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AGC’s New Utility Infrastructure Division Reflects Evolving Market

BY CHARLES R. SCHRADER
SLAYDEN CONSTRUCTION GROUP, INC
2012-2013 UTILITY INFRASTRUCTURE DIVISION CHAIR

If you’ve been following the details of the recent AGC of America bylaws change, you may have noticed that the Municipal & Utilities Division has a new name – Utility Infrastructure Division.

Changing the name is not the only thing the Division accomplished over the last year. It also prepared and began implementing a new Strategic Plan to position itself for the future of the construction industry, while creating a “Division of Choice” for both younger people and seasoned constructors. There will be much more to come from these efforts in the near future.

There are a number of stories about how the name “Municipal and Utilities” came to be, but in the opinion of Division leadership, it was inconsistent with the intended scope of its coverage and was also a source of misunderstanding to both members and potential members – particularly when compared to other Division names and marketing approaches.

Over the years, many people were confused by the old name. In many parts of the country – and in the dictionary – the word “municipal” refers to “a town or city or its local government.” As a result, many current and potential Division members thought the Division covered only “construction for towns and cities” and “utility construction.” The coverage is much broader than that, and its new Strategic Plan is designed to attract construction company members who work in all of the following areas: water treatment plants; sewage and wastewater treatment plants; utility construction, including above ground and underground water, sewer, electrical, petrochemical, and information technology; and water-based end products including aquatic facilities, sewage lagoons, distribution centers, irrigation systems, and power generation facilities from converted irrigation systems.

The Division’s Strategic Plan calls for it to represent contractors who build projects with virtually any kind of funding (federal, state, public or private bonds, public/private partnerships), for virtually any kind of owner (federal government, state government, special districts, counties, cities, private individuals and companies) and using any of the modern project delivery methods (“hard bid,” design-build, “construction management at risk” – CM/ GC or CMAR, negotiated cost plus or time and material or fixed fee) and construction practice. The new name advertises those intentions.

Changing the name of the Division will not solve the problems we face in providing relevant and robust support to Division members. But Division leadership believes changing the name will eliminate the misconception that its members do only “underground utility” work and small jobs for cities, while highlighting its intention to reinvigorate its members in their chosen fields. In the words of hockey great Wayne Gretzky’s father – “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” The Utility Infrastructure Division has organized itself for the future so it can “skate to where the puck will be.”