Published July 1, 2007 | July 2007 issue
There are so many people that seem to love golf that seasonal workers on golf courses are usually not a problem. The labor pool that we do have at our disposal is usually dedicated golfers themselves, young people in the community that view working at a golf course in the summertime as more fun than work in some cases. I wouldn't say the supply is plentiful, but because of the nature of the business, it tends to attract idealistic young people. ... Sometimes in the autumn, when school again opens, there is a shortage of available persons that aren't going back to school, either high school or college, but that's often filled in by dedicated seniors who enjoy working at golf courses also.
Curt Walker, Executive Director
Midwest Golf Course Owners Association—Bloomington, Minn.
The only thing that basically saved us, about five, six years ago, we got into the H2B [work visa] program. ... It's the best thing that ever happened. Without that, we just couldn't find help. ... We'd go through 30, 40 guys a month it seemed like. And so we just kind of bit the bullet, paying the extra expense to get [migrant workers] up here, but it's well worth it. A lot of people think you bring them up because of the cheap labor, but it's really not cheap by the time you pay them a decent wage per hour plus the expense to get them up here and go through all the legal paperwork to make sure they're legal. But that's how we solved our labor situation on the seasonal end, and without that program, we're just dead in the water. ... In turn, I can actually hire some upper-level people to help manage them. Like this year, we hired three upper-management-type people ... so it's benefited not only our company as a whole, but other individuals as we've hired them.
Dave Galbavy, Owner
Splitrock Landscaping—Brandon, S.D.
In the past, this time of the year through probably mid-July, we used to use a lot of migrant labor to help clean the fields up. But we have been using fewer and fewer laborers each year because [growers] have been depending on mostly the chemical applications to control the weeds. ... I think we have a better understanding of the chemicals. We have gotten some better chemicals, and we have a better understanding of how to use the chemicals. And that's because of research and studies through the universities both in North Dakota and Minnesota.
Nick Sinner, Executive Director
Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association—Fargo, N.D.
I do know that the labor market is a lot tighter, and the attitude of the labor market has changed. ... We are [finding enough summer hires this year]. But I have heard from other people that are newer in the industry that they are having a hard time finding labor. I think that's because of our length of time in the industry here that we can attract people a little bit easier. ... They get vacation pay and health insurance and that stuff. We've been around longer. ... But that company out there-a siding company or a framing company or something like that-[that] doesn't have any vacation pay, doesn't have any health insurance and that kind of stuff, it's a little bit harder for them to find staff.
Gene Mostad, Owner/President
Mostad Construction Inc.—Missoula, Mont.
We were able to find the seasonal workers that we could hire. Normally [we hire] four, but this year with our budget reduction we were only allowed to hire two, so we had to tell two of them that they couldn't come back. They're usually college kids, so they can find a job, but we've had the same few for the last few years.
Terry Popour, Fire Supervisor
Michigan Department of Natural Resources,
Gwinn Management Office—Gwinn, Mich.
[Availability has] actually been, let's say fair. We have been fortunate in the last few years, let's say maybe the last five years or more. We've had better and better retention, and the returning folks are better experienced and committed and reliable, and that's been I think in part dependent upon wage and working conditions. And I know there are just a few people who still have ads in the paper, local businesses, looking for summer help, and I think it reflects on the working atmosphere at those businesses and perhaps the pay. ... I know that for other businesses in the Bayfield region, whose staff leave during the rest of the year, they frequently have a hard time finding housing, and that can affect their ability to hire.
Kathleen Russell, Owner/Broker
Apostle Islands Realty and Rental—Bayfield, Wis.
Interviews were conducted in late May.