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Member News

Meet the Newest MBEX Members (August)

posted on 09.19.2022

Check out which companies are the latest in joining the Minnesota Builders Exchange, learn more about each, and join us in welcoming them to our construction community!

The following member companies joined throughout the month of August:

Atlantic Coast Dismantling - Located in Saugus, Massachusetts, and in business since 2008, ACD specializes in heavy civil, industrial, building, marine, bridge and selective demolition. They can also provide services in the sectors of heavy lift, critical lift, abatement and asset recovery. They offer a complete range of demolition services geared to fulfill the specific needs for the task at hand.

Associated Building Specialties - From idea to finished space, ABS is there for its clients. Located in Broomfield, Colorado, ABS works with architects, general contractors, and facility owners/operators. They can help clients decide what they need so nothing gets overlooked, provide design or engineering assistance, suggest appropriate products for the space and budget, and then source and install the products using their experienced and detail oriented team.

Northern Lines Contracting - Founded in 2011 and opening their doors with only one bulldozer, the team at Northern Lines Contracting are full-service contractors providing multiple services, including grading and excavation, sewer and water, street construction, aggregates, and demolition. Northern Lines Contracting is lcoated in Hanover, Minnesota, and provides services to the five-state region.

Vada Contracting LLC - Located in Cokato, Minnesota, Vada Contracting offers excavating services after opening its doors for business this year (2022).

D10 Sales LLC - Located in Lakeville, Minnesota, D10 Sales is a Division 10 supplier, fulfilling any construction needs for your specialty project. They are also a new company started this year (2022).

The Tarbek Company - The Tarbek Company offers both commercial and residential plumbing, welding, natural gas piping services that's insured, licensed and bonded for the protection of their clients' property. Specializing in competitive bid projects, newer & older home basement bathroom additions, piping and equipment installations, investment property projects, water heaters and service. Started in 2018, the Tarbek Company is located in Blaine, Minnesota.

Industry

We Need to Talk about Suicide in the Construction Industry

posted on 09.12.2022

September is National Suicide Prevention month, and in 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that the construction industry had one of the highest rates of death by suicide among their workers, 5,242 in 2018, which was five times higher than U.S. construction worker fatalities on jobsites. 

An often-overlooked part of workplace safety is mental health; and as the leading occupation for death by suicide, it's time to take psychological safety within the industry seriously.

 

ON THE JOBSITE
There are several reasons that a mentally healthy workers is important for a construction jobsite, the first of which is, of course, the safety and well-being of your crew. A happy and healthy workforce is a more productive workforce. Some of the key signs of mental distress, in fact, are lethargy, lack of motivation, difficulty concentrating or absenteeism --- all of which hinder productivity and safety in some way.

A brutally honest rationale for good mental health beyond the thousands of dollars lost due to lower productivity is that the construction industry is already knee-deep in a workforce shortage. In an industry that is already perceived as dirty, dangerous and outdated, let's not add an unsupportive and unhealthy mental work environment to the list.

 

IT DOESN'T HAVE TO BE ILLNESS-RELATED
Mental health doesn't have to be related to an illness to affect a person. It could be an effect of a personal loss, financial issues, relationship problems or a slew of other circumstances that can contribute to a person's mental well-being and their ability to concentrate. In an industry that is consistently in risky environments and operating dangerous, heavy equipment, distractions or an inability to focus on the task at hand puts both the workers and the public at risk.

Long hours can produce both mental and physical fatigue, and constant job relocation can result in poor connection to one's family and friends, causing a feeling of isolation. The added obstacle of COVID-19 added stresses of unemployment with no foreseeable resolution, helping create an unprecedented amount of insecurity that can have significant emotional and mental health consequences.

Another overlapping issue inside our industry? The opioid epidemic. The physical demands of the job can lead to self-medication through alcohol, drugs or opioids, which increases the likelihood of suicide.

 

CREATING A SAFE + COMFORTABLE ENVIRONMENT
When looking at environments where people feel comfortable sharing things that are happening in their lives --- because sometimes the simple act of talking about it can be enough --- it's about creating the systems and structures where an honest dialouge about a person's mental state can be addressed. An open communication system can empower a fellow coworker to ask the simple question, "Are you okay? Do you feel safe to be here?" If the worker states he or she is okay to perform the job at hand, at least the coworker knows to keep a closer eye on the person for their own safety and the safety of their crew.

Leaders should know the signs to look for and make it a part of their routine inspection process. "If you're asking people on a daily basis 'How are you doing today?' whenever your concerns go up a bit, it's already a part of your communication strategy," says Dr. John Pompe, Global Manager of EAP and Employee Health Programs at Caterpillar Inc. Possibly even more important than asking the question, is be sure you are equipped to receive an answer. "Listen, show compassion and empathy, and be prepared to problem solve and offer resources."

Moral of the story: ask the question. Get your employees talking. It could save a life.

 

KEEP LEARNING. KEEP LISTENING. KEEP TALKING.
In 2016, the Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention (CIASP) was created in partnership with the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) to build awareness in the industry and create resources for contractors to take action. "Shifting the culture to one with consideration for the employee's mental health and suicide risk management is a key area where we can help push people toward help instead of further from help and deeper into that sense of despair," says Michelle Walker, VP of Finance and Administration at SSC Construction.

 

National Resources: National Alliance on Mental Health | National Institute of Mental Health | National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) | Suicide Prevention Resource Center | National Suicide Prevention Lifeline - 1-800-273-8255 | Crisis Text Line - TEXT 741741.

Construction Industry Resources: Toolbox Talk Safety Meeting Agenda Worksheet | MindWise Screening | LivingWorks | Cat.com/safetyleadership | WEBINAR - Mental Health on the Jobsite | NPR Morning Edition - A Construction Company Embraces Frank Talk About Mental Health to Reduce Suicide | Drug Abuse Hotline

Member News

2022-2023 MBEX/TBG Scholarship Recipients Announced

posted on 09.02.2022

It's with great excitement and pride that we here at the Minnesota Builders Exchange, along with our donating partner, The Builders Group (TBG), announce the following students as recipients of a 2022-2023 MBEX/TBG Scholarship:

PINNACLE AWARD
- Cindy Wuddah: Minnesota State University - Mankato, Construction Management
- Michaela Sylvester: Minnesota State University - Mankato, Construction Management
- Chandler Lallak: University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Civil Engineering

SHAW/STEWART LUMBER MERIT SCHOLARSHIP
- Landan Adams: Mesabi Range College, Carpentry

MBEX MERIT AWARD
- Kyle Larson: University of St. Thomas, Mechanical Engineering

FOR THE TRADES AWARD
- Lillian Anderson: Dunwoody College of Technology, Electric Construction & Maintenance
- Rogelio Bello: Dunwoody College of Technology, HVAC-R

INDUSTRY AWARD
- Brock Aleshire: South Dakota State University, Construction Management
- Sharifah Nansamba: Minnesota State University - Mankato, Construction Management

In total, MBEX and TBG awarded $23,500 in scholarship dollars to these nine well-deserving students.

Learn more about each 2022-2023 recipient here.

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ABOUT THE MBEX/TBG SCHOLARSHIP
Since 2003, the Minnesota Builders Exchange Scholarship Fund has awarded annual scholarships to college and technical school students seeking an education related to the construction industry. Along with our donating partner, The Builders Group (TBG) Education Foundation, MBEX is proud to encourage continued industry growth via our scholarship program.

HOW TO APPLY:
Applications for the 2023-2024 scholarship will be made available in March 2023, and to be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in a construction-related, post-secondary program in the surrounding five-state area (Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Iowa). They must also have maintained at least a 2.5 GPA or equivalent.

Industry

Four Questions About the Infrastructure Act Answered (Part 1)

posted on 08.29.2022

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the bipartisan infrastructure bill, will increase federal spending on infrastructure by about $550 billion over the next decade, nearly all through grants to state and local governments, which own much of the nation’s infrastructure. There are still many questions surrounding this bill and what it means for the construction industry. In this four-part series, we share answers to a few of the biggest questions courtesy of industry experts.

 

The Question: Some IIJA funds are allocated across states by formula. Others require state and local governments to apply for funding. How well is that process going?

 

The Answer: There is a wealth of federal discretionary programs now. Some of them are new; others are variants of one that have been around for several years.

What federal programs and their staffs are trying to do is figure out how to write a finite number of good applications. They [federal workers] have a hard set of challenges on their plate delivering all of these new programs. DOT [U.S. Department of Transportation] is trying to combine sources where they can. They put a single funding notice in one instance for three different programs, so that instead of applying three times, businesses and organizations only have to do it once. The more they do that, the easier it is for people to actually avail themselves to these programs. On the back end, how they project manage could be challenging if it's not very organized because the dollars will flow through different operating administations with different rules. Making sure they're adherent to consolidation on the back end as they've been on the front end...would be important.

It's best to view the funding process as a five- to -seven year endeavor, and in many instances the money will be spent 10-12 years out, given the way that things work. A team is being built at the White House to focus on project delivery and on setting up the right structures. Each state has an appointed state infrastructure coordinator at the White House's direction, with one or two exceptions. They're also working hard to make sure low-capacity communities have the resources needed to both plan for and apply for funding. The bill has 375 grant programs, 125 of them brand new.

One odd but very interesting this about this bill is that it includes a competitive program for culverts.There's now a new federal competitive grant program for culverts, which means with IIJA, there's going to be lots of programs, lots of money, and most likely, lots of chaos.

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Answers and responses to this question were provided by (1) Ryan Berni, senior advisor to Mitch Landrieu, the infrastructure implementation coordinator in the White House, (2) D.J. Gribbin, former special assistant to President Trump for infrastructure, and (3) Shoshana Lew, executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation. 

Industry

How a Recession Could Change Employment Outlook for Construction

posted on 08.22.2022

This article orignally appeared online with the Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal on August 10, 2022 and was written by Ashley Fahey.

Has the construction labor issue gotten better, worse or remained about the same since the pandemic started? What happens in the event of a recession? Below, we've highlighted a few key areas experts have studied to predict if the economy is headed for a recession, how to anticipate workforce shortages, and when IIJA funding will begin to flow.

 

ARE WE HEADED FOR A RECESSION?
The July jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics found the industry added 32,000 jobs last month, with industry employment increasing by 311,000 jobs, or 4.2%, on an annual basis. But those numbers obscure the fact commercial construction in particular is facing coutervailing forces, based on property type, said Anirban Basi, chairman and CEO of Baltimore-based economic and policy consultant Sage Policy Group and chief economist for the Associated Builders and Contractors.

The sector's unemployment rate was 3.5% in July, on par with national unemployment across all industries and indicative of how tight the market remains.

The ABC's July Construction Confidence Index readings for sales, profit margins and staffing levels, which came out August 9, declined, suggesting a growing pessimism across the construction industry. Indices for sales and staffing remain above a threshold of 50, which indicates members surveyed still expect those metrics to grow in the next six months, but readings for profit-margins are less than 50 for the second consecutive month, according to ABC.

The cost of construction is also continuing to rise. The U.S. national average increase in construction costs in the second quarter was about 2.4% on a quarterly basis, and 7.5% year-over-year, according to Rider Levett Bucknall Ltd., a law firm that specializes in property and construction advisory services.

Basu said he thinks job growth overall will slow, and, specifically in construction, demand will increasingly shift away from private-sector projects to public ones. He'd predicting an economic recession will occur next year, which could start to materially affect the broader construction industry about a year later, given the long lead times on construction projects.

 

CONSTRUCTION WORKFORCE CONCERNS
A key worry for those who observe, or work within, the construction industry: If the pipeline of projects does start to slow because of a recession, existing workers that suddenly find themselves out of a job may leave the industry and not come back when the cycle picks back up.

That's what's happened in past recessions, perhaps most memorably in the global financial crisis of the late 2000s. It's an issue exacerberated by a retiring skilled workforce in construction, where the average age is now 42.3, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and there are fewer younger workers to replace them.

Retaining and hiring labor has been one of the hotttest topics of the pandemic as workers have altered work and life priorities. More workers than ever before are remote, or have decided to pursue jobs in other industries that'll give them flexibility to wokr at home. Still others, in industries like hospitality, were laid off at the onset of the pandemic and have yet to return. The U.S. labor-force participation rate across all industries was 62.1% in July 2022, below pre-pandemic levels.

Julian Anderson, president of Rider Levett Bucknall, said, anecdtoally, he's also heard fewer people working in the construction are willing to move to follow work. In decades past, it wasn't unusual for construction workers to relocate after a major bridge or road project wrapped up. But with construction so busy across the nation in recent years, and overall attitudes toward work changing, people are more reluctant now to relocate to follow projects, he said.

Fewer immigrants coming to the United States, particularily since the pandemic onset, has also hit the construction workforce more acutely than other sectors.

"There were, I think, quite a few people who worked informally in the construction industry for many years, doing those...labor jobs norbody else wanted to do," Anderson said, citing jobs in the wet trades like painting, drywall and plaster. That's likely to be a persistent headwind for the construction industry. 

 

DON'T FORGET ABOUT IIJA PROJECTS
Although some government officials are only in the planning stages of potential IIJA-funded infrasturcture projects, Basu said elected officials love to cut ribbons on restored bridges and newly built interstates. With prices in some commodities like fuel and steel already having come down from recent spikes, it's likely more infrasturcutre projects with IIJA funding will begin later this year or in 2023. That'll boost demand and job in publicly funded construction projects, Basu said, at a time when privately funded development may be slowing.

"I'm expecting there will be a recessions --- I don't know how deep or how long, but this money [from IIJA projects and related spending] should help to prop up the construction industry for a good period of time," Anderson continued. 

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Read the full article in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal here.

Member News

Newest MBEX Members (June + July)

posted on 08.12.2022

Who joined the Minnesota Builders Exchange throughout the months of June and July? Keep reading to find out, and then join us in extending a warm welcome to the newest members our construction community!

These companies joined the Exchange in the months of June and July 2022:

 

Olson & Son's Electric Inc - An electrical contractor located in Monticello, Minn. since 1959, OSE offers services that include electrical contracting, commercial, industrial, residential, electrical apparatus service center/motor repair, retail store, and preventative maintenance.

Skogen Mechanical - Located in Mankato, Minn., Skogen Mechanical was established in 2011. They offer services in a wide variety of industries including educational, medical, industrial, manufacturing, retail, residential and commercial facilities.

Gardner Builders - A general contractor that started up in 2010 and is located in Minneapolis, Minn., Gardner Builders is a hospitality company in the commercial construction business focused on delivering projects – both simple and complex – in a way that gives customers complete confidence.

Hilti - Founded in 1941 as a small family start-up, Hilti has an office located in Roseville, Minn is a part of the company's North American team that includes about 4,000 highly-trained team members. They carry expertise in product and software development, sales, engineering, finance, marketing, logistics and other support roles.

BC Electric Service LLC - Located in Mankato, Minn., BC Electric Services offers electrical work for both the commercial and residential construction realms that includes electrical troubleshooting, parking lot lighting, pole lighting, LED retrofitting, voice/data network cabling and systems, and more. They also offer services in the agricultural sector as well as home audio and theater servicing to take your home entertainment experience to the next level.

910 Specialties - Established in 2013, 910 Specialties offers services in wood ceilings, acoustical walls, impact protection, flooring materials, windows, FRP, and other specialty materials. They are located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Country Joe Homes dba Youngfield Homes - A general contractor focused on new construction located in Lakeville, Minn., Country Joe Homes endeavor to build creatively and beautifully designed homes that are more comfortable, more functional and full of light. They're also expanding into commercial work.

Affintech - A leading national technology systems integrator, Affinitech builds world-class technology solutions that excite and engage, while making people safer and more productive, and businesses more successful. They are located in Chanhassen, Minn., offering professional services in digital signage, audtio/visual solutions and commercial security systems.

Central Mechanical Insulation - Located in Avon, Minn., Central Mechanical Insulation offers mechanical insulating contracting services. They are a newer company as they have established themselves this year (2022). 

Renascent - A demolition contractor in Indianapolis, IN, Renascent specializes in the demolition and repurposing of old structures. With roots thirty years deep, Renascent plays their part in the renewal of urban, campus, health care, industrial, and public works projects, repurposing land and buildings to meet the technological, cultural, and social demands of the 21st century.

Parker Contracting LLC - Another newer construction company started in 2022, Parker Contracting specializes in earthwork and site utilities and they are located in Minneapolis, Minn.

 

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Interested in the Minnesota Builders Exchange and what our Online Plan Room can offer? We have two levels of membership: Basic and Premium

- Basic Access includes: access to bidders lists and bid results, tracking ability of projects via email, ability to follow prebid projects, receiving of nightly email updates, filtering of projects using CSI/Division, and the ability to order blueprints for pickup or delivery.
- Premium Access includes all the features of Basic Access, plus the ability to view, print, and save project plans, specs, and addenda.

Choose the level of access that fits your companies needs best. While we do not offer a free trial before becoming a member, you can preview our Online Plan Room on our YouTube channel. Watch the available videos to get an idea of our plan room's capabilites and functions. Give us a call if you have questions: (612) 381-2620.

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