Veterans Day honors the courageous women and men who’ve served our country, and helping them find employment after service has to be one of the more fitting tributes to their dedication. This is why my hat’s off to Sam Crawford, Chief Operating Officer of Armed Forces Construction Group, a small but powerful company that matches veterans from all branches of the United States military service with commercial and residential construction projects in need of skilled workers.
Headquartered in Indianapolis, 71-year old Crawford operates the company with CEO, Tony Muriel, who served in Afghanistan and the Gulf Wars. A dedicated United States Navy veteran who served in Vietnam, Crawford has a long history helping disabled veterans. His construction company now has crews in 59 cities across 12 states. According to Crawford the veterans he employs are eager to use the skills they learned in the military to become project managers, electricians, plumbers, roofers, carpenters and more.
“Every time we put another vet on to work I just swell up with pride,” said Crawford. “They are absolutely thrilled to have these jobs because they served our country, and want to continue working for it. They are very professional people who have been trained in other areas, and want to build their future. Maybe they managed supplies and logistics, built bridges or operated communications equipment – rewiring buildings is a huge area right now. Matching the special skills they learned and their interests with opportunities in our construction business gives them something to look forward to, a decent pay check and the chance to grow.” Crawford added that some people have become project managers with their own crews that he hires.
Finding the quickest route to jobs
While it’s relatively easy to find projects online, Crawford turned to Ariba Discovery because it provides an easy, collaborative platform for building trusted relationships with contractors. Using the Ariba Network, he’s not only connecting with more companies in search of quality workers, but also closing deals faster.
“You can find many contracting jobs on public websites but they’re shopping for price not quality,” said Crawford. “When I joined Ariba, the time-consuming chasing stopped because I can have a conversation with the major companies that post bids every day. When they see my questions, they know who I am and get back to me right away with what they want, and we go out and look at the projects and bid on them. This helps my business tremendously.”
Having a more efficient way of reaching potential construction partners also helps smooth out the peaks and valleys inevitable in the construction business. For example, Crawford can stay one step ahead of seasonal shifts in the northeast, looking for inside projects as the temperatures drop in the fall and winter.
Quality fuels exponential growth
As a small business certified by the Veterans Administration and the ADA, Armed Forces Construction Group is laser-focused on providing quality people who Crawford said are as professional as they were when in the military service. “Natural disasters, whether expected or not, can bring out unscrupulous, itinerant workers that are after the insurance money and don’t provide warranties,” he said. “We can help stop that practice if we have people in those cities who are rebuilding with quality. We go the extra mile to make sure the results are spot on. We provide quality people who care and get the job done by the book.”
Crawford is justifiably proud of his company’s accomplishments. “We started with nothing and are building with no end in sight. I’m dedicated to this because it’s that much fun.” Company expansion plans will soon bring job opportunities to veterans in seven additional states and 24 more cities across the United States.
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