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‘Very Good’ Year for Builders Despite Fewer Man-Hours

POLAND, Ohio – Business was very good in 2018 for construction contractors who belong to The Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, despite man-hours being slightly down from the year prior, said Kevin Reilly, executive vice president of the association.

Total construction dollar volume, computed from permits pulled in the five-county region, amounted to $1.817 billion during fiscal 2018 for The Builders, which ended Sept. 30. That’s up from $968.93 million in fiscal 2017.

“This is the highest number we’ve had since I’ve been keeping this chart,” Reilly said at The Builders 49th annual meeting Wednesday at the Lake Club. “The reason for that high number are two, very large electric power plants that are included in that total volume.”

Reilly’s chart dates back to 2003 when the total construction dollar volume reported was $450.79 million.

This year, reported man-hours were 2,933,259, which are slightly lower than the last three years, and down substantially from the historical average of nearly 3.75 million since commercial contractors formed the association in 1971.

The Builders represents 150 contractors who employ union skilled tradesmen who work under labor agreements negotiated by the association. In 2018, 440 apprentices participated in the Builders-sponsored apprenticeship training programs with 12 craft unions. This number has steadily increased since 2011 when there were 219 apprentices.

“Even though that’s a 100% increase, there is still a workforce shortage,” said Gary Hartman, association services director. “At the same time we’re seeing a 5% increase of female apprentices among the trades.”

Reilly added, “Contractors have had a hard time getting skilled craftsmen. With some of those large power plant projects going on in our region and outside of our region there’s a manpower draw.”

In 2018, the association negotiated three labor agreements with craft unions, which include Carpenters and Joiners Local 171, Ironworkers Local 207 and Laborers Local 964, reported Hartman.

Although the annual increase varies by trade, the average gain is about 2.38%

Next year, three new labor contracts will be negotiated, Hartman said.

Much of 2018 was spent in the planning phase of The Builder’s new office building in Vienna along state Route 193. Construction on the project started in October and is expected to be completed in the late spring of 2019.

The new office building will meet the needs of the association, as well as showcase the skills and professionalism of its members.

As The Builders has done since its inception, this year again funded scholarships to students studying civil and construction engineering technology at Youngstown State University.

This year five students shared in $8,000:

  • Keshawn Jones, a freshman.
  • Joe Kolesar, a sophomore.
  • Collin Pope, a junior.
  • Kara Weeks, a junior.
  • Haleigh Combs, a senior.

The annual meeting officially ended Jeff Donatelli’s term as president. Donatelli, assistant director of operations at his family’s business, Donatelli Electric Co. in Sharpsville, Pa., is succeeded by Sam Boak, owner of Boak & Sons, Inc. in Austintown.

“I’m sure you have traveled and you’ve looked at different job sites and then you look at ours,” Boak said to members at the meeting. “The way ours are run, the quality of workmanship that we have and the camaraderie we have among each other on that job site. I would love to live nowhere else, but right here and do business with everyone in this room.”

Pictured: Jeff Donatelli, past president; Kevin Reilly, executive vice president; and Sam Boak, president of The Builders Association.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.