Skip to content

Talent Magnet Series: Attract! Hire! Retain! – Play by the Rules

Posted by Kevin Nolan on April 18, 2024

Many of my workers were Irish immigrants when I started growing Nolan Painting. Since then, most of them have moved on, and our workforce has diversified. We have hired many folks from Mexico, Central America, and South America. The work ethic among immigrants is very impressive—they came for a better life and are willing to work for it! If you take care of them, they will take care of you.

$100,000 Lesson Learned the Hard Way

I learned the hard way to be vigilant about employment status, and I share this story as a cautionary tale for you. When I started, Homeland Security didn’t exist, and there were no I-9 Forms. People came to America and automatically received a Social Security number. They worked and paid taxes, even if they weren’t legally allowed to work. Now, every worker is required to have an I-9.

The I-9 Form is meant to ensure that employers only hire people legally allowed to work in the US, and you gotta get those forms right. 

In 2013, Homeland Security investigated us. As a result, we were forced to let go of great people from different Latin American countries and fined more than $100,000 for minor I-9 violations. 

However, the fines we received weren’t due to employment status but because our I-9s weren’t completed correctly. We even received I-9 violations for my two sons, who did not present proper ID at the time of hire! We were embroiled with Homeland Security for years. Now, our HR is forced to use an E-Verify system that checks applicants’ employment and immigration status. I recommend you do the same!

The Rules Changed the Game

Since we’re playing by the rules, we can’t legally employ some of the folks who would otherwise be part of our labor pool. Therefore, we have determined that relying heavily on new immigrants to be our future workforce can’t be part of our plan to scale up unless immigration laws change.

While we have some folks from Mexico and Latin American countries, we are not getting any new people, which is unfortunate for everyone. The immigration laws have caused us to pivot and change our cookbook for hiring and growth.

More on labor realities and how to pivot next week! Till then—build muscle.

Categories: Articles