This month Bowes Construction was the “People and Places” feature of the month. This program is lead by the Brookings Chamber of Commerce in partnership with the Brookings Register. This article featured Bowes for innovative ways for attracting new employees as well as retaining employees. Also, this article featured our CDL school that Bowes has been offering for their employees as well as others in the community. The article can be found here.
People and Places: Bowes Knows Construction
“Our job is really cool – we get to build roads!” These are the words of Kesmond Willert. He works at Bowes Construction, a company founded in Brookings in 1975 by Lyle and Marcia Bowes.
Willert has been with the company since 2021 when he started part time as a student before taking a full-time role doing marketing and public relations. He was doing freelance video work on the side before joining the Bowes team and was asked to stick around to promote the company and help bring in new talent.
Bowes Construction started as a sand and gravel provider with aggregate production before adding asphalt production and laydown to its repertoire in the 1990s. Lyle and Marcia have since moved on from the business as Jason Bowes and Miranda Bowes-Peterson have stepped in as President and Vice President, respectively.
Bowes has been focused on recruiting talented individuals around the Brookings area and has come up with some creative ways to attract, develop, and retain workforce.
“Our leadership has been focused on cultivating a great culture where people feel they belong, especially the younger demographic,” explains Willert. “And being full-aware of how to build a road isn’t always the top thing we’re looking for. We can teach a lot of what our employees need to know but they need to have solid problem-solving skills and great character as well.”
Which leads to the Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) training program Bowes hosts, right here in Brookings, South Dakota.
“Instead of an employee paying a tech school roughly $5,000, Bowes covers it all as a way to develop employees and build talent on our team,” said Willert. “We’re also able to have the trainee on the job site for their 40-60 hours of experience needed to complete the CDL training. It’s a win-win for us and for the employees.”
Bowes partnered with a company to provide the Entry Level Driver Training Theory (ELDT Theory) for their employees, as well as the public, instead of sending them to another community such as Sioux Falls to get their license. Others in Brookings have benefited from the innovative workforce recruitment program including local bus drivers, construction contractors and farmers.
“We’ve been around Brookings since the 1960s and call this place home,” Willert said. “There’s three things we support at Bowes, and we always will: women in construction, veterans, and the community of Brookings.”