Procore set out to find the companies, projects and individuals that stood out for their bold achievements in construction. Among the 27 outstanding finalists selected, nine were named winners of the 2022 Groundbreaker Awards. This is the final article in a nine-part series spotlighting each winner.
For over six decades, Roebbelen has been providing top-tier general contracting services to Northern California with “the experience of a 63-year-old company and the energy of a startup.” Founded by Hans Roebbelen in Sacramento, the company has carried on his expertise and commitment to quality into the 21st century, leveraging modern technologies to break barriers.
One of the primary factors of Roebbelen’s success is its unwavering commitment to employees’ success through mentorship and skill development programs. Their Leadership Foundations program encourages internal mentorship and the company has invested in the next generation of construction through the Capital College and Career Academy-Roebbelen Campus.
The focus at Roebbelen isn’t just to use people to complete projects — they use projects to grow people. As a result, Roebbelen has been recognized for their Excellence in Workforce at the 2022 Groundbreaker Awards.
Fostering a growth mindset
Ken Wenham, president and CEO of Roebbelen since 2012, is passionate about growing his team. He finds it incredibly rewarding to help his employees and those who join their ranks to pursue their career goals.
“My greatest motivation everyday is to provide an environment where smart and creative people can thrive — and if I can mentor them along the way, coach them a little bit — it’s very rewarding.”
The culture of Roebbelen is built on autonomy and trust, with the mindset that no one is smarter than everyone together, so everyone brings ideas to the table. Employees are encouraged to innovate, collaborate, and bring fresh perspectives to current processes. Internal growth is top-of-mind, and most managers started out in entry-level positions.
Fostering employee development has also been a major player in retention, and over 200 in-house training opportunities are offered annually, improving knowledge in safety, leadership, interpersonal skills and more.
While the average construction industry turnover in 2021 was 56.9%, Roebbelen’s turnover was only 31% — proof of their commitment to creating a positive work environment for their employees.
Mentoring the next generation of construction
Workforce development goes beyond the current team at Roebbelen — it extends to the students and young professionals who are interested in or are just starting to discover construction. Roebbelen’s commitment to guiding the next generation is evident in their investment in Capital College and Career Academy-Roebbelen Campus (CCCA) in Sacramento.
The free, public charter high-school is set to open this year and will make a significant impact on the students in the surrounding area, many of whom come from low-income backgrounds and lack mentorship. Wenham sits on the Board of Directors, and is thrilled to see how Roebbelen will continue to make an impact through their involvement with the school.
“It was that passion of training the next generation that attracted Roebbelen to partner with the school and be the lead donor, with our name on the building,” says Wenham.
The program will encourage students to pursue meaningful AEC careers, attend college or trades school. Many students will be first-generation college attendees. CCCA guides students through an in-depth advisory process in every grade so that they build academic knowledge and career readiness. Guided by one key tenet — students shouldn’t have to choose between college or a career — the program will offer hands-on craft worker experience and the overall curriculum focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).
CCCA is the only Sacramento high school structured to allow dual enrollment classes at the Sacramento State campus during junior and senior years of high school and is the only high school focused on hands-on learning using construction trades as a career pathway.
Wenham is excited to see how CCCA graduates will make a difference in filling the gaps of the labor shortage and the many who will eventually come to work at Roebbelen.
“I love seeing the younger folks coming into the industry. They don’t have the shackles of the old way of doing things, no boundaries on what can be done,” Wenham says. “They challenge processes that have been done for years, and it’s important to embrace those questions and ask how we can improve. I like to call it reverse mentoring.”
Supporting workforce development with tech
In addition to organic mentorship at Roebbelen and the concrete impact CCCA will have on the future of the team, technology also plays a big role in the organization. Roebbelen leverages Procore to step up their workforce development. Wenham and his leadership team pass down craftsmanship and dedication to quality in addition to innovative new ideas — and all this is supported by software.
“Procore has been an incredible tool for us, not only getting us consistent across all our business lines and projects but also providing tutorials and support that we utilize in our training to get people to the next level,” shares Wenham. “If a foreman is going to graduate into being a superintendent, the first thing they do is take advantage of the online training that Procore offers.”
Roebbelen relies on Procore to keep track of their employee development, understand where gaps exist and level up their workforce. Wenham is excited to see how technology will continue to develop with the next generation and how Procore will evolve over the coming years.
Paired with an environment of trust and autonomy, Roebbelen’s dedication to workforce development will continue to make their organization thrive for years to come.