DCA Members “Cautiously Optimistic” About 2009 Market

Despite a troubled economy that is causing problems in many segments of construction, 2008 ended strong for most members of the Distribution Contractors Association (DCA).

“Although the slowdown in housing construction has affected the construction of new distribution gas pipelines, DCA contractors have taken advantage of their diverse capabilities, and most of our members are working at full strength,” said DCA President Anthony (Tony) R. Deusenbery, who led the association in 2008.

“In reviewing the man hours worked by member employees in 2008,” he added, “they remain ahead of the previous two years, even through October and November, indicating our contractors are finding work outside the housing market.”

The work has included pipeline integrity support, facility construction, ongoing blanket work, major pipelines, blanket contracts, directional drilling services and related infrastructure projects.

Deusenbery said factors contributing to the hard won prosperity for DCA members include making sound management decisions, flexibility and continuing demand for energy in the United States.

Active association

Reflecting on the months he has been president, Deusenbery said the association sponsored several successful events, participated in multiple trade shows throughout the country and improved several services DCA provides to its members.

Significant improvements were made to the monthly newsletter, DCA News, with more industry news and the addition of a timely lead article about member projects and industry topics. In addition, the association implemented a transition plan to prepare for the scheduled retirement in 2009 of Executive Vice President Dennis Kennedy.

Deusenbery added that the board of directors provided leadership and coordination between committees and DCA staff.

Accomplishments of key committees in 2008 included:

  • Membership and marketing – 10 percent increased membership in both contractor and associate member categories;
  • Labor – Organized labor agreements are in place, and for signatory contractor members, the DCA web site added increased content on wages and benefits to aid members in preparing bids;
  • Horizontal Directional Drilling – Continued to demonstrate the leadership in this specialized field with presentations on emerging technology and regulatory challenges;
  • Safety and risk management – Improved the format of the association safety award and safety congress;
  • Technical – Provided topics for meetings that gave attendees timely information not available at any other venue;
  • Scholarship – Funding for the DCA Dale R. Michels Scholarship was increased, and the Lyons’ Family Foundation Grants have provided increased assistance to member companies’ employees in need of one time emergency funds;
  • Executive/Finance – Strengthened the financial base with initiatives for funding; and
  • Recognition – Facilitated the selection of key industry contributors for their achievements.

Gaining workers

In 2008, there was a shortage of skilled craftsmen and experienced foremen. During 2009, Deusenbery said a key issue will continue to be communicating the opportunities offered by careers in construction in order to encourage young workers to take advantage of these opportunities and the benefits they offer. The current labor situation may provide this opening.

“We will continue to work with other associations and organizations to spread the message about the need to attract new employees and retain skilled construction workers, and to address safety and environmental issues,” Deusenbery said.

The declining number of housing starts has a negative effect on the economy and is a major concern that must be monitored, he added. Credit market disruption, financial market unrest and uncertain of a new administration contribute to the apprehension of 2009. However, Deusenbery expressed hope that home mortgage rates will remain low and help encourage demand for new home construction. A positive note going into the new year is continued demand for natural gas.

“The majority of our member contractors, Deusenbery said, “remain cautiously optimistic about the future, given their past performance.”

Deusenbery is vice president and safety director for Otis Eastern Service Inc., Wellsville, NY. His term as DCA president ends at the association’s 48th annual meeting in late February when new President Shepard T. Poole, began a one year term. Poole is president and chief operating officer for the Hallen Construction Co., Island Park, NY.

Based in Richardson, TX, DCA serves as a link between its members and government agencies, organized labor and other industry organizations. The association tracks governmental issues affecting distribution contractors, and keeps members informed of the latest developments on the industry’s regulatory and legislative fronts with monthly and on line newsletters and updates.

The association provides members with a labor relations service, negotiating collective bargaining and national distribution agreements and maintains alliances with other industry groups to pool resources, ideas, and information in order to help members operate their businesses more efficiently.

Distribution Contractors Association, (972) 680-0261, www.dca-online.org

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