High-Profile recently had the opportunity to talk with this year’s president of the Connecticut Building Congress (CBC) James Fuda, PE, vice president and director of operations for Alfred Benesch & Company of Glastonbury, Conn.
HP: What’s up next for CBC?
Fuda: Our next monthly program in January presents the topic on Construction Claims. We are offering insight into how to be proactive on avoiding them and identifying the typical situations claims arise. As you know there are a lot of ways to avoid bigger problems later, such as addressing possible issues early on. In my years of experience I am well aware of how being proactive can keep things running smoothly and avoid problems for yourself and for owners.
HP: In February its “The Role of the Dice?”
Fuda: Yes, “Casinos in New England.” We are continuing our commitment to be “ forward thinking” for attendees of our programs and the CBC membership. The CBC Program Committee, realizing that Massachusetts has been the current focus of casinos in New England, convened a panel of experts in the casino industry that will talk about not just what they see happening in the Massachusetts environment, but identify industry trends and opportunities in the northeast. We also will take a look at New York, which is following a similar path as Massachusetts in regard to casinos. The panelists have experience in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Maine. So it’s going to be an interesting program to show what the trends are, where we stand today and where they may develop in the future.
HP: Your company, Benesch, has a Boston office…How much outreach to other states besides Connecticut does CBC represent?
Fuda: I’d say primarily Connecticut but we do have a few Massachusetts firms that are represented by our Connecticut members.
HP: What’s the Annual Joint Dinner for Design and Construction?
Fuda: That is one of the highlights of the year, where every organization that is involved in design and construction, primarily the design engineers and architects and other related design professionals, have a joint dinner. It’s usually around 300 people. Last year the governor was invited and the last two years he has been our keynote speaker. It is consistent with the way the design and construction industry is – projects get done by collaboration now. There is a collaboration between the owner, the contractor and the architect and engineers that is very healthy. Years ago it was like a silo mentality…but today it is more collaborative which I think is a benefit to everybody. So the industry dinner is a glimpse at how the industry has been working together with everyone joining in a night of networking and sharing of information.
HP:What segments of the industry are best served by CBC? Who should attend these meetings?
Fuda: Our membership is an diverse representation of the AEC community. Specifically, any architect, engineer, construction manager, lawyer, or subcontractors who lead the trades, as well as accountants and a broad cross section of others who benefit from it. If they are in construction, design, or providing professional services to any of those major areas they will benefit from the programs.
HP: And you are attracting new people?
Fuda: Yes, things are going well for CBC and I’d like to highlight the leadership of Eric Schatz in membership, Richard Bergman, for marketing, and Tom Beebe and John Hankins on the program committee. Those three committees are very well organized and the way they are supported is an insight into how CBC works. There is a very strong base of volunteers in each of those committees, led by chairmen who work hard with our Executive Director, Terry Casey in a collaborative way. Moving forward this year, what has been very positive is the strong volunteer effort that each of those committees has put forth and how strongly they are working together to get the information out to members and new members and anyone that doesn’t know who the CBC is. Through the marketing efforts use of LinkedIn and social media, and even some creative advertising. By embedding a You Tube video into our December program announcements people could get a personal introduction from the program chairman, Tom Beebe, and Cathy Elithorpe, the program coordinator for this one. <Link for this interview>
HP: And for the spring?
Fuda: We experimented last year with the Magic Bus tour of Hartford in the May program. The idea is to celebrate the architecture of Hartford, but instead of doing it as a slide show presentation, we said “ Let’s see it live.” So, we arranged to use the same double decker bus that was used for the UConn Women’s Basketball team Championship Parade and we viewed the architectural history and icons of Hartford with an narrated 45 minute bus tour followed by a dinner program in historic Union Station in Hartford.. The program created a lot of buzz, so this year we will celebrate another city. This year the magic bus tour will focus on New Haven with a program called, “Master Builders of New Haven” scheduled in May 2014.