The Official Publication of the Power & Communication Contractors Association 2nd Quarter 2022 Employee Complaint Investigation Checklist for Employers 2022 PCCA Mid-Year Meeting Preview New Arm of CGA Established: Damage Prevention Institute PCCA Announces 2022-23 ScholarshipWinners 77th Annual PCCA Convention Recap Opening Session Speaker Chad Hymas
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PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 5 2nd Quarter 2022 Official Publication of the Power & Communication Contractors Association Publication Staff PO Box 638 Churchton, Maryland 20733 (800) 542-PCCA • www.pccaweb.org ©2022 Power & Comm nication Contractors Association Publisher TimothyWagner Editor Michael Ancell Advertising Sales Stacy Bowdring Photography Jorge de Casanova Information Technology Greg Smela Accounting James Wagner Layout & Design JosephWagner NTIA Releases “Internet for All” Blueprint 7 In mid-May, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration opened applications for $45 billion in broadband funding, kicking off a campaign to deliver “Internet for All.” In what is surely good news for PCCA members, the agency indicated that priority will be given to projects that use end-to-end fiber architecture. PCCA Maintains Aggressive Agenda at 77th Annual Convention 15 With more than 400 attendees, the 2022 PCCA Convention, March 4-9 in Scottsdale, Ariz., showcased PCCA action on serious issues, including the nation’s flawed 811 system, critical worker shortages, challenges from all levels of government, and severe supply chain issues. And, of course, members enjoyed great networking, cool tours, and lots of fun times. Human Resources | By Greg Guidry 11 PCCA Announces 2022-23 ScholarshipWinners 32 Power News 34 Broadband News 39 News Briefs 44 Safety News 48 Industry Calendar 49 PCCA Member News 50 2022 PCCA Mid-Year Meeting Preview 53 New PCCA Members 58 Advertiser Index 58 Officer Directors Jeff Brown Global Machinery Bonnie Burnham Service Electric Company John Capodice Sterling Site Solutions Josh DeBruine Michels Corporation Justin Druffel Caterpillar, Inc. John Fluharty Mears Group, Inc. Robin Gilbertson J&R Underground, LLC Chase Lapcinski Push, Inc. Steve Sellenriek (Advisory) UtiliSource Sam Stephens Tjader & Highstrom Jason Tyler Brooks Construction Co., LLC Billy Vincent ElectriCom, Inc. Michael Whitebread J.J. Kane Auctioneers Chris Wozniak Intercon Construction, Inc. 2nd Vice Chairman Rob Pribyl MP Nexlevel, LLC Treasurer Craig Amerine Amerine Utilities Construction, Inc Secretary Heath Sellenriek Sellenriek Construction Chairman Jerrod Henschel Equix, Inc. Chairman-Elect Ed Campbell HMI Communications 1stVice Chairman Matthew Gabrielse Gabe’s Construction Co., Inc. Board of Directors Garrett Akin Brooks Construction Co., LLC Nick Anderson Anderson Underground, Inc. John Audi Mears Group, Inc. Robert Breeden ElectriCom, Inc.
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 7 In mid-May, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) opened applications for $45 billion in broadband funding, kicking off a campaign to deliver “Internet for All.” In what is surely good news for PCCA and its members, the agency indicated that priority will be given to projects that use end-to-end fiber architecture. The money is part of the $65 billion in broadband funding provided in the gigantic Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), which passed last November. Funds will be distributed through three programs overseen by the NTIA: • Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program ($42.5 billion) • Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program ($1 billion) • State Digital Equity Act Program ($1.5 billion) All three funding pots are open to state and tribal governments, with the middle mile program also open to telecom companies, utilities, and non-profit entities. Letters of intent for BEAD are due by July 18, and initial planning applications for the same must be submitted by August 15. Those looking to participate in the Digital Equity Act program must submit a planning application or letter of intent by July 12, and applications for the middle mile program are due by September 30. “Generations before us brought electricity to rural America and built the interstate highways. Our generation’s task is to connect all Americans online,” NTIA chief Alan Davidson said in a statement. He added that the new programs will “promote internet access and adoption so that everyone in America has a chance to thrive in the modern economy.” BEAD is designed to help expand high-speed infrastructure to unserved and underserved locations, with the former defined as locations lacking access to speeds of 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream and the latter as those without 100/20 Mbps service. In its Notice of Funding Opportunity, the NTIA noted that locations that are served exclusively by satellite or service based on unlicensed spectrum will be considered unserved. It encouraged states to plan to deploy end-to-end fiber infrastructure “wherever feasible.” Each state will be eligible to receive an initial allocation of $100 million from the BEAD program, with the remainder to be determined based on broadband coverage maps that are expected to be released by the Federal Communications Commission later this year. Once the maps become available, the NTIA will issue a Notice of Available Amounts and states will have 180 days to submit an initial proposal detailing how they plan to use the money. NTIA encouraged states not to wait for the notice to begin developing their initial proposals but instead to start right away. PCCA will provide much more information about NTIA’s new program, and while we supported the funding provided for broadband in the IIJA, we’ve seen harmful policy stipulations added as serious “strings attached” when applying for IIJA dollars. This is especially true in terms of labor policy. Therefore, while PCCA will continue to support increased federal investment in broadband and electric power infrastructure, we will also continue to encourage the agencies overseeing these new programs to recognize the potential impacts of over-the-top requirements that will only undermine the likelihood of these projects getting completed in a reasonable time period. InsideWashington continued on page 8 InsideWashington NTIA “Internet for All” Blueprint Includes Billions for Broadband
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 8 Inside Washington Continued from page 7 Proposed Changes to Davis-Bacon Threaten Viability of Construction Industry In March, the Department of Labor (DOL) published a proposed rule intended to update regulations regarding the Davis-Bacon Act, which applies to federal and federally assisted construction projects. The proposed rule would revise definitions such as “site of the work” to include sites where prefabricated buildings are produced and “scope of work” to include energy infrastructure. Davis-Bacon has always been the Holy Grail for construction unions and a major thorn in the side of merit-shop contractors. The recent proposal would inevitably subject many small firms to comply with Davis-Bacon and result in significant cost increases, preventing many of them from bidding on critical infrastructure projects at a time when hundreds of billions of dollars in new spending are entering a wide range of markets. Obviously, we need any and all qualified construction entities to be allowed to bid on the overwhelming number of projects on the horizon. The construction industry already faces formidable workforce challenges and a supply chain crisis with no end in sight. In short, while this is shortsighted policy that should never be enacted, now is exactly the wrong time to disincentivize the majority of the construction workforce from bidding on federal infrastructure projects. Determination of Prevailing Wage DOL proposes to change the methodology for determining the prevailing wage. Currently, if more than 50 percent of wage survey respondents report the same rate, DOL uses that rate as the prevailing wage. The proposed rule stipulates that if a majority of workers are not paid a particular wage, the wage rate will be more than 30 percent of the workers as “prevailing.” These revisions would add anti-retaliation provisions that will allow DOL to direct contractors and subcontractors to provide relief to employees who are retaliated against through job reinstatement, promotion, back pay with interest, and expungement of negative information from the employee’s personnel record. The proposed rule will undoubtably increase overall construction costs and create new regulatory burdens, risk, and uncertainty. This would exacerbate an already grim situation and provide another reason for countless quality and experienced contractors to avoid bidding on contracts for construction projects. Impacts on “Scope of Work” The rule also proposes to expand Davis-Bacon to cover offsite construction of “significant portions” of a building or work. Under the DOL proposal, “significant portion” would mean “one or more entire portion(s) or module(s) of the building or work, as opposed to smaller prefabricated components, with minimal construction work remaining other than the installation and/or assembly of the portions or modules at the place where the building or work will remain.” This drastic change would depart from the existing, court-approved regulation, which limits prevailing wage requirements to prefabrication at a site of work “specifically established” for the performance of a contract that includes Davis-Bacon provisions. These changes would increase the inflationary effects of prevailing wage requirements beyond the intent of Congress and would impose unnecessary administrative and regulatory costs on contractors and manufacturers. In comments filed with DOL, PCCA’s message was clear. “Prevailing wage laws require complex wage and work restrictions that challenge market entry for small contrac- Cleaners for Every Project • Fiber Optic Cables • Hand and Tool • Insulated Rubber Goods • Live Line Tool www.polywater.com 800-328-9384 651-430-2270
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 9 tors, which decreases competition on infrastructure projects. These wage determinations force federal contractors to use outdated and inefficient union job classifications that ignore the productive work practices successfully used in the meritshop construction industry. Simply put, DOL calculations are not reflective of true prevailing wages as experienced by contractors.” PCCA reiterated a fundamental point throughout the association’s filed comments. “PCCA supports policy that encourages the concept that any and all qualified construction contractors to bid on projects at a time when the construction industry continues to face formidable workforce capacity challenges.” DOE’s Grid Improvement Plan Brings Biased Policy with New Federal Funding It’s no secret that last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law authorized unprecedented investment in a variety of markets for infrastructure improvements, and the need to harden America’s electric grid was a top priority. The infrastructure bill provided more than $70 billion for grid improvements, and it’s looking like the Biden administration is starting to move. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released a Request for Information seeking public input on the establishment of an approximately $2.3 billion grant program intended to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters. DOE’s new Building a Better Grid Initiative will support initiation of electric power projects across the country to provide a more reliable, resilient electric grid. Power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades, and the frequency and length of power failures are at their highest levels. Infrastructure investments will help address these concerns by improving grid reliability and increasing resilience. Grid modernization activities are likely to include: • Undergrounding electric infrastructure, • Utility pole upkeep, • Relocating or reconductoring powerlines, • Improvements to increase resistance to extreme weather, • Increasing fire-resistant components, InsideWashington continued on page 10 Introducing the ReelLift™ Reel Management System, the contractor-tested way to save on set-up, handling and takedown for cable and wire projects. Get 50% in REEL savings Hydraulically lifts, repositions and transports reels in tight spaces Integrated bed design eliminates the need for a trailer Variable-speed controls for cable payout, retrieval and figure-8 deployment 800-534-5624 hydrabeds.com/utility
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 10 Inside Washington Continued from page 9 • Implementing monitoring controls to provide “real-time” situational awareness, and • Integrating energy resources like microgrids and energy storage. The plan is generally supported by industry. “We’re encouraged to see electric co-op priorities reflected in President Biden’s infrastructure proposal,” according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. “As we plan for a future that depends on electricity as the primary energy source for a majority of the economy, strategic investments in grid modernization and energy innovation are critical. Equally important is support for expanded rural broadband and other efforts to help rural families and businesses.” The new program will require applicants to describe their commitment to progress metrics like reducing or shortening outages from severe events or by reducing risks to health and safety from such outages. Of course, like everything coming out of the Biden White House, there is bad policy that accompanies new investment. Applicants will be asked to present objectives and metrics for high labor standards and “quality job creation.” Like other programs of interest to PCCA, there are no hard requirements subject to applicants. However, it’s clear that applicants who indicate that they are including things like project labor agreements, prevailing wages, and “local hire” actions will have a leg up in terms of consideration of their applications. Unsurprisingly, this has resulted in strong opposition on the Republican side, many of whom ended up opposing the IIJA in general. “Unfortunately, this is not an infrastructure package,” said Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), Ranking Member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. “Instead, President Biden, Speaker Pelosi, and the Democrats are jamming through a massive expansion in federal bureaucracy and government control.” PCCA will continue to support funding in these markets while educating policymakers about the real impacts of shortsighted policy that seems to come with federal support. FMCSA Proposes Forced Truck Speed Limits Federal regulators recently gave a heads-up to the public that proposed requirements to set truck speed limits using electronic engine devices are on tap for next year. The Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a notice of intent to solicit comments to be used while developing future amendments to regulations subject to commercial truck drivers. According to FMCSA, the agency aims to propose regulations requiring motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) with a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with an electronic engine control unit capable of limiting the CMV to a certain speed to be determined by federal rulemaking. In January, FMCSA cited speed as a significant factor in fatal truck crashes and supported the use of speed management to help reduce serious injuries and fatalities. In addition, the National Transportation Safety Board listed speed limiters on its “Most Wanted” list of safety recommendations in 2021. “The number of commercial motor vehicle crashes in which speed is listed as a contributing factor is unacceptable,” FMCSA stated. “A carrier-based approach could provide the opportunity to compel fleets that are not currently using speed limiters to slow down their CMVs within a relatively short period.” This concept is nothing new. Both FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have supported requiring each of these vehicles to have a device set so as not to go over a specified speed and equipped with a way to read the truck’s current and two previous speed settings. FMCSA had proposed a similar complementary regulation that would require carriers to maintain the devices for the life of the truck. Expect Strong PCCA Opposition The two agencies had planned an updated joint rulemaking, according to an agenda posted earlier this year, but FMCSA changed course and will instead move on a separate carrierbased speed limiter rulemaking. While even a proposed rule is not expected until well into next year, PCCA will be gearing up for a full-throated, strong response in opposition to such a shortsighted proposal. Of course, like everything coming out of the Biden White House, there is bad policy that accompanies new investment. Applicants will be asked to present objectives and metrics for high labor standards and “quality job creation.”
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 11 One of the most important things an employer must do when confronted with a complaint about inappropriate workplace behavior (e.g., harassment) is to promptly conduct a thorough investigation. Failure to do so could be a disaster and negatively impact the employer’s defense should a formal complaint, charge, or lawsuit be filed. For example, in one case, the plaintiff alleged that her supervisor sexually harassed her and that her employer failed to properly investigate the sexual harassment claim by questioning her in front of the supervisor accused of harassing her, by failing to properly track and maintain records of incoming phone calls to its sexual harassment hotline, by failing to provide call-back or follow-up services when complaints were lodged, by failing to properly staff the sexual harassment hotline, and by failing to properly train employees working on the sexual harassment hotline. The jury awarded $95 million to the claimant. The following checklist outlines the recommended dos and don’ts for conducting an effective investigation when an employee complaint alleges unlawful or inappropriate behavior in the workplace. A. Preparing for the Investigation • Review the personnel file of relevant employees. In particular, review the files of the complaining employee and the employee(s) accused. • Collect and review all relevant documents, including applicable policies and/or work rules. • Prepare a preliminary list of persons who may have knowledge of the matter being investigated. • Set a timetable and establish a plan for conducting interviews. • It may also be helpful to consult with legal counsel regarding your initial investigation plan. Counsel can advise you regarding the most effective way to complete the investigation. B. Consider Confidentiality Needs and Restrictions • Assess need to require witnesses to maintain confidentiality. - Is evidence in danger of being destroyed? - Is there danger of witness collusion and/or fabrication of testimony? - Is there a need to prevent a cover-up? - Do witnesses need protection? - Do these concerns outweigh the employees’ interests in discussing discipline or disciplinary investigations? • If you have determined that some level of witness confidentiality is necessary and outweighs the employees’ interest in discussing workplace investigations, inform each witness of necessary confidentiality restrictions. • Tell each witness that any confidentiality restriction “does not prohibit you from reporting possible violations of law to any government agency and does not prohibit you from making any disclosures protected under the whistle blower provisions of law or government regulations.” C. Thoroughly and Immediately Investigate ALL Complaints • Investigate every complaint. Thorough investigations may help to insulate or at least limit liability from legal claims of harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, etc. • Keep the investigation and the facts that it uncovers on a strict “need-to-know” basis. Do not make any promises that information will remain confidential. This simply may not be possible and may even jeopardize your ability to conduct a thorough investigation. • Interview the complainant, accused, immediate supervisors, and witnesses as soon as possible. Take written statements when appropriate. HUMAN RESOURCES Greg Guidry Ogletree Deakins Nash Smoak & Stewart firstname.lastname@example.org (337) 769-6583 Employee Complaint Investigation Checklist for Employers Human Resources continued on page 12
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 12 D. Interview the Complainant • Remain objective. • Determine the identity of the accused. • Determine when and where the alleged incident occurred. • Determine if the incident was isolated or part of a pattern of conduct. • Get specific details of the incident(s). • Ask the complainant his or her reaction to the incident(s). • Determine if there were any witnesses to the incident(s). • Determine if the complainant has spoken to anyone else about the incident(s). • Assure the complainant that the complaint will be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. • Assure the complainant that the complaint will be kept as confidential as possible, consistent with your obligation to conduct a thorough investigation. • Never agree to forego an investigation of a complaint pursuant to the complainant’s request for confidentiality. • Ask “Is there anything else you think I should know?” E. Interview the Accused • Remain objective. • Determine if the accused knows of the incident(s) to which the complainant is referring. If so: - Determine when and where the incident(s) took place. - Get specific details of the incident(s). - Ask how the complainant reacted. - Determine if there were any witnesses to the incident(s). - Determine if the accused spoke to anyone else about the incident(s). • Determine if there was ever a prior consensual relationship between the parties. • Determine the accused’s perception of his or her working relationship with the complainant. • Ask whether the complainant and accused socialized together, either alone or in a group. • Determine if the accused knows of any reason why the complainant would make the allegation. • Determine whether the accused directed, or had responsibility for, the work of other employees, or the complainant had authority to recommend employment decisions affecting others or was responsible for the maintenance or administration of the records of others. • Observe the accused’s demeanor and reaction. • When the accused is the complainant’s supervisor, determine if the complainant was recently granted or denied any job benefits, such as raises or promotions. • Assure the accused that the complaint will be kept as confidential as possible, consistent with your obligation to conduct a thorough investigation. • Ask “Is there anything else you think I should know?” F. Interview the Immediate Supervisors • Determine the parties’ discipline problems or behavior patterns. • Determine whether the parties’ supervisors had any knowledge about any relationship between the complainant and the accused. • Determine if the complainant ever reported the conduct to the supervisor. • Ask “Is there anything else you think I should know?” G. Interview Witnesses Where Necessary • Remain objective. • When the witness is a current or former employee, review his or her personnel file prior to the interview. • Be cognizant of privacy concerns for both the complainant and the accused. • Start with broad, open-ended questions. Get more specific as necessary. • Do not give details of the complaint unless it is necessary to obtain relevant information. • Phrase questions so as not to give unnecessary information. • Do not automatically limit the investigation to witnesses currently in the workforce. Interview former employees, friends, and relatives of both the complainant and the accused if advised to do so by counsel. • Ask “Is there anything else you think I should know?” H. Consider Searches as an Investigatory Tool • Minimize the intrusiveness of the search and base the search on reasonable suspicion that the premises or property to be searched will yield results. • Avoid searches of an employee’s person except in the most extreme situations. • Do not use or threaten force against an employee when searching person or property. • Require that more than one employer representative be present during any interrogation or search of an employee related to theft. • Do not prevent an employee from leaving the room or the workplace during a search or interview, since doing so may create potential liability for false imprisonment. • Ask law enforcement officials to conduct a search if you suspect the search situation might get “out of control.” • Do not move illegal substances discovered during a search, but rather contact the police. • Maintain the confidentiality of the search results to the greatest extent possible. Human Resources Continued from page 11
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 13 © 2022 The Charles Machine Works, Inc. Learn more from your Ditch Witch® dealer. The all-new Marksman HDD Guidance System provides superior performance in high-interference environments with the industry’s widest range of frequencies in a single beacon. • Release information or discuss the search results only with persons having a legitimate “need to know.” • Keep search and investigation information in a secure area with limited access. • Do not confiscate personal property. I. Determine Appropriate Response and Take Any Necessary Corrective Action • Promptly take necessary corrective action, up to and including discharge, where warranted. Corrective action must be effective and must guard against further harassing acts. - Consider the severity of the conduct, the frequency, the pervasiveness of the conduct, any past actions, and whether you believe the accused will engage in any further actions. - When imposing discipline on the accused, any form of discipline, short of discharge, should be issued, along with a warning that similar misconduct in the future may result in immediate termination. • Document the response and all corrective action taken. Include a summary of the investigation explaining the appropriateness of the action. J. Follow Through • After you have thoroughly investigated the complaint, inform the complainant what action was taken. • Instruct the complainant to immediately report recurring or continuing harassment. • Periodically check back with the complainant to ensure that the harassment has been eliminated and is not continuing. • Thank all witnesses for participating in the investigation, and remind them of your anti-retaliation policy. K. Mistakes to Avoid • Failing to have appropriate policies encouraging employees to report inappropriate behavior. • Failing to investigate. • Failing to properly scope the investigation. • Failing to select the right investigator. • Failing to collect and preserve evidence. • Failing to report, or properly report, results.
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PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 15 PCCA Chairman Bob Breeden, ElectriCom, Inc., looked around the crowded ballroom at the Opening Session of the 77th Annual PCCA Convention, smiled, and then thanked the members for showing up in such strong numbers: 405 attendees, 250 primary attendees, more first-timers than ever before, and a record number of sponsors. He spoke about his 17 years in PCCA, about watching members’ kids grow up, and “how PCCA is like family.” Breeden went through some of the association’s accomplishments in the past year, noted the challenges that lie ahead, and encouraged everyone “to become involved, become a part of our family. Because of you, we’re growing and we’re doing the things we need to do.” The 2022 PCCA Convention, March 4-9 in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a showcase for “doing the things we need to do.” PCCA members are tackling serious issues, including the nation’s flawed 811 system, the industry’s critical worker shortage, challenges coming from all levels of government, and severe supply chain issues. 811 Emergency On the convention’s first full day, members crowded into the 2nd Annual PCCA/CGA/NULCA Excavation Safety Summit, where they discussed Common Ground Alliance (CGA) Next Practices, GIS mapping of underground utilities, the future of the Gold Shovel Association, and the Emergency 811 study, which PCCA co-sponsored as part of the Infrastructure Protection Coalition (www.ipcweb.org). Mark Bridgers, architect of the 811 Emergency study and principal of Continuum Capital, said that he’s been consulting in the industry since the late 1990s and “has never seen a study get as much attention as this one.” The study examined 811 operations in every state, Washington, D.C., and Chicago and found that failures in the system are costing some $61 billion a year in waste and excess costs and creating unnecessary hazards for public safety. The study was released in November 2021, and the coalition has been publicizing it and engaging with industry stakeholders in the ensuing months. Bridgers said that the next steps include “hard work at the state level” to drive positive changes in their 811 systems. Building Up the Workforce PCCA’s workforce development efforts were highlighted in several events during the convention. First, at the TIRAP Apprenticeship Program Primer, members already in TIRAP PCCA Maintains Aggressive Agenda at 77th Annual Convention Convention Recap continued on page 16
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 16 explained how they got their apprenticeship programs up and running and how the programs benefit both the company and the employees. PCCA thanks Brad Baumann, Stratis, Inc.; Brie Farb, Push, Inc.; Michelle Heiliger, Sellenriek Construction, Inc.; and Shane Matthews, ElectriCom, Inc. for taking time from their busy schedules to help their fellow PCCA members. PCCA helps develop utility construction programs for technical schools and community colleges around the nation, and during the Education Issues Roundtable members received updates from PCCA-affiliated schools: State Technical College of Missouri, Terra State Community College (Ohio), Northwood Technical College (Wisc.), Monroe County Community College (Mich.), and Somerset Community College (Ky.). PCCA awards scholarships every year to the children and other dependents of PCCA members’ employees as well as to students at PCCA-affiliated schools. PCCA’s Past Chairmen oversee the program, and they met in Scottsdale to select this year’s winners. PCCA awarded scholarships to Eli Herkenrath, Silver Lake, Kans.; Brady Harmand, Marland, Okla.; Benjamin Tholen, Bristol, Ill.; Richard Sapp, Coleman, Mich., and to Bret Jennings, Linn, Mo., who is in the Utility Systems Technician program at State Tech. And finally, there was a great turnout for the Leadership Development Program session on financial management. Andy Patron, Aboveboard Consulting, leads a full-day, handson session on an industry-specific topic every year at the convention. Busy Times in DC PCCA maintains an aggressive advocacy agenda in Washington, D.C., and members heard updates and shared their views during the convention’s Government & Industry Affairs Roundtable. The $1 trillion federal infrastructure bill passed last year, which PCCA supported, will pump tens of billions of dollars into broadband deployment and strengthening the electric grid. On the other hand, the law’s clear bias toward union labor, overreaching climate proposals, and anti-employer worksite safety policies will require PCCA diligence, at least over the next few years. PCCA’s Jaime Steve reported on the infrastructure bill’s $42 billion in broadband construction finding: “You all have accomplished something incredible, but now we need implementation.” He said the association is working to develop broadband champions in Congress, people “who will lay down on the tracks for you when something comes up.” Also on the panel, Daryl Bouwkamp, Senior Director of International Business Development and Government Affairs for Vermeer Corporation, talked about the effectiveness of PCCA members meeting with legislators and regulators on Capital Hill. He called them “a truth-serum squad, and said, “We’re the closest to how the money is spent, and we can tell them which programs are working and which ones are not.” PCCA members also heard from Josh Seidemann, NTCA - The Voice of Rural Communications, and Patrick Vibien, Plastic Pipe Institute. Quality Speakers The convention featured a variety of speakers, some educational, some inspirational, some both. During his Utility Construction Industry Overview, Chris Daum of FMI provided a largely positive report for the power and communication markets. “You should leave here encouraged; the long-term fundamentals of this industry are great,” he said. Keynote speaker Chad Hymas shared his emotional story of tackling life’s challenges following a tragic accident and how he developed purpose, passion, and perspective in his life. “Don’t let Convention Recap Continued from page 15
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 17 anybody dictate to you what your limits are,” he said. Best-selling author Jay Samit fascinated the audience during his Disrupt You! session. He talked about the need for innovation, adaptability, and creativity in today’s everchanging world. He said that disruption requires introspection. “Everyone thinks about changing the world, but no one thinks about changing themselves,” he said. Talking About Supply Chains A highlight of the convention every year is the Associates Exhibit & Breakfast, where contractors meet with vendors to discuss jobsite issues and learn more about vendors’ products and services. A big topic this year, unsurprisingly, was how supply chain issues are affecting product availability. One manufacturer member said, “You lose one component, and it blows up the whole system. We have 1,600 skid steers sitting for lack of a rearview mirror.” And a contractor member commented, “The only good news is that we get record money from J.J. Kane when we sell something.” Passing the Gavel At a country & western themed closing party, PCCA members honored outgoing Chairman Bob Breeden with its Distinguished Service Award. Breeden, in turn, passed the PCCA gavel to new Chairman Jerrod Henschel, Equix, Inc. PCCA’s other officers for the coming year are Chair-Elect Ed Campbell HMI Utilities, LLC; 1st Vice Chair Matthew Gabrielse, Gabe’s Construction Co., Inc.; 2nd Vice Chair Rob Pribyl MP Nexlevel, LLC; Treasurer Craig Amerine, Amerine Utilities Construction, Inc.; and Secretary Heath Sellenriek, Sellenriek Construction, Inc. Michael Whitebread, J.J. Kane Auctioneers, was elected as an associate member of the Board, and Andrew Kurz, Ring Power, agreed to serve as PCCA Golf Chairman. PCCA members meet next at the Mid-Year Meeting, September 14-17 at the Meritage Resort & Spa in Napa, Calif. Learn more at www.pccaweb.org or by following PCCA on LinkedIn, Facebook (@powerandcommunicationscontractorsassociation), Twitter (@PCCA_tweets), and Instagram (@powerandcommunication). © 2021 Vermeer All Rights Reserved BRON is a registered trademark of RWF Industries, a division of Roberts Welding & Fabricating Ltd. The BRON 175 utility tractor features 225 HP (167.8 kW) stage V engine, dual telescopic reel carrier, variable speed hydrostatic transmission, decelerator pedal, oscillating undercarriage and V75-3 offsetting plow. AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY AT VERMEER DEALERS WORLDWIDE! 873 Devonshire Ave., Woodstock ON N4S 3B6 1.800.263.1060 | ON:519.421.0036 610 Main St. West Leroy MN 48039 507.547.2864 Visit BRON online at WWW.RWFBRON.COM
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 18 Images of PCCA 2022 6 PCCA President & CEO TimWagner, right, presents outgoing Chairman Bob Breeden, ElectriCom, Inc., with PCCA’s Distinguished Service Award for diligent efforts, faithful service, and outstanding accomplishments.
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 19 6 PCCA gavel in hand, new Chairman Jerrod Henschel, Equix, Inc., comes to the association’s top job with many years of experience on the Board of Directors and the Government & Industry Affairs Committee. 4 During the 50th Annual PCCA Prayer Breakfast, Brian LaMew describes the amazing work of Orchard: Africa in “places in great need with the poorest of the poor.” He encourages us all to “look at what God has done.”
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 20 3 In his Disrupt You! session, bestselling author Jay Samit talks about the need for innovation, adaptability, and creativity in today’s ever-changing world. 5 Brie Farb, HR/Talent Manager for Push, Inc., talks about the role of mentors in her company’s apprenticeship program (yes, they are, indeed, superheroes) during the TIRAP Apprenticeship Program Primer.
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 21 5 During his Utility Construction Industry Overview, Chris Daum of FMI provides a largely positive report for the power and communication markets. “You should leave here encouraged; the long-term fundamentals of this industry are great.” 6 Common Ground Alliance President & CEO Sarah Magruder Lyle discusses DIRT Report data and urges all excavators to submit their underground damage and near-miss reports into the DIRT system. 6 UtiliSource President Steve Sellenriek details his company’s efforts to collect pothole data and GIS map installation projects. 6 While discussing supply chain challenges during the Government Affairs Roundtable, Equix President & CEO Jerrod Henschel urges contractors to “be selective in the jobs you bid on.”
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 22 5 John Audi, Mears Group, shares some laughs during the Board of Directors meeting. 5 PCCA Chairman Bob Breeden, ElectriCom, Inc., welcomes association members to the 77th Annual PCCA Convention and thanks them for supporting PCCA’s aggressive industry agenda. 6 JoJo Kirkland and Bobby McClung, both from Motive Infrastructure Solutions, chat during theWelcome Reception & Dinner. 5 PCCA members open the convention by saluting the United States of America during the National Anthem. 3 Austin Shanfelter, left, updates his fellow Past Chairmen on PCCAsupported efforts to rebuild roofs and deliver supplies to hurricaneravaged areas in the Bahamas. 4 Fun and challenging group projects during the Leadership Development Program provide valuable lessons and keep attendees engaged. 4 Andy Patron of Aboveboard Consulting, right, works with Austin Buerky of C-Com, Inc., left, and John Capodice of Sterling Site Access Solutions during the LDP session on financial management. When Ryan Steinbecker of Altec Industries, right, talks about the many supply chain challenges facing PCCA’s associate members, the other directors on the Board pay close attention. 6
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 23 5 Jameson Brown, son of Jeff & Ashley Brown, Global Machinery, makes a new friend in Opening Session speaker Chad Hymas. 6 Mark Bridgers, Continuum Capital, tells PCCA members that despite the numerous challenges out there today, all the markets in which they work are looking strong. “There is no better time to be a competent utility contractor in the United States.” 6 Brad Baumann, president of Stratis, Inc. and chair of the PCCA Education Committee, and Shane Matthews, Training and Development Manager at ElectriCom, lend their expertise the Education Issues Roundtable. 6 During the Education Issues Roundtable, Heath Sellenriek of Sellenriek Construction, third from left, describes the new Utility Technology Center at State Tech, which houses the school’s Electrical Distribution and Utility Technician programs. 6 Dave & Tammy Hammond, Finn Corporation, enjoy the Chairman’s Welcome Reception. 5 During the TIRAP Apprenticeship Program Primer, Michelle Heiliger, Director of HR for Sellenriek Construction, suggests starting small and being flexible when creating an apprenticeship program.
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 24 6 All smiles during the Silent Auction, LeAnn Bouwkamp and Kim Beyer, Vermeer Corporation. 3 PCCA Past Chairman Herb Fluharty describes the South African Adventure being auctioned off to support the altruistic work of Orchard: Africa. 5 PCCA’s newest Board member Michael Whitebread, JJ Kane Auctioneers, keeps the Live Auction rolling along smoothly. 6 It’s victory dance time for Lee Travis, Equix, after winning 500 bucks in the heads or tails game during the Live Auction. 3 Greg Kilgore, Tel Rep Marketing; Jason Stone, Jameson, LLC; and Jake Jonnes, American Polywater, prepare to attack the Silent Auction. 4 The team of Todd & Titus Myers, Kenneth G. Myers Construction, bid on a new addition to the company fleet. 6 Board member Jeff Brown, Global Machinery, helps welcome Cory Yamaguchi, Finn Corporation, to the association during the First-time Attendee Reception.
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 25 3 Fully enjoying the Associates Exhibit are Milay & Peter Melsheimer, Melfred Borzall. 4 AJ Akin seems pensive as he spends quality time with his grandmother Pam Shanfelter. 4 Billy Vincent, ElectriCom, is definitely making a point, but his co-worker Bob Breeden and Mark Howells, Cable Connection & Supply Co., seem unconvinced. 6 Catching up during the Board/Past Chair/Sponsor Reception are Craig & Missi Amerine, Amerine Utilities Construction, and Heath Sellenriek, Sellenriek Construction. 4 Jay & Angie Russell, HydraBed, enjoy some quiet time before the Auction gets really crazy. 6 Steve McKay, Spiradrill, and Gareth Buerky, C-Com, Inc., discuss drilling rigs during the Annual Associates Exhibit & Breakfast. 5 Talking shop and drinking coffee: Past PCCA Chair Dave Aubrey, Brink Constructors, and Andrew Helbig, CustomTool Supply/GME Supply, at the Associates Exhibit. 5 Nate Newsome, GPRS, LLC, talks broadband with Rhys & Tom Harter of the Harter Management Group.
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 26 5 Looks like a stacked team: Mark Zickler, Power & Telephone Supply Co.; Michael Young, Larson Cable Trailers; Steve Pauk, SCS Telecom Supply; and Carmine Battafarano, HMI Technical Solutions. 5 Who’s totally stoked about the ATV Excursion? Brian Sandon, J.J. Kane Auctioneers! 4 Ted Clemens, General Machine Products, blasts out of the sand. 6 The PCCA crew heads to Old Town Scottsdale for a Segway tour. 4 Great day on the links for Dan Levac, Preformed Line Products; Scotty Likens, ElectriCom; Jake Jonnes, American Polywater; and Thomas Jones, Primoris Services. 4 A hummer ride and a wine tasting are quite the combo. Good luck, guys! 4 Don Roark, Custom Truck One Source, rolls a long putt.... we’re sure it went in!
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 27 4 Brooks Lapcinski already knows that Dad (Chase Lapcinski, Push, Inc.) will always point him in the right direction. 3 Hanging out at the Country Western Party are Tim Conover, DitchWitch Midwest; Kwynn Kirby, DitchWitch; andWeston Peiffer, DitchWitch of Minnesota & Iowa. 5 A gorgeous night and a hot country band have PCCA folks twirling around the dance floor. 3 A little too chilly for the pool on Pool Day, but it still looks like lots of fun for Mackenzie Fluharty, Lori & Don Stephens, and Sam Stephens, Tjader & Highstrom. 3 Tammy Granberg lets her husband John (J&R Underground) know, “The fish are over there!” 6 The first-ever PCCA Fishing Tournament was a big hit with the members. 3 No matter the weather, PCCA members always enjoy Pool Day!
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PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 32 During the 77th Annual PCCA Convention in Scottsdale, Ariz., in March, the PCCA Education & Research Foundation announced the recipients of its 2022-2023 scholarships: Eli Herkenrath, Silver Lake, Kans.; Brady Harmand, Marland, Okla.; Benjamin Tholen, Bristol, Ill.; Richard Sapp, Coleman, Mich.; and Bret Jennings, Linn, Mo. Eli Herkenrath, Silver Lake, Kans. PCCA affiliation: Michels Corporation Eli earned a 4.0 GPA at Silver Lake Jr.-Sr. High School, while lettering in football, wrestling, and golf. He graduates this year and plans to study Mechanical Engineering at Kansas State University. “From a young age until now I have enjoyed building things, whether it was making things with toys as a child or constructing woodworking projects today. This, along with my family’s legacy in the construction field, urges me to pursue a similar career. I believe that I can help the construction industry by contributing to improvements in efficiency throughout the construction sector.” Brady Harmand, Marland, Okla. PCCA affiliation: Ditch Witch A 2022 graduate from Frontier High School, Brady earned a 4.0 GPA, while serving as Future Farmers of America president, belonging to the Oklahoma and National Honor Societies, and playing baseball. He plans to attend Northern Oklahoma College and study Mechanical Engineering. Brady intends to work at the Phillips 66 refinery in Ponca City, Okla., as a mechanical engineer and looks forward to living out in the country near Marland, starting a family, and owning his own land: “Hopefully including a couple of hundred acres, with a nice-sized farmhouse, barn, and continuing my cattle herd I have in my life now.” Benjamin Tholen, Bristol, Ill. PCCA affiliation: TT Technologies Benjamin graduated from Yorkville High School in 2019 with a 4.8 GPA and now attends the University of Kentucky, where he majors in Chemical Engineering. Benjamin recently received a LEAN systems certification, which he said, “has taught me how to effectively use problem-solving techniques in a manufacturing setting to increase efficiency.” “It was not until I enrolled in AP Chemistry that I discovered my true obsession. Chemistry opened my eyes to the applications of mathematics and the fascinating concepts within our universe. This newfound interest has propelled me into the direction of majoring in chemical engineering with obtaining an environmental engineering certificate and a power and energy certificate.” Richard Sapp, Coleman, Mich. PCCA affiliation: Mears Group Richard is a 2022 graduate of Coleman Jr./Sr. High School, with a 3.4 GPA. He plans to attend Michigan Technological University and major in Engineering and Industrial Management. Richard was a three-year captain of the track and power lifting teams and a Squadron Commander and eventually Platoon Commander at the PCCA Announces 2022-23 Scholarship Winners
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 33 Clare Youth Police Academy. He credits his success “to the relationships I have formed and will continue to form with my peers. I view myself as their equal and nothing more, and I am willing to make compromises that are beneficial both parties.” Bret Jennings, Linn, Mo. “Who Will Do the Work?” Scholarship Recipient Brett is in the Utility Systems Technician program at the State Technical College of Missouri. He graduated from LaPlata R-II with a 3.12 GPA. “Jobs that consist of an outdoor environment as well as constructing and advancing infrastructure have always been an interest of mine that I have wanted to pursue. After I earn my associates degree, my goal is to find a job in the fiber optic communications field. I value working hard and getting things done the correct way.” YOUR ONE-STOP SOURCE FOR JOBSITE TOUGH UTILITY EQUIPMENT 1-844-766-RENT email@example.com EQUIPMENT. PARTS. SERVICE. SOLUTIONS. 1-844-766-RENT firstname.lastname@example.org utility.ringpower.com Ring Power Utility Equipment provides all the resources you need to get the demanding jobs done.
PCCA Journal|2nd Quarter 2022 34 POWER NEWS DOE Launches $2.3 Billion Program to Strengthen and Modernize America’s Power Grid On April 27, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information seeking public input on the structure of an approximately $2.3 billion formula grant program to strengthen and modernize America’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis. The new program, established by last year’s federal infrastructure law and administered through DOE’s new Building a Better Grid Initiative, will assist states and tribal nations with projects that create good-paying jobs to deliver clean, affordable, and reliable energy to everyone, everywhere, anytime. A reliable, resilient electric grid is critical for withstanding climate change impacts and the administration’s goal of a national grid run on a 100 percent clean electricity by 2035. Power outages from severe weather have doubled over the past two decades across the U.S., and the frequency and length of power failures reached their highest levels since reliability tracking began in 2013—with U.S. customers on average experiencing more than eight hours of outages in 2020. Infrastructure investments will help address these concerns by improving grid reliability and increasing resilience in the face of extreme weather events and natural disasters. The Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid program will provide grants based on a formula that includes, among other things, population size, land area, probability and severity of disruptive events, and a locality’s historical expenditures on mitigation efforts. Grid modernization activities could include: • Utility pole upkeep and removal of trees and other vegetation affecting grid performance • Undergrounding electrical equipment • Relocating or reconductoring powerlines • Improvements to make the grid resistant to extreme weather • Increasing fire-resistant components • Implementing monitoring, controls, and advanced modeling for real-time situational awareness • Integrating distributed energy resources like microgrids and energy storage The new program will ask applicants to describe the concrete outcomes they intend to seek and commit to specific progress metrics like reducing or shortening outages from severe events or by reducing risks to health and safety from such outages. Applicants will also be asked to present objectives and metrics for workforce engagement, high labor standards, and quality job creation. Furthermore, the program will award funding to a diverse set of populations, including underserved and disadvantaged communities. Renewable Generation Surpassed Nuclear in the U.S. Electric Power Sector In 2021 The following information was released by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) Electric power sector generation from renewable sources totaled 795 million megawatt hours (MWh) in the United States during 2021, surpassing nuclear generation, which totaled 778 million MWh. The U.S. electric power sector does not include electricity generators in the industrial, commercial, or residential sectors, such as small-scale solar or wind or some combined-heat-and-power systems. Renewable generation includes electricity generated from wind, hydropower, solar, biomass, and geothermal sources. Natural gas remained the most prevalent source of energy used in electricity generation in the United States, accounting for 1,474 million MWh in 2021. Although several U.S. coal-fired power plants retired in 2021, coal-fired electricity generation increased for the first time since 2014 and was the source of more U.S. electricity than either renewableswww.pccaweb.org