As America continues to grapple with shortages in skilled labor, Carhartt and Tractor Supply are offering some encouragement for those considering trade school.
The two are launching a limited-edition “Support the Trades” T-shirts, with the proceeds going to SkillsUSA, an organization that boosts trade, technical and skilled service training programs.
It’s a crisis that’s getting worse and a cause likely to resonate with the audiences of both brands. Just as the demand for construction workers, for example, is expected to jump from 1.3 million to 2 million in 2023, a quarter of current trade workers are aging out, due to retire in the next five years.
Tractor Supply, which bills itself as the country’s largest rural lifestyle retailer selling everything for “Life out here,” says it’s a shortage meaningful to its more rural customer base.
“Tractor Supply, Carhartt and SkillsUSA all share a common goal: to equip America’s hardworking tradespeople with everything needed to be successful for Life Out Here, whether it’s training, clothing or equipment,” says Jeff Rietveld, vice president, divisional merchandise manager at Tractor Supply, in the company’s announcement. “As the skilled trades gap widens, it is more important than ever that we work together to develop and support individuals to fill these important roles.”
Both Tractor Supply and Carhartt have committed to a $50,000 maximum donation for a total of $100,000.
The effort comes at a time when Tractor Supply is achieving record results. Like competitors Lowe’s and Home Depot, it benefited from the millions of Americans looking to get their hands dirty during the pandemic. And this quarter’s sales figures indicate many intend to stick around.
Released last month, its net sales rose to $3.6 billion, up 13.4% compared to the second quarter of last year. And comparable store sales gained 13.4%. On a two-year basis, those results are 41% higher. The company says it experienced growth in every region and every merchandise category.
And membership in its Neighbor’s Club loyalty program surpassed 21 million, while retention hit an all-time high.
The retailer, based in Brentwood, Tennessee, has had a thriving business with the Dearborn, Michigan-based Carhartt for decades.
Earlier this year, it announced plans to dramatically expand its Carhartt offering in dozens of retail stores. The shop-within-a-shop format had been in 10 stores, now rolling out to more than 100, with additional expansion slated for next year.