Paving Contractors that Struggle to Find Talent Need to Look at Pool Differently




MILWAUKEE — In his session for the World of Asphalt People, Plants and Paving Digital Conference (March 9-11, 2021), Buddy Hobart of Solutions 21 describes the historically unusual place paving contractors find themselves in when searching for talent.

“I don’t speak in absolutes unless it’s absolute. There have never ever been four generations of breadwinners in the workforce. It’s never happened in the history of humanity. I want you to think about that,” Hobart explains in his session that goes live Thursday, March 11. “Now there’s five. Historically there’s never been four, and now there’s five.”

Hobart explained each generation’s place in the workforce this way:

  1. The Traditionalists (1922-1945), the youngest of which turn 76 this year, are still participating in the labor force. They may be running your company…or your biggest client.
  2. The Baby Boomers (1946-1964) are a big cohort and are largely ‘running things’ in a lot of the economy, including the paving world.
  3. Generation X (1965-1979), born at the dawn of the computing age, are bringing their classic tech savvy to higher and higher positions.
  4. Generation Y/Millennials (1980-2000) are the biggest generation (yes, bigger than the Boomers), and are nearly all engaged in the workforce at this point. The youngest Millennials will be ordering their first legal beer this year.
  5. Generation Z (2001-) is starting to enter the workforce in serious numbers now, making them the unprecedented fifth generation to participate at the same time.

On top of that, the mix of generations in the workforce is changing, and changing fast, meaning paving contractors are going to have to adjust even further to make sure they have enough people overall.

“There are 78 million Baby Boomers, and 60 million Gen X. It has never happened before that there wasn’t enough of the next generation to replace the retiring generation,” Hobart says. “That means we have to bring up the following generations quicker, because of the next issue: It’s a statistical certainty that Baby Boomers are going to be fully retirement-age by the end of this decade.”

Hobart, in his session, goes on to explain strategies to find the talent paving contractors need to fill their payrolls, and how to lead these diverse teams in a way that gets the job done.

Those interested in learning more can register for the People, Plants and Paving Digital Conference here, or by visiting


About World of Asphalt

Held every year except during CONEXPO-CON/AGG years, World of Asphalt is the leading trade show and conference focused on the asphalt and paving industries. The World of Asphalt People, Plants and Paving Digital Conference runs March 9-11, 2021. World of Asphalt returns to the show floor March 29-31, 2022 at the Nashville Music City Center. The show features the best education, and latest equipment, products, services and technologies for the asphalt and paving industries. The show is owned by the National Asphalt Pavement Association, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, and National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association. For more information on World of Asphalt, visit

About the National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA)

The National Asphalt Pavement Association (NAPA) is the only trade association that exclusively represents the interests of the asphalt producer/contractor on the national level with Congress, government agencies, and other national trade and business organizations.  NAPA supports an active research program designed to improve the quality of asphalt pavements and paving techniques used in the construction of roads, streets, highways, parking lots, airports, and environmental and recreational facilities. The association provides technical, educational, and marketing materials and information to its members; supplies product information to users and specifiers of paving materials; and conducts training courses. The association, which counts more than 1,200 companies as members, was founded in 1955.

About the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM)

AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide. The equipment manufacturing industry in the United States supports 2.8 million jobs and contributes roughly $288 billion to the economy every year.