New Chairman’s First Message: Taking the Lead

brian new head shot

2015 ABCMA Chairman Brian Jurgens
Senior Vice President
W.T. Kenney Company, Inc.

Successful construction projects depend on people working together, with one member of the team building on work done by another.  As I take over as chair of ABC, I have the benefit of building on the good work done by Tom Descoteaux.  Tom has returned our association to fiscal stability, thanks in part to an increase in membership; presided over a successful drive to improve member communication; overseen development of the Merit Apprentice Program (MAP) and increased our clout on Beacon Hill.

Those very productive two years will make my job easier.  More importantly, they will make our member companies more prosperous by enhancing the opportunities available to high-quality merit shop companies in Massachusetts.

The confluence of more members; a financially strong association with enhanced clout on Beacon Hill; and MAP, which allows members to compete on an even playing field for public jobs.

It also yields results like Charlie Baker’s election as governor.  After eight years of being shut out, ABC’s voice will again be heard in the corner office.  We look forward to working with the new Governor and his administration.

We will also have an open door at the attorney general’s office, which is nearly as important to our members as the governor’s office.  Incoming Attorney General Maura Healey addressed ABC’s board of directors during her campaign and will preside over the installation of new officers of ABC and the Gould Construction Institute on February 3rd at the Burlington Marriott at 8:00 am. (NEW DATE DUE TO BLIZZARD)

Given Tom Descoteaux’s successes, the focus at our November planning conference was Building Community-Keeping Continuity.  This year we will work off strengthening our sense of community with ABC membership through events and on the board with the mentor program for new board members.  At the conference we also worked on a vision to design an industry conference to be held during the first half of next year.

I’m honored to serve as your chairman and thrilled to do so at a time when the outlook for ABC and our industry is bright.  I hope you will help us reach our full potential by being active members.  Happy New Year! Work also continues on initiatives such as MAP, improving association programing and interacting with owners.

A Heartfelt “Thank You” Chairman’s Message

thd photoIt has been a real honor to chair the Massachusetts Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors for the past two years.  Together, we were able to post some important achievements.

Two years ago, our association – and many of our member companies – was still reeling from the Great Recession.  Those impacts were apparent in ABCMA’s membership and its budget.

But two years later, fiscal stability has been restored we are back over 400 members.  Thanks to the good work of our membership team, headed by Ken Ledwak, Massachusetts is among the nation’s fastest-growing chapters.

Last year, improving communication with members was one of the main priorities that emerged from our chapter’s annual planning conference.  Led by Public Affairs Director Chuck Borstel, we went to work, hired a marketing consultant and overhauled our communications operation.  Today we have a significantly upgraded social media presence and the open rates on newsletters, Weekly Member News and other items have spiked.

But perhaps our biggest advance has been in government affairs.  After being locked out of the Patrick administration over the last eight years, we redoubled our efforts to work with legislators and statewide officials, and began to take a more proactive role instead of just trying to stop harmful initiatives.

That strategy has paid off.  We now have legislative champions in both parties, including committee chairs and members who appear to be headed for important leadership positions.  Those champions have introduced important legislation, such as a bill that would prevent housing authorities from giving no-bid contracts to unions, and helped us achieve victories like allowing those who have worked in process piping for four years or more to receive a newly required license without having to take an exam.

Perhaps the best example of our new status was the recent state elections.  Not only was Charlie Baker – the candidate whose policies most closely match our positions – get elected, but we are also developing a strong relationship with incoming Attorney General Maura Healey, whose office may have as much impact on our members and industry as the governor.

None of this could have been achieved without your support and I thank you for that.  I would also like to thank my fellow board members and the ABC staff.

We have accomplished much in the past two years, but there is far more to be done.  I have no doubt that we will continue to make progress under the leadership of incoming chair Brian Jurgens.  I know you will offer him the same support you have given me.  And for that, I offer my heart-felt thanks.

The “Best of the Best” in Merit Shop Construction

 

thd photoAs open-shop contractors, we don’t spend a lot of time touting the quality of our work.  In fact, our ABC chapter has one event each year dedicated to celebrating the cutting-edge work our members do.

 

That event, the Excellence in Construction Awards (EICA) dinner, was held on Wednesday, November 19th at the Granite Links Golf Club, Quincy.  Andy Hiller of channel 7 news served as master of ceremonies.

 

The awards are the culmination of a rigorous process that begins when ABC member companies submit some of the best work they have done in the past year.  Those projects are reviewed by an independent panel of judges, who select Eagle, Merit, Spirit, Safety and Green awards in a variety of construction categories.

 

We hope you joined us to celebrate the best the Massachusetts construction industry has to offer.  And if you didn’t enter this year, we’ll hope you’ll start thinking about entering for 2015.

 

Unlike construction unions, we don’t have the money, the political clout, the time – or frankly the inclination – to promote our accomplishments on a full-time basis.  But like the unions, our contractors do very good work – and they also provide superior value.

 

Perhaps we can learn from construction unions when it comes to doing a better job of promoting our work.  Coming to celebrate some of the very best construction projects in Massachusetts and support the open shop contractors who built them would be a good place to start.

Exercise Your Right

thd photoSometimes it seems as though we’re in one endless election cycle, but the truth is that it’s been awhile since there’s been an election more important to ABC members than the one coming up on November 4th.

For eight years, ABC and the open shop have been closed out of the governor’s office.  During the administration of Deval Patrick that has translated into union-only project labor agreements, licensing boards packed exclusively with union members and other attempts to force us to operate under the union model.  Only the outstanding work of our government affairs team has kept things from being even worse.

But we are confident that November 4th will be the beginning of the end of that era.  We have developed strong relationships with both of the major party candidates for governor Martha Coakley and Charlie Baker.

As many of you know, the attorney general’s office is just as important to ABC members as the governor’s office.  Prevailing wage enforcement, bid protests and many other matters that are important to the construction industry are under the control of the AG.  We are also working to develop a relationship with Maura Healey, who is the favorite to replace Martha Coakley as attorney general.  The fact is Healey is not beholden to the unions or anyone else for her significant primary win.  We’ve talked with her on the importance of a level playing field and a fair chance for open shops to compete, and we believe she approaches our issues with an open mind.

ABC members will be holding fundraisers for some of the candidates for important state offices.  We hope you will keep in mind that what happens on November 4th will have a strong impact on your business and do your part to support our cause.

And no matter which candidates you prefer, let your voice be heard on November 4th, and encourage your employees to do the same.  As we have long said at ABC, “Get into politics or get out of business.”

ABC MA Joins Industry Gas Tax Coalition

 

construction-for-web-370x229At its September meeting, Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts board of directors voted to join a coalition of more than 40 construction industry and other groups that is working to defeat a question on the November ballot that would end the recently adopted practice of indexing the commonwealth’s gas tax to inflation.  We decided to join the coalition because we believe the ballot question’s passage would have a devastating impact on the construction industry and on future public and private development in Massachusetts.

 

In 2009, Massachusetts passed an historic set of transportation reforms that included eliminating the Turnpike Authority, reforming MBTA pensions and health care, and ending the use of capital funds to pay for operating costs.  The clear message was that elected officials wanted to see reforms implemented before any new money was dedicated to transportation.

 

Once the reforms were put in place, a 2013 law increased revenues dedicated to transportation by about $600 million annually.  A number of measures were enacted to pay for the increased investment, including a three-cent hike in the gas tax (the first since 1991) and indexing the tax to the Consumer Price Index.

 

Increased transportation investment provided a huge boost to the construction industry at a time when private investment was scarce and the industry was struggling.  It also spurred private investments that would not otherwise have been made.

 

Indexing the gas tax to inflation is a critical piece of the finance plan that ensures a stable, revenue source for enhanced transportation investments that will keep pace with the cost of doing business.  Eliminating the provision would reduce those investments by around $1 billion over the next decade.

 

The ABC board recognizes that with the rise of hybrid vehicles and federal laws that will require improved fuel efficiency, the gas tax is not a permanent solution to Massachusetts’ transportation funding needs.  We believe it is important that we, together with our partners, work toward a more permanent solution that funds infrastructure investments through the state budget, not taxes.  But that solution will take time.  In the interim, we believe that ensuring a reasonable level of transportation investment is critical to our industry and the commonwealth.

 

The coalition has hired a firm to run the ballot campaign and anticipates it will need to raise $3 million to be successful.  ABCMA will match member contributions to the effort up to $10,000. If you plan to make a contribution to the campaign, please let us know so we can match it.  Thank you for your membership and support for our efforts.

Market Basket Lesson for All: Chairman’s Message

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The story has been front-page news all summer.  One faction executes a hostile takeover of a non-union company and the employees rise up, risking their livelihoods to return the loyalty their former CEO has always shown them.

The media and the public find the Market Basket story irresistible, but we know it isn’t unique.  ABC member companies and their employees have long shared that kind of loyalty.  But it sure is nice for the public to learn that those kinds of employment relationships still exist in an increasingly cynical world.

The Market Basket example couldn’t come at a better time for ABC.  Increasing public awareness of the bonds between non-union companies and their employees will only accelerate the momentum we’re already gaining among elected officials.  The two-year legislative session that recently ended was among the most successful we’ve ever had.  In addition to defeating or amending bills that would have been harmful to the construction industry, we also took a more pro-active role.

Process piping was just one example of the issues on which ABC exercised the growing respect it has earned by organizing and leading a coalition of industry and outside groups to advocate for our position.  We used a similar strategy to amend portions of an Unemployment Insurance reform bill that would have been devastating to construction employers.  Like Market Basket’s loyal, hard-working employees, our members are making for better outcomes on Beacon Hill by working together.

Recognition that ABC member companies are highly professional and treat their employees as such has been growing in state government.  As the Market Basket story plays out in headlines and in TV screens across New England and beyond, the public is also learning about the partnership between our member companies and their workers.

The Market Basket drama ultimately had a happy ending.  It stands as a reminder that great things can happen when we come together – and sometimes sacrifice – for the common good.

Chairman’s Message: Working Safely May Get Old, But so do Those Who Practice it

thd photoMay is a big month for the Gould Construction Institute, Associated Builders and Contractors of Massachusetts’ training affiliate, which is fully licensed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The reason May is so important is because of the Gould’s biggest annual event, the Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) awards ceremony and dinner, when the merit shop industry takes a couple of hours to recognize member companies and their employees for dedicating themselves to jobsite safety and continually improving their safety performance.

The ninth annual STEP awards event was held Thursday, May 15th at 6 p.m. at Montvale Plaza in Stoneham.  Over 200 people attended this event, reinforcing the value of safety to our member companies and their employees.

Lots of companies say safety is a priority, but STEP gives you the tools to make safety a reality.  The process was developed by contractors for contractors and it’s been proving its value for over two decades.

STEP works for small contractors, large ones, and everyone in between by providing an organized 20-point guide to developing and analyzing safety and loss prevention programs.  It incorporates both OSHA-required safety data and self-assessments to provide a comprehensive view of a company’s entire safety program.

And ABC has data to prove that STEP works.  In 2009, STEP participants beat the national averages compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in a number of areas.  Contractors with strong safety records have the advantage when it comes to both bidding for work and negotiating insurance rates.

Don’t wait until someone at your company is injured before getting your employees the proper training.  The Gould is always available to assist you with your training and educational needs. Check them out today at www.gwgci.org.  And while you’re online, don’t forget to go towww.abc.org/stepapp to apply to participate in STEP.

40 ABC Companies Honored by the Gould Construction Institute for Stellar Safety Performance

DSC_0964The Gould Construction Institute (GCI) honored 40 ABC-member companies for their outstanding safety performance and presented nine students with certificates marking the successful completion of their programs at GCI’s 10th annual Safety and Education Night on May 15th at the MontvalePlaza in Stoneham.

Prior to the reception and dinner, Tim Irving of OSHA led a safety seminar.

Thirty-five ABC member companies who train with the Gould were also recognized at the event, as were Gould’s instructors.

Ivan Quinchia, the chair of Gould’s Board of Directors, announced that this year’s Safety and Education Night set a record with about 240 attendees and exceeded sponsorship goals.  He also noted that GCI enrolled more than 630 students during the last school year.

Below are the member companies recognized for their safety performance, listed by the level of their award:

Bronze 

Brennan Interiors Contractors, Inc.

Silver

Alares, LLC

Breen & Sullivan Mechanical Services, Inc.

DECCO, Inc.

Electrical Dynamics, Inc.

Exterior Designs, Inc.

C. E. Floyd Company, Inc.

W.T. Kenney Company, Inc.

J. Lawrence Hall Company

Medford Wellington Service Company, Inc

Methuen Construction Company, Inc.

Metro Walls, Inc.

N.E.L. Corporation

NorthStar Construction Services Corporation

The RELCO Companies

Shawnlee Construction, LLC

C. White Marine, Inc.

Gold

Bowdoin Construction Corporation

Callahan, Inc.

CTA Construction Company, Inc.

Dellbrook Construction, LLC

Elm Electrical, Inc.

Interstate Electrical Services Corporation

LakeHVAC

Rivers Electrical Corporation

R&R Window Contractors, Inc.

Platinum

Cutler Associates, Inc.

Erland Construciton, Inc.

Florence Electric

MJM Masonry, Inc.

The Middlesex Corporation

North Shore Mechanical Contractors, Inc

Pilgrim Interiors, Inc.

Piping Systems, Inc.

Tocco Corporation

R.H. White Construction Company

Windover Construction, LLC

Diamond

J.M. Coull, Inc.

Kaplan Construction

Notch Mechanical Constructors

Five students received electrical trade certificates.  Christian DeJesus is from Electrical Dynamics Inc.  Four others – Michael Grzejka, Alex Jennings, David Mover and Louis LaMarca – are from Interstate Electrical Services Corporation.

Three more students received pipefitting trade certificates.  They were David Byors from E. Amanti & Sons and Connor Bilodeau and Kyle Wyatt from Notch Mechanical Constructors.

Also from Notch is Chris Harris, who received his plumbing trade certificate.

 

Member Spotlight: Kaplan Construction Completes Child Care Center for Bright Horizons

Bright-Horizons-Brookline_Shelly-Harrison-PhotogOver the course of four months and following a complete demolition of the building interior, Kaplan renovated an existing office building located at 138 Harvard Street in Brookline into a new early education and preschool that can accommodate up to 113 children ranging from infants to pre-kindergarten. In addition to the classrooms organized by age group, Kaplan created an interior playroom with a climbing wall as well as a staff lounge, kitchen area, and office space for employees.

The original building was constructed on stilts to provide parking underneath. Kaplan converted 75 percent of the parking lot into green space and a playground with rubber matting. A concrete tricycle path with bridges and tunnels was incorporated into the play area, recognizing Bright Horizons commitment to teaching children about the importance of leading an active lifestyle.

A perimeter fence was installed along Harvard Street and Auburn Street, and low interior fences were constructed to separate the different age groups.

A new roof and mechanical systems were installed and a 140-foot long ramp was constructed to provide an evacuation route from the center to the exterior.

Kaplan worked with the architecture firms StudioMLA of Brookline and Davis Square Architects of Somerville to complete this project for Bright Horizons.

ABC’s MAP Reaching New Milestones

ABC MA’s Merit Apprenticeship Program (MAP) continues to grow and reach new milestones.  The program now has more than 200 registered apprentices, over 20 percent of whom are minorities.

And MAP is not resting on its laurels.  ABC MA Director of Workforce Development John Rich recently presented before the Northeast Vocational-Technical School Advisory Board and he is constantly beating the bushes to sign up new apprentices and companies.

MAP gives companies the opportunity to augment their hiring process and find qualified candidates from the program’s nine labor pools located across Massachusetts and in southern New Hampshire. The program can free human resource personnel or owners from much of the bureaucratic maze of paperwork, thus allowing them to focus on other important responsibilities.

MAP also provides member companies with the opportunity to bid on virtually any public sector prevailing wage job – be it federal, state, local or out-of-state – because the program is registered with the Department of Workforce Development’s Division of Apprentice Standards.

For more information on MAP, contact John Rich at (781) 273-0123 or john@abcma.org.