Human Resources

Build a Dream Team like its 1992


Michael Jordan. . .

Larry Bird. . .

David Robinson. . .

Magic Johnson.. . 

The 1992 Dream Team was without a doubt the highest “Topgraded” group of basketball players ever put together. A big difference from the restrictions that the NBA Commissioner puts on Olympic Athletes nowadays, the 1992 Dream Team was an absolute steamroller.

But what exactly is topgrading?


According to Bradford Smart in his famous book, Topgrading, there are three levels of contributors within an organization, ranked A (the top 10%), B, and C…

“Simply put, topgrading is the practice of packing the team with A players and clearing out the C players. With this radical definition, you are not a topgrader until your team consists of all A players. Period.”

This isn’t always easy, as some managers may not have a single associate they consider a true A-Player, as it’s especially difficult for organizations competing in the candidate-driven building materials market.

How do I know? Well, it’s what I do for a living…

In my years as a headhunter, I’ve personally interviewed thousands of candidates for all levels from a sales rep up through the C-Suite.

Believe me when I tell you, I know what a elite talent looks like.

They work hard, volunteer for additional projects, consistently go over and above what’s expected, and typically rise through the ranks quickly.

Bottom line, they make your leaders look good, but more importantly…

They make YOU look good.

The B Players? They’re the 9 to 5’ers, who do well within the confines of their jobs, but are averse to taking on new challenges and rise through the ranks slowly.


Consider this (from Bradford Smart):
– 50% of hires end up being a mis-hire.
– Even of the ones not considered mis-hires, 75% turn out just average

What’s even more shocking is the cost…
– 4 times the annual salary for supervisors
– 6 times the annual salary for sales representatives
– 8 times the annual salary for mid-level managers
– 15 times the annual salary for vice presidents

Want to figure out how to focus on ONLY recruiting the A-Players?

You need a system in place.

Your candidate selection will make more impact on retention than any other decision.


Learn more about how to attract higher-quality candidates to your firm and the entire recruiting process by downloading our free guide. . .

Follow this link to request a copy of Elite LBM Talent: The Blueprint (link) – – I think you’ll really enjoy some of the tips and processes that you can implement immediately to drastically change your approach to recruiting.

Human Resources

Mis-Hires Can Kill Career Momentum


If elite talent is a multiplier on your career, mis-hires will absolutely kill your career momentum.

You know you have a problem when. . .

  • You’re called into meetings with senior leadership, having to answer hard questions (again) why you have unoccupied or underutilized territories, or your team has failed to hit your deliverables by 20% or more.
  • You’re frustrated with your team of ‘yes-men’ or ‘yes women’ who are good on paper, but you want people who move beyond tactical execution and bring suggestions about outcomes and benefits to the table.
  • You’re just sick and tired of baby-sitting grown adults who should be able to make their own decision and do the job they were hired to do.

If you don’t have a team that will take you and your business to the next-level…

If you don’t have team members who are knocking the cover off the ball consistently…

If you don’t have high performers making you look like the ultimate coach…




Take a peek inside any airport bookstore and you will see shelves of books on leadership, mentorship, and the importance of building great teams…

But few on hiring.

Which is why most business leaders just pass the responsibility to Human Resources…

“Just let them send me some resumes, and I’ll pick the best of what they send me” 
(Not a recipe for hiring the top 10%)

Take ownership of your hiring process.

Its not your fault.

But it’s still your responsibility.


Learn more about how to attract higher-quality candidates to your firm and the entire recruiting process by downloading our free guide. . .

It’s called Elite LBM Talent: The Blueprint (link), and I think you’ll really enjoy some of the tips and processes that you can implement immediately to drastically change your approach to recruiting.

Human Resources

Filtering Candidates: Strategies to Consider


Separating the Cans from the Wills and the Wants.

Once you have your initial slate of interested candidates and have driven a fair amount of activity, its time to look at ranking and comparing the different interested candidates. Here, we are looking back to some other resources we created in the first step of the recruiting process to perfectly gauge how each candidate will best fit the firm.

Inspecting for Functional Capability


Using the functional assessment created in the first step (positioning), you should look to have the same questions and topics of conversation covered with each candidate. This helps set a level playing field for comparing profiles.

When you’re asking the same functional and DNA-focused questions to each candidate, you will be able to look back later on (if you recorded your answers) and be able to compare more objectively by their metrics and measurements versus how they made you feel during the interview


It’s just like NFL, except you’ll make money


Using the candidate scorecard created in the first step, we are ranking each candidate in the initial screening process (phone screen) in order to better select for the face to face interviews. This is only the perspective of the person screening the candidates, which can change as candidate moves through the pipeline and receives scoring from other internal associates.



“This next candidate needs no introduction. . .”


The best way to provide a high-value candidate presentation is to include not only the resume, but the completed functional assessment, candidate scorecard, personality assessment, cover sheet, and professional reference. The reference should be an associate the candidate has presented as a previous manager or leader. We will take their recommendation with a grain of salt, but it is a good starting point. Great candidates always have great references ready to go.



If you’d like to get more into the nitty-gritty of things, check out our guide Elite LBM Talent: The Blueprint (link). This guide will show you exactly how to implement a fool-proof process for recruiting the top candidates in your market.

Human Resources

Positioning Your Search: Strategies to Consider


Your Stomach on Strike

If you’re hungry, you better figure out what you want to eat or you’re gonna stay hungry.

Same goes for recruiting.

If you don’t know what you really want, you’re apt to be charmed by candidates that don’t actually fit what you’re looking for the candidate to achieve functionally.

The first step in the recruiting process is the one most often overlooked, as most companies simply have a job description, or a general idea of what they’d like.

We suggest diving a good bit deeper.

Here’s three systems we include in the first step of our recruiting process, and we suggest you do the same:


“You’ve Used Microsoft Word? Super.”

Here you’re bringing together 3-5 questions that all candidates will be asked during a phone screen. For example, if you’re looking for a salesperson to face builders in the local market, a good question for a functional assessment would be; “How do you drive business with builders in the local market?”

If you’re looking for a plant manager, a question might look like, “What’s an operational procedure or strategy you implemented in your current role that lowered manufacturing work-in-progress numbers?



The candidate scorecard is a way of ranking each candidate based on what you need most. In contrast to the functional assessment, you and your team of hiring managers will decide (before outreach) how you will rank the candidates. If you are looking for a manufacturing rep, a good “Role Fit” ranking would be “Works alongside architects and designers to promote manufacturers products and drive specifications”. You would then rank each candidate on a scale of 1-10 for their competency within that activity.

Example Candidate Scorecard


Candidates are Customers


To get the best candidates attention, we need to find a way to promote the hiring company as well as the position itself. Here, you’re creating a value proposition aimed around communicating the best features of the opportunity itself. We are giving a deeper dive into why someone would want to go from being happy with their current employer to joining your firm and taking on a new role.



If you’re looking for more information on identifying, screening, attracting, interviewing, hiring, and retaining talent within the building materials industry. . . You really need to check out Elite LBM Talent: The Blueprint (link)

Human Resources

Attracting Candidates: Strategies to Consider


Turning the apathetic into driven crusaders.

Once you have your ammo and your sights set on your candidate map, its time to generate interest. In this case, we can’t use old style tricks. If we are going to be reaching out in great numbers, we can’t allow ourselves to become impersonal and robotic. The best candidates aren’t going to respond to bland spam sent to their inbox.


Scaling Outreach Without Becoming a Robot

A very powerful method of passive interest generation is to take the audience you previously defined, and target them directly on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn with content that sells your company and generates interest in the role you are promoting.

This should be content that candidates can consume on their own without pressure. We can also segment candidates based on their interactions with the media – leading to a clearer picture on the candidates who are most interested.


Like we said before, job descriptions are just press releases. Its time to make job invitations that are specific to some of your top candidates. A strong conversation converter is an exclusive job invite.

This is a 100% personalized job invitation to an extremely select group of candidates (20-40) that makes absolutely clear that you are targeting that specific candidate for a specific reason.

This should prove to the candidate they are not receiving a blanket mass-invite, but are being hand-selected by the firm. I personally use short videos recorded by yours truly, mentioning the candidates name, resume/background, and reasons for interest in their specific background.

Attract For Conversations


In order to have the best results (ie interest) in initial contact, it is recommended to have a multi-angled contact campaign in line.

This means setting up not only a passive autoresponder, but active email campaigns, LinkedIn message campaigns, and direct contact campaigns on select associates targeted. The more “angles” and “touches”, the more conversions from content consumption into contact.


In order to best inform and attract candidates that fit your profile – one of the strongest new tools we’ve developed is the Career Lander. Essentially, this is a page we’re sending hyper-specific traffic to in order to excite candidates about an opportunity and company.

You can get a good idea on how this looks on our example job lander for a fantasy company called Peekadern Windows (link). Just click the link or the image and you’ll get a better idea on what we’re talking about.

Human Resources

Candidate Onboarding: Strategies to Consider

Flex Those Retention Muscles!


Ever have new-hires turn over quickly, or feel a bit frazzled or frantic during their first 90-180 days?

No problem, just set up a standard onboarding procedure and guidelines in order to keep your new hire on the rails.

Secure your talent and retain them with power. . .



It’s a vanishing act!


According to SHRM, companies lose 17% of their new hires in the first three months. 4% of hires don’t even return for a second day of work!

The most shocking statistic of all, though… is that 50% of new hires will not be considered a success within the first 18 months of their new role. . .




Be Transparent and Educational


So what needs to be covered during onboarding? Well, it’s a fairly long list, but you should make the following concepts 100% clear to all new hires:

>> The role itself
>> Constraints
>> Priorities
>> Communication Style
>> Business Health
>> Team Chemistry
>> Company Culture
>> Top Competitors
>> Sales and Marketing Strategies
>> Top Products
>> Career Aspirations
>> Delivery Style
>> Cadence of Career

Build Your Employees to Keep Your Employees!


Create an environment where elite talent can flourish. Culture needs to be consistent across the board. Elite talent needs to know parameters, and then the flexibility to maneuver to deliver results within those parameters. They like to understand the end goal, the time frame, the budget, and the boundaries and then be given some degree of freedom to design their own path to get there.




Did you miss a couple of the steps earlier on in the recruiting process? Don’t worry about it, I’ve got the entire recruiting process detailed out here in the Elite LBM Talent: The Blueprint guide (link)

Human Resources

Interviewing Candidates: Strategies to Consider


Like Jeff Hyman would say in his best-selling book, Recruit Rockstars, you need to make your interview process as objective and standardized as possible so you don’t accidentally under or over-treat a candidate. So much of your decision can be influenced by emotions or personal connection with the candidate, we want to make sure that there’s an objective argument for hiring the candidate when it comes to their functional background and aspirations

Putting a body to the background. . .

Standardized Interviews Support Equal Treatment


During the stage of face to face interviews – develop a new non-repetitive standardized interview sheet. When I say non-repetitive, I mean, don’t go over the same questions that you made necessary in the initial screening stage. These questions should dive deeper into functional experience, motivations for change, drives, passions, and career aspirations.




All associates involved in the face-to-face interview process should be filling out their own candidate scorecards for each interview. They should not reveal their opinions to others involved until all candidates have been interviewed. Every opinion is important and should not be influenced by other team members until /after/ they are recorded.

Example Candidate Scorecard

You Wouldn’t Buy a Car without a Test Drive…


One of the best methods for lowering turnover (and creating stronger attraction) within the first 180 days of hire is to include an interview round that would be considered a candidate test drive. Due to the time constraints, you should only be test-driving one or two candidates. A test drive should be developed internally to take a candidate through a typical half-day or day of a role, and involve them in functional ”tests’ to see how well they stack up versus what they have spoken about in screening and interviews.



What’s Next..?

The interview process can be a daunting one, but in my opinion, is way easier than the sourcing period. As long as you have a plan, and create objective interview sheets and rankings, you will have no problem making the right decision when it comes time to make an offer.

To learn more recruiting strategies, see the Elite LBM Talent: The Blueprint (link)

Human Resources

Job Descriptions are Press Releases

Job descriptions are press releases…

But job invitations are personal

It’s time to completely rethink how you’re going to market with your talent searches.

Job descriptions are great for pursuing the active candidates. You post them all over job boards and then the masses come running.

But what about those special snowflakes you already know you want?

You don’t want to just forward along a nice email introduction and a job description.

How can you make them feel like you’re reaching out specifically to them?

Craft a Job Invitation!

A compelling invitation is going to be the only thing to catch the attention of an associate who’s phone is already ringing off the hooks. Not to mention a well-written invitation will bring you more candidates at an even higher level of quality.

Its time to start building a counterpart to the job description. You are looking to build out strong marketing copy for the vacancy itself. This should focus less on requirements (they should already be relatively qualified if receiving this!) and more on driving interest in the role.

Simply put, candidates are looking for three main things at this point:

1) A summary of the company’s culture
2) Insight into the company’s day to day environment
3) A personal connection to the brand

Remember, we’re at record-low unemployment and we’re getting this invitation into candidates who are already at their prime – people who are successful and more than likely happy in their current role. We’re looking to entice them into engaging for 15 minute to speak about what you can offer.

A starting point for your offer? Well, rockstars prize three things most:

  • A challenging environment where they can self-actualize
  • Professional and personal life balance
  • Job stability

On top of that, if you want to catch the attention of the rockstars, you will need to be up front and direct.

What is your company’s identity? What’s it truly like to work there?
What are your non-negotiables?
Why should your target join your company? 
Why would they stay for ten years? 
What’s the most unique part about working for the company?

When we’re dealing with elite level talent, we always have to have a unique value proposition for the role.

Remember, these candidates are already successful and happy in their role – they need to be sold on why they should even listen to you in the first place!

Company Spotlight

Windsor’s History

It isn’t often that a construction or building materials company talks about culture as well as the product, but Windsor Windows does just that. The Des Moines, Iowa company started small in 1946, just after the end of the Second World War, and took pride in top-quality craftsmanship for fair prices that their customers could afford. Their reputation for good value spread not just to other trades, but to homeowners too.

Purchased by Woodgrain Millwork in 1987, Windsor ceased to be just a regional company. The largest molding and door manufacturer in the USA, the company now operates across 20 locations. However, the original Windsor ethos of not being a typical company persists – there is still a dedication to crafting not just the best windows and doors for the job, but the ones that meet the exact requirements of each individual customer. Custom builds that project both modern and traditional are not uncommon.



It’s unusual for any large manufacturing company not to have a corporate responsibility policy nowadays, but Windsor Windows have a dedicated green policy unlike most others. Not only is the life-cycle of the products they manufacture carefully considered to make them as long-lasting and energy efficient as possible, they also take into account how energy efficient they are in terms of saving customer resources too, in terms of fuel bills. In short, their products have a direct positive impact on the environment.

Making it easier for the trades is at the heart of their policy too. Knowing that the pressure is on for builders and contractors to go green as far as possible, they actively seek out and join organizations that have a similar commitment to doing the right thing by the environment, thus ensuring the joint contribution to a carbon footprint is as small as possible.

They also know claims aren’t enough; they not only recycle themselves, they make purchases where a significant percentage of the components are recycled. Additionally, the packaging materials can be recycled too. The manufacturing facilities also join the crusade, with heating and lighting options to minimize energy consumption throughout the working day and outside of working hours.

Over the course of a year, the Windsor Windows list of materials that are reused or recycled is an impressive read; there are the obvious recycling aims, such as cardboard, paper, and scrap metal, but batteries, light bulbs and even toner and ink cartridges are recycled too. If a company takes their membership of the United States Green Building Council this seriously, the customer knows that they can rest easy in terms of their own efforts to protect the environment.

The Windsor Windows brand has become synonymous not just with an environmental impact commitment, but with quality. The original ethos of quality and value has endured through seventy years of trading, and permeates every level of the company, from manufacture through to customer service.


Company Spotlight

Company Spotlight: Guardian Industries


The retail lumber yard that Guardian Building Products can trace its humble beginnings back to means that 2017 marks its impressive 150th birthday. In 1867, W. M. Cameron opened his yard in Warrensburg, Missouri, and supplied timber for construction to the emerging Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad. The ‘Guardian’ part of the name first appears in 1932, with the Guardian Glass Company in Detroit, contracted to make windshields for the celebrated Motor City’s car industry.

However, the company in its present form really started to take shape in 1980, as Guardian Fibreglass set up shop in Albion, Michigan, forming the foundations for the Guardian Building Products of today. Today, with more than 30 distribution centers across the United States, Guardian Building Products is a leading specialty building products distributor.



Guardian Building Products pride themselves on quality, and delivering that quality to their customers. They select their suppliers through their consistency in terms of what they deliver, as this is what keeps their customers coming back. They offer:

  • Roofing products – with brands including Tarco (roofing underlay specialists), and Tamko (who specialize in color-matching existing roofing, adding visual appeal to residential properties)
  • Doors – including Thermatru (with a range of classic wood residential doors)
  • Acoustic solutions – USG offer ceiling and wall panels which make a significant impact on sound transfer out of the building
  • Ceilings – Armstrong Ceilings has an impressive global project gallery, showing off their innovative products in place

In short, they stock brands which cover every aspect of residential and commercial building, and which deliver quality and value to the customer every time.

Direct Services

Guardian Building Products also offer a team of sales experts to help customers with purchases. Twenty-plus strong, the team averages around two decades’ worth of industry experience each, giving their customers confidence that their answers aren’t just quick, they’re reliable too. Combined with their 30-plus distribution facilities, it gives them national reach, and the buying power that implies; in fact, one telephone call gives the customer access to hundreds of big brands and products, saving time and therefore money. They also offer a loyalty program to regular customers.


The company hasn’t finished expanding either; in 2016, Guardian Building Products acquired Hawkeye Building Distributors, a company based in Rock Island, Illinois, and a distributor of building materials including hardline roofing and millwork products. Hawkeye were serving independent lumber yards in the Midwest, and also had additional locations in Chillicothe and Joplin in addition to their millwork assembly facility in Rock Island.

2016 also saw the takeover of parent arm, Guardian Industries, by Koch International, who saw the company as a “world-class organisation, and a leader in providing innovative products”. Earlier this year, SRG Global, another company under the Guardian parent arm, opened a new Innovation Center in Taylor, Michigan.