Years ago, an association of medical colleges decided to look for a public relations officer. Its want-ad listed the usual requests for work experience, plus one requirement that stopped me cold: This group demanded that candidates have at least a master’s degree.

I was dumbfounded; many of the best journalists I knew stopped their formal learning at high school. So I asked why. “Because it takes a master’s degree to show you can stick with something,” the association’s recruiter replied.

Academia, it seems, always thinks advancement in life can come solely with a diploma. You in LBM know better—probably better than most, actually, given how many people in your industry with modest academic achievements have done so well, both professionally and financially. But we’ve all had enough encounters with young people (including our own children) to know that LBM doesn’t get much love. Your current and ever-worsening labor shortage won’t be resolved until Americans begin to realize that construction supply can give people a great career they can get passionate about, both for those who skipped college and those who got a degree. And until that sea change occurs, you’ll need to work harder at developing the people already on your teams.

Those two factors make me particularly happy to celebrate three winners of this year’s ProSales Excellence Awards: 84 Lumber for its Super Bowl ad and both HPM and US LBM for their education programs. I expect we’ll catch flak for our judges deciding 84 was smart to spend $20 million on a commercial so provocative that the Fox network refused to run it as planned. But being provocative was 84’s goal, and once it got the nation’s attention, it was able to deliver its real message: We want workers, be they native-born or immigrants.

The result? Since Feb. 6, 84 has received more than 92,000 applications and hired more than 750 people. The ad also generated press interest, such as a Bloomberg story in which 84 was able to point to branch managers who made over $1 million last year in salary and commission. You could say 84 has done all of LBM a favor by spending big so people would notice construction supply.

Likewise, our joint profile of HPM’s and US LBM’s education initiatives shows how well-crafted programs can deliver major dividends for an industry that’s hungry for leaders. Too often today, dealers expect they’ll find new hires who come fully loaded with deep experience, bodacious skills, and a go-getter attitude.

Smart dealers know the diamonds often are buried. They have adjusted their attitude. It’s time for all Americans to learn what a jewel LBM work can be.