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Convention Puts the Giddyup Back in the Construction Saddle

By Jeanie J. Clapp
Editor-in-Chief, Constructor magazine

While the industry waits for the economy to round the bend, attendees at AGC’s 94th Annual Convention in Palm Desert, Calif. got a good dose of optimism. The association delivered a top-notch program, handing contractors the tools they need to put them back in the construction saddle and at the starting gate.

AGC leaders kicked off the opening session on March 6. Joe Jarboe, 2012 president, thanked the generous sponsors who helped make the convention a success. 2013 President Paul Diederich, with the March/April issue of Constructor in his hand, discussed his theme of “Building Knowledge” and encouraged folks to read the cover story that details his history with the association and the industry. And Steve Sandherr, executive vice president, spoke of the accomplishments achieved (see the 2012 Annual Report) and the challenges ahead. Following them, dynamic speaker Peter Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE Foundation, wowed the audience with his enthusiasm and forward thinking, demonstrating what can be accomplished when linear thinking is abandoned for exponential thinking.

From there, members moved from room to room, attending education sessions from technology to safety to environmental compliance, just to name a few. All provided valuable strategies and takeaways, supplied by contractors for contractors.

Before and after sessions, the Constructor Expo offered attendees the opportunity to meet with exhibitors and learn about products designed to improve business practices. Networking, socializing and even virtual golfing energized the Expo hall.

The convention would not have been complete without its award programs, honoring the industry’s best. MTI, a joint venture of Massman Construction Co., Traylor Bros. and IHI Corporation, received the Alliant Build America grand award for best construction project. Opp Construction of Grand Forks, N.D. was recognized as the “best of the best” among the Construction Safety Excellence Award winners. And, at Wednesday’s lunch, the 2013 Liberty Mutual Marvin M. Black Excellence in Partners Award winners were honored: W.W. Clyde & Co. for the West Mesquite Interchange Design Build, Haydon Building Group for the Old US80 at Gila River Bridge, Historic Rehabilitation, and Kiewit for SR-114 Geneva Road Design-Build. Be sure to visit www.constructormagazine.com for future articles highlighting AGC award winners.

As the convention came to a close, new officers took the reins to lead the association in 2013. In addition to Paul Diederich, president of West Fargo, N.D.-based Industrial Builders, Inc., serving as president, Alan Landes, president and COO of St. Joseph, Mo.-based Herzog Contracting Corp., will serve as senior vice president. Charles Greco, chairman of Houston, Texas-based Linbeck Group LLC, will serve as vice president, and Wm. Brian Burgett, president and CEO of Westerville, Ohio-based Kokosing Construction Co., Inc., will serve as treasurer.

“This association serves as the one place where construction firms can come together to build knowledge about our many accomplishments and the challenges we face,” said Diederich, AGC’s new president. “In particular, we have a tremendous opportunity to educate the broader public about the role our industry plays in supporting economic growth, making our structures more efficient and offering rewarding career opportunities.”

As attendees packed up (some with hopes of bringing home a little California sunshine), they had more tools to carry with them — more knowledge, more hope, more friends and colleagues. They’re ready, they’re at the gate, and they’re off!