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  • CompTrustAGC: The Best in the Industry

    Alabama AGC’s workers’ compensation fund, CompTrustAGC, remains one of the largest, most stable construction self-insured fund in the state. CompTrustAGC is the only self-insured fund in Alabama with an A.M. Best rating of A-.

    What does this mean to a contractor? While you work hard to ensure that your business is financially secure you may not be if you are in a fund that is not financially secure. Participants in a self-insured fund are joint and several liable for the other participants. So, if the fund you are in is not financially sound you could be responsible for liabilities it incurs.

    CompTrustAGC has more than $90 million in assets with a well-capitalized members’ equity. Since 1994, CompTrustAGC has returned more than $101 million in contribution credits to its members.

    You can become a leader in the industry through participation in Alabama AGC. And, you have the ability to place your business with a secure, financially sound workers’ compensation fund located in Alabama with a secured A.M. Best rating that no other Alabama fund has.

    With today’s economy, this gives you the peace of mind of knowing you are indeed looking out for your company’s best interest.

    The AM Best rating process involves a comprehensive analysis of a company’s balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile.  This includes comparisons to peers and industry standards as well as assessments of operating plans, philosophy and management.

    A.M. Best Company is a global full-service credit rating agency dedicated to serving the insurance industry.  It began assigning ratings in 1906, making it the first of today’s agencies to use symbols to differentiate the relative creditworthiness of companies.

    You may see CompTrustAGC’s rating by going to www.ambest.com and using the A.M. Best #055028 or by typing in Alabama Branch of Associated General Contractors of America, Inc. Self–Insurers Fund.

    In addition to that rating, CompTrustAGC has given back $101.4 million in contribution credits (dividends) since 1994.  Approximately 330 Alabama AGC members participate in the fund.

    During the 2014 year, our insured’s have been receiving their share of $3 million in credits.

    Also, Alabama AGC has the ability to apply additional discounts to the already reduced premium on new submissions until the insured is eligible to participate in our dividend program.

    Contact Josh Caton at (205) 451-1400 or joshc@alagc.org for membership information. Contact, or have your agent contact, Tammy King at (205) 451-1414 or tammyk@alagc.org to get a workers’ compensation quote.

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  • Alabama Construction Hall of Fame: An Outstanding Class of Nominees

    The list of nominees for induction into the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame at the 2015 Alabama AGC BuildSouth Awards Banquet on Jan. 16 at The Club has been set. Inducted into the ACHOF in 2014 were Robert Paul Barnett, Barnett Associates; Patrick Davis, CMH Architects; Leroy McAbee, Sr., McAbee Construction; Earlon C. McWhorter, McWhorter and Co.; Sam Moore, Moore Corporation

    Other Hall of Fame Members are:

    2013 – Jamie Aycock, Alain J. Gallet, the late Leon Goddard and William A. Hunt

    2012 – Richard E. Barrow, Frank M. Cater, James S.M. French and W.S. “Billy Newell

    2011 — Robert E. Almon, Jim Anthony, Daniel D. Bennett, the late

    Norman Walton, Sr.

    2010 — James Floyd Pate, Sr., Major L. Holland, Richard Saliba and

    Glenn Bishop

    2009 — D. Riley Stuart, Joseph P. Giattina Jr. and Henry T. Hagood Jr.

    2008 — The late Benjamin Hogan Craig, Jr.,William W. Herrin, the late

    J.V. Rives, Jr., Charles H. Sain and Norman Walton, Jr.

    2007 — Bill Harbert, W.K. Upchurch, Jr., and the late Bill Caton, Sr.

    2006 — Houston Brice, Sr., Hugh Daniel and John Harbert

    2005 — John Caddell

    2004 — M. Miller Gorrie

    2003 — Winton “Red” Blount

    2002 — George Edwards

    2001 — The late D.W. “Bill” Ellard, Paul B. Krebs, Nicholas H. Holmes Jr.

    The Alabama AGC established the ACHOF to honor and recognize outstanding individuals in the construction industry. These individuals are held in esteem by their peers and have demonstrated their professionalism through active support of the industry through their civic and community involvement. In short, only those who have literally changed the landscape of our state and nation will be enshrined in the ACHOF.

    One must have served the Alabama or Florida construction industry – as a general contractor, a specialty contractor or supplier, an architect or an engineer – for at least 25 years to be eligible for the hall of fame.

    Nominated for induction into the ACHOF during the 2015 BuildSouth Awards Banquet in January are:

    Gerald “Gerry” V. Anderson, Jr. – Anderson Construction

    Mr. Anderson is a third-generation contractor and has worked in the construction industry for more than 50 years. In 1964, he co-founded Anderson Construction Company and has helped build the company from a used pickup truck with a borrowed wheelbarrow into a multi-million dollar corporation. Like many small contractors, Mr. Anderson has worn many hats in his career – starting as an apprentice carpenter in 1958, working as a field supervisor and progressing to estimating and project management roles before becoming a corporate officer. Throughout his career, Mr. Anderson has been involved in the construction of more than 150 buildings in Southeast Alabama, Southwest Georgia and Northwest Florida and has truly shaped the landscape of our region.

    Uday R. Bhate – Bhate Geosciences Corp.

    With more than 40 years of experience in designing and managing large complex geotechnical and construction materials engineering projects, Mr. Bhate is best known for practical and cost-effective solutions to difficult site and subsurface engineering problems. Mr. Bhate has served as principal on more than 10,000 construction projects, many of which have been fast-track, where design and construction activities occurred simultaneously. Project sizes have ranged from small to in excess of $3 billion. He founded Bhate Geosciences Corp. in 1973.

    Don Brown – Brown Studio Architecture

    Mr. Brown founded Brown Studio Architecture in Montgomery more than 30 years ago. His firm has completed more than 2,000 projects valued at more than $1 billion. Brown’s education includes art history at Williams College and the Auburn University School of Architecture, where he has also served as an assistant professor and chaired the Architecture School’s advisory council. He has served as chair of the Montgomery Historic Development Commission, the Alabama Architectural Foundation, and the Alabama Council on the Arts and Humanities. He served as ArchiPAC chair from 2008 through 2010 and developed a strategic plan for national political outreach and tactical engagement for the AIA.    
     

    John Downs – Qualico Steel Co., Inc.

    Mr. Downs founded Qualico Steel in 1976 to provide quality structural steel fabrication and erection to owners and general contractors primarily on small commercial projects within a 100-mile radius. He quickly made a name for prompt service, honesty and quality. In 1984, he started a planned growth process and concentrated his efforts on medium-sized commercial and industrial projects throughout the Southeastern United States. From that success, Qualico has grown into a major structural steel manufacturer of medium-to-large industrial and commercial projects, specializing in fast-track projects and high labor specialty fabrication and painting. Qualico’s services include complete engineering, efficient fabrication and top-of-the-line blasting and cleaning in a 474,000-square-foot facility.

    James Calvin Harbison – Brasfield & Gorrie, LLC

    Mr. Harbison grew up in Walker County and graduated from Walker High School before coming to Birmingham to enter the construction industry. He began work in the carpentry trade and his ability and leadership were soon recognized and he moved rapidly ip the line from apprentice to carpenter to lead man to foreman to superintendent. Mr. Harbison joined Brasfield & Gorrie in 1969 and Brasfield Chairman Miller Gorrie referred to Mr. Harbison as the “most exciting hire I ever made.” In 1977 Mr. Harbison became general superintendent. Said Mr. Gorrie: “For over 40 years of his active construction career, there was no person in the construction industry in Alabama with more integrity and competence and having the respect of all individuals at all levels than James.”

    David Hare – B.L. Harbert International

    Mr. Hare has been known to start his day with boots in the dirt consulting a site superintendent, then lead a lunch and learn on safety best practices, then finish the day flying to Washington D.C. to lobby Congress for our industry’s best interests.  From humble roots, Mr. Hare has helped revitalize construction trades as a viable and respectable profession and has restored the pride in safety and workmanship that is essential for our industry to remain strong and influential. In his 44 years in the industry, Mr. Hare has led, inspired, educated and built across the state and nation. He has literally changed the landscape of Alabama.  Mr. Hare joined B.L. Harbert International in 2000, where he is vice president and general superintendent.

    Ralph A. Hargrove – Hargrove Engineers + Constructors

    Mr. Hargrove’s reputation for quality work and his dedication to building relationships led several potential clients to encourage Ralph to start a technical services business. In 1995, he first opened shop in the attic of his home in Mobile, Alabama, with only a handful of employees. As business opportunities steadily increased, he realized there was a need in the Mobile industrial community not only for specialized technical services, but also for quality engineering and project management services. He positioned his firm to provide services for small projects, retrofits, incremental automation improvements and turnarounds – work that the larger competitors largely ignored. As Hargrove Engineers + Constructors grew, it maintained its reputation for being the “right people, in the right place, at the right time.” Because Hargrove upheld its dedication to completing projects with quality, speed and professionalism, the company began to be awarded more and more major capital, turnkey and multi-discipline projects and is now regarded as one of Alabama’s largest privately-held companies.

    As the president and president of the board of this employee-owned company, Ralph has made it his personal mission to ensure leadership is developed and encouraged throughout the company and that every project – no matter how large or small – is handled with the utmost attention to safety, quality, communication, and meeting scope, schedule, and budget expectations.

     The late Ben M. Radcliff, Sr. – Ben M. Radcliff Contractor, Inc.

    Mr. Radcliff was a graduate of Alabama Polytechnic Institute (Auburn University) where he received degrees in Civil and Mechanical Engineering.  He was the founder and Chairman of the Board of Ben M. Radcliff Contracting, a company he founded in 1956 which specializes in commercial and industrial construction. Mr. Radcliff was a tremendous asset to the construction industry in Mobile for over 51 years.  Mr. Radcliff was a Past President and founding member of the Mobile Chapter, AGC.  He was involved in numerous civic and mystic organizations throughout his career and gave generously of his time and efforts.

    William K. Whitesell, Jr. – Whitesell-Green, Inc.

    Mr. Whitesell graduated from High Point High School in High Point, NC in 1958. He graduated from North Carolina State with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. Mr. Whitesell and his partner, Ralph Green, founded Whitesell-Green in 1970. WGI has more than 40 years of public/private construction and design-build contracting experience throughout the Southeast, having built more than 400 heavy/commercial projects WGI is licensed to perform construction in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia and Kentucky. Mr. Whitesell served as president of the Northwest Florida Chapter of the AGC in 1977, 1978 and 1979. He was president of the Florida AGC Council in 1979. He also has served on the AGCA Federal Heavy Division Committee since 1994. He also serves at the national level on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Committee, the NAVFAC Committee and is a Life Director.

     

     

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  • Getting to the Bottom of the Workforce Shortage

    SUMMARY

    As the construction industry continues to recover from a years-long downturn, one of the biggest challenges many firms are running into is the lack of available qualified professional staff and craft workers.*  The Associated General Contractors of America first identified labor shortages back in 2013 when it released the results of an initial survey of construction worker shortages.  During the past twelve months, however, many of our members have indicated that the labor market has only become tighter.  As a result the association decided it was time to conduct another exhaustive survey of construction firms to gauge the extent of worker shortages, measure their impact on the industry and how firms are coping with the challenge, and try to better understand the root cause of the worker shortages.

    What is clear from the following results is that construction worker shortages, particularly among craft workers, are becoming more severe.  This shortage has a lot to do with the poor quality, and quantity of local construction training programs, particularly for craft workers.  These shortages are prompting contractors to pay more to retain and recruit talent and forcing them to increase their use of subcontractors and staffing agencies to complete projects.  Yet despite improving compensation levels, many firms continue to lose talent to other higher-paying employers.  Ultimately, tight construction labor conditions will lead to higher construction costs as firms struggle to protect already extremely thin margins.

    *For the purposed if this survey, “professional staff” refers to all types of employees other than craft workers.  This includes executives, managers, office professionals and field supervisors.  Craft workers include professional carpenters, equipment operators, plumbers, laborers, etc.

    SURVEY ANALYSIS

    Worker shortages are getting worse, particularly among craft workers.  A year ago when AGC of America first surveyed construction firms about the state of the labor market, seventy-four percent of firms reported having a hard time finding qualified craft workers while 53 percent reported having a hard time filling professional positions.  Now, 83 percent of construction firms report having hard time finding enough qualified craft workers while 61 percent report having hard time finding qualified construction professionals.

    As a result, many firms are changing the way they operate.  Indeed, nearly half of responding firms (48 percent) report they have increased their use of subcontractors during the past 12 months because of difficulty filling positions.  Thirty-seven percent of firms report increasing their use of staffing firms while 19 percent have invested in labor saving equipment, tools and machinery to cope with worker shortages.

    Worker shortages are prompting many firms to increase pay, benefits and overtime.  Fifty-nine percent of construction firms report they have increased base pay rates for construction craft workers in an effort to retain and attract workers.  Twenty-four percent report providing incentives and/or bonuses while 23 percent have increased contributions to, or improving benefits for craft workers. Even though craft worker shortages appear more severe, similar numbers of firms have improved pay and benefits to retain and recruit construction professionals.  Fifty-six percent of firms report increasing pay for construction professionals, while 28 percent are offering incentives and bonuses and 24 percent improving benefits to recruit or retain key construction professionals.

    Despite offering higher pay and better benefits, many firms are losing workers to construction firms and other industries.  Twenty-eight percent of firms report losing craft workers to other local construction firms while 15 percent report losing them to construction firms in other parts of the country.  At the same time 25 percent of firms say they lose craft workers to other industries in their area while 15 percent say they lose them to other industries around the country. Many firms also report having a hard time hanging on to qualified construction professionals.  Twenty-two percent report losing construction professionals to nearby contractors while 14 percent say they lose them to contractors outside of their area.  Seventeen percent of firms say they lose construction professionals to other industries in their area while 9 percent say they lose them to other industries around the country.

    Most firms don’t expect the market for qualified workers will get any better.  Eighty-two percent of firms believe it will become harder, or continue to be hard, to find and hire craft workers during the coming 12 months.  Only 4 percent of firms expect it will get easier.  Meanwhile, 70 percent of firms expect the market for construction professionals will remain tight, or get tighter, during the coming 12 months, while only 6 percent think it will get easier.

    Most contractors have a low opinion of the craft workers training pipeline.  One reason many contractors don’t think the labor market will improve soon is because they have a particularly low opinion of the training pipeline for craft workers, and to a lesser extent for construction professionals.  Fifty-five percent of firms rate the overall quality of the local pipeline for new construction craft workers as poor or below average while only 8 percent say it is above average or better.  Meanwhile 35 percent rate the pipeline for preparing new construction professionals as poor or below average while 18 percent rate it as above average or better.

    Craft worker shortages are slightly less severe in the northeast, compared to the rest of the country, while professional position shortages are relatively consistent across the country.  There is a direct relationship between the severity of craft worker shortages and the quality of the local training pipeline.  In the south, where 86 percent of contractors report having a hard time finding qualified construction craft workers, 67 percent of contractors rate the local training pipeline as below average or worse.  Conversely, in the northeast, were only 67 percent of contractors in the northeast report having a hard time finding qualified construction workers, contractors have a better opinion of the quality of the construction training pipeline, with 53 percent saying local training programs are average or above. 

    CONCLUSIONS

    What this survey makes clear is that the construction industry is likely to face significant, and growing, worker shortages, as demand for construction continues to rebound.  These shortages will help boost already generous construction pay levels, but are also likely to force contractors to charge more to complete construction projects or forgo bidding on projects they lack the manpower to complete.  Rising construction costs and slower scheduled could in turn undermine the already tepid recovery in demand.

    The solution is to improve the pipeline for recruiting and preparing the next generation of construction workers.  The Associated General Contractors of America has written a workforce development plan that you can read on its website, agc.org. The plan identifies a series of steps that federal, state and local officials should take to reinvigorate the pipelines for new construction workers.  Among those steps, increasing funding for career and technical school programs via the Perkins Act, making it easier to establish construction career academies and enacting comprehensive immigration reform.

    The plan is also designed to compliment steps chapters are already taking to address growing construction workforce shortages.  And it is designed to work in conjunction with a range of steps AGC of America is taking to support national construction recruiting campaigns like Hiring Our Heroes, Build Your Future and Skills Challenge USA.  The association’s goal is clear, to make sure firms that once struggled because of the lack of work don’t have to continue suffering because of a lack of workers.

    BACKGROUND

    The Associated General Contractors of America conducted the survey of its members starting in August and lasting through September 2014.  Over one-thousand firms, representing a broad range of firm types and sizes, completed the survey.  Among responding firms, 34 percent perform highway work, 50 percent work on public buildings, 51 percent work on retail, warehouse and lodging structures, 50 percent build private office buildings, 37 percent build manufacturing facilities and 27 percent build multi-family structures.  Thirty-five percent of responding firms perform $10 million a year or less worth of work.  Twenty-six percent perform between $10.1 million and $30 million while the rest perform more than $30 million worth of work each year.  Respondents were not paid or otherwise compensated for their responses.

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