The Associated Builders & Contractors’ San Diego chapter installed its 2013 board of directors Tuesday, setting in place its leadership for the year.
Dru Wells of Helix Electric Inc. took the oath as ABC San Diego’s newest board chair, while outgoing chair Philip Piel, of West Coast Group Benefits Inc., passed the torch after leading the merit-shop organization’s board in a year that brought an end to the city of San Diego’s practice of requiring project labor agreements in its construction contracts.
Joining Wells and Piel on the 2013 board are Treasurer Doug Clevenger, of the Robert R. Redwitz accounting firm, and board members Bill LeFever, of Gould Electric; Brian Cox of Brian Cox Mechanical Inc.; Brent Brewer of Brewer Crane and Rigging; Diane Koester-Dion of I.E. Pacific Inc.; Ernie Pearn of Cutting Edge Drywall; Jaqui Gamboa-Gaano of Contractors and Builders; Rowan Electric’s Paul Rowan; Ron Rudolph of Rudolph Consulting; Rick Marshall from the Brady Co. and attorney Richard Freeman of Sheppard, Mullen Richter & Hampton.
Wells provided remarks on the past year’s successes for the organization, but pointed to areas in which he expects to continue having to lead.
“Over the last couple of years, you’ve seen us make pretty significant headway to make sure that our members can compete in a fair and open marketplace,” Wells said after his swearing-in, referring to the millions spent on efforts to ban the requirement of project labor agreements in local cities.
The announcement of a prominent PLA in San Diego late last year highlighted a portion of Wells' agenda for 2013.
“Two days after the November election, we saw local labor leaders throw it in our face that they got a PLA on the Convention Center,” Wells said, adding that PLAs will continue to be a significant focus of ABC in 2013.
Following the installment ceremonies held at the Hyatt Regency La Jolla, the trade group was offered some words of encouragement in another area of focus -- job opportunity -- from a major source of construction work in San Diego: Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southwest (NAVFAC).
At a time when sequestration and deep federal budget cuts are increasingly of concern to the industry, U.S. Navy Capt. Marko Medved spoke on behalf of NAVFAC Southwest as a guest speaker, saying that because of the trickling nature of past federal appropriations, the scope of business opportunities for fiscal year 2013 with NAVFAC will only be slightly smaller than the previous year’s.
Specifically, Medved -- formerly the operations officer for NAVFAC Southwest and now the officer in charge of construction for Marine Corps Installations West -- compared the 2012 business volume of $2.68 billion with the $2.51 billion budget volume for 2013. He noted that the money for use in certain years is appropriated as much as a couple of years in advance, and that federal budget cuts are likely to have a less harsh short-term effect on the industry than sometimes suggested.
“There’s a lot of concern about the budget chaos,” Medved said. “But we’re only going down (about) $200 million.”
Some budget cuts will come, however, and be felt in future budget volumes, he added. But those changes won’t be immediately felt, and because of San Diego’s prominence in the Navy, the local region may be shielded a bit more than other parts of the country.
“Everybody’s going to suffer, because the nature of budget cuts at the Pentagon is, instead of doing precise cuts, they just do salami-slice cuts,” Medved said. “Every so often, there’s a decade full of growth, and we’re in one of those. San Diego will do pretty well, relative to other places simply because it’s a fleet concentration area.
“Half of the Marines in the nation are here, 50 ships,” Medved said. “And that number’s not getting any smaller. So proportionately, they’re going to get their share of the budget.”