Power & Communication Contractors Association (PCCA) President Jim Dillahunty recently welcomed more than 330 association members, family and friends to the 73rd annual convention in Kauai, Hawaii.
Dillahunty, president and chief operating officer of Henkels & McCoy, in Blue Bell, Penn., told the opening session audience how he first arrived on Kauai – in 1992, to help the island rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Iniki. He recounted Henkels & McCoy’s long history in Hawaii (power, telecom and wind farm projects), as well as PCCA’s five conventions on the islands in the last 30 years. He also spoke of Kauai’s history and some of its customs.
Dillahunty’s speech provided an apt outline of what convention-goers would experience over the next four days: learning about the industry and the association, learning about Hawaii, helping others and making wonderful memories.
Following Dillahunty to the stage was Capt. Mark Nutsch (Ret.), who recounted the harrowing story of his team of U.S. Special Forces, which was sent to Afghanistan immediately following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Nutsch provided firsthand details of what is considered the most successful unconventional warfare campaign in modern history.
Banking on education
One of the convention’s most anticipated sessions was “PCCA Solutions in Action: Who Will Do the Work?” It introduced members to the innovators and leaders who have pushed forward PCCA’s efforts to support workforce development.
Led by Mark Bridgers, Continuum Capital, the panel included the three presidents from the schools, where PCCA is working to develop utility construction programs, and the three contractors who have worked diligently alongside them:
- Dr. Shawn Strong, president of State Technical College of Missouri, and Heath Sellenriek, Sellenriek Construction Co.
- Dr. John Will, president of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, and Chase Lapcinski, Push, Inc.
- Dr. Jerome Webster, president & CEO of Terra State Community College in Ohio, and Todd Myers, Kenneth G. Myers Construction Co.
Participants learned about the challenges of getting a program up and running (especially the time and money investment), the strategies being used, and the quality graduates the schools already produce.
PCCA announced that it will restart its Leadership Development Program (LDP) in 2020. The original LDP series – six, one-day modules delivered each year at the convention to improve the business acumen and performance of PCCA member companies – will finish next year in St. Kitts with a session on “Strategic Thinking and Organizational Change.”
PCCA decided to restart the series in 2020 and keep rotating through it so that people can jump in at any time. The goal is to continue attracting new people. The other modules in the series are “Leadership Overview”, “Executive
Communication,” “Financial Management,” “Negotiating Skills,” and “Client Relationships.” PCCA and FMI are working to develop a senior-level executive training program, to take place at PCCA Mid-Year Meetings.
Two roundtables held this year were well-attended and delivered a wealth of information. Moderated by Dillahunty, the Construction Industry Roundtable featured:
- Jonathan Adelstein, president & CEO of the Wireless Infrastructure Association
- Gregg Fujimoto, president of Charter Communications (the cable company for all of Hawaii)
- Jim Alberts, senior vice president of Hawaiian Electric (investor-owned utility)
- David Bissell, CEO of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative (electrical co-op on Kauai)
- Dan Shumate, a director with FMI Capital Advisors
- Mark Bridgers, Continuum Capital.
“The industry has exploded, and academia hasn’t kept up,” said Adelstein about the tremendous skills gap. and WIA’s eagerness to work with PCCA toward a solution. Both economists provided upbeat reports, with Shumate “extremely bullish” about the industry and Bridgers claiming “it’s a fantastic time to be a utility contractor.”
The Government & Industry Affairs Roundtable was led by Eben Wyman, Wyman Associates, and the PCCA Government & Industry Affairs Committee, which provided details on some of its key issues. Efforts to get utility contractors an exemption from the DOT’s electronic logging device mandate have so far been unsuccessful, but work continues on Capitol Hill to find a legislative solution.
Also discussed was the FCC removing barriers to broadband deployment, efforts to raise the limit on RUS 773 contracts, new RUS Administrator appointee Ken Johnson (general manager of the Co-Mo Electric Cooperative in Missouri), the White House’s infrastructure blueprint, and damage prevention.
The PCCA crowd also heard from NTCA VP Legal & Industry and Assistant General Counsel Jill Canfield and Verizon Vice President Government Affairs Public Policy and Law Jesús Román, who explained his company’s efforts in support of one-touch, make-ready efforts across the country.
Ranked as attendees’ favorite educational session, the annual “Utility Construction Overview” from FMI President & CEO Chris Daum, delivered good news regarding the markets. For the third year running, Daum said “this is the golden age of utility construction.” He reported that the last five years of telecom have been “world class” and that natural gas is the most reliable market, “incredibly strong and resilient.” He lauded the Trump administration for peeling back regulations. He closed his presentation with a bit of caution: “Life is good, could be better, let’s be careful.”
Good times, important times
PCCA convention attendees are well-known for enjoying themselves, and this year was no exception Highlights included tours both scenic and adventurous, the PCCA Golf Tournament, and fantastic parties, such as a memorable luau on the convention’s final night. But PCCA members also rolled up their sleeves and attended to important association business and charitable efforts.
This year’s PCCA Auction raised nearly $450,000 for association programs and services, and its Education & Research Foundation. During the convention, the PCCA Foundation announced its 2018 PCCA Scholarship winners: Oscar Zapien Maynez, Norman, Okla., (Henkels & McCoy); Garrett Vincent, Paoli, Ind., (ElectriCom), and Emma Syverson, Menomonee Falls, Wisc., (Vermeer).
As always, PCCA associate members were essential to providing a successful and profitable convention. There were 43 convention sponsors (the most ever at a PCCA meeting), and the Annual Associates Exhibit & Breakfast drew a large and highly interested crowd of contractors.
At the closing luau, PCCA members thanked outgoing President Dillahunty, welcomed new President Larry Pribyl of MP Nexlevel, thanked four members leaving the board (Past President Tim Killoren, Dan Levac of Preformed Line Products, Lyn Thulin of Michels, and Don Stephens of Tjader & Highstrom); and welcomed four new directors (Josh DeBruine of Michels, John Hale of John Deere, Sam Stephens of Tjader & Highstrom, and Chris Wozniak of Intercon Construction).
PCCA’s next event is the 2018 Mid-Year Meeting, Sept. 12-15 at the Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda. The 2019 annual convention is scheduled for March 15-20 at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort & the Royal Beach Casino, Frigate Bay, St. Kitts.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Power & Communication Contractors Association,
(800) 542-7222, pccaweb.org