Headquarters, Trade Expo Top 2019 at The Builders

POLAND, Ohio – The Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania marked 50 years at its annual meeting this week by highlighting construction of its new headquarters and its inaugural expo designed to fill the pressing need for young people to pursue the building trades.

“To say the Mahoning Valley Skilled Trades Expo was a success is definitely an understatement,” said Kevin Reilly, executive vice president of The Builders. “When we began planning it, we expected about 500 kids.” Instead, he reported, 4,200 students from schools in six counties came to the Canfield Fairgrounds Sept. 26, where 15 construction unions presented interactive demonstrations of what they do at job sites.

“They used their resources and imagination to portray their crafts as best as possible,” said Gary Hartman, association services director. “We wanted to actually show the kids the skilled trades, not just pass out pamphlets.”

And what better way to show the public – and potential customers – the skills of its members than to build a new headquarters for The Builders “well ahead of schedule and well under budget,” Reilly said. “Skilled professionals, productive results. It’s not just a marketing slogan. It’s what contractors who employ skilled union tradesmen deliver.”

The headquarters (pictured above), built adjacent to its former base at 1372 Youngstown-Kingsville Road in Vienna, spans 4,000 square feet and cost $1.4 million, $100,000 below budget, Reilly said. Ground was broken in October 2018 and the association moved its offices to the new building in June.

“We built it in the dead of winter,” added Sam Boak, president of Sam Boak & Sons in Austintown, and outgoing president of The Builders. “We proved that bad weather doesn’t change anything for great contractors and subcontractors.”

Boak thanked the many members who “donated labor, materials and money, which showed me the strength of the Mahoning Valley.” And he thanked the project committee and The Builders staff for keeping the project on track.

In 2019, total nonresidential-construction dollar volume declined to $392.9 million, Reilly reported, “down significantly” from $1.8 billion in 2018, “when two large power plant projects” accounted for $1.3 billion. Reported man-hours also fell in 2019: 2,897,415 compared to 2,933,259 in 2018.

The Builders has 150 member companies that rely on the association to negotiate labor contracts with the trades unions. During fiscal 2019 – Oct. 1, 2018 to Sept. 30 – three contracts were negotiated, Hartman said.

Carpenters Local 420 signed a four-year pact with an average annual increase of 2.99%, he reported. Glaziers Local 847 agreed to a five-year contract with an average annual increase of 2.52%. And Teamsters Local 377 signed a three-year contract with a 2.74% average annual increase. Three labor contracts expire in 2020, Hartman added: Local 66 of the Operating Engineers, Local 33 of the Sheet Metal Workers and two locals of the Laborers.

Apprenticeship programs operated in conjunction with the building trades grew slightly this year, up to 450 enrollees, he continued. With the Mahoning Valley Skilled Trades Expo exposing young people to the construction crafts – and planning underway for another expo in September 2020 — he expects apprenticeship numbers to rise in the long term.

“Schools are reaching out to us and to contractors asking to do job shadowing,” Hartman said. “We succeeded in opening up doors and new partnerships.”

As is the custom at the association’s annual meeting, four construction-engineering students at Youngstown State University were awarded scholarships. Kara Weeks, Justin Somerville, Darko Jurkovic and Sidnie Cope received $2,000 apiece.

Since The Builders began its scholarship program in 1971, the association has awarded $189,210 to college students. Paul Johnson, president of Adolph Johnson & Sons in Mineral Ridge, was recognized for chairing the scholarship committee for more than 20 years. Going forward, the committee will be headed by Frank Vendemia of VendRick Construction Inc. in Brookfield.

The annual meeting concluded with the installation of officers for fiscal 2020. Replacing Boak as president is Robert A. Donatelli, president of Donatelli Electrical Services in Sharpsville, Pennsylvania. First vice president is Anthony Hufford, Scott Froelich is second vice president, Jason Santini third vice president. Mark Zeidenstein remains treasurer.

Robert A. Donatelli is succeeding Sam Boak as president of the Builders Association of Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.