As the adage goes, “Make hay while the sun shines.” With the strong partnership between TxDOT and its contractors, the infusion of new revenue streams from Props 1 and 7, and the coordinated efforts of the best highway contractors in the world, the sun is certainly shining in Texas.
In January of 2018, I began by setting my priorities: to work with TxDOT to get projects let as efficiently as possible, and to focus on strengthening our PAC. Those were the pressing needs of the day. While I am undoubtedly proud we have accomplished those ends, it’s the numerous other accomplishments made by this membership that leave me humbled. In 2018, we made hay.
Once again, we had record participation across all signature events. I saw members across the state participate in AGC activities as a family. A healthy industry has a wide range of ages and experience levels, and this membership continues to hit the mark, again and again. The Scholarship Committee issued the most scholarships ever awarded in its 24-year history. At the Gala, members responded by crossing the million-dollar mark in money raised for the scholarship fund.
As our lettings continue to grow, our workforce pool and DBE subcontractor pools will continue to be taxed. In 2018, the DBE Committee produced a new educational series designed to provide educational support to the DBE community and welcome them into AGC membership. The Workforce Development Committee and Employee Relations Committee continue to investigate ideas for making this industry enticing for new workers. I have no doubt we will see great developments on this front in the year to come.
I know there will be a year in which this membership won’t beat its own records, but I haven’t seen it yet. This spring issue of Infrastructure serves as a year-in-review from 2018. It reflects a united, coordinated body that made some serious investments into the future. Let it serve as a testament to our capabilities as the legislative session presents new opportunities.
As in all years, 2018 covers triumphs and challenges, strengthened bonds and member reunions, the loss of industry stalwarts and the birth of future industry leaders. Melanie and I had such an extraordinary, humbling time in service to our “Industry First” philosophy and we are forever grateful for the opportunity to give back.
This January, I passed the gavel into great hands. I look forward to working under President Pebley’s leadership throughout the session and in the months that follow. Thank you all for an amazing year.
AGC Provides Nearly $200,000 to Texas Construction Workers in Harvey’s Wake
Hurricane Harvey rammed into the Texas coast on August 25, 2017, bringing devastating winds and relentless rainfall. The hurricane and subsequent flooding were responsible for 68 direct deaths in Texas and an additional 35 “indirect” deaths. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates Harvey’s price tag at around $125 billion. It is the most significant tropical rainfall event in the nation’s history.
“As I watched from my home, I received phone call after phone call from AGC members asking how they could help,” said Art Daniel, then serving as national president of AGC of America. “Contractors may do hard work, but they have soft hearts, especially when it comes to helping some of their own.” AGC leaders mobilized a massive fundraising effort to aid stricken families in the months following the disaster, raising nearly $200,000 to assist AGC member employees. In January of 2018, the amount was distributed evenly among the grant recipients, each receiving around $2,500 each.
“The AGC support was great,” said grant recipient Carl May of Oldcastle. “I filled out the application. Didn’t know if anything would come if it. You’re so stressed. But this is what makes AGC membership feel like family.”
Dustin O’Neal, president of Costello, Inc., was present in support of Costello employee and grant recipient Seleste Esparza. He offered his own appreciation for AGC’s efforts.
“I’ve been associated with AGC since 2010. They’ve always supported the industry. Not only working with legislators to preserve our interests but funding all those scholarships. I’m very proud to be an associate member of AGC. I’m still surprised by what they can do.”
As Art Daniel distributed the checks to member employees, he acknowledged, “These checks won’t make everything right, but I hope they will help you as you get back on track. On behalf of the entire AGC of America family, please accept these grants as a small token of our association’s appreciation for your spirit, your tenacity, and your resiliency.”
A picture of the house of grant recipient Britt Reid (McCourt & Sons Equipment) immediately following the post-Harvey flooding. Britt purchased the home just three months prior.
Payroll Manager Syntoria Flagg (Pulice Construction, center) did an outstanding job informing employees of the grant application, with a total of eight recipients at the company.
Chapter Office Named in Honor of Tom Johnson
Nearly 100 people attended the Tom Johnson tribute dinner Jan. 3, 2018 at the Austin Headliner’s Club intended to cast a final spotlight on the longtime executive vice president for the Associated General Contractors of Texas. Johnson stepped aside from his day-to-day duties last fall after more than 50 years with the association.
The surprise dinner allowed industry leaders to toast Johnson with stories highlighting his contributions to the state’s highway construction industry and testimonials reflecting his reputation as a positive, unassuming leader always deflecting attention to AGC members.
Following the presentation of a Texas flag flown over the state Capitol and a gubernatorial proclamation honoring Johnson, Schulgen displayed the large bronze plaque now mounted outside of the Chapter building.
The program closed with the woman who served alongside Johnson for 30 years—Executive Vice President Jennifer Woodard.
“I am the luckiest person in the room because I got to work at his side every day for the last 30 plus years. Everything good I know professionally I learned from Tom Johnson. It will be my honor and privilege to go to work every day in the Thomas L. Johnson building,” she said.
Kathy Johnson shows without a doubt that she was not “in” on the secret to surprise Tom Johnson at Headliner’s Club in January.
PAC Activities Soar in 2018
Early in his term as President, Chad Clark called on members and Chapter staff to focus on PAC development and public affairs events. The initiative brought a huge return on investment.
The Chapter raised and contributed over $630,000 in PAC funds during this cycle--exceeding the previous record cycle by over $100,000.
This success is the result of hard work across the state by the Area Chairmen and Public Affairs Vice Chairmen who tirelessly planned PAC fundraising events and coordinated meetings with officeholders and candidates.
The support to pro-transportation legislators enabled a large majority to fend off challenges, putting the industry in good position to advocate for the highway, heavy construction industry in the 2019 legislative session.
Gene Carrior, Julie Evans, Geno Carrier and Jared Dean with East Texas Asphalt at the Beaumont Golf Tournament PAC Event
DFW FLC Surpasses 500 Attendees at Signature Event
2018 drew a record crowd to the DFW Future Leaders Fifth Annual PAC Spring Fling.
The event was created to cater to a growing demographic in North Texas: members at the beginning of their careers in the highway industry.
AGC needed an event that encouraged participation outside of the existing leadership, but integrated the next generation alongside them, explains Bo Davis, FLC chairman and chairman of the Dallas Area.
“The [scholarship] gala is a wonderful event, but I cannot go there and spend what Art Daniel does. There needs to be an event that includes the Bo Davises. This event is open to all. We are not all CEOs…yet. We want to feel that our presence is meaningful, and to be able to share this event with our families.
“We only solicit sponsorships from DFW but get attendance from all over the state. We have almost doubled our participation since last year— word is spreading.”
The DFW Future Leadership Council is open to any member new to the industry, around 2-12 years into their careers. The spring fling is open to all members and their families.
Member employees enjoy the sun on a beautiful spring day at the FLC spring fling.
AGC future leaders attending his first FLC shrimp boil and spring fling.
2018 Management Conference visits the Antebellum South
300 AGC members, family and state officials made the annual Management Conference another memorymaker: fortifying personal relationships, learning about Texas politics and industry issues, and absorbing Charleston, South Carolina’s southern charm and early American history.
The (June 10-13) conference was a destination playground for all attendees and again amplified the event as a family retreat with a “kid-friendly” atmosphere.
“What an amazing town, rich with history, southern charm and great food!” said AGC Immediate Past President Seth Schulgen (Williams Brothers Construction). “You can’t help but take a step back in time when you travel the streets of Charleston. And no matter what side of the Mason-Dixon line you call home, the history of our ancestors and this great country is still fresh and alive in Charleston.”
The Charleston-hosted Management Conference was the first one for AGC of Texas board member Ivan Svec (Cherry Demolition).
“We all try to keep up as best we can, but the reality is we don’t hear everything that is going on,” he said. “So, you count on everybody coming together in one room and getting more details--things you won’t hear from your offices in Austin, San Antonio, Houston, Dallas.”
One of the Texas House leaders, Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, attended his 13th straight AGC Management Conference. Established relationships make it easier to solve problems, he said.
“As in life, who you know and what they know is important to how you formulate your own policies, and so by coming to these events we are able to build those relationships, understand their operations, their needs and the needs of the roadbuilding economy, what it means for our state in terms of connectivity and safety,” Darby said. “By meeting with groups like AGC, we understand their industry. It also allows us time to be with our colleagues- -fellow state reps and senators. We get to know them on a personal level so that we can understand their districts and their needs. We can rely upon those relationships during stress cycles in the legislative process to find good policies that will move the state forward--not only in transportation but in other areas.”
“I am not sure what all Chad [Clark] has planned for next year’s conference, but if he beats this one (and I know he’ll try) he will have to blow the roof off the place,” said Seth Schulgen.
The 2019 Management Conference will be held June 16-19 at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida.
The historic Riviera Theater welcomes guests to the AGC of Texas Management Conference at the Opening Night Reception.
Hillary Schulgen suggested the ladies wear their party hats to the “Taste of Charleston” dinner, held at Lowndes Grove along the banks of the Ashley River. Here, Leanne Skinner, Cheri Alderman, Anne Weisman, Carol Siddons and Patty Stroud pose prior to heading to dinner.
Felix Cuesta martin (Webber), Ines and five year-old daughter Beatrit inspect a cannon at Fort Sumter, a historic federal monument and site of the beginning of the Civil War. The tour, which included a boat ride to the Fort, was an optional activity during the conference.
Record attendees, children at 2018 Administrative Conference
Three hundred fifty members, spouses, guests and children joined 2019 President Trey Pebley, Kathleen and their boys at the JW Marriott Hill Country Resort and Spa for three days of the most important updates in the highway industry.
“We are steadily seeing our numbers increase and that is great to see. In the past, there were a few families attending but now you see families everywhere. I think this large contingent of kids brings energy and a sense of the future to the AGC. Any organization that has its future leaders attending conferences like this is setting itself up for continued success.”
“The 2018 conference program was really strong,” said 2018 President Chad Clark. “The session on the Trump Tax plan was particularly interesting,” referring to tax expert Jon Karp of Whitley Penn.
Clark also expressed his preference to the conference approach to networking.
“When I’m in the office with a million things to do, I’m not going to have a lot of time to get to know an associate member. The conference allows all of us to get away from the day-to-day stress of business and focus on the relationships between members,” he said.
The final day of the conference featured a panel of district engineers, moderated by Randy Hopmann, to discuss their ongoing efforts to have plans ready in their districts and to strive to deliver $500 million monthly lettings for FY2019 (a target they have hit consistently in the first five months of the fiscal year).
“Another great time at the conference,” summed up Randy Hopmann, moderating for his third consecutive D.E. Panel, which has become the capstone of the conference. “Everyone wants success, but the only way to truly achieve success is by having respectful relationships with partners. Citizens win when there is a successful partnership through quality, durability, and cost efficiency.”
A new session this year focused on active shooter situations at the workplace, to widespread interest. Garland PD Hostage Negotiator and SWAT Officer Thomas Divers offered the presentation. Divers offered to personally assist attendees in creating their own active shooter protocols. Reaching out to your local police force is a great way to increase your safety while helping your local officers.
DBE Committee Chairman Tracey Aping, Williams Brother’s Director of Business Development and Diversity, moderated a panel entitled “The Road to 100% Race Neutral,” in which Martha Kenley, FHWA DBE Program Manager; Michael Bryant, TxDOT Civil Rights Director; Colette Holt of Colette Holt & Associates; and Bob Lanham, Vice President of AGC of America and President of Williams Brothers discussed what Texas needs to attain a 100% race neutral program.
The 2019 Conference will be held at the same resort in San Antonio, July 18-20.
The keynote event of the Administrative Conference is a district engineer panel that closes out the day. San Antonio District Engineer Mario Jorge had some fun with his Cuban hat to open TxDOT’s Saturday panel discussion during AGC’s Administrative Conference. The conference adopted a Cuban theme, which suited Havana-born Jorge. The discussion was moderated by Randy Hopmann, (left, TxDOT director of District Operations; and Lonnie Gregorcyk, right, Porfolio Project Manager); panelists, Paul Reitz, Yoakum district engineer; Mario Jorge, Terry McCoy, Austin district engineer; and Lance Simmons, Bryan district engineer.
Jeff Smith (Smith & Company) prepares hand-cranked ice cream for the children attending the Administrative Conference.
AGC packs in over 400 attendees at the 7th Annual Executive Safety Conference; Bestows First Ever Bluebonnet Safety Awards
A record 420 folks attended the 7th Annual Executive Safety Conference at the Palmer Event Center, with 25 Award Recipients of the first ever Texas Bluebonnet Safety Awards. Eleven were also recognized with the National AGC Safety Award.
The theme for the August 22, 2018 conference was “Mission Zero: Leading the Charge.” Presentation of the very first Texas Bluebonnet Safety highlighted exemplary safety programs from both AGC contractor members and TxDOT Districts statewide.
Bluebonnet and NASA Award Winners
25% Below Division Average Incidence Rate
1. Amarillo District: 25% Below Rural Incidence Rate
2. Angel Brothers Enterprises, LTD: 25% Below Division Incidence Rate for National AGC Safety Award Only
3. Austin Bridge & Road: 25% Below Division Incidence Rate and National AGS Safety Award (NASA)
4. Ed Bell Construction Company: 25% Below Division Incidence Rate and NASA Award
5. Flatiron Constructors, Inc: 25% Below Division Incidence Rate
6. Houston District 25% Below Metro Incidence Rate
7. Hunter Industries, Ltd: 25% Below Division Incidence Rate and NASA Award
8. Primoris Heavy Civil – Belton: 25% Below Division Incidence Rate and NASA Award
9. The Lane Construction Company -- 25% Below Division Incidence Rate
10. The Levy Company, Inc. -- 25% Below Division Incidence Rate
11. Texas Sterling Construction Co. -- 25% Below Division Incidence Rate
12. Webber, LLC -- 25% Below Division Incidence Rate and the NASA Award
Zero Incidence Rate
1. Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. – Zero Incidence Rate and the NASA Award
2. Bryan District — Zero Incidence Rate
3. Balfour Beatty Infrastructure, Inc. – Zero Incidence Rate and the NASA Award
4. Capital Excavation Company – Zero Incidence Rate and the NASA Award
5. Dan Williams Company – Zero Incidence Rate
6. IOC Company – Zero Incidence Rate
7. J.D. Abrams – Zero Incidence Rate and the NASA Award
8. Kiewit Infrastructure South Co. – Zero Incidence Rate
9. Lufkin District -- Zero Incidence Rate
10. Pharr District – Zero Incidence Rate
11. Primoris Heavy Civil – Houston – Zero Incidence Rate
12. Yoakum District – Zero Incidence Rate
13. Zack Burkett Co. – Zero Incidence Rate and the NASA Award
Primoris Heavy Civil – Houston was recognized with a first-every Bluebonnet Safety Award for its Zero Incidence Rate.
AGC Awards Record 29 Scholarships on the 24th Anniversary of the Program
Celebrating the 24th anniversary of the AGC of Texas Scholarship Program, the Scholarship Committee awarded a record 29 scholarships to the future leaders of the highway industry.
Five thousand dollars per semester is awarded for graduate or vocational education, with the intent that it will launch rewarding careers for member employees and their dependents.
The selection process gets increasingly more difficult as the caliber of applicants rise. Under the leadership of Chairman Elizabeth Zwak (Hunter Industries), two records were made in 2018: both with an overall total of 29 issued in a single year, and with a record seven vocational scholarships.
Since 1994, The AGC of Texas Scholarship Fund has helped the employees and dependents of employees of Chapter members further their education in either undergraduate or vocational studies. The scholarships are funded through the generous contributions made through the Scholarship Gala’s Live and Silent Auction, which provides sufficient funding to increase the number of young hopefuls every year. To date, 246 men and women have earned degrees through AGC’s Scholarship Program.
2018 recipients of the AGC of Texas Scholarship Program held a record 29 students, including seven vocational scholarships.
AGC Members Crash Through Million Dollar Mark at Annual Scholarship Gala
The Annual Scholarship Gala, held September 7, 2018, hit a momentous milestone in the 24-year history of the AGC of Texas Scholarship Program.
The event infused over a million dollars into the fund, ensuring a very healthy balance for next year’s consideration of scholarship grants.
The event, held at the Hyatt Regency in Austin, drew just over 500 members in support of the program. One hundred percent of table sales and auction proceeds support the future of the highway industry through undergraduate and vocational scholarships, which are open to member employees and their dependents.
The event is made possible through the generosity of its major underwriters. Special thanks go to Anderson Columbia, Hunter Industries, and Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc. for underwriting the cocktail reception and dinner. The three firms, along with numerous others, also donate and purchase as part of the silent and live auctions every year.
The entertainment, provided by Travis Tritt, was sponsored again by the Texas CAT dealers and capped off a fantastic evening of fun, fellowship, and funds. Especial thanks to them, as well as for all auction donors and bidders.
Johnny Weisman ensures a healthy fund for the scholarship program by committing additional support and encouraging other members to do the same.
Bob Lanham (Williams Brothers) and Joe Anderson (Anderson Columbia) strategize during the Live Auction.
Chapter Celebrates First Graduating Class of AGC Prime Time
As Babby Posey of Posey Construction & Development exited TxDOT Houston District’s classroom, she remarked, “I never realized prime contractors would share this kind of information with subcontractors. Or this much.”
Posey was one of sixteen subcontractors selected to take part in AGC’s Prime Time Series, an advanced course designed to increase DBE capacity in the TxDOT market. The first series began September 2018 and concluded with a graduation ceremony October 23 in Houston.
With the near doubling of the annual highway lettings, the limited number of ready, willing and able DBEs faced further strain. With over 5,000 registered DBE subcontractors in Texas, less than ten percent actively work for TxDOT.
A work group was formed to craft a contractor-led program that would integrate with TxDOT resources for those ready to take on advanced coursework. DBE Committee Chairman Tracey Aping (Williams Brothers) led the effort and tasked Angela Berry Roberson (Webber) and Rita Phillip (Zachry) to help design a course to expand the capacity of ready, willing and able DBEs working on TxDOT jobs.
Chapter Celebrates First Graduating Class of AGC Prime Time The work group reviewed all applications and personally contacted those who met qualifications.
Houston District Engineer Quincy Allen and staff served as valuable support for the new program and offered full support in its creation. All ten courses were held at Houston District Headquarters. Marc Williams, TxDOT deputy executive director, called a meeting with Aping, Berry Roberson, Executive Director James Bass, and Chief Engineer Bill Hale. TxDOT Administration committed to support the program and monitor its effectiveness.
The first graduating class consisted of 16 companies. AGC members taught each class, covering concepts on bidding and estimating, the TxDOT Spec Book, insurance, change orders, TxDOT reporting systems, contract management and more.
On October 23, Chairman Aping welcomed the graduating class and their families along with course presenters, AGC leadership, and TxDOT administration to congratulate all participants in the successful conclusion of the course. President Chad Clark added, “This cannot be the last time you engage with AGC. This graduation is not a conclusion; it’s a beginning,” he said.
Prime Time 2: Rob Harrison of McGriff, Seibels & Williams review insurance policies for DBE heavy highway subcontractors.
Babby Posey of Posey Construction accepts her certificate of completion at the Prime Time graduation ceremony. Posey Construction is a new member of AGC.
Third Time Charmed: Associate Division Hosts the Best Christmas Party Yet
Members enjoyed a roaring good time as they gathered for one last hurrah in 2018 for the AGC of Texas 3nd Annual Christmas Party, sponsored by members of the Associate Division. Almost 350 members and their spouses attended the December 4 event, held at the Four Seasons Ballroom in Austin.
Unlike any other event, the Christmas Party is underwritten exclusively by associate members.
“We don’t pay enough for what we get,” said Larry Bateman of Lhoist, an Event Sponsor of the Christmas Party since its inception. “That’s why I support events like these every time we get the chance.”
“I’m really happy the associate members are willing to put this on for the general membership. It says a lot about their commitment to the members,” said Harry Levy of The Levy Company.
Like the FLC events, the Christmas Party draws many members who do not regularly attend Austin events, and is quickly turning into one of the best-attended events held by the Chapter.
“The party seems to be getting better and better every year. And the participation of the primes has been a huge asset, “said Karen Rogers of KLP Commercial, who has sponsored the event since its inception. “It’s like a snowball effect. The people who started it were able to get some people involved and then it has grown. It’s so much fun. You don’t want to miss it.”
By overwhelming demand, the 2019 Christmas Party will be held at the Four Seasons once more. Due to the expanding popularity of the event, there will be more space, more chairs and tables, and more areas to relax and network.
Special thanks to Event Sponsors Lehigh Hanson, ASCO Equipment, Century Asphalt, Lhoist, Colorado Materials, and McCourt and Sons; and all the Christmas Party sponsors who made the night possible.
Johnny Weisman Awarded L.P. “Pete” Gilvin Award
The 2018 Christmas Party kicked off with the presentation of a rarelybestowed award: the L.P. “Pete” Gilvin Award to Johnny Weisman, president of Hunter Industries and CEO of Colorado Materials. President Chad Clark did the honors.
“You have given back to this industry using your time, talent and treasure,” began Clark. “You give all three, every year. This industry and this association would not be anywhere near where it is without this great man.”
The Pete Gilvin award was established in 1994 and is presented to individuals with outstanding service to the construction industry, to the Associated General Contractors of America, and to the Associated General Contractors of Texas. Prior to 2018, only five men have been presented with the prestigious award. At the December 4 AGC of Texas Christmas Party, the Chapter added a sixth great man and tremendous industry leader.
“I’m speechless,” said Johnny. “It’s been a good ride. President Clark, I really appreciate this.
“I appreciate all of you for your support. When you make it better for the industry, it usually makes it better for yourself. It’s self-serving in one-way, but it’s industry-serving in the bigger way. What we often do collectively is amazing. We have proven that in the last 6-7 years with the type of funding we have today for our industry.
Citing examples of extraordinary teamwork, Weisman reminds attendees of Tracy Schieffer’s contractor protection bill, authored by Kuempel.
“If we do everything TxDOT tells us to do on a highway job, we have protection from third party lawsuits. Tracy came up with the deal we have today, and she spent the time, talent and treasure to get it done. And that’s just one example. All the people in this room give time, talent and treasure to make things happen; to make our industry better. And the bottom line is that it benefits us all.
“I am very humbled by this award. I am very thankful for this award. I have been around a long time, and so have many others. Terry Bryant is as deserving as I am.
“It takes all of us collectively to make this industry what we are, to move the ball forward and to have the market that we currently enjoy. I appreciate all of you that have given their own time, talent and treasure to make our industry the best in the nation.”
Weisman has served in every major leadership role that exists in AGC of Texas. He served his first term as Chapter President in 1988. That year, AGC of America awarded AGC of Texas “Chapter of the Year” and best “Chapter Infrastructure Awareness Program” in the country. He served his second term as Chapter President in 2003.
Johnny has been instrumental in the development and success of the Chapter Scholarship program. His dedication to the membership and its future leaders led him to be a Major Underwriter for the Chapter Scholarship Gala since its inception in 2011, and he has remained a major live auction donor and purchaser every year.
He has chaired every major Chapter committee and task force within AGC of Texas, including serving as Highway Division Chair, Chairman of the AGC/ TxDOT Joint Committee, Chairman of the Legislative Drafting & Review Committee, and Chairman of the Highway Funding Task Force.
He has consistently been a major supporter and donor to the Chapter Political Action Committee (PAC).
Johnny’s expertise and talents are widely known outside the AGC. He was appointed by Lt. Governor Dan Patrick to his Transportation Advisory Committee in 2014. He was appointed by former Governor Rick Perry in 2003 to serve on the Advisory Committee on Rock Crushers and Quarries, where he was a champion for the construction and materials production industry in Texas.
His list of accomplishments is long, and he has been a tireless, selfless advocate for the transportation industry in Texas. He has been a steadfast mentor to many and continues to serve in all these capacities.
After the applause died down, President Clark shook Weisman’s hand. “Thank you for all your advice this year. Thank you for all you have done for the Association. Thank you for putting our industry first.”