Many sports teams follow a policy known as “draft and develop,” which means rather than pay high-priced free agent players from other teams, they choose to draft young, hungry players and help them develop into starters and leaders.
Wehr Constructors believes in a similar philosophy with its workforce, which is a big reason attrition is low at the constitution management and general contracting company. Two current employees who exemplify this belief system are Brandon Boyer and Jerusha Caple.
Boyer, a 2001 Henry County High School graduate, poured and finished concrete after high school, and joined Wehr in 2002 as a laborer. Within five years, he was promoted to foreman – still doing labor, but bearing the responsibility of coordinating other workers on the job site, filing daily reports and monitoring hours worked for his crew.
The next year, Boyer began taking online construction classes such as construction management, how to read blueprints, construction mathematics, estimates, and more. For four years, while still working full-time, he took these six-week courses to help prepare himself for a brighter future in construction.
Boyer was promoted to assistant superintendent in 2011, which is when he took on a larger role in the company, helping to manage subcontractors, scheduling, and monitoring quality control and job site safety. By 2014, he was given his first superintendent assignment at Bourbon Community Hospital in Paris, Ky.
“I started from the bottom and got to see what was required to complete a job from start to finish at every level,” Boyer said. “From digging the first ditch to pouring footings to completing the final touches on a punch list and turning over a finished product to the owner. There was a lot of hard work and long hours, but I learned to respect the jobs of every trade along the way because I had been there and done the work myself.”
Boyer is now an estimator, responsible for preparing an estimate of job cost and crew size based on blueprints and written specifications for new construction, additions, or remodels of existing facilities. Boyer reports he is more confident in himself than he was a decade ago, in large part because of the experience he’s had climbing the ranks at Wehr. Not bad for a kid just out of high school who at first was just looking to pay the bills.
“I’m a better leader and probably a better father because of the experience with Wehr and relationships I have developed with co-workers,” he said. “Wehr has been awesome.”
Caple’s story is a bit different, but definitely similar. She studied construction management at Middle Tennessee State, graduating in 2008 – just when the “construction downturn” was beginning, meaning jobs were scarce. She worked instead as a site director for a before and after school program in Tennessee.
She met her now-husband in 2009, and decided to move to Louisville in fall of 2010, taking a job as a project assistant at Wehr the following February. It was the only position open at the company at the time.
“I was happy to learn the ropes,” Caple said, “as I had no prior construction experience.”
She said her co-workers were not just willing but eager to help her by answering all her questions and helping her move forward in her knowledge of the construction business and how Wehr operated. Along the way, with Wehr’s help, she earned her master’s degree in Project Management from Embry–Riddle Aeronautical University.
Caple has since been promoted to project manager, wherein she handles projects from pre-construction, to bidding, to completion.
“Wehr is not simply a company to work for, they are a family,” Caple, now a mother of three boys under the age of six, said. “The owners of Wehr, the Berry’s, have always had an open-door policy where you can come talk to them anytime to discuss your projects or any aspect of your life.”