AGC Leadership not a “Trial by Fire” for the Younger Generation

Written by  Reece Sterling

Atlanta is one of the few districts which have managed to hang on to their district engineers throughout the recent changes within TxDOT. In fact, it’s so rare, I’m almost afraid to write anything about it in case that changes before this ink is dry. However, we are fortunate to have had Bob Ratcliff here for over a decade. He brings stability to the district functions, and we have seen significantly less turnover throughout the district because of it.

Atlanta is a pretty large district with fairly good sized cities. Most of the work focuses on rehabilitation in those cities with little left for the rural areas. Obviously, that’s not a rarity in Texas at this time. Overall, 2013 is estimated to be at around $75 million, not far off from 2012 in total, but a large portion of that amount is going to the Titus County pass-thru project, leaving a pretty small program for the number of contractors here.

In response to this undesirable state of affairs, many of our contractors are stepping out into the legislative arena, doing our part as AGC of Texas members to contact our elected officials and let them know that this industry, as well as the traveling public in the Atlanta District, needs more funding for our roads and bridges. Robert Adamson and I recently visited with Chris Paddie, who was running for state representative in our area. We sat down with him, Cost of Doing Nothing Books in hands, and went through the challenges our business and employees currently face in this market.

I was, quite frankly, impressed. He asked incisive questions, and showed a definite understanding of our issues. Although it seems like the kiss of death lately for a Republican to promote highway funding, I felt he was open to figuring out ways to rejuvenate our market with new dollars. In any case, we are working to educate our elected officials, which is certainly one of the first steps to a healthier market. Now, when Chris wants to understand the business aspect of his votes on highways, he has someone to call.

Atlanta is also working on hosting its first PAC event. We are still in the exploration phase, considering events that would suit our members. We know this first one will be just to get our feet wet, but I’m confident for a good turnout.

As one of the youngest AGC members, I have received support from the contractors—not just in Atlanta, but all around the state. I have spoken several times to President Roger Albert, Bob Lanham, Art Daniel, and others who are strongly invested in perpetuating AGC’s august and well-respected reputation. This is done, in part, by allowing contractors like me to be active and engaged in association activities. It was also great to see the support for the younger generation at the Scholarship Gala. Contractors aren’t waiting until the future gets here to make sure our industry can boast some of the best and brightest minds in construction.

Of the recent Highway Funding Task Force initiatives, I was really pleased to see the options for social media and other means of electronic interaction. Websites, videos, and Twitter, these are all things available for members to explore when they are ready to explore them. I think this will be a great way for young industry hopefuls to get acclimated to our membership and a method of advocacy with the tools they are most comfortable with. I started my industry stewardship with AGC of Texas four years ago, and I can definitely recommend to any and all wanting to join that the earlier you get started, they better off you are. This is not a trial by fire. Members have been really forthcoming in sharing knowledge, stories of their bumps and bruises along the way, and I know this information will make me grow into a better, more prepared contractor. I have not taken it for granted, and in return I hope to be a good representative for my association for years to come.

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