May 2019 Vol. 74 No. 5


PCCA Shines at St. Kitts Convention

Michael Ancell


Enjoying beautiful weather on a fascinating island, more than 340 Power & Communication Contractors Association members, family and friends journeyed to St. Kitts in mid-March for the 74th Annual PCCA Convention. Attendees saluted PCCA’s latest Hall of Fame class, took advantage of abundant educational opportunities, built on their already-productive government relations and education programs, honored outgoing President Larry Pribyl, welcomed new officers and board members, and explored St. Kitts in a variety of fun-filled ways.

PCCA launched its Hall of Fame in 2015 to recognize exceptional contributions to the success of the association and the industry, and this year’s class of Mary Vermeer Andringa, Gene Klaasmeyer and Greg Johnson certainly qualify.

Outgoing PCCA President Larry Pribyl passes the gavel to new President David Aubrey.
PCCA Hall of Fame inductee Mary Vermeer Andringa speaks during the Annual Prayer Breakfast.

Mary Andringa is chair of the board at Vermeer Corporation, Pella, Iowa, one of the industry’s great, innovative companies and one of PCCA’s top supporters throughout its existence.

Gene Klaasmeyer, president and founder of Klaasmeyer Construction, Conway, Ark., served as PCCA president in 1990–91 and served on the board for more than a decade. He and his wife, Joan, have been attending PCCA meetings for more than 40 years, and have especially enjoyed “the great friendships” with fellow members.

Greg Johnson, former president of Okay Construction in Princeton, Minn., served as PCCA president in 2004–05, and again in 2006 when asked, helping to keep the association afloat during difficult financial times. At the end of his speech, Johnson channeled his best Frank Sinatra and delighted the audience with a few verses of “Thanks for the Memories.”

The convention program, planned by Larry Pribyl and his wife, Karen, was heavy on educational opportunities. Keynote Speaker Kenny Bontz enchanted the PCCA crowd with the story of how he lost part of his leg to cancer at age 35, battled with addiction, and persevered to start two businesses and win three National Amputee Golf Association championships. And he discussed his next goal in life: becoming the first amputee to play on the PGA Champions Tour.


As they do every year, PCCA members crowded into Chris Daum’s Utility Construction Industry Overview to hear valuable insights into their work, very candid opinions on pressing issues, and lots of laughs. Daum, president and CEO of FMI, said the folks in the room should be feeling upbeat: “Life is good, work is great.”

But he also wondered if contractors are using the good times to improve operations or if they’re just getting “fat.” He cautioned that the industry is less productive and less innovative than it was seven years ago and that its workforce is aging. When the market goes down, “we’ll be facing challenges that we haven’t faced in 15 years,” he said.

PCCA and contractor-members, who work on the front lines of damage prevention every day, promote three principal pillars of damage prevention: membership of all owners/operators of underground facilities to the state One-Call Center, accurate locating, and potholing of underground facilities. To further its damage prevention efforts, PCCA invited Common Ground Alliance (CGA) president and CEO Sarah Magruder Lyle to speak at the convention.

After providing a brief history of CGA and its many accomplishments since its founding in 2000, Lyle emphasized that the CGA urgently needs excavators to participate in its Damage Information Reporting Tool (DIRT) Report because their side of the story is not being told.

She reported that only 7 percent of DIRT submissions come from excavators and that CGA needs the right data to get to the best solutions, because, “We only know what we know.” She explained the data reporting process, which is quick, easy and totally confidential, and engaged PCCA members in a very frank and productive discussion of damage prevention.

At this year’s PCCA Leadership Development Program (LDP) session, FMI’s Andy Patron led a group of 28 members on an exploration of strategic planning and organizational change. This was the LDP’s sixth and final module, and PCCA will restart the program from the beginning at the 2020 convention in the Bahamas.

On the event’s final day, members discussed a wide range of topics at the Government & Industry Affairs Roundtable and the Construction Industry Roundtable. Eben Wyman and Kepler Edwards, PCCA government affairs representatives, discussed a variety of issues, including the RUS ReConnect program, infrastructure bills in Congress, DOT hours of service regulations, and PCCA’s successful D.C. fly-in in January.

The group heard reports on PCCA’s education initiative and its new safe cable installation initiative. Jonathan Adelstein, from the Wireless Industry Association, discussed workforce/apprenticeship initiatives; Dan Shumate, FMI, reported on merger and acquisition activity; and Brett Kilbourne provided an overview of the Utilities Technology Council. Continuum Capital’s Mark Bridgers closed out the roundtable with his April 2019 Economic Report, which was full of very positive news.

On the convention’s final evening, PCCA honored outgoing President Larry Pribyl, MP Nexlevel, with its 2019 Distinguished Service Award, and welcomed 2019-2020 President David Aubrey, Okay Construction. During the convention the board elected two new directors: Billy Vincent, ElectriCom; and Jeff Brown, Global Machinery.


During its meeting at the convention, the Scholarship Committee (comprised of PCCA past presidents) selected the recipients of 2019-2020 scholarships: Joseph W. Ives, Wheaton, Ill.; Koyte Winemiller, Huber Heights, Ohio; Peyton R. Lewis, Cypress, Texas; and Rian S. Lamarque, LeClaire, Iowa.

PCCA received 59 applications representing 23 member companies this year, and four applicants from last year renewed their submissions. The scholarships provide $2,500 per year for children and other dependents of PCCA members and their employees. Students selected as scholarship recipients can receive up to $10,000 (for those attending a four-year school) or $5,000 (for those attending a two-year program).

The Scholarship Committee added a fourth scholarship this year due to a strong fundraising year, highlighted by a $50,000 matching donation by Rod Henkels, Henkels & McCoy, during the 2018 PCCA Auction. PCCA members at the auction donated the $50,000 to be matched in a matter of minutes. The committee also decided to create a one-year, $1,000-scholarship for each of the three schools that PCCA is working with on utility construction programs.

The PCCA convention also featured a wildly successful auction, an uplifting Prayer Breakfast, featuring Vermeer’s Mary Andringa, and a boisterous Annual Associates Exhibit & Breakfast. Members explored and enjoyed the islands of St. Kitts and Nevis through hiking, golfing, sailing, snorkeling, speed boating, ATVing, ziplining, swimming with dolphins, and more.

PCCA will hold its mid-year meeting July 10 to 13, at the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley in Park City, Utah. The 75th Annual PCCA Convention is slated for Feb. 28 to March 4 at the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar in Nassau, Bahamas.

PCCA attendees gather for one of many special events at the convention.

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