Attitude & Willingness to Learn: Why This Mechanical Contractor Values Soft Skills

Riddleberger Brothers Blog

According to Monster’s The Future of Work 2022 Global Report, the most important skills employers are looking for in potential candidates include communication, dependability, teamwork and problem solving. The team at Riddleberger Brothers, Inc. in Harrisonburg couldn’t agree more.

Riddleberger Brothers is a mechanical contractor that offers plumbing and mechanical services to a variety of clients in health care, industrial and commercial buildings. The company is currently looking for plumber and boiling technicians, as well as HVAC service technicians with commercial experience.

“The ideal candidate for our open positions will possess soft skills,” says Shara Lotts, a staffing recruiter at Riddleberger. “Good communication and dependability is key. We are looking for people who are willing to learn.”

Riddleberger Brothers has been around since 1940 and with 375 current employees, it’s small enough to feel family-oriented, but large enough to still be known in the community.

“I feel like we’re a really good option for people who may not have a four-year degree, but have the skills and desire to learn,” says Lotts.

Many of the positions within Riddleberger need a technical background and understanding, but members of Riddleberger’s leadership feel that those skills can be taught over time if an employee has a good attitude and a willingness to learn. Soft skills, on the other hand, are difficult if not impossible to teach.

“If you have somebody that possesses those technical skills, but doesn’t have the soft skills, they’re very limited on what they can do. Being responsible is half the battle,” says Matt Landes, vice president of construction operations. “I would rather a new employee have a strong set of soft skills than technical skills. We can always teach them the technical skills.”

While having soft skills is crucial for new Riddleberger employees, getting a jump start on training will also set you up for success. Lotts and Landes feel that the G3 welding program at Blue Ridge Community College is a great way to get training and experience without breaking the bank.

“Welding can be a very lucrative career and the training is affordable through your local community college, especially if you’re working with an employer like us through an apprenticeship,” Lotts said.

Landes feels that many people may not realize the amount of opportunity there is, not only in the mechanical contracting world, but the broader construction industry in general.

“We’re booming, and it’s hard to get help. Construction is a fast-paced, dynamic environment and it’s highly technical. We have technicians who are building complex building systems in the virtual world using iPads and 3D models,” says Landes.

As far as students who may have hesitations around entering a technical field, Landes wants them to know that as long as they’re willing to listen and take advice from other people, they shouldn’t worry.

“I think it can be easy for students who are new to the workforce to be a little intimidated and not know what to expect,” says Landes. “Don’t sweat over that kind of thing. Just show up and be a good person and the rest of it will take care of itself.”

Riddleberger Brothers, Inc. is a supporter of Blue Ridge Community College and the statewide G3 Business Ambassador program. If you think you’re a fit for a role at Riddleberger Brothers, Inc., visit its website to learn more.