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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

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.



ABC’s MAP Can Help Offset Labor Demands for the Upcoming Construction Season

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Though it seems like spring will never arrive this year, it inevitably does and that means the seasonal “bump” in construction projects is just around the corner.  With new work comes the need for more workers, and that’s where the Merit Apprenticeship Program (MAP) can help.

MAP, like its member companies, is gearing up for the increase in labor demand.  Each spring we bring in new candidates such as vocational school graduates and veterans to replenish our regional labor pools.  We also send “to the minors,” those candidates who have not responded to job requests or are not reachable due to changes in phone or email addresses.

Don’t worry if you are trying to build up a backlog of work before you request new employee candidates; MAP candidates are available all year round.  MAP can also help to keep you in compliance if you’re working on jobs in which it’s important to hire minorities, women or residents of a specific city.

For more information on MAP, how to join or how to access our labor pools please go to our website: www.meritapprentice.orgor call ABC MA at 781-273-0123 or email john@abcma.org

Chairman’s Message: Membership a Tradition Unlike Any Other


thd photoThe theme of last year’s ABC MA membership drive was “Membership… A Tradition Unlike any Other.”  As we approach this year’s drive on April 30th and May 1st, that tradition has grown even stronger.

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts chapter earned a best practice award from ABC national for last year’s membership drive, which netted 26 new members in two days. The drive was an important part of the yearlong efforts by our membership team of Ken Ledwak and Dave Murphy that pushed chapter membership above 400 for the first time since 2007.  In 2013, Massachusetts was one of the nation’s fastest-growing ABC chapters.

It was a truly an outstanding recruitment effort with great results, but we cannot rest on our laurels; we need to build on last year’s success.  And that means getting our best recruiters, our current members, to participate.

It is easier then you can imagine.   You don’t need to give up a whole day to take part in the drive; just one two-hour shift on either day.  We will break up into teams and each will have a captain.  Rather than cold calling people you may not know, we ask you to reach out to prospects you know and believe could benefit from ABC membership.

Like last year, we will offer prizes to the individuals and teams who recruit the most new members.  We will also hold a kick-off party the night before the drive on April 29th.

In my December message, I wrote about why membership is so critical for our organization.  From being able to walk into meetings with legislators accompanied by someone who is an employer in the Senator’s or Representative’s district to having the capacity to provide members with legal, lobbying, public relations and programming resources, it all relies on membership.  It is the members that provide ABC with the both the financial resources and the number of potential voters that allows ABC to be effective inside the state house.

Our membership team, has been recognized for excellence in recruitment by ABC national and membership is on the rise.  Please help us build on success by taking part in this year’s drive.

For more information, please contact ABC Membership Director Ken Ledwak at (781) 273-0123 or ken@abcma.org



Member Spotlight: Metro Walls Working on New Residence Hall at St. Anselm College

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Metro Walls_StAnselm Project February 2014Metro Walls has started its work on developing the new residence hall at St. Anselm College in Goffstown, N.H. The 43,000 square foot residence hall is scheduled to be completed this summer and open to students for the fall 2014 semester.

Metro Walls is responsible for the construction of the exterior wall framing and the hanging and taping of all the drywall in the three-story residence which will house approximately 150 beds in single, double and triple rooms.

 ”Even though the snow kept falling we were able to complete the exterior shell on time, without delay, and the exterior framing and sheathing is now complete. This will be beautiful building when it’s done,” said Metro Walls President, Mike Dion

According to St Anselm College, the new residence hall will be an innovative living learning community that extends the college’s efforts to integrate academic and residential life.The residence hall is designed by Lavallee Brensinger Architects in Manchester, N.H.

About Metro Walls

Metro Walls is a full service commercial framing and drywall company based in Manchester, N.H. They specialize in detail, commitment to their customers and safety on and off the jobsite. Their work spans across New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

ABC MA Membership Drive Recognized as Best Practice by ABC National

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Best-Practice-ChampionThe success of the Massachusetts’ chapter’s 2013 membership drive has been recognized with a best practice award by ABC national.The approach taken by ABC MA’s membership team of Ken Ledwak and Dave Murphy will be made available for other chapters to adopt.

A description of their best practice is currently featured on ABC national’s website at (http://nationalconnections.abc.org).  ABC MA will be recognized in the 2014 ABC Workforce Development Conference program guide and during the Opening Night Awards Celebration.  Earning a best practice award also makes ABC MA eligible to receive a Chapter Award of Excellence.

Massachusetts was one of the fastest-growing ABC chapters in the country in 2013.