Test them... break down a sample job and talk through it. Ask spot questions to see if they do know their stuff. Set up a test with your excavator/skid steer. Make him demonstrate his knowledge. Look at jobs that he ran at the last company. How far back can you go? Look at the quality one year, five years plus back - basically look at his "portfolio". Check out his last place of employment. Was he there for five years plus? Job jumping to higher pay rates can artificially inflate their pay rate - looking at the past three years should give you a decent idea of his earning potential. What kind of revenue did they generate. It's not all about laying block. Did they manage the job - or just baby sit a crew? To pay someone $40 to $45 K a year not including your burden costs means he's got to be able to produce $xx for your company. Can he do it? If yes - then hire him. Easy to say hire a back up in case he doesn't work out - but that's more money, and that's assuming you could find him. Arm chair quarter backing here.
Lawn Lad, Inc.