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Trade Hounds’ Peter Maglathlin Talks About Building a Better Network for the AECO Industry

By Peter Kray posted 4 hours ago

The Trade Hounds professional platform for commercial trades workers counts more than 200,000 workers on its network, which focuses exclusively on the AECO industry. Here Co-Founder and CFO Peter Maglathlin talks about the brand’s mission to “Improve the lives of the hardworking tradespeople who are building the world around us,” grow the trades, and provide a unique resource for a ‘show vs. tell’ industry.

Can you provide a little background on Trade Hounds, and how you thought this platform could help professionals in the AECO Community?

Our fundamental belief at Trade Hounds is that the construction industry deserves a networking and hiring platform built just for them. While the construction industry is massive, it’s also very unique. It requires a solution built just for them.

We have built the largest and most active online community for tradespeople (think LinkedIn, but for the trades). More than 200,000 workers nationwide have signed up for the platform, and they use it to showcase their work, connect with others in the trades, and find jobs. Contractors are able to leverage our community by posting jobs and hiring directly from our vast community that consists only of tradespeople.

In your brand bio, you said, “This has to be about the workers first.” How does that inform the work you do?

We believe tradespeople are the lifeblood are the industry, and by building a solution they want to use frequently for professional reasons, we can deliver value to a number of industry stakeholders. Said a bit differently, if we’re able to capture the hearts and minds of the worker, at scale, the employers, brands, etc., will follow. Our mission is to ‘Improve the lives of the hardworking tradespeople who are building the world around us,’ and this informs all the decisions we make.

The tradespeople of this country, as well as globally, are a highly skilled and very proud group. They simply haven’t been built a platform that allows them to showcase their skills and develop an online professional profile. A good example of this is the written resume vs. imagery. It’s far more powerful for a tradesperson to be able to show examples of their work vs write about it. It’s a show vs. a tell industry, which is why legacy platforms have struggled to acquire this demographic. We’ve spent the last several years gaining a deep understanding of the worker, and have translated that understanding into the technology we’ve built—mobile first, imagery first, etc…

How do you work for the benefit of trades people?

The Trade Hounds platform benefits tradespeople in a variety of ways, depending on who they are, their career stage. The key benefits are:

  1. Showcase their work to a community that understands them. Trade Hounds is a like-minded community that consists only of tradespeople, so workers can have confidence that if they showcase their work, the viewers will understand them and be able to provide feedback, both positive and critical.
  2. Develop an enduring professional profile. It’s probably not a surprise that most tradespeople are not on LinkedIn, therefore most of them lack a professional identity online that allows them to be discovered. Trade Hounds allows workers to be discovered and appreciated by both peers and employers.
  3. Advice and Networking. Every day, workers are posing questions and receiving advice from other tradespeople on Trade Hounds. Most of our users genuinely want to see the trades grow and younger workers succeed, and we believe we’re helping to facilitate that. It’s also an inherent human desire to connect with others in your ‘tribe.’ Trade Hounds enables workers to connect with other workers, both in their area and across the country.
  4. Finding Jobs. It can be a challenge for workers to find their next job since no one has built a platform for this type of worker. Indeed, Ziprecruiter and LinkedIn were built for the office worker, therefore many tradespeople don’t use those platforms. Many workers rely on word of mouth, which works in some instances but is unpredictable. Trade Hounds provides workers a way to leverage the profile they’ve built on the platform to source jobs from top contractors across the country.

And subcontractors?

Year in and year out, the top concern voiced by contractors across the country is their inability to source skilled tradespeople. We believe a big driver of this is that the worker in this industry had yet to be ‘digitized’, therefore they’re difficult to find. This is one of the key reasons for our worker-first strategy: by bringing the workers onto one platform we enable contractors to hire from the deepest and most engaged labor pool out there.

Very often we hear from contractors that when they post jobs to Indeed and Ziprecruiter they get dozens of applicants that are completely irrelevant, and it ends up being a big waste of time. Contractors can have confidence that all our users are tradespeople, and we’re able to promote the right jobs to the right workers at the right time, saving contractors time and money.

You’re a national brand, but have been seeing significant growth on the Eastern Seaboard and also in Texas and California. What do you attribute that to?

I think it’s because we’re solving an important pain point in one of the world’s largest industries. Tradespeople have wanted a platform of their own, and now have one that works for them. Contractors struggle to source workers, which we’re making easier and cheaper for them. Lastly I think our approach is unique, in that it’s community first and focused on the worker, which I think many folks find compelling.

What are some of the biggest opportunities—and challenges—you’ve observed over the previous year?

The biggest opportunity is driving inefficiency in the construction labor market. It’s a multi-billion dollar opportunity that I think we’re on the path to solving, we just need to continue to execute. After jobs, we think there exist a number of other opportunities: 1) enabling brands to participate on the platform 2) education and upskilling  3) Safety and training. But it all comes down to whether or not we can capture and retain the worker, which we’re laser-focused on in the near term.

Two challenges are top of mind, but both I think are very addressable: 1) Contractor skepticismBecause contractors have been burned by other platforms, they’re understandably skeptical that they’ll have success on Trade Hounds. But the depth and engagement of our worker community ends up being a big differentiator, and we continue to drive phenomenal customer results. 2) Union/Non-UnionWe have thousands of union workers on our platform, and we think it’s important for that demographic to be represented on Trade Hounds. One thing we’re constantly thinking about is how to engage union leaders for the union’s benefit. It’s our belief that over time unions will use Trade Hounds to source new members, but that will likely be a medium-to-long term effort.

How about for the future?

We think we’re chasing a massive opportunity and believe we can help millions of people and companies, as long as we continue to execute. We intend to be the definitive professional platform for the construction industry, providing value to many different stakeholders. We need to continue to listen to industry stakeholders and build great technology that directly addresses their needs.

Next goals?

Over the remainder of 2021 we’re primarily focused on two things 1) Continue to scale our worker community by improving the product experience. The worker is the foundation of our company, and we need to continue to bring to market technology that they love to use. We feel that if we win the worker, we’ll win the market. 2) Deliver great sourcing and hiring outcomes for contractors across the country. We’re confident that contractors both large and small can find immense value in our jobs platform, and we’re very focused on driving awareness amongst the contractor universe and delivering great outcomes for our customers.

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