A Message from Richard J. Wobby, Executive Vice President of the Associated General Contractors of Vermont (AGC/VT )
We’ve made it to midyear, and I think it’s important to let everyone know where we stand and what we’re doing. Your AGC/VT office is underwater. Now in contractor speak, underwater means it’s costing more than expected, which in this time and day – inflation and recession – I know we all understand.
But in association speak, underwater means we as an organization have grown to capacity. Over the last year, the association has added 30 new members – the most ever.
Post Covid, AGC/VT has proven to be the strongest construction, business association in the state, if not New England. To be able to say that means we had to concentrate resources in the way that our members asked us to.
We’ve had several conversations with the Agency of Transportation concerning inflationary escalation of prices, and we’ve spent a great deal of time trying to help you get through that obstacle. The bigger obstacle is that the Agency of Transportation does not have the ability or the resources to help us through escalation and inflationary problems based on the present-day bidding process.
AGC/VT has now started to work with Federal Highway and our congressional delegation to try and alleviate or provide some help. On top of that, we’ve moved some resources to aid in the bidding and engineering processes being used by different groups and agencies. We’re working to let our agency partners understand that the estimates you made 12-18 months ago that are being used for bids today, are not viable or reliable, and that anything estimated 2-18 months ago is probably about 30% short today.
I wish I had better news to report in this arena. I don’t. But we remain committed to working with state and federal partners to try and make progress in any way that we can.
Over the last six months, AGC/VT has enhanced programs and expanded engagement opportunities. We’ve looked at how to better integrate programs and services to offer more useful and concise programming. Our aim is to not only serve the owners and employers, but also the next generation of builders and those people in the field who are rapidly advancing in leadership roles based on our present workforce situation.
We’ve run programs and training to better align people and process, not only in our organization but in outside organizations to assist in the continued support necessary for all construction related companies and businesses to excel.
We’ve created partnerships between the VT Ready Mix group to aid in the delivery of mining and concrete products. We’ve created a partner organization called Construct Vermont that is working diligently at building Vermont’s construction workforce, which over the last six months has delivered over 2,000 Vermonters to the construction workforce. The industry itself could use another 2,000 workers. We realize that and we’re working toward that.
We’ve aided in the recruitment of new apprentice entrants into the VEICA organization members, and we’ve been very successful in partnering with VTC and several of the career technical centers to help deliver tomorrow’s electricians.
We’ve also partnered with the Vermont Fuel Dealers to provide training opportunities and recertification opportunities to their members. Finally, we’ve realigned Project RoadSafe to become a professional driver’s group to serve the needs of our CDL drivers and heavy equipment operators.
As we have looked at ways to better align people and processes for the efficiency and growth that will be needed over the next 3-4 years, we’ve found that the hardest internal decisions to make have been what services or pieces we should abandon.
That’s a difficult chore and by no means complete, because it becomes multi-generational. The old adage that “we’ve done this forever and need to do it again” isn’t necessarily correct. What we have to look at, and what we have been looking at as an association is, “What does the next generation of builders want and need and does our association deliver that?”
On the engagement side, we’ve hosted a number of exciting events recently. We’ve run two very successful Burgers & Brews outings, and have a big one coming up at AGC/VT headquarters. (Tip: I’d step away from that laptop and come join us, if I were you. You don’t want to miss this one.)
We have not one, not two, but three golf tournaments that we’re hosting this year: the annual AGC/VT one; the VEICA tournament; and we’ve added the Black, White, and Dusty again to the roster. Proceeds from these tournaments are spent on workforce development, scholarships, and increasing inclusion within the industry.
When I tell you that we’re underwater, it’s not a bad thing. It means that your association has become even more focused on helping you work productively, with less stress, and more profitably, so that you can remain more competitive in this market.
Thanks for everything you do this month and every month to keep engaged, to keep your workforce healthy, and to keep our industry strong.