Episode 1 Transcription

Kofi Darku:                   Welcome to the first ever episode of the skill up buildup podcast where we're leading talent to      thrive. We are your hosts. My name is Kofi Darku and

Adam Scholtes:            I'm Adam Scholtes

Kofi Darku:                   and we have a treat for you for this first episode, the CEO and President and COO of Morales Group will be joining us, and they're going to help us discuss things that are in our wheelhouse related to workforce development, talent development, and the future of work. Adam, tell us more about what's going to go on in this episode.

Adam Scholtes:            Yeah, Kofi. Thanks. I really enjoyed this podcast with Tom and Seth. A couple of things that stuck out to me. Tom defines a new growth for your business. What does that mean and how does new growth for your business pertain to associates, he also talks about the workforce that, you know, there is more workforce out there. It's just different. What kind of different workforce is out there to help your company grow. Very fascinating stuff from Tom and Seth.

Kofi Darku:                   Great stuff. Let's jump in.

Adam Scholtes:            Awesome.

Kofi Darku:                   Thank you for joining us on the skill up build up podcast where we're leading people to thrive, we have a treat today. We have some heavy hitters from the Morales Group joining us in this episode.

Adam Scholtes:             Yeah. Welcome guys.

Tom Morales :              Well thank you for having us.

Adam Scholtes:            Awesome. So Tom, we're going to start off with you. What is the five year vision for the Morales Group?

Tom Morales :              I think before I start with the vision, I just want to share that we sort of want to continue to something and that is to make sure that whatever that vision has, it's purposeful, it derives meaning and it's impactful. And what I really think about the vision is the growth of the company until many times we're talking about growth, being more of the numbers, the bottom line, the revenue wise and I think that's important because we do want to grow that and that can be done different ways, acquisitions or just organic growth. But I think the new growth that we're talking about is what we call developing our associates to a new level, to a new skill and that's the growth that I want to see embedded for the next five years. A lot of different plans that go along with that and it changes from year to year, but it's basically the five year plan.

Adam Scholtes:            Awesome. Thank you. Yeah.

Kofi Darku:                   Well I'll just jump in real fast. Developing those associates, you're getting close to my wheelhouse here and I mean that's why we're doing what we're doing with workforce development. So, I'm very, very pleased to see how it's a long-term goal for this company. You want to talk about the vision for the next five years?

Seth Morales :              Yeah, absolutely. So again, great to be a part of this kickoff podcast. I'm really excited about the future of where we're headed as a company. As Tom mentioned, we definitely have plans to continue our growth and be very purposeful is he also mentioned the need to pour into you associate those external contractors that we put to work is going to be really, really key. Also. We've got plans to expand physically, so right now we're in the state of Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina and we want to continue to build out the Midwest footprint. We think that, um, we've got a pretty good market here in our backyard, but there's a good market around us and other surrounding states, so we want to dominate the Midwest and expand that way. We also want to expand our service offerings. So right now we do a lot of light industrial staffing, which is in logistics and manufacturing, but we also want to expand that offering to skilled trades or more technical roles. So we're looking at different verticals where we can start to build upon how we can offer different roles outside of just logistics and manufacturing. So really excited about that with providing new jobs and opportunities because the mission of the Morales Group is to build a better future and so when you have those better paying jobs or those different job offerings that provides a great pathway to skill up and build your future, one story at a time.

Kofi Darku:                   Well said. I'm loving this conversation because there is so much overlap with workforce development and I'm grateful that you all were forward thinking and proactive about making sure that there was intentionality with workforce development. Either of you, whoever wants to jump in first on this question, feel free, but can you speak to your intended impact on workforce development in our region and within the Midwest or even nationally?

Seth Morales :              I'll shoot first with the intent to really grow this out. I think there's a lot of agencies out there that don't lift up this workforce and they're underserved and then you also have kind of the macro problem with all the skills gaps and the labor shortages. So we see a real calling to pour into this and obviously Tom has put his investment into providing a role into this and building it out, and so we want to be the thought leader and we also not only want to be the thought leader, but we also want to be that leader in action. So we want to kind of lead the charge from, from above, which is kind of having the vision, but on the ground floor. We want to be able to be a leader with just impacting the lives of the folks that we staff up and we've probably got about on average 3,500 to 4,000 employees working for us out in the field. So it's a great opportunity to pour into these people and really kind of lead the charge with developing and skilling them up.

Kofi Darku:                   Now when you say this workforce, because huge implications for episodes to come this workforce is the immigrant, refugee population or sometimes we even refer to them as the disconnected populations. Those populations that are marginalized. I think it's to the credit of Morales group that there has been a focus on diversity for a long time, and to your point, unfortunately a lot of these groups that haven't been, uh, had access to some good paying jobs and great employment opportunities. So, uh, to intentionally focus on that group is, is a strong statement.

Tom Morales :              If I may Kofi, what Seth said is so correct, in the fact, and then your statement about the immigrant, the reality of it is that are those individuals here in this country that, uh, sometimes need an assistance and sort of the, what I call the igniter piece and that's what we've decided we're going to be, we're going to be there for them because we want them to have a better future. But sometimes it just takes an extra step. Part of that is language, part of that is culture. Part of it is just a reality of wanting to serve and help others. Uh, but we've also been sort of driven to do much more of this because of the actual unemployment and how things are going. So the reality of it, there's a lot more workforce out there. They're just different and it requires us to take extra steps. Otherwise what you'll be doing is doing the same thing and many of our competitors will do the same thing. But meaning that they work around the same pool of individuals unless they decide to take that extra step. And that for us has been an investment not only in the director's role, when we found the, uh, workforce development, the outreach component, and that's another piece. So we feel very, very, uh, motivated to be part of it because that outreach is what we consider the community giving and the connection that we want.

Kofi Darku:                   So, um, we hear thought leadership and workforce development. There's two other very important aspects here that I hope you can also speak to. What's your intended impact on the business sector, the companies you work with? Can you speak to your intentions or hopes there?

Tom Morales :              Yeah, and I'll start. I think it's a really important for us to allow ourselves to communicate what the purpose is behind what we're trying to do. There's a lot of great companies out here and there's a lot of good companies that just, they don't know exactly how to reach out to certain, a certain workforce. The other part of it is that they're also willing and waiting for somebody else to do it for them or to sort of be the, I hate to say it almost a Guinea pig in the situation, but more importantly, it's almost, it's so important to know that you're giving them something that they really truly need and they just don't know how important and how impactful it can be because the strength of that workforce, they look at these jobs as opportunities and they want to do more. So it's just a workforce, it's very different. I hate to say that sometimes than the one that's currently in our position right now.

Kofi Darku:                   Seth, do you have anything to add to that?

Seth Morales :              The only obvious thing I'd add to that, that comment, it's just you know, there's an obvious need for for people. There's almost 100,000 job openings today in the state with employers and so it's definitely gonna fill immediate need for, for what they have, because there's...to all the employers that we speak to time and again, they've got this gap. They've got this issue, and this initiative with trying to scale up and build this workforce up and provide them another skill or level set that allows them to advance and help the employer out, it's only going to help them as an employer. So we see a good opportunity there.

Kofi Darku:                   Awesome. Now there's also been mention of service and uh, I know everyone at this table can speak to how important it is to lift the communities that we work with up and, and also fulfill a service, sort of a part of our job. It's, it's enriching. It's, it's good for our souls and spirits. Can you speak to some of the intentions in terms of how you want to continue to impact the communities that you've made a great connections with and help them gain some access to some of these great jobs?

Seth Morales :              Yeah. I mean, you know, one of the things that we've done in particular at Morales Group was to create an outreach role that is intentional about building these partnerships and um, they go out into the community with these different partnerships, whether it's the Immigrant Welcome Center or a Veterans Organization or a nonprofit and really try to pour into them and serve, and so our staff is encouraged to do that, and in return, which is great, we're able to forge a partnership and sometimes they'll send us talent that we get to help find employment for. So that's something that we've been very intentional about. This is something that Tom saw an initiative three or four years ago, invested in a full time role at Morales Group. And hence it's taken off. And so we've really built, I think a tribe or a community around Morales Group. And so we want to continue to do that. His parents came here to Indianapolis in the fifties and there was no community and so we feel like it's kind of our legacy to continue on building upon these different communities and those that are maybe underserved and give them kind of that a next step or bridge that gap so they can kind of have that, that next opportunity.

Adam Scholtes:            Seth real quick, so with, with the outreach community and what you guys have built at the Morales Group, how do you see the organization, the companies that we work with, how do they, uh, kind of take to the outreach piece of the business because it is a little different than what most agencies are doing.

Seth Morales :              So say that again.

Adam Scholtes:            The, the customers love the Morales Group. How do they take to, to an outreach community to, uh, seeing what you're doing within those communities? How do they, how do they kind of can kind of plan, how do they fit in the puzzle piece aside from just getting associates?

Tom Morales :              Yeah, I'll address that. I think it's important to know that sometimes you're providing them with a skill that a is an unknown, basically because many of the so called immigrant has developed a skill in their own country that isn't quite as obvious here, and so we know that those needs are there and that could be in manufacturing that can be in it, that can be another service agreements, but, but what we find ourselves doing is, uh, the customer himself wants something different than he's had before and they're looking for things because it's pretty much been the same old thing for over and over for a long time and they're frustrated. Part of that is turnover, part of is a type of individual would bring, but now what they're seeing is that they feel that there's hope in something very different. And if I may, I wanted to address the, um, the serving, the giving. Um, the reality of it is when you do something and don't expect something for it, it's amazing what you get from it. And I really believe that, and it's not that we're not affected and benefiting from those individuals, but when you do it with the purpose, first of all, not just looking at that bottom line, but looking to see what you can do for that individual. The rewards are tenfold back and they really are. I mean, the satisfaction, and I hate to say this, but at so many times the programs that are available today are trying to read the reach of masses. I might reach one or two, I might reach 20 or 50, but I'm willing to do that piece of it because I think that's just as important as trying to get a big program, get the funding to do something when I have the opportunity to do some of these. So.

Kofi Darku:                   Well, very insightful conversation. Thank you both for coming and joining us today. Seth,  I really like how you are emphasizing that even today in the state of Indiana, there's 100,000 open positions. We know that there are people out there that have the talent and the drive and all of those intangibles that would make them great candidates. Uh, unfortunately they are foreign to that potential employer. So with that being said, Tom, I'm grateful that you want to invest in developing associates to get them to that next level. That is a very, very smart and logical way to try and address that need. This show is all about addressing those needs. If you want to continue this conversation, look up #skillupbuildup a, see where, see what we're talking about and realize that we are leading people to thrive here. Thank you both for being on this episode and uh, keep doing great work.

Adam Scholtes:            Wow. What a treat that was to have tom and Seth here with us right now. Not only leaders within the business community, but just leaders in the community in general. Really loved what Tom was talking about at the end there, you know, you can go out and you can, you can find funding, find grant money to build some program for the masses of people, which is, which is good and thoughtful, but sometimes the mission just has to be to help one or two people. And I love that. That really stuck with me at the end there.

Kofi Darku:                   Yeah, Tom also made some significant impressions on me with this episode. Um, the fact that he's so dialed into making sure actions of the Morales Group are purposeful, meaningful, and have an impact. Sometimes it's hard for leaders to make sure that those basic things are going to have their way in the company, but he's focusing and I trust it's going to happen.  And also appreciate how Seth is thinking about the next iteration. He is the future in terms of leadership. So his talk about expansion and domination, you know? Really impressive. Well, it's obvious you're going to see in episodes to come as you did in this episode that the war for talent is real.  Skill up build up is a place to connect with business and community leaders to surface forward thinking solutions for a better skilled workforce to compete in the 21st century. Please check us out at #skillupbuildup. You can always stay engaged with the conversation that way and please make sure that if you want to learn about how you lead people to thrive, you stay in touch. Thank you.