As America’s skilled workforce ages, along with the country’s infrastructure, too few skilled tradesmen are available to ensure that the nation’s home building, industrial construction and maintenance needs are met. To advocate for America’s tradesmen and to encourage men and women to consider careers in the skilled trades, IRWIN Tools is launching a multimillion dollar advertising and public relations campaign.
These efforts lead up to the third annual National Tradesmen Day on Sept. 20. The nationwide initiative will include TV and digital advertising, media outreach, activation at retail home centers and hardware stores, and jobsite events.
The national TV advertising campaign highlights IRWIN’s 185-year heritage of providing professional tools to professional tradesmen and invites the nation to say “thanks” on National Tradesmen Day. The four-week campaign will air more than 2,400 times and is expected to reach almost 75% of the target market.
As a key television sponsor for the IRWIN Tools Night Race, the spot aired during the race broadcast on Aug. 24, and will appear in highly-targeted programming on networks including ESPN, Discovery, History, Spike, FX, CMT, NBC Sports and The Weather Channel.
Beyond the messages of “thanks,” IRWIN wants people to consider careers in the skilled trades. Young people, especially, have noticed that manual labor is devalued in our culture and because of that stigma, in part, they no longer consider a career in the trades.
While new housing starts in April surged to a five-year high, according to the Commerce Department, the troubling trend that only one skilled worker is entering the workforce for every three who are retiring or leaving these professions must be addressed. Without an adequate supply of tradesmen, who will meet this growing demand and fuel the housing recovery and the country’s longer-term housing needs?
“There was a time when tradesmen were revered for their pioneering spirit, but many of today’s tradesmen are under-appreciated,” said Rich Mathews, senior vice president of marketing for IRWIN Tools. “National Tradesmen Day is about acknowledging the plumbers, welders, builders, electricians and those who work with their hands. Let’s thank them for their contributions.”
To acknowledge the invaluable contributions of trade professionals, IRWIN Tools initiated National Tradesmen Day in 2011.
Philanthropic contractor honored at Bristol Motor Speedway
On Aug. 24, as part of the fourth running of the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, IRWIN Tools celebrated the efforts of one of America’s real working hands, John Teeples from Columbus, Ga. Teeples was Grand Marshal for the event, leading the command for 300 tradesmen to deliver the most famous words in motorsports: “Drivers, start your engines!”
As owner of a contracting company, Teeples has built houses, schools, stores, offices, arenas, parks, churches and more, and has been a driving force in the restoration work that is revitalizing uptown Columbus. He also combines his building talents with his love of long distance running to lead fundraising efforts and home-improvement and construction projects that help our nation’s veterans.
Since 2009, Teeples has organized an event, Run for the Heroes, that has raised $400,000 for nonprofit organization House of Heroes. Currently, alongside the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, Teeples is serving as general contractor to build a custom Smart Home for Sergeant First Class Michael Schlitz, who was severely injured in an IED explosion during a tour of duty in Iraq.
“Tradesmen like John make my life work,” Schlitz said. “My recovery hasn’t been easy, but the vision and the effort John has put into building my house will allow me to live my life as omfortably and as independently as possible. I am incredibly grateful to John and his crew for their hard work and I admire their dedication to their craft.”
Teeple's passion for his work never wanes and he recognizes the important role tradesmen play in society.
“We make lives better by improving the places where we live,” he said. “I think I can speak for most tradesmen when I say I love working with my hands. We’re proud that we can contribute to others through our trade and while the work is very rewarding, it also feels great to have people say, ‘thanks.’”
Appreciation events complement media campaign
IRWIN associates and their retail partners plan to thank tradesmen across the country on National Tradesmen Day. IRWIN will conduct events and provide many tradesmen with free products and other gifts from IRWIN as a token of appreciation.
One such event will take place at in the Freedom Tower in New York City. IRWIN employees will greet and thank the tradesmen who built the newest addition to New York City’s skyline. Other appreciation events will take place that day at hundreds of jobsites nationwide, including in Chicago and Charlotte, N.C.
“IRWIN Tools is committed to starting a national dialogue about the skills gap. We need people to consider a career in the trades so we have tradesmen to build our cities and repair our infrastructure,” said Mathews.