May 2020 Vol. 75 No. 5


PCCA Celebrates 75th Anniversary Amid Big Wins for Industry

Convention Review


PCCA honored outgoing Chairman David Aubrey, Okay Construction, with the 2020 PCCA Distinguished Service Award.

While celebrating its past, 75 years of serving the power and communications construction industry, the PCCA focused sharply on its present and future during the association’s annual convention, in the Bahamas.

Some 370 PCCA members, family and friends traveled to the fabulous Baha Mar resort in February, where they learned more about the PCCA’s role in a $6-million, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) grant to tackle workforce issues and about a change in Rural Utility Service contract language that will benefit broadband contractors.

They also raised more than $180,000 for Bahamian communities ravaged by Hurricane Dorian last September and $30,000 for the family of a member who was struck and killed by a motorist in a work zone last year.

New PCCA Chairman John Fluharty, Mears Group, accepts the chairman’s gavel and outlines an aggressive agenda for the coming year.

During the convention, members participated in the PCCA Leadership Development Program, heard an inspiring keynote with practical business/life advice from ex-Navy Seal Alden Mills and an upbeat economic outlook from FMI’s Chris Daum, learned about building a work culture that helps retain employees, and welcomed Ron Tagliapietra into the PCCA Hall of Fame. PCCA also announced this year’s scholarship recipients; welcomed incoming Chairman John Fluharty, Mears Group; and honored outgoing Chairman David Aubrey, Okay Construction, with the PCCA Distinguished Service Award.


A major topic of discussion during the Construction Industry Roundtable was the DOL grant that was announced the week before the convention. Part of the agency’s grant program, “Apprenticeship: Closing the Skills Gap” is designed to support large-scale expansions of apprenticeship.

PCCA partnered with the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) on the grant, which will provide the necessary funding to design curricula and deliver training to develop qualified applicants for placement in middle to high-skilled jobs nationwide. The nearly $6 million grant is supplemented by more than $9 million in matching support from industry, including cash and in-kind contributions from WIA, PCCA, Ditch Witch, FS3 and participating employers, for a total commitment to apprenticeship of $15 million in a public-private partnership.

Leadership Development Program participants tackle a hands-on, small group exercise.

Five institutions of higher education have been developing utility construction programs as part of PCCA’s “Who Will Do the Work?” program and are already committed as technical partner schools with PCCA and WIA: State Technical College of Missouri, Terra State Community College (Ohio), Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, Monroe County Community College (Mich.) and Somerset Community College (Ky.).

“This grant will greatly accelerate the good work that PCCA’s Education Committee and Education & Research Foundation have undertaken to tackle the broadband industry’s critical workforce shortage,” PCCA President & CEO Tim Wagner said. “PCCA and its foundation are now poised to help train the workforce necessary to realize the promise of the nation’s 5G network.

“All of PCCA thanks Sellenriek Construction for having the vision to involve State Technical College of Missouri in their workforce solution, and Mark Bridgers for conceiving the idea of a standardized curriculum and for moving the ball forward with the PCCA-affiliated schools.”

At the Annual Exhibit & Breakfast (from left): Justin Kowal, BRON; Jason Tyler, Brooks Construction Co.; Nick Anderson, Anderson Underground; and Ron Hall, BRON.

Another big recent win for PCCA is language in the construction procedures of the Rural Utilities Service’s new ReConnect Program for rural broadband that permits using RUS Form 773 on “small-scale” projects. RUS defines “small-scale” as $1 million or less, whereas the previous limit on the use of Form 773 was $250,000.

When PCCA expanded its government affairs efforts in 2015, a top goal was raising the Form 773 limit so RUS could realize the full benefit of its resources and more efficiently construct broadband infrastructure in rural America. PCCA will continue working to ensure that the ReConnect Program contract policy becomes permanent RUS policy.

“This regulatory action is a significant victory for PCCA and would not have been possible without the steadfast determination of the Government & Industry Affairs Committee and the active grassroots members who made it happen,” said Eben Wyman, Wyman Associates, who leads PCCA’s government affairs efforts.

Also participating in the Roundtable discussion were Sarah Tyree, CoBank; Sarah Magruder Lyle, Common Ground Alliance; Mark Bridgers, Continuum Capital; Dan Shumate, FMI Corporation; and Ed Campbell and Gerry Harvey, HMI Utilities, who discussed PCCA’s Safe Cable Installation Initiative.

Hurricane relief

While the hard work of PCCA members was clearly evident in many of the association’s accomplishments, the convention also featured the amazing generosity of PCCA members. Hurricane Dorian ravaged the Bahamas in September 2019, especially the Abaco Islands, just some 45 miles away from Baha Mar. PCCA Past President Herb Fluharty, his wife Chris, and Lisa Wagner, wife of PCCA President & CEO Tim Wagner, visited the Abacos with Prayer Breakfast speaker Bishop Silbert Mills. The visitors said the devastation was overwhelming and the stories they heard were heart-wrenching. Bishop Mills told his own story at the PCCA Prayer Breakfast, about how he is now homeless at age 61, how his family lives in Nassau while he stays in Abaco, and how many in his community are struggling to survive.

PCCA Past Chairman and Hall of Famer Herb Fluharty encourages fellow members to “raise the roof” and help rebuild parts of the Bahamas devastated last year by Hurricane Dorian. PCCA members donated more than $180,000.

At PCCA’s Annual Auction, the Fluhartys and the Wagners challenged PCCA members to raise funds to replace roofs in Abaco. “Let’s raise the roof!” Herb Fluharty exhorted. And PCCA members did just that, donating more than $180,000 in less than an hour to those who need it most. The funds will be donated through the PCCA Education & Research Foundation, and 100 percent of the money raised will go to Bishop Mills and his community.

As it did last year, PCCA raised $30,000 for the widow and children of DCI’s Julian Perez, who died tragically when he was hit by a car on a job site in 2018. DCI donated two DigiTrak Falcon F5s with Transmitter to the auction, with all proceeds from the second going to Julian’s family. PCCA members bid aggressively on this special item, and in the end, Heath Sellenriek of Sellenriek Construction paid $30,000 for the package – 50 percent over the value of the item.

As they do every year, the PCCA Past Presidents met in the Bahamas to discuss the industry, get updated on PCCA business, and select the recipients of PCCA scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year. PCCA awards four $10,000 scholarships each year to the children and other dependents of PCCA members’ employees. PCCA Past Presidents oversee the scholarship program.

From a record of 56 applications this year, they awarded scholarships to: Timothy Bryan, South Lyon, Mich.; Jayden Mussatto, Marseille, Ill.; Carter Briggs, Pella, Iowa; and Abby Kendall, French Lick, Ind.


The education/speaker lineup for this year’s convention gets high marks for engagement and relevance. The first event at every PCCA convention is the full-day Leadership Development Program, expertly led by FMI’s Andy Patron. This year, a record 33 members participated in the session on strategic planning and organizational change, complete with personal profile testing and a fun, but informative, exercise where small groups “designed” and “built” a power grid.

Keynote speaker Alden Mills delivered secrets of persistence and strategies for success that he learned on the way to becoming a Navy SEAL platoon leader and owner of a hyper-growth company. He shared three principles for success in work and in life:

1)  Thoughts direct your focus (“Positive thinking requires practice”)

2)  Focus funnels your energy (“Focus on the moment, not the mountain”)

3)  Beliefs determine your direction

FMI President and CEO Chris Daum opened his annual Utility Construction Industry Overview by saying that he’d been walking around the resort talking to PCCA members and he “couldn’t find anyone who was having a bad year.”

He commented that the economy continues to grow, and while still at the top of a cycle, the economy is “fraught with peril.” He said that the coronavirus is “a wildcard that could put the (U.S.) economy in a recession” and will put some Asian economies into recession for sure. [Should there be an update or other comment here?]

When planning the education program, Dave Aubrey and Tim Wagner were looking for a session on workforce issues, and their search led them to Lisa Ryan and “How to Keep Your Talent from Becoming Theirs.” Ryan shared three ways for bosses to better engage their employees: hearing, caring (how well do you know your employees?), and sharing (how often do you ask them for feedback?).

She said that a good boss tries to catch his or her employees doing things well and then recognizes their efforts. She emphasized putting gratitude and appreciation into your business and said that you should start with yourself by writing down three things that you’re grateful for every morning.

The next PCCA event is the 2020 Mid-Year Meeting, scheduled for Sept. 23–26 at the Omni Nashville Hotel in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tenn. The PCCA 76th Annual Convention will be held at the Naples Grande Beach Resort, Naples, Florida, from March 5–10, 2021. •

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