Alex Decouto, owner of Greymane Contracting and a former president of the Bermuda Construction Association. *File photo
Alex Decouto, owner of Greymane Contracting and a former president of the Bermuda Construction Association. *File photo

Alex Decouto traded his hard hat for a thinking cap to come up with a new business idea.

The owner of Greymane Contracting and a former president of the Bermuda Construction Association, was tired of seeing a decline in the industry.

Mr Decouto has started Workforce Bermuda, which specializes in finding construction workers for companies. 

Mr Decouto told the Bermuda Sun: I really felt that the construction industry is underserved by labour and recruitment specialists.  

“There is no ‘labour agency’ that a company could call for temporary skilled or unskilled labour, and this is a service that is widely available in other jurisdictions. 

“It is a small niche for a small island, but as someone who has been hiring and firing construction white and blue collar workers personally for several years, I felt like I had the skills to offer such a service.  It is not a capital intensive venture to launch so on a shoe string I have decided to give it a go.”

Mr DeCouto is also putting fingers to keyboard as he blogs about the construction industry. At www.workforcebermuda/wordpress.com, he wrote: “In the last two years, the construction industry in Bermuda has been turned upside down.  

“In 2008 the value of construction work put in place exceeded $450 million.  

“In 2011 it was less than $150 million.  There are so many expletives I want to use to describe the fallout from this, I can’t even choose one!  

Bloodbath

“I’ve watched the value and turnover of my other business, Greymane Contracting Ltd., wither away into nothing.  

“The actual number of firms in the industry remains fairly stable according to the Department of Statistics Employment Survey, meaning that the same 600 plus firms are fighting over 33 per cent of the work they had before. It has been a bloodbath as everyone has cut margins to secure work.  Trust me when I say this — there is no profit in construction at the moment.”

He added: “It has been this desperate, seemingly unending period of stagnation that has prompted me to put my thinking cap on and come up with some creative solutions to diversify myself.  Because I cannot continue under the circumstances.  I just cannot afford it, and cannot afford to do nothing.”

Mr Decouto told the Sun, part of the services he will offer is vetting employees. 

He said this will be of huge benefit for smaller firms that may not have someone to properly vet employees. 

“Some firms already do this efficiently, mostly the larger ones.  But the medium and smaller firms rarely have even an office, it is usually the owner’s house and there are no ‘office hours’.  

“Conducting interviews, background checks, etc., even receiving applications can be arduous for them. When they use our candidates, they can rest assured we have done a thorough investigation and they are what we say they are.”

But this isn’t all one-sided for the firms. Mr Decouto is also helping workers find employment. 

Opportunities

He said: “The benefits to candidates will be that they may get opportunities for positions that might not be advertised anywhere else or even at all.  They may get opportunities to do temporary projects or second jobs for out-of-hours positions.”

One of the benefits that Workforce Bermuda promises companies is they will help sign-up firms with the National Training Board to get apprentices.

He said: “There is quite a bit of bureaucracy around officially registering an apprentice with the NTB and receiving the tax benefit.  

“We can deal with the red tape and get those workers registered and in training.  

“Having apprentices ensures that companies have a pipeline of tradesmen coming down the line, and can point to efforts to train Bermudians if they do find it necessary to have expat tradesmen on staff and need to seek work permits. The benefit to workers is clear, they can train in a new skill, become ‘qualified’ while working.”