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Photo by Mike Mertes, Az Big Media

ABA-AGC apprenticeship program to fill talent shortage

The house, the cabin, the cars and the company. Dean Lundstrom lost it all when he declared bankruptcy in 2010. Twenty-six employees were out of work. His company had been awarded American Recovery and Reinvestment Act projects. At a point, though, Lundstrom says he knew it was too late to save his business. However, knowing what was on the horizon, he sold his only remaining contract — one with the City of Phoenix — to his last-standing employee, Henry Burruel.

In the meantime, Lundstrom focused on returning to the industry. With his newly restarted company, Commercial Comm & Electric, he was determined to make some changes. Then, he discovered the Arizona Builders Alliance.

In 2013, he became an ABA member. Two technicians who were joining his company, though, said they wouldn’t work for him unless they could be involved in ABA’s apprenticeship program. The apprenticeship program offers craft training in specialities, like electrical engineering and heavy machinery operation. The electrical and heavy machinery operation teaching facilities are located, respectively, at Gateway Community College and Central Arizona College. Enrollment in the four-year programs lead to the equivalent of journeymen certification, which can lead to an annual starting salary of $43,500, according to the ABA.

“It was eye-opening,” says Lundstrom, who had previously hired electricians regardless of certifications. The next year, he had two more technicians join the program and has another one starting in fall.

“I’ve seen a change,” he says. “My older guys who went through the class, they will challenge inspectors on codes because all during the class, they’re brought up on codes…(The program brings) a confidence in their ability.”

Lundstrom says he has personally enrolled in ABA’s leadership programs and is happy to report his company now has six employees.

“The construction industry, in terms of job numbers, is in a recession,” says Mark Minter, executive director of ABA. “We’re about half the number of jobs we had at the peak. They go up a few thousand one month and down another.”

This is the typical call to action by construction companies in Arizona that are looking for craftsmen.

Arizona was one of the worst states for construction growth last year, according to a report by The Associated General Contractors of America. ASU professor and economist Lee McPheters has reported that construction jobs are one of three major factors holding back the Arizona economy. The industry is down by about 100,000 jobs, he reported last December.

“More people are leaving the industry than coming into it,” says Sundt’s Director of Craft Development, Ken McKenzie. “The next three to five years, we could be 100,000 to 200,000 people short in this part of the country. You can’t do that without craft people.”

That’s why Sundt Construction invests about $10,000 a year to train employees who have worked for more than six months and pays for their wages, transportation and housing for four years.

In June, Sundt will open its first monthly classes at a warehouse the company bought to host pipe-fitting, welding and structural steel courses.

The workforce is at a further disadvantage, says Wilson Electric President Wes McClure, when the Baby Boomers retire, leaving a talent shortage in the wake. That’s why his company attempts to enter about 50 employees in the ABA-AGC Education Fund Apprenticeship Program every year, even if only 15 to 20 of them make it through all four years of the program.

By the time a student graduates from an apprenticeship program, they are qualified to work at a journeyman-level. McKenzie estimated that close to 70 percent of ABA apprentices at Sundt have become supervisors, noting a carpenter who is now a senior vice president.

“It’s important to have trained individuals and new blood coming to our company,” says McClure, who started his own career as a laborer and worked his way to president. “It’s been increasingly harder with the lack of construction over the last five or six years and the wages and things that are a barrier to construction. You’re working in heat, but it’s a good trade to go into with a lot of upside if you’re ambitious.”

Like many companies that participate in ABA’s apprenticeship program, Wilson Electric pays for its employees’ education regardless of where the student chooses to work afterwards. The company, McClure says, has an annual training budget of $1M.

“People in construction are gamblers,” he says, adding, “when it comes to the available work and being able to perform it.”

One other company that has been on board with ABA’s apprenticeship program is D.P. Electric.

“The apprenticeship program has impacted the quality of our workforce for the better,” says D.P. Electric President Dan Puente, whose company can have between five and 35 people in the program at a given time. “Trained electricians bring quality and confidence to the job site – they aren’t hesitant during the installation process and there is no re-work as the quality meets D.P. Electric’s standard. It is very noticeable who has been through the program and has not. We encourage all our employees to go through the program.”

Brett Bieberdorf, co-owner of Rural Electric, says that before he and his sister bought the company from their parents in 2007, the company hired “off the street.” Since Arizona is a state that doesn’t certify electricians, Bieberdorf says it’s difficult to ensure quality. However, the apprenticeship program has helped him bring quality in-house. In 2006, Rural Electric had just over 90 employees, three of whom held a Journeyman certification. Nearly a decade later, the company dropped to 80 employees — with 20 Journeymen.

The composition of the workforce is changing from more laborers to electrical tradespeople, says Bieberdorf.

“I don’t think kids realize being an electrician is just the beginning,” says Bieberdorf. “You want there to be incentive. Entry level shouldn’t be a living wage.”

Journeymen can make between $20 and $25 an hour, says Mark Minter. Every six months and 1,000 hours of work can lead to a raise, he says.

“Over the years and going forward, employees are going to be choosy,” says Bieberdorf. “If employees feel they can get a better package, they will. Our pushing the apprenticeship program has helped us retain employees. If they see you’re willing to commit for four years, that creates loyalty.”

Lundstrom sees that, too, adding that his single former employee, Burruel, who has since built his own small company of workers, will soon combine their two six-person companies into one. Despite the positive changes Lundstrom has seen in his workplace due to education, he won’t make it mandatory for employees.

“I don’t have a lot of benefits, but paying for my employees’ apprenticeship education fees is one I can offer at this point,” he says.

Duval_Joe (2)

Joe Duvall of Kitchell installed as ABA president

The Arizona Builders Alliance (ABA), a statewide construction trade association formed as an alliance of the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC), welcomed Joe Duvall as the 2015 ABA President.

Duvall, Project Executive of Kitchell Construction, has been in the commercial building industry since 1985.

Duvall joined Kitchell right out of college 30 years ago. Since his early days as an estimator and project engineer, he has played a key role on many of Kitchell’s flagship projects including Howard Hughes Parkway Office, Sunrise Hospital & Medical Center, Flagstaff Medical Center, Motorola, Peccole Nevada Association, and Mountainview Hospital, plus scores of others representing hundreds of millions of dollars of work. From the very beginning, he has embodied the firm’s purpose and values of honesty and integrity, quality of work, and customer satisfaction. These qualities have made him the consummate internal operations auditor for the company as he travels from jobsite to jobsite sharing his know-how and providing counsel. Born and raised in Texas, Joe’s construction journey has taken him all over the country, from Arizona to Nevada (where he spent 15 years, seven of which running Kitchell’s Nevada office) to California to Colorado to Kansas to Tennessee and, full circle back to his roots, to Texas.

Today, as Project Executive, he continues to beat the drum as an advocate for Kitchell’s clients and for corporate fiscal responsibility.

Joe was installed as the ABA’s President at a February installation dinner held in Phoenix.  He is a 2002 Graduate of the Arizona Builders Alliance’s Leadership Development Forum (LDF) and has sat on the Board of Directors for over 4-years.

The ABA exists for the purpose of advancing the productivity and profitability of our members and the construction industry.   Celebrating its 21st year in 2015, the ABA is proud to service the construction industry through advocacy, education, and networking opportunities in the state of Arizona. 

ABA logo

Nelson Brown elected to ABA Board of Directors

Nelson Brown

Nelson Brown

The Arizona Builders Alliance welcomed Nelson Brown, president of J.B. Steel, as a newly elected board member of the ABA’s statewide board at the January 2015 board meeting.  J.B. Steel is an AISC certified fabricator and erector of structural and miscellaneous steel servicing Arizona.

Nelson earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Chemical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Prior to purchasing J.B. Steel in 2004, he spent over twenty years in a variety of engineering and general management positions with Corning, Inc., Honeywell and Fisher Scientific including assignments in the U.S.A., Germany, Belgium and the U.K.

Nelson has been actively involved in the ABA since 2004 and is a former board chairman of the ABA’s Southern Arizona Division.  In addition to serving on the Southern Arizona Advisory Board, Nelson participates in the annual Southern Arizona Volunteer Day, where approximately 40 J.B. Steel employees come together to help ABA give back to the community.

Kortman Electric Takes ABA Leadership Into Boardroom

From left to right: Fran Martin, Ken Kortman, Kerwin Kortman and Karl Kortman. Photo by Shavon Rose.

From left to right: Fran Martin, Ken Kortman, Kerwin Kortman and
Karl Kortman. Photo by Shavon Rose.

The Arizona Builders’ Alliance represents the collective knowledge of more than 350 contractors, suppliers and professional service firms who work in the commercial construction industry. Membership means the ability to tap into and grow with fellow leaders in the industry. For one Arizona company, ABA’s leadership classes are a family affair.

The four owners of Kortman Electric (KEI) are three brothers — Ken, Kerwin and Karl Kortman — and their brother-in-law Fran Martin. They have worked in the industry between 19 and 32 years each and have been members of the ABA since October 1995. The co-owners have made an example of enrolling in ABA’s educational opportunities to the benefit of their company as well as their leadership roles in the ABA.

KEI’s owners and several employees have been through ABA’s management education classes — the year-long Leadership Development Forum (LDF) and quarterly Senior Executive Program (SEP) and attended numerous seminars and webinars. Several of KEI’s field employees have also participated in ABA’s electrical apprenticeship training program.

ABA membership, the Kortman brothers say, has contributed to the success of the company due to employee involvement in leadership and apprenticeship programs. The networking events and the association’s commitment to advocating for members through legislation are additional benefits, they say.

classes“I had heard about the LDF program for many years, but when I attended the first graduation luncheon back in 2007 and saw how many alumni there were, and the impact it was having on their companies, I knew we needed to get involved in the program,” says President and CEO Ken Kortman.

The LDF is a 12-week course that meets on the first Friday of every month. Enrollment is limited to 30 registrants and only one person per firm may be enrolled per year. The class is designed to prepare industry professionals for future leadership roles within their companies and the ABA. It addresses topics such as public speaking, construction finance, dealing with difficult people and legislative and political process. Karl Kortman, CFO of KEI, is currently enrolled in LDF and the only one in the family who hasn’t completed the program.

Ken has worked in commercial construction for 32 years. As the most-experienced brother, he has completed the LDF and SEP programs and is a current ABA board member. “The 2013 SEP class provided some great insight into visionary thinking, communication, delegation, leadership and succession planning,” he says. Familial competition “never” comes up. “Except bragging rights for winners of the LDF presentation!” says Ken. Kerwin Kortman, vice president and director of business development, is quick to add that he and Martin were on the winning team.

“I suppose that there may be a little unspoken competition,” Karl says. “I know that both Kerwin and Fran were in the winning groups for the LDF case project. Ken’s group didn’t win, so I know win or lose, I won’t be alone.”

Kerwin, who has 29 years of experience in commercial construction, completed the LDF classes in 2011 and has plans to attend the SEP program. He also served on the ABA Legislative Committee and Community Services Board. Similar to Ken, Kerwin found the LDF class most useful. “The subject matter that was presented throughout the year-long class was presented in such a way that you could apply it to your own career regardless of the size or your position within your company,” he says.

Martin, director of safety for KEI and member of ABA’s Safety Committee, has been in commercial construction for 19 years. He completed his LDF class in 2013 and plans to attend and SEP session. “So far, the LDF class has been the most useful,” Martin says. “It helped me understand how different personalities can shape and mold a business in their own unique way.” “KEI is much more involved in the ABA after going through the leadership class,” Kerwin says. “We recognize the more you participate serving on different boards and committees, the more you gain. Being involved in the ABA has been a great way to build long-lasting, valuable relationships with other members and we continue to benefit each year.”


Ready For The Rebound!

As the U.S. and Arizona markets improve, commercial contractors remain optimistic about the pending rebound. In anticipation of that growth, the Arizona Builders’ Alliance (ABA) has retooled its strategic plan to focus on a more modern, streamlined approach to membership services.

Mark Minter

Mark Minter

Rob Caylor

Rob Caylor

Founded in 1994, by the merger of the Building Chapter of the Associated General Contractors and the Associated Builders and Contractors, ABA has focused on management education, craft training and government relations since its inception. Last year, the ABA’s board of directors spent six months developing a more modern approached to services. While the core of services has not changed, the delivery system, approach and coordination of programs and events has undergone a radical transformation.

Recognizing the need for a more effective system of delivering educational programs the ABA is now using webinars for programs on a monthly basis. The webinar format allows presenters and attendees to be located anywhere and still able to participate in a program. Employees on remote job sites, offices in other towns and anybody not wanting to fight cross town traffic can now participate in events. Attendance at events is up and more members and different levels in firms are involved.

Craft training is on the rebound as specialty contractors rebuild their workforce. More emphasis is now being placed on recruitment and retention. An open house last fall at GateWay Community College exposed more than two dozen contractors to the classroom training efforts of ABA.

Individual visits with contractors are getting the word out on craft training. ABA has begun to coordinate workforce development efforts with its member firms. Individual ABA members are “adopting” neighborhood high schools and spending time there in the classroom, lecturing students or taking students on tours of nearby job sites.

In the government relations arena, ABA recently hired one of Arizona’s top lobbying firms to represent it with state and local government. Triadvocates is now representing ABA and the timing of its hiring turned out to be perfect. Triadvocates helped pass legislation in the 2014 session that will assure Arizona retains control of OSHA inspections and not lose that authority to the federal government.

With all the new activities and approach also comes a new look: The ABA’s website has been retooled and brought up to date. There is now more information in a more presentable format. The new website allows members to register and pay for events, download old webinars, research legal issues and follow trends. Follow the commercial construction industry by visiting http://azbuilders.org

Sundt’s Marty Hedlund elected to ABA board of directors

Marty Hedlund

Marty Hedlund

The Arizona Builders’ Alliance (ABA), a statewide construction trade association, formed as an alliance of the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) and the Associated General Contractors (AGC) welcomed Martin R. (Marty) Hedlund, P.E., DBIA as a newly elected board member.  Hedlund joined Sundt Construction, Inc. in 1984 and currently serves as the Profit Center Manager for the Southwest District responsible for all Sundt’s vertical construction in Arizona, New Mexico, West Texas and Colorado. Hedlund has served in the roles of field engineer, project engineer, project superintendent, project manager and project director for more than 30 years constructing offices, corporate headquarters, data centers, schools and other commercial projects.

A Registered Professional Civil Engineer in Arizona, Hedlund received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from the Stanford University. Hedlund has widely presented on several topics including Alternative Project Delivery, Lean Construction and Building Information Modeling (BIM).

His industry involvement includes six years on the Design Build Institute of America National Certification Board which is responsible for upholding the standards of the DBIA Certified Professional designation as well as the testing and application processes. In 2011, Hedlund served as Chair of that board. Hedlund has also been active in the Arizona Builder’s Alliance (ABA) for many years serving on the Legislative Committee and being active in building industry education and public affairs. He is a graduate of the ABA’s Leadership Development Forum (LDF) and the Senior Executive Program (SEP).

Hedlund is an avid golfer, husband of 25 years to wife, Ellen, proud father of two teenagers, and happy to be giving back to an industry that has given so much to him.

The ABA exists for the purpose of advancing the productivity and profitability of our members and the construction industry.   Celebrating its 20th year in 2014, the ABA is proud to service the construction industry through advocacy, education, and networking opportunities in the state of Arizona.

Future location of As You Wish at Westgate Entertainment District.

Six new tenants coming to Westgate Entertainment District

Six new businesses will call Westgate Entertainment District home when they open at the booming Glendale center over the next several weeks including As You Wish, Fresh Healthy Café, OPA Life Greek Café, Crave Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches, Proliant and American Basketball Association.

These new additions to Westgate’s tenant mix brings the total number of new retail and office leases signed by owner iStar Financial to 18 since the company acquired Westgate Entertainment District.

As You Wish, a pottery painting place, will open a 2,109 square-foot store next to AMC Theatres in October. As You Wish was one of the first paint-your-own pottery studios in the nation and the first in Arizona. This will be the company’s seventh Valley location.

Three new dining destinations will complement the restaurant mix at Westgate including Fresh Healthy Café, which will open its first Arizona location offering smoothies and fresh-squeezed juices, along with other healthy fare. The restaurant company has restaurants in 10 states, Canada and five international countries. The 1,358 square-foot restaurant will open next to Buffalo Wild Wings this fall. Also opening this fall, OPA Life Greek Café, a Greek restaurant with a full-line coffee bar open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. OPA will open a 2,501 square-foot restaurant with a large patio overlooking Fountain Park in front of AMC, providing an exceptional indoor/outdoor environment. The newly launched brand, established by experienced restaurateurs, will bring the liveliness of Greek culture and combine it with the flavors of the Mediterranean within an affordable dining experience.

Opening in December next to Johnny Rockets, Crave Gourmet Waffle Sandwiches is a new gourmet Belgian waffle restaurant unlike anything in the Valley from the owner of Razzleberriez Frozen Yogurt, which opened its third Valley location at Westgate in 2013. Crave will serve breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert and have a variety of savory and sweet waffle combinations including waffle sandwiches, salads, sweet waffle desserts and shakes.

Two notable companies have also recently signed leases for office space at Westgate.

Proliant, a national payroll services company headquartered in Atlanta, GA, opened its first Arizona office in July that will be among eight offices across the country including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami and Raleigh, NC. The American Basketball Association, the largest professional sports league in the U.S. with more than 100 teams, chose Westgate Entertainment District as its headquarters. The ABA has opened a 2,509 square-foot office. Between the two new office tenants, Westgate will add approximately 15 new office jobs.

This summer, Westgate also welcomed Metro PCS to the kiosks surrounding Fountain Park.

Additionally, Just Sports, the Arizona-based sports apparel retailer with a flagship store at Westgate, is expanding to add an additional store on the WaterDance Events Plaza near Jobing.com Arena, catering to the football and hockey game-day crowds.

“We’re pleased with the continuation of our leasing momentum. OPA, Crave and Fresh Healthy Café bring added dimensions to our restaurant lineup, expanding upon what is already the best dining destination in the West Valley. The addition of a full coffee bar, Greek restaurant and a fast-casual smoothie and healthy café, adds to the attractiveness of Westgate for our office tenants, where employees can stay on-site and get virtually any kind of food for breakfast, lunch or dinner,” said Jeff Teetsel, development manager of Westgate. “We targeted As You Wish as a best-in-class, family friendly experiential store that fits perfectly next to AMC and Fountain Park, providing a great destination for families and kids throughout the year.”

“Westgate Entertainment District is the go-to destination in the West Valley for family fun and entertainment and it’s a natural fit for our seventh store,” said Scott Neff, owner of As You Wish. “We’re a locally owned and operated company celebrating 19 years of bringing out people’s ‘inner artist’. We look forward to becoming part of the Glendale community and reaching new customers and families to help them create special memories through pottery painting, glass fusing, clay and canvas painting.”

Jeff Hooper named ABA’s director of apprenticeship and training

Jeff Hooper, ABAJeff Hooper has been appointed the director of apprenticeship and training for the Arizona Builders’ Alliance, according to ABA Executive Director Mark Minter. Hooper will oversee the day-to-day operations of the ABA, AGC Education Fund and its programs in Phoenix, Tucson and Casa Grande.

Hooper comes to the ABA from Seattle Wash., by way of San Diego, Calif., where he has spent more than 15 years in the education industry serving as an administrator, classroom teacher and consultant. Hooper has worked extensively in online curriculum development, course design, staff development and instructional design. He also owned and operated ReignMaker LLC, a real estate development company specializing in home relocation, remodel, and new home construction. His passion is to show contractors how they can increase their bottom-line through employee training.

Hooper also has an extensive background in construction employee safety and is looking forward to helping construction become a safer and more profitable industry.  In addition to helping ABA expand its safety training, he has creative new approaches to the types of training available for workers on remote sites and in other states.

A Leader by Example: Carol McMullen, ABA

Screen Shot 2013-07-26 at 12.01.41 PMBy Mark Minter

Carol McMullen became part of the construction industry in February 1983 when she was hired by the Building Chapter of AGC, the predecessor of the Arizona Builders’ Alliance. She has announced her retirement from ABA at year’s end.
The association was looking for a new staff person to assist with existing services and to expand the area of management education in the early 1980’s. Management education was a new concept 30 years ago for a trade association that had previously focused on collective bargaining, safety and lobbying. Carol’s background in education appeared to be a great fit.
Today, Carol’s imprint is on every aspect of the ABA’s education efforts. There are hundreds of employees whose careers have been advanced and companies served by the educational programs that Carol has fostered. The most notable of these efforts has been the Leadership Development Forum (LDF) begun more than 20 years ago.
The LDF was created to help operations and technical personnel advance into management and executive positions. The construction industry attracts and produces technically proficient people. Producing great managers is a challenge.
Contractors were recognizing that the old mentor-protégé approach to advancing careers wouldn’t produce enough new leaders. LDF was created to produce a stream of new leaders proficient in the areas of financial management, strategic planning, understanding human resources, business development and public speaking.
Over the years Carol has developed, nurtured and improved the program. Enrollment demand is so great that companies are limited to one employee per year. Both the AGC and the Associated Builders and Contractors have recognized LDF as the country’s outstanding management education program.
Wink Ames (Minard Ames INSURICA) has been involved with ABA for more than 30 years.
“The LDF program is the best management training program that the ABA has,” he says. “We have been doing this for 20 years and, as a result of Carol’s efforts and leadership, many of today’s construction industry leaders came though her program.”
Carol’s personal touch has been evident in other aspects of the ABA’s programs as well. Conventions used to be a rather dull series of reports and updates on internal aspects of the association. Carol and the ABA’s convention committee converted the convention to an educational event with outstanding speakers, spouse involvement and interactive challenges for participants.
As ABA Executive Director, I have witnessed  Carol’s impact.
It goes beyond just the quality of the programs. Carol has brought a personal touch to everything she does and all the people with whom she deals. She genuinely enjoys the folks in ABA and they can tell that she does. Our membership is going to miss her, but not nearly as much as I will.
Barry Chasse of Chasse Building Team has known Carol since the early 1990’s.
“I don’t know how or why, but because she is so passionate about the ABA, Carol convinced me to dress as Marilyn Monroe and sing ‘Happy Birthday Mr. President’ to incoming president Eric Hedlund.”
The search continues for photographs of that event.
“Many people in the construction industry, me included, can attribute our personal success to programs we’ve taken at ABA,” says Randy Eskelson of Schuff Steel Southwest. “Those programs were developed, refined and promoted by Carol. I don’t remember a time she hasn’t been part of our industry. What will we do without her?”
Carol has never been content to rest on previous successes. In the past two years she helped the industry implement a test preparation program for individuals seeking to pass the Certified Professional Constructor exam given by the American Institute of Constructors (AIC). As a result of those efforts Arizona had more than 100 individuals taking and passing that exam; more than any other state in the country. She was awarded the inaugural Stephen B. Byrne Industry Achievement Award recognizing her contributions to that success.
Carol’s retirement won’t be all leisure and relaxation. There are lots of friends, family, church and community events that will need her attention. She and her husband, Bob, have two grown daughters and six grandchildren living close by. The six grand kids, ages 2-8, are all looking forward to seeing more of grandma.

Carol McMullen

American Institute of Constructors Honors ABA's McMullen With Inaugural Industry Achievement Award

The American Institute of Constructors (AIC) honored Carol McMullen of the Arizona Builders’ Alliance for her work in supporting the advancement of education in the construction industry.

McMullen, the inaugural award winner of the Stephen P. Byrne Industry Achievement Award, received the award at the National AIC Annual Forum in Scottsdale.

In addition to McMullen’s 30 years of service to the ABA and the local community, she has been instrumental in increasing the number of constructors who have completed the Certified Professional Constructor (CPC) exam, a national comprehensive exam testing all areas of construction expertise.

Under McMullen’s leadership, more than 100 Arizona constructors have successfully earned their CPC designation in the past three years. This professional designation is a testimony to the knowledge and professionalism of the individual.

“The leaders of the Arizona construction industry are committed to ongoing professional development and education,” McMullen said. “It’s my honor to provide growth opportunities and to work with our talented constructors.”

The Stephen P. Byrne Industry Achievement award is a new recognition honoring past AIC National President Byrne, who passed away Feb. 11, 2013, at the age of 59. This award will be presented yearly to an individual who has supported the advancement of Constructor Certification at a high level.


Arizona Builders - Cell Phone Collection

Arizona Builders' Alliance Stepping Up To The Plate This Summer

There has been quite a bit of good news coming out the Arizona Builders’ Alliance (ABA) office this summer.

The ABA was recently awarded the AGC in the Community Award by Associated General Contractors of America. The award was given to the ABA for its outstanding community service projects in Tucson and Phoenix in 2011.

The ABA also earned the Excellence in Education Award from the Associated Builders and Contractors for its Leadership Development Forum (LDF) program.

On the community front, the ABA smashed its own record for the number of cell phones collected in the annual Cell Phone Drive for the Troops.

Last year’s record was 800 cell phones. This year ABA members collected 955 phones, which will give 28,650 minutes of free calling time to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Additionally, the ABA is also in the middle of its Backpack Drive to collect school supplies for the upcoming year. The ABA will accept donations through July 20 and will donate the supplies to the schools in the most need.

The Arizona Builders’ Alliance is one of 95 chapters across the country that is aimed at productivity of contractors, suppliers and professional service firms.

For more information on Arizona Builders’ Alliance, visit Arizona Builders’ website at azbuilders.org.