May 2017 Vol. 72 No. 5


Big Crowd Enjoys PCCA Convention

Max Clark didn’t drop the mike when he closed the 2017 Power & Communication Contractors Association (PCCA) annual convention, but he did drop some serious knowledge on an appreciative audience about how to look at your life’s work, how to run a business, and how to love your family. Max provided a fitting conclusion to a week where 346 industry professionals, family and friends met in sunny Carolina, Puerto Rico, for topical education, great speakers, important association business, relaxed networking, fascinating tours and lots of rollicking good times.

Max was not the only speaker who inspired the PCCA crowd, as former U.S. Army Ranger Kris Paronto, whose heroism in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 is recounted in the best-selling book and movie 13 Hours, delivered a memorable and spellbinding keynote address. Paronto was member of the CIA’s Global Response Staff, which defended both a CIA post and the U.S. State Department compound in Benghazi from around 9:30 p.m. until evacuation around 11 a.m. the next morning. His team ignored orders to stand down and went to help at the State Department building, where they saved more than 30 people.

Paronto downplayed his own bravery during that harrowing night, instead discussing the importance of leadership, teamwork, training and faith. He left the audience with a piece of scripture, John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

PCCA’s Construction Industry Roundtable once again provided a variety of viewpoints on the industry to a room packed with PCCA members. Economist Mark Bridgers, Continuum Capital, delivered an upbeat analysis on the markets where most PCCA members work, saying that 2017-2019 will be “some of the best years ever for utility construction.” He said that consumer confidence is at a 15-year high, employment is increasing, the stock market is up 12 percent since November, and $1 trillion in infrastructure spending has been announced.

PCCA government relations representative Eben Wyman, Wyman Associates, updated roundtable attendees on the association’s outreach efforts. Members of PCCA’s Government & Industry Affairs Committee have visited Washington, D.C., five times in the last 14 months, reinforcing some already-strong relationships and forging several new ones. Wyman discussed some of the successes PCCA has achieved and some of the challenges being addressed, including the much-discussed and widely opposed Gold Shovel Standard.

The roundtable also featured two of PCCA’s top allies in Washington: NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association and the Agricultural Broadband Coalition (ABC). NTCA’s Vice President of Legal & Industry and Assistant General Counsel Jill Canfield discussed her group’s efforts to get quality broadband to the hardest-to-reach places in the U.S., the “significant barrier” of regulatory uncertainty, and new FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, “a good friend to all of you.” She said that NTCA greatly values its relationship with PCCA and looks forward to communicating and working together on key issues. John Deere’s Manager of Spectrum Advocacy Mark Lewellan represented ABC at the roundtable and explained smart farming techniques and why broadband is essential for them.

During his Utility Construction Industry Overview session, FMI CEO Chris Daum said that “life is good” for PCCA contractors, as their major markets are all performing well. But he also recommended a bit of caution, saying “Don’t get ahead of your skis” (due to all the hype), and urged everyone in the room to look closely at their firms’ succession plans.

The convention education program also included a full-day Leadership Development Program on conflict resolution with FMI’s Andy Patron, an Owners’ Perspective Panel led by Continuum’s Mark Bridgers, and a session on how members can prepare for the emerging market of microgrids.

PCCA members also enthusiastically participated in the Annual Prayer Breakfast, auction and Associates Breakfast & Exhibit. PCCA Hall of Famer Herb Fluharty, MGI North American Services, led the Prayer Breakfast as he does every year, and speaker Greg Elzinga introduced PCCA to Partners Worldwide, a group providing business assistance (mentoring, training, access to capital, and advocacy) to more than 80,000 businesses in 25 countries on four continents. The group helped to create and sustain more than 120,000 jobs last year. (More information is available at

PCCA’s Annual Auction is always a boisterous, unpredictable event and this year was no exception. The association raised a record amount for PCCA’s new scholarship fund, its education and advocacy efforts, and $18,000 for Partners Worldwide. In all, more than $350,000 was raised. The Annual Associates Breakfast & Exhibit also attracted a big crowd of contractors, who perused the tabletop exhibits to learn more about the industry’s latest machines, materials and services.

PCCA closed its convention with a festive Hall of Fame Celebration Dinner. First, the members saluted outgoing PCCA President Todd Myers, Kenneth G. Myers Construction, with the 2017 Distinguished Service Award; and welcomed incoming President Jim Dillahunty, Henkels & McCoy, and two new board members: Jason Tyler, Brooks Construction Co., Inc., and Ryan Steinbecker, Altec Industries.

With all that association business out of the way, the audience turned its attention to the evening’s main event: honoring Max Clark, the founder and owner of C&B Associates. Clark is well-known was a rock saw pioneer, 33-year PCCA member, longtime member of the board of directors, association president in 1990-91, and a role model, mentor, and friend to countless people in the industry. He shared a few “tall tales” about his days in the industry, thanked many people who made the evening possible, and spoke lovingly of his late wife, Billie; as well as daughters Deborah, who followed him into the telecom construction industry, and Carol, who now works with him at Clark Gardens. He touched the PCCA audience like few people ever have, and more than a few tears were shed in that ballroom. With a lengthy standing ovation that followed his speech, Clark closed the show with a touch of class.

Power & Communication Contractors Association, (800) 542-7222,

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