Mentoring – The Foundation for a Successful Workforce


Mentoring – The Foundation for a Successful Workforce 

When B.D. Rodgers struck out on his own in 1963 to start Rodgers Builders, he knew he needed a reliable team to help build his vision for the company. He brought individuals together and cultivated an enduring environment with those who share the same passion for building buildings with purpose, relationships with integrity, people who lead, and communities with care.  

“We build buildings, but we are even better at building people,” said Eric Reichard, Chief Operations Officer. “Early in my career, I once expressed to Mr. Rodgers that I didn’t like how some of my teammates weren’t doing things the same way I did them,” Eric reflected. “He replied by saying, ‘If the end result is the same, it often takes less time to teach someone how to do something a more efficient way than it does to accept the way they are currently doing it.’”  

B.D. Rodgers’ spirit and enthusiasm for mentoring still extend through the projects built today and the communities they support. Mentoring fuels the company culture at Rodgers, and the people practice it internally to foster a culture of constant improvement while also extending efforts outward attempting to preserve the future of the construction industry, as it faces a nationwide labor shortage. 

“Craftworkers built this country. We need skilled people specializing in the construction trades, and it’s important that we educate and foster excitement in students at the junior and high school levels and even as early as elementary school,” said Pat Rodgers, CEO and President. 

In bringing together community involvement with the practical needs of workforce development, Rodgers has long been an avid supporter of the Goodwill Construction Skills Training Center, as well as the ROC Charlotte, a nonprofit organization with a goal of encouraging high school students to get engaged in the ever-growing construction industry and associated fields. Working with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, this initiative gives high school students the opportunity to learn skills focused on specialized areas in construction like blueprint reading, estimating, and HVAC and electrical. The ROC has created a direct-to-work pathway, which equips students with industry certifications and job placement directly after high school graduation. 

“The ability to work with great partners and to work for a company that advocates for workforce development, allows us to help people become gainfully employed. These new career opportunities directly contribute economically, and hopefully, our efforts can provide inspiration to others in their communities to eventually enrich the lives of future generations,” said James Clayton, Senior Director of Diversity and Community Development. 

Rodgers also sponsors the ACE Mentor program, another workforce development initiative in the Charlotte and Triangle regions. Over 40 Rodgers team members have been involved in this mentorship, and this year Rodgers is sponsoring Ardrey Kell High School, providing the needed supplies for mentors and students, and the funds for scholarships.  

“It’s such a huge moment for a young person to figure out the first step in their career, whether they want to pursue college or an apprenticeship. Just being there to talk to them and being available to bounce ideas off of is a huge passion of mine, and I love that part of it,” said Brian King, Integrated Construction Manager. 

Mentoring can be a great way to help people learn new skills, gain knowledge, and build relationships. It can provide a supportive environment for the mentee to develop their skills and knowledge, while also helping the mentor to expand their own network and experience. 

My first project was directly out of college. I will always look back and appreciate the folks that mentored and trained me over my career. They never took the easy path and spent time on a regular basis. There is one particular individual for each position I’ve had in my career that I can point to and say, ‘that person is a huge reason why I’m here today,’” says Jason Money, Senior Vice President of Preconstruction Services. “I enjoy using my experiences from over the years to teach and mentor the next generation. I owe it to them to grant the same opportunity I had coming up through the ranks and to be trained the right way. For this reason, I initiated a Mentor-Protégé program within the Preconstruction Department at Rodgers so no one gets left behind. For the next generation to have a go-to senior leader as a mentor, gives them an excellent opportunity to learn and be heard and appreciated.” 

The benefits of mentorship are twofold. Rodgers can empower future leaders by recognizing their value and positioning them for long-term success while simultaneously helping build the future workforce. In turn, mentoring provides a unique opportunity to practice and improve skills while building strong, ever-lasting relationships.