We’re going to continue the article from Tom Rosendahl, President of Dakota Supply Group (DSG). This was published in a recent issue of their Connections magazine.

“Let me start this article with something of a disclaimer: I have nothing against lawyers. I know some very nice lawyers who I would consider my friends. Lawyers are just like everybody else, and that’s really the point of this article. If being a lawyer is just like any other job, why do so many people regard it as a better career than that of a tradesperson like an electrician, carpenter or plumber?

Part of this is about money (as it is so often). The perception is that lawyers make a lot of money, and public defenders aside, it’s probably true. But the salaries of tradespeople such as electricians have increased a lot in the past twenty years. It doesn’t take long to reach $20 an hour in the trades any more, and experienced tradespeople make much, much more (and, in my opinion, they are still a bargain).

So why do so many young people consider the trades as a “last resort?” The truth is that we have an image problem. For some reason, people think that being a lawyer is a more important job than being a tradesperson. Yet consider how many times you needed a lawyer compared to how many times you’ve been saved by an HVAC technician. Sorting out the details on a contract? Pretty important job. Getting your furnace going when it’s 10 degrees below zero? Really important job.

But how can we expect everyone else to treat tradespeople as important if we don’t do it ourselves? Here’s what I mean. Try to find a law firm that doesn’t have a package of benefits for its employees. Good luck. Now ask most electricians how they get their health insurance or how good their 401k is, and you’ll get a wide variety of answers – many of them less than positive.

But good benefits and employee compensation cost money, which of course, comes back to the consumer. Will consumers pay more for good service from the trades? Yes, they will. If we stop treating ourselves like we are a commodity, we will stop being treated like a commodity. When we make it a better career, more people will want to pursue it. I really believe that it is that simple. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary. The future of the trades depends on attracting really good people.”

Well said, Tom, thank you for letting us share this.

I’d love to hear your comments.

Part 1 is available here.

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