolas de Bonis, CEO at Workyard, a next-generation staffing platform for construction companies. He adds “For most trades, it takes years to build the necessary experience to be self-sufficient on a job site and to complete projects without heavy direction.”

Nicolas de Bonis, CEO at Workyard

To get a better understanding of problems unique to this industry, and how this innovative startup is making a difference, we spoke with de Bonis.

What was the main motivator to solve this problem, for example, did it arise from personal experience or was it something you recognized others having issues with?

We were running the Workyard Network where we connected general contractors to subcontractors in California. We saw that many of these contractors were requesting hourly workers for their projects, in addition to subs operating as independent companies. Last year, we decided to reach out to a few of our network users and offer to recruit and staff hourly workers for them. This service ended up being a huge hit.

Who do you consider to be your main competitors and how do you differentiate yourself from them?

Our main competitors are traditional staffing agencies that service the construction industry. In general, we’re able to offer customers more competitive pricing and therefore service parts of the construction industry that could not afford third-party staffing. Our lower pricing is driven mainly by our heavy use of technology and operational expertise in areas like HR admin and payroll processing. We also have our own workforce management app which has functionality like time tracking and job costing. This app gives our customers a clear view of labor cost and productivity which drives a better client experience.

Can you give an example of a company or case study that has really benefited from Workyard’s service?

Yes, for sure. We have three customer stories available on our blog. The companies in these stories are Renewal by Andersen, Cover Technologies, and DevCo Building Enterprises. The most recent story was with DevCo. Their president said, “I went with Workyard to reduce the amount of HR work I have to do to onboard new employees and run payroll. Workyard has effectively become the HR department of my company.”  

Have you had any constructive feedback from customers, no pun intended, and if so what are they interested in seeing?

Back before we launched our own workforce management app, our client Cover Technologies told us that, “it would be nice to have software to more easily track workers’ hours and the exact tasks they are working on during those hours. It would also be nice to approve their hours through a dashboard rather than asynchronously through email.”

We ended up building our workforce management app called Crew which enables workers to easily clock in and out and allows managers to quickly approve time and view job cost allocation reports.

What is the main focus for Workyard over the next 6 months?

The main focus for Workyard over the next 6 months is to continue meeting the needs of our existing customers by recruiting them excellent tradesmen, adding new customers, and expanding our operations to other states.

Disclosure: This article includes a client of an Espacio portfolio company