Will Tutton has worked in various jobs at the commercial painting business started by his father Randy for nearly half of his life.
The 30-year-old project manager at Southeast Painters Inc. enjoys the challenge "and knowing that every day is a little bit different" in an industry where the results of your work are visible on walls and buildings around town.
"It's a fun and challenging job where every day has something new to offer," he says.
As construction activity has rebounded from the Great Recession a decade ago, the demand for young workers like Tutton to enter the building field continues to grow even as many aging baby boomers are retiring. Tutton, who joined the board of the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee a couple of years ago, is leading a local effort launched this year by AGC to promote and encourage more young people to enter and stay in the construction industry.
Known as BLOC — an acronym for Building Leaders of Chattanooga — the group is designed to help professionals under 40 years old to network and learn about the industry with other players in construction, including contractors, subcontractors, real estate professionals, bankers and others working to support construction of residential, commercial and industrial projects.
Tutton, who serves as chair of BLOC, said the group meets every month and hears from outside speakers and others in the group about trends, developments and people in the industry. Members of AGC East Tennessee are offered a complimentary BLOC membership and non-AGC members may join for $200.
The median age for those working in construction is 41 and Tutton said the industry is eager to attract more younger talent at all levels into the field to help support the growing work volume and replace older workers.
"We're trying to let people in college and elsewhere know that they can get into construction, make a good living and have a rewarding career just as much or more as some startup business or pursuing some other field," he says.
Tutton, who lives in Chattanooga with his wife and his newborn daughter, says he hopes one day to succeed his father, who started Southeast Painters 28 years ago and has grown the company to more than 40 employees. The commercial and industrial paint company has specialized in big box retail jobs and performed work throughout the Southeast and as far west as Texas. Southeast Painters does painting, sand blasting and applies Epoxy and high-performance floor coatings.