The Associated General Contractors of California's (AGC) 2016 Annual Conference drew more than 460 attendees to the Portola Hotel in Monterey October 19-22, 2016, setting a record as the highest attended conference in well over a decade for the state's largest construction association.
Many of California's top construction industry leaders and affiliated industry professionals, along with more than 70 AGC student chapter members representing 9 of the 13 AGC of California student chapters, turned out for the action-packed conference held at the Portola Hotel in Monterey. The Conference featured a construction expo with over 30 leading industry suppliers and solution providers, nationally recognized speakers, three prestigious AGC Awards programs and a bevy of business meetings, educational sessions and networking events.
AGC of California elected its association leadership for 2017 during the State and Division Board meetings, while also tackling a range of industry issues and AGC business. The incoming AGC of California officers elected for 2017 include: President Mike Mencarini, Unger Construction Company, Sacramento; Senior Vice President Walt Johnson, K.G. Walters Construction Co., Inc., Santa Rosa; Vice President Jerome Di Padova, Skanska USA Civil West California District, Riverside; Treasurer Michael Blach, Blach Construction Company, Santa Clara; Immediate Past President / 2016 President Jaimie Angus, Griffith Company, Brea; and AGC CEO Tom Holsman.
Variety of Educational Offerings
The AGC Construction Education Foundation offered a half dozen Student Chapter / CLC Training seminars on the conference kickoff day October 19th, with topics ranging from 'What to Expect Your First Five Years on the Job' and 'Best Practices for Mentoring Women in Construction,' followed by an AGC Student Chapter / CLC live competition.
Over the next two days, conference attendees took part in more than a dozen educational seminars. Led by industry experts, the seminars covered topics ranging from 'Developing & Creating Organizational Dynasties' to 'Leveraging the Cloud to Increase your Bottom Line' and 'Succession Planning,' among others.
Cutting Edge Technology Takes Center Stage
Technology and its role in shaping the future of the construction industry was a major theme at this year's conference, highlighted by opening general session speaker James Benham, CEO of JBKnowledge Inc. His dynamic keynote address, titled 'Future Forecast: How Drones, Sensors and Integrated Apps are Rewriting all the Rules,' examined the latest trends, technology solutions and devices with applications for building technologies and how they have the ability to rewrite the rules for construction projects.
Benham noted that while technology adoption has been shown to improve profit margins and increase both jobsite efficiency and safety, the construction industry still lags others sectors significantly in its use. He pointed to JBKnowledge's most recent survey of about 2,000 U.S. construction companies, in which over half reported they are still heavily resistant to using cloud-based technology. In the same survey, 53% answered 'none' when asked what emerging technologies their company is trying - although that response was a marked improvement from the previous year when some 70% of the companies answered 'none' to the same question.
'The fundamental differentiator between (the most successful and less successful) companies is not the individual tools they use; it's their willingness to adopt new technology and new processes to improve,' Benham said. 'Individual tools are not sustainable competitive advantages. Your approach to adopting new technology, and your willingness to change is the only thing that is sustainable.'
Benham added that 'elevate and delegate' is one of his company's key mantras. 'We want every employee in a company to delegate menial tasks to technology so they elevate their workday to thinking tasks.' Benham's complete presentation is available on his Periscope channel.
Divisions Elect Leadership, Discuss Array of Industry Business
Following the keynote opening session on October 20th, AGC of California's Division Directors held their business meetings during which they elected leaders for 2017.
The AGC Building Division will be led in 2017 by Dina Kimble, Royal Electric Co., Sacramento, as Chair and Steve Rule, Turner Construction Company, San Francisco, as Vice Chair. Jennifer Garcia, Reyes Construction, Inc., Pomona, will Chair the Joint Engineering Division, and Ted Polich, Bali Construction, Inc., South El Monte, will serve as Vice Chair.
Building Division members heard from Chris McCandless with Diepenbrock, Elkin, Gleason, LLP, who gave an update on AB 2316 Lease-Leaseback procurement, a method favored by California school districts but which has seen recent legal challenges. Attendees also heard from Ken Lau of the Department of Industrial Relations, who reviewed AB 219 Ready-Mix Concrete Delivery, which expands the definition of public works under the California Prevailing Wage Law.
AGC Vice President of Industrial Relations Mark Reynosa addressed both the Building and Jt. Engineering Divisions, discussing the need for member participation in the Union Contractors Council (UCC) which tackles a variety of vital labor issues throughout the year.
The Jt. Engineering Division also heard from John Hakel, President of Southern California Partnership for Jobs, which advocates for infrastructure funding in Southern California. Rocky Miller of Cox & Castle discussed how to avoid/survive a union audit.
AGC State Board Tackles Myriad Business Issues
An array of speakers at AGC's State Board meeting held the next day also highlighted key issues in the legislative and regulatory arenas that impact AGC contractors at all levels.
AGC of America President Mark Knight, Knight Construction Services, LLC, was on hand to address the state board about top priorities for AGC nationally. He invited members to attend the National AGC Convention in Las Vegas in March of 2017 and touched on plans to celebrate AGC's 100th anniversary at the AGC convention in New Orleans in February of 2018
Knight was followed by AGC of America CEO Steve Sandherr, who highlighted national political news. He noted that AGC will continue to pursue multi-employer pension reform, apprenticeship and training issues and mentioned the various regulatory issues on AGC's action agenda including the DOL overtime rule, OSHA silica rule, EPA's 'waters of U.S.' and more.
Will Wilkins, Executive Director of The Road Information Program (TRIP), a national transportation research group, gave a presentation on TRIP's efforts to support transportation funding in California and nationally. The organization's report released in May of 2016 identified 125 transportation projects that are most needed in the state. In November, TRIP will release a report that rates cities across the country with the worst pavement conditions.
AGC of California President Jaimie Angus reported on various aspects of the association's programs and initiatives in California, while CEO Tom Holsman offered details on the re-organization of AGC with six teams working together toward membership goals and customer satisfaction. As a result, both membership and financial numbers were trending positively in 2016.
During the State Board meeting, CEO Holsman also recognized and honored AGC's longtime Legislative advocate, Dave Ackerman, for his 28 years of distinguished service to AGC. Felipe Fuentes, who was recently hired to take over those duties as a new AGC advocate, later provided an update on various successes from the 2016 legislative year and outlined AGC's planned legislation program for 2017.
Safety, Building Futures and 2016 Award Events
In concert with the Annual Conference and Meetings, AGC of California's Construction Education Foundation held its Building Future Awards luncheon on October 20th.
The Foundation honored three companies and one student chapter who have made significant contributions to AGC's Foundation and workforce development efforts, including:
Myers & Sons Construction, LP (Outstanding Contractor Member);
Brickley Environmental, Inc. (Outstanding Specialty Contractor Member);
Pacific Coast Building Products (Outstanding Associate Member); and
California Baptist University (Outstanding Student Chapter).
AGC of California also held its 2016 Safety Awards of Excellence on October 21st and its prestigious annual 2016 Awards banquet on October 22nd.
Along with the business, construction expo, and educational offerings, AGC's Annual Conference featured a variety of social and networking gatherings and Saturday golf and bocce ball tournaments.
The upcoming year promises to be another busy one for AGC of California. Among the highlights: AGC Board Meetings and 2017 Officers' Installation Banquet are February 2-3, 2017 in Napa; Spring Legislative & State Board Meetings are May 8-9, 2017 in Sacramento; 2017 Annual Conference and Meetings are October 11-14, 2017 in Indian Wells; and 2017 Awards Banquet is October 14, 2017 in Indian Wells.