It’s been a great year for business, says Jordan Parker.
The 29-year-old contractor is the owner of Grafted Group Corp., a Sarnia kitchen design and property management company he launched six years ago.
“This is hands down — over the last years —the busiest winter I’ve ever seen,” he said.
“It’s a good time for contractors and renovators. There could be five more of us.”
Parker’s experience matches the findings of a new study released by the Sarnia Lambton Workforce Development Board, which found people with building trade skills are in high demand.
Employers who responded to 4th annual EmployerOne Survey said they expect to hire 439 people in trades, transport and equipment operator positions this year, a category that includes plumbers, pipefitters, carpenters and drywallers.
Last year, the trades category also had by far the most hires, easily outpacing sales-and-service and health care.
However, the Board added, the vast majority of building trade hires this year will, like last year, be contract and seasonal positions.
Parker, who has five employees and a wider network of contractors in place, believes two factors are behind the trend: fewer people entering the field and changes in the local real estate market.
“For a long time the workforce as a whole – this generation – has been going into computers and IT and everything,” he said.
“(But) our houses aren’t built from computers and silica sand, they’re built from wood and raw materials that require work to fix.”
Many local homeowners, he adds, are choosing to enhance their existing living space through renovation instead of buying new, and that’s where contractors with building skills come in.
“People are seeing the value,” he said.
In six years, Grafted has grown from a one-man kitchen and millwork company (formerly Woodworking by J) to include interior design and property management.
The 4,000-square-foot shop is also preparing to open a new kitchen showroom in April at 1173 Michener Rd.
“I use to think you had to be the entrepreneur and business owner in order to do it,” said Parker.
“If done right it can be just like having a job, but under all of your own freedoms.”