On February 28th, Alabama AGC member Eddie Stewart was installed as president of AGC of America, making his the first president from Alabama in the association's 100 year history. Read on to find out what Eddie hopes to accomplish in his year, and what his first order of business will be:
Why do you think it’s important to have active involvement in AGC?
It’s like anything in life, you only get out of things what you put into them. We belong to a lot of organizations but aren’t super involved in most of them. However, we found the more involved we were in AGC, the more we got out of it. We developed a lot of great relationships with our peers, competitors and industry professionals and learned so much from all of those relationships. We’ve also formed many successful joint ventures because of the companies and individuals we met through AGC.
The Alabama AGC has a great reputation nationally. You moving onto the national ladder seems extremely significant. How important is it for the chapter and its members for an Alabama chapter member to be named president of national AGC?
Alabama AGC has always had an excellent reputation among National AGC and has consistently ranked at the top of its 92 chapters, year after year. I’m surprised that AL AGC hasn’t had more national representation before. We have a lot of individuals that are involved nationally, and our chapter has been recognized on numerous occasions. It’s seems quite fitting to have Alabama represented at this time, as AGC National begins its centennial celebration in 2018. I think all the members take pride in seeing us represented on the national stage at this time. I don’t feel I’ve done anything special to deserve this recognition but I am more than happy to serve.
Since you're the first national president from Alabama, do you have any specific plans to set in motion that might benefit the construction industry in Alabama or in the Southeast? Is there a way to "represent" Alabama?
The leadership of National AGC is committed to promoting and enhancing construction throughout all 92 chapters located throughout the country. What’s good for construction nationwide is good for the southeast and Alabama. Likewise, the issues we have in Alabama are much like the issues faced nationwide...workforce shortage, funding for infrastructure, burdensome government regulations, etc. National AGC has and continues to work on these and many other issues and is a great source for chapters like Alabama AGC to learn from initiatives that have been successful around the country. Alabama AGC has always been a “high performing chapter” and has shared its best practices with other chapters for years...a fact I love to brag about!
What would you like the result of your year as AGC president to be? What's one or a few items you hope to be your biggest accomplishment when all is said and done?
This is an historic year for AGC of America, celebrating 100 years as the “voice of the construction industry”. There will be a gala celebration in Washington DC in October as well as numerous celebratory functions throughout the year. Much will be made of our past (and rightly so) but it raises the question about our future. In the short time I am president, I hope to keep our focus on the future. I am looking for input from our young people as to how AGC can better serve its members, especially with the changes we see in our industry. I hope to see our industry adopt innovative practices on a more widespread basis. I believe not only prefabrication but robotics and 3-D printing have a place in construction in the near future. We as an industry need to be proactive instead of reactive in adopting them.
Alabama AGC has put a strong emphasis on craft training, is this something you will carry on as a focus at the national level as well?
The single greatest issue of all AGC members nationwide is worker shortage. Contractors cannot find qualified skilled labor to build their projects. Young people are not choosing construction as a career. The answer to this problem must be solved at the local levels, where the solution for Texas may or may not work for Alabama. National AGC can help by sharing best practices among chapters. We will continue to look for opportunities on the national level to promote construction as great career choice.
We've heard that your mission as national president will be "creating a more innovative and efficient construction environment"... what's your first order of business?
Construction lags other industries in terms of efficiency and productivity. One of the reasons has to do with our reluctance to adopt the latest technology and innovations available. I believe AGC can influence contractors to be more innovative. The use of building information modeling has dramatically reduced the coordination issues and conflicts previously experienced in the field, yet many contractors have not embraced this technology. Offsite prefabrication takes the repetitive construction activities into a factory setting, where weather and inefficiencies are taken out of the equation. This speeds construction, results in improved quality, while reducing the number of men needed onsite. I believe AGC can be the primary driver to help contractors be more efficient.