• Working Together to Improve Transportation in Southwest Washington

    Kris Strickler, WSDOT Regional Administrator

    The ability to get from point A to point B is unique to each person who lives and works in southwest Washington. Whether it’s a shopping trip to the store for groceries, the commute to the office or job site, or even picking up the kids from school – transportation affects how we balance our daily lives and everyone plays a role. For the Washington State Department of Transportation to continue to make improvements that keep people and goods moving in a growing part of the state, we rely on those in the contracting community to help get the job done.


    Just last year, we completed two important projects in Clark County that keeps traffic moving safely: the State Route 502 widening between Interstate 5 and Battle Ground, and the new Interstate 205/NE 18th Street interchange in Vancouver. Local firms contributed to the successful delivery of both of these projects, and finished ahead of schedule and under budget.


    Nearly two years ago, the legislature passed the $16 billion Connecting Washington transportation package. Over the next two decades, many of these projects will begin to take shape and make a real difference in how we keep people and freight moving in southwest Washington. This is a big task, and we are up to the challenge. We will continue to look toward the contracting community as a crucial partner in shaping the region’s transportation future.


    In addition to new infrastructure projects, Connecting Washington funds will also help preserve the roads and bridges that people have relied on for years. Although not as glamorous as widening a corridor or building a new interchange, this work makes a difference in keeping our system safe and reliable for all users of the road. Each year we administer contracts for dozens of these types of projects, which keeps up the investments in the highway system that we made long ago. As infrastructure continues to age, the demand for this work will also increase.


    Transportation needs will continue to evolve to meet the demands of tomorrow, and we will continue our work to preserve the system. Regardless of the size and scale of each project down the road, having an external workforce that is ready to compete is integral to achieving our goals to keep people and the regional economy moving forward.

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  • The Power of Audience

    SWCA Featured in international auction website company, Auctria's Feature section.

    "Auctria user Southwest Washington Contractors Association’s (SWCA) auction team -- composed of the SWCA staff, We Plan It (event planning company), and the SWCA Events Committee -- knows what it takes to organize a successful auction. With attendance exceeding 400, SWCA has perfected the art of organizing an auction. Due to their continual success, the auction has become an A-List event in Southwest Washington."

    View full story here.

  • SWCA Partners with Members and Nutter Foundation to Grant Little Boy's Wish

    Andrea Smith, SWCA Marketing and Communications Manager

    When Robert and Katie Zadak learned that their son’s life would be shortened, due to pediatric liver cancer, they made it their mission to ensure that the rest of Nick’s life would be filled with joy and happiness. Focusing on the positive and taking one day at a time is their strategy for dealing with the unfairness of the cards dealt to their family.     

    Robert expressed that Nick “absolutely loves all of the construction equipment and knows more technical terms for equipment than I do!” He was skeptical that Nick’s condition would allow him to take part in 2017 Dozer Days and was hopeful that local construction companies could help arrange a small event to allow Nick to participate in similar activities.

    The Southwest Washington Contractors Association partners with the Nutter Foundation to help coordinate volunteers for Dozer Days. As soon as the Zadak’s reached out to these entities, SWCA and Nutter Foundation worked together to organize a personal Dozer Day for Nick. SWCA members, Excavator Rental Services and Catworks Construction, volunteered heavy machinery and staff time to allow Nick to drive and operate construction equipment.

    Typically a timid boy, Nick became immediate best friends with his equipment operators, Gavin Washburn and Connor Lamb. Seeing the smile on Nick’s face while driving the heavy machinery, surrounded by his family, friends, and undeniably strong parents, was a reminder that you cannot take life for granted. On February 1, 2017 Nick was granted his ultimate wish, and became an honorary SWCA construction equipment operator.

    The day’s events were also a reminder that in times of need, community will take care of its members. Darcy Altizer, Executive Director of SWCA, spoke of the association’s core values, “community building is something we take pride in at the SWCA, so extending our network to make Nick’s wish come true was an honor and top priority.”

    We are sharing this story with you to remind you of the amazing construction community we have here in Southwest Washington. We would like you to use this as an opportunity to take a few moments to remind your loved ones that you love and appreciate them. Remember, life is short, never take it for granted.

    View Story on Daily Insider.
    View story on the Oregonian.

  • “Advancements in LED Lighting Technology: The Costs and Benefits for Building Owners, Property Managers, and Business Owners”

    By Lisa Littleton, Vice President SW Washington Contractor’s Association, and owner of Twice The Light, Inc.; Cyndi Pace, Energy Efficiency Specialist & LED Lighting Designer; and Alex Basauri, Director of Engineering, Twice The Light, Inc.

    If you are a business owner, building owner, or property manager, it is likely you have been asked to consider LED lighting.   The cost savings and benefits are compelling reasons to learn more about this technology.  Quality lighting enhances visual comfort, is proven to reduce eye fatigue, improve morale, lower absenteeism, and improve safety.  The cost to light a typical commercial building is close to 35% of the building’s electricity cost.  This routine cost is a part of any operating budget, and the opportunity to capture cost savings using lighting as a strategic asset is often overlooked.  Recent advances in LED lighting and lighting control systems are now a game changer for reducing the light energy costs by 50% or more, with the new lighting system paying for itself typically within a few years.  Businesses benefit from local incentive programs through Clark Public Utility’s Commercial Lighting Incentive Program (CLIP) and Energy Trust of Oregon (ETO), who help commercial businesses pay for conversion to LED lighting and lighting control systems.

    Cost Benefit Example – 2016 Commercial LED Lighting Retrofit in Clark County:

    Project Cost


    Clark PUD Rebate


    Yearly Utility Savings


    Simple Payback Years


    Return on Investment


    Energy Trust of Oregon offers additional incentives for whole building lighting and control system integration through their Performance Plus program, offering added incentive benefits for full building controls and redesign.  Often by adding a controls program and full building redesign, there is less out-of-pocket cost to the building owner than a simple retrofit option. Additionally, with more and more utilities adopting time-of-use pricing during peak hours, controls system integration saves money by reducing electricity use in unused areas. 

    Lighting control technology is where businesses can really maximize their energy efficiency and cost savings over time.  The local rebate and incentive programs are moving to reward lighting systems that incorporate advanced lighting controls.  We have seen quite a leap in controls technology, where existing controls on a fixture will dim down based on daylight levels, come on/off when someone enters the room or exits, and to lock light levels as desired by the user.   New control technologies offer a greater array of options with LED light systems acting as the digital communications pathway to commercial buildings controls system integration.  LED light fixtures with controls are a more adaptive lighting system that can “think like humans” thereby optimizing energy performance at each light source, ensuring user comfort through color and light output programmability, providing light source and building area diagnostics to assist with maintenance needs and offering building owners versatility to eliminate rewiring as tenant improvements and office setups are reconfigured. 

    There are non-energy benefits that are also being offered and integrated into these systems as well, including:  gunshot detection to dispatch emergency response, room occupancy tracking, ad targeting in retail, activity stimulation through color temperature adjustments, automatic lighting level adjustments, daily activity tracking and building communication during crisis. 

    LED lighting is the connectivity bridge that will communicate all the interactions of a building’s electricity use.   Building design is changing, the next generation of corporate office buildings will be very different, trends that began in high-tech workplaces are migrating into corporate environments.   Today’s worker is looking for sustainable, open work environments that adjust to their wants and needs.  Wireless control systems with LED lighting offer building owners cost effective solutions to update existing buildings to meet the needs of the more tech savvy tenant.

    Lighting is the one improvement a business owner, building owner or property manager can make that will reap both financial and environmental benefits for the long term.    A good lighting designer will lay out the technology options and will tailor the system to your space, uses, and budget while maximizing your rebates and incentives available to offset your project cost. Northwest Lighting Network offers comprehensive training and certification testing for lighting professionals entitled, Next Level (NXT), to assist customers in distinguishing those lighting companies who are up to date on this constantly emerging technology.     Unbiased energy saving advice is readily available to any business by contacting the Clark Public Utility CLIP Program or the Energy Trust of Oregon.  

  • Executive Director's 2016 Year in Review

    Darcy Altizer, SWCA Executive Director

    In 2016, the SWCA worked hard at examining our existing member benefit structure. This process confirmed our belief that the industry faces continual change. Like any business, adjustments are necessary in maintaining a successful business model. The results of this study initiated the development of an enhanced member benefit structure. The SWCA’s new member benefit structure supports the needs and makeup of the variety of businesses that are essential in sustaining the construction industry. The SWCA’s new membership benefit tier levels consist of: contractor plus, contractors, suppliers, and associates. The economic impact of the wide variety of businesses united through the SWCA aligns perfectly with one of the SWCA’s core values; building a stronger community.

    The excitement of change continued as we neared the closing of 2016. The SWCA acquired new partners to manage key programs offered on our menu of services: Ameriprise Financial was named the new administrator for the SWCA401K program, and Parker Smith & Feek as the new administrator of the SWCA’s Retrospective Safety Program.

    We continue to keep our eyes peeled on the road ahead to insure the future success of the construction industry, while at the same time we are thankful for our history. As we turn the page to a new chapter, the SWCA celebrates a milestone in 2017, the SWCA’s 70th anniversary!  

    Since 1947, we have championed a thriving construction industry here in Southwest Washington.

    We help our members be more profitable, train their employees, win more business and build a stronger community.

    SWCA provides:

    • A top rated safety and retro program in the state, average savings to our members 50% of their L&I premiums
    • A plan center that allows members to bid and win more jobs
    • Business seminars, safety trainings, and certifications
    • Annual  scholarships and community service events through our Foundation
    • Networking and fun!  

    It’s an exciting time for the construction industry!

    Thank you for allowing me to be part of it!

  • 2016 President's Year in Review

    Bryce Sinner, 2016 SWCA Board of Directors President and Corporate Counsel at Stellar J Corporation

    It has been a great year for the SWCA and I am proud of what we have accomplished in 2016. In 2015 we began building the foundation for expanding our membership and our influence within the community. This year we utilized that foundation and focused on solidifying our vision for the SWCA, communicating that vision to our members, and executing it.

    The vision is to be the champion for the construction industry in Southwest Washington. To that end, we have focused on developing relationships with the City of Vancouver, Clark County, the Port of Vancouver, Clark College, and the CREDC. In addition, we also placed key board members and staff on relevant committees and boards within the community. These relationships will help keep our members informed about the latest developments that affect our industry. Additionally, the SWCA Foundation awarded nearly $20,000 in scholarships to students continuing their education in construction, with a member receiving the John McKibbon Scholarship to attend Leadership Clark County.

    We accomplished so much in 2016, while having fun doing it. We organized several Shop Talk events that focused on highlighting people in our community that helped create job opportunities for our member companies, and develop programs for filling our industry’s increasing labor demand. We also hosted several business seminars addressing topics that our members requested additional education on. Of course we also put together a full slate of exciting networking events, including the best golf tournament in Southwest Washington, and an extravagant Holiday Party and Auction. 

    I have had so much fun during my tenure as President. I am humbled and honored to have been a part of this important stage in the growth and development of SWCA. Here’s to a bright future!

  • The Eight Questions of Annual Planning

    Lars Lindberg, EOS Implementer, High Country NW

    When we consider a planning session based on the year ahead, it can become overwhelming with where to begin, what to focus on, and what to prioritize. Strategic planning is often too complex, and an organization’s vision is seldom clear and concise. It can also have a detrimental effect if the viewing window does not take into account how the plan aligns with your 10 Year Target and your 3 Year Plan.

    Annual planning should:
         a. Provide direction for the organization in all functional areas for the next year.

         b. Define the scope of the organizations activities in terms of what it will and will not do.

         c. Match the activities of the organization to the environment in which it operates so that it maximizes opportunities and minimizes threats.

         d. Synchronizes the organizations activities to its resource capacity.

    From there, scalability and financial implications are considered to see if the plan remains feasible and so forth, a budget is built to support it, everyone steps forward to execute with precision and utmost clarity, laser focus…and all things are then good, Right? We know from our previous efforts this is not typically the case. Yet we sally forth, in spite of ourselves, for lack of a better model.

    Gino Wickman, founder of Entrepreneurial Operating System, in his popular and powerful business book TRACTION, approaches this with a framework he has spent many years developing into its purest and simplest form. Gino insists that rarely will any of these plans hit their target or hold up without answering 8 Questions first.

    These 8 Questions are found in the Vision component, the first of his 6 key components you are encouraged to strengthen and refine. I will share them with you momentarily, but first consider that it’s never such that an organization doesn’t have a vision, it’s that they rarely agree on that vision. Gino invites you to a discipline that will solve that for you and your team, and it’s simply called “answering the 8Q’s”. What we do as EOS implementers is help a leadership team agree on these 8 simple questions about their business. In all of our honing and refining of our work we realize there are only 8Q’s any leadership team needs to ask to then have a crystal clear vision to take to the rest of the organization. So here they are:

    1. Core Values – What are the 3 to 7 characteristics that define who you are as a leadership team and as a company and culture, and you must agree on those 3 to 7.

    1. Core Focus – What is the true core where you excel? The idea is to agree as a united leadership team that this is in fact the very core, that you aren’t dabbling in any ‘shiny stuff’ that distracts from that laser focus. Make sure everyone agrees.

    1. 10 Year Target – What is the overriding goal you’re all working this hard toward? What is the finish line? What is it that when reached the owners goal is fulfilled and complete? Again, everyone must agree.

    1. Marketing Strategy – This is agreeing on who is our ideal target market that we are going after, what are the 3 top differentiators that we’re selling and telling to the world? What is our proven process for doing business with our customers and what is our guaranteed pledge or promise that puts their mind at ease when doing business with us? And again it’s agreeing on those elements that is your marketing strategy.

    1. 3 Year Picture – This is painting a picture and agreeing, what is the revenue, profit and measurable goals and then 5 to 15 bullet points just painting a picture of what your organization will look like in 3 short years and yes, everyone is agreeing on that 3 Year picture.

    1. 1 Year Plan – So going into that next year, what is the Plan? What is the revenue, profit and measurable goals and then what are the 3 to 7 most important things that must get done in the coming year? Less is more, and again agreeing.

    1. Rocks – Bringing it down to the ground and answering what are your Quarterly Rocks? What are the 3 to 7 most important things that you and your team must get done in the next 90 days to make that 1 Year Plan a reality, to put you on track for that 3 Year picture and ultimately make that 10 Year Target.

    1. Issues – What’s on the Issues List? Agreeing on, what are all of our issues, obstacles, barriers, ideas, opportunities and if we look to the future, sometimes it’s just good therapy but the idea is to agree as a leadership team – admit all the issues that we face as we go forward.

    I promise you - if you will get on the same page with your leadership team and answer these 8 questions, you will align everyone, and get everyone rowing in the same direction and then, have a crystal clear vision to take to your organization. I want to drive home the danger of looking at the year ahead with myopic vision, but instead treat every Quarter as the end of a year.

    All that said, the EOS Team has created a tool they call Vision Traction Organizer (VTO). It’s a tool that captures the answers to the 8 Questions. It is free and downloadable on the EOS website, its powerful, and - if you want our help, schedule a free 90-minute meeting with me to learn more about this very complete and straightforward Business Operating System.

    Until next time, stay focused.

  • Beyond "Good Help is Hard to Find" 
    By George Schmidt, 3 Kings Environmental, Inc. 

    Before the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, a commonly noted long term challenge facing our industry was eventually replacing the knowledge, skills, and experience of the baby-boom generation.  The Great Recession did not remove this demographic challenge.

    Recession and other changes in our world have only brought a long-term challenge to our doorstep as a near and clear problem for the continuing growth, health and sustainability of our industry.  As jobs became scarce through the economic crisis, the image of construction as a career path took a hard hit compared to other fields often perceived – perhaps inaccurately – as more stable, secure, or financially rewarding.  Additionally, investment by our educational system in vocational and skills training has dwindled under strained budgets, the perceived value of college preparation and increasing importance of technology acumen. 

    Construction as a profession or vocation uniquely provides opportunity for individuals with any level of formal education.   An individual can apply talents and acquired skills in countless specific ways.  Increasingly, construction utilizes advanced technology more than most comprehend.  Construction pays better than many other occupations with those skilled in the trades and crafts often earning more than those more formally educated.  Our industry represents diversity and provides opportunity in ways other fields fail to match. 

    Nevertheless our companies often strain to fill positions while countless individuals and especially young people remain jobless – a seemingly senseless disconnect.  As a local contractor working in a very competitive industry, helping solve such systemic issues often seems very remote from the urgent priorities of the day such as finding the qualified person to help now.  Construction is a uniquely local industry though.  Practical actions can support our industry, help reduce the senseless disconnect, and strengthen your own team:

    • Understand that ALL industries and businesses face the same challenge.  Provide a work experience to compete within the industry AND with what other fields can provide.  Take note of “Best Companies to Work For” lists both locally and nationally and the correlations between their employee experience and financial performance.  Be among the few that find the most creative and successful solutions.
    • Invest in training and development of your current team.  Anticipate the need to advance your current team to offset the labor challenge.  Since 1998, Fortune 500 companies have increased training for both managers and hourly or administrative personnel by approximately 80%.  What do they know?  Consider how that investment contributes to your team’s competency, growth, and engagement; attracts other potential quality employees; and improves your bottom line long term. 
    • Connect and partner with local initiatives to provide training opportunities and connect employers and potential employees.  As economic conditions have improved, others are increasingly recognizing the labor challenges for our industry and the employment opportunities herein.  Local school districts and colleges are undertaking training initiatives and other publicly funded work force development programs are increasingly focused on our industry.  Our local construction industry will most benefit with broad-based active support and participation by employers.  Your team will directly benefit if you connect with them.
    • Let your light shine.  Construction is the backbone of our communities and is driven by the best and brightest.  Continue the many community-minded actions the SWCA membership often demonstrates.  When you have the chance to represent the great qualities of our industry, educate or mentor someone, or provide an opportunity….take advantage. 


    Nearly every challenge brings with it opportunity.  Most importantly, consider what action large or small you can undertake today toward strengthening and building your team for tomorrow’s opportunities.

  • Contractors: A Cyber Security Threat? 
    By Scott Huotari, CCSI 
    As of April 1, 2016, there are over 1 million new cyber threats released daily. Several times each year, we hear about a company who has been majorly impacted, or we get a letter in the mail from a bank telling us there was a "breach" at a major retailer. Many of these breaches are from their supply chain vendors in construction: heating and air conditioning or electrical contractors. One such case a few years back was a huge data breach at Target, caused by a heating and cooling vendor. 

    The main purpose of these threats is to collect data, collect money, or lie in wait until they are activated by some event. 

    So how does the common computer user protect against such complex threats?  There are five main points that you need to consider:

    1. Backup – First and foremost, you need to have a way to recover data when you are hit with a virus or malware.  It is not if you will be impacted, it is when.  So being able to get your data back is #1.  You also need to test your backups.  Do a simple test and see if you can access a file from two months ago.   If you can, great.  If not, you need a new backup system that can access historical versions of your important data.
    2. Education – You need to know on the most basic level how a virus works.  Its main mission is to install itself on your computer.  The Windows Operating system is designed so that software cannot install unless you give it permission.  When you install a program, your computer will ask you if you want to install that program.  That is through a window (also called a dialog box) that stops you in your tracks and asks you if it can install.  If you are installing software, great.  But if you are opening an email, or a website and your computer asks you to install a program or a helper program, you need to scratch your head and wonder why.  It is probably malware or a threat.   Another trick that threats use is by popping up a dialog box on your computer that says “You have been infected by a virus, do you want to install a program to help you get rid of viruses.”  This is almost 100% of the time a threat.  You may also see dialog boxes that say that your antivirus program has stopped working.  These are all common tricks to have you help the virus infect your computer.
    3. Updates – Install all Microsoft Patches on your computer.
    4. Firewall – Have a business class firewall installed.  A firewall is a device that is between your computer and the modem.  A business class firewall will inspect traffic as it enters and leaves your network.  Sonicwall, Cisco, Juniper and Watchguard are all great firewalls.  Linksys and Netgear brands are more suitable for home models and do not provide effective protection for your computer.
    5. Antivirus – Keep up on your antivirus Program.  You need to update it to the latest version every year.  In addition, you need to run the updates each week to ensure that you are getting the latest in virus definitions.

    Many companies take a very lackluster approach to network security.  Having antivirus on a computer is no longer enough.  You have to have a well thought-out, multi-tier solution.    Antivirus, Backup, Firewall and Employee Knowledge/Training are your best defenses.





  • Scott Campbell joins Southwest Washington Contractors Association Board of Directors

    The Southwest Washington Contractors Association has welcomed local Scott Campbell of Waste Connections, Inc. to its Board of Directors.

    Campbell moved to Vancouver in 1985 and has worked for Waste Connections, Inc. for over 22 years and currently serves as the Governmental and Community Affairs Manager. He also has 12 years’ experience in industrial construction management. Scott is a recognized community leader supporting organizations that improve overall quality of life – specifically in areas of youth, education, elderly, veterans, and the environment.

    “We are thrilled to have Scott join the SWCA leadership team,” said executive director Darcy Altizer. “Scott’s wide range of experience and passion for our community are perfectly aligned with the SWCA mission and long-term vision.” This mission includes strengthening the workforce pipeline, training and educating future generations of leaders, and investing in community infrastructure in Southwest Washington. 

  • SWCA Hosts Training with Software Developer

    The Southwest Washington Contractors Association will hold its first training session of 2016 for its online construction project bidding portal, Plans Online, on July 29th, 2016. The training will be held from 8:00-9:30 a.m. at the SWCA office, 7017 NE Hwy 99 Ste. 214. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own laptop computers in order to optimize the learning session.

    Software creator Paul Carrig of J2 Blueprint, a local Vancouver company and long-time partner of the SWCA, will conduct the training.

    The SWCA operates a non-profit plan center on a cooperative basis that regularly hosts hundreds of local commercial and industrial construction projects. The portal also allows for companies to have their own private site for soliciting bids from subcontractors.

    This training is free and open to all interested attendees. Please RSVP at www.swca.org/events.   

  • "If" and "When": A Subtle but Important Difference in Contract Payment Terms
    By Paige Spratt, Attorney, Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt

    Payment terms are some of the most important provisions of a construction contract. Understanding each provision and, more importantly, the consequences of each provision is essential, especially for subcontractors that are relying on receiving full and timely payment (to pay their crews, lower-tier subcontractors, suppliers, etc.).

    Thus, recognizing the difference between a "pay-when-paid" and "pay-if-paid" (and the implications of each) is crucial for contractors in today's sophisticated contracting environment. 

    “Pay-When-Paid” vs. “Pay-If-Paid”

    A “pay-when-paid” clause is a contract provision that makes payment by the general contractor to the subcontractor contingent upon the timing of the general contractor’s payment from the owner (e.g., “Subcontractor will be paid within 10 days after General Contractor receives payment from Owner”).  A “pay-when-paid” clause should be distinguished from a “pay-if-paid clause.”

    A “pay-if-paid” clause is a contract provision that makes payment by the owner to the general contractor a condition precedent to the general contractor’s obligation to ever pay the subcontractor (e.g., “Subcontractor will be paid within 10 days after General Contractor receives payment from Owner and General Contractor’s receipt of payment by Owner is a condition precedent to General Contractor’s payment to Subcontractor”).

    The difference (in most jurisdictions) between a “pay-when-paid” clause and a “pay-if-paid” clause is that, to create a “pay-if-paid” clause, the contract must clearly state that payment to the subcontractor by the general contractor is contingent upon receipt of payment by the owner.

    How Oregon and Washington Courts Treat “Pay-When-Paid” Provisions

    Most jurisdictions, including Oregon and Washington, will not allow a general contractor to withhold payment indefinitely where there is a “pay-when-paid” clause, but require that payment be made within a reasonable amount of time.  In fact, some jurisdictions have found “pay-if-paid” clauses void and unenforceable.  A few jurisdictions treat “pay-when-paid” and “pay-if-paid” clauses as having the same affect. 

    The following analyzes how Washington and Oregon courts treat “pay-when-paid” clauses. Importantly, neither Oregon nor Washington courts have considered the validity of “pay-if-paid” clauses and, until they do, “pay-if-paid” clauses should be considered valid and enforceable.


    The leading case in Washington on “pay-when-paid” clauses is Amelco Electric v. Donald M. Drake Co.  In Amelco, Drake was hired to construct the King County Multipurpose Stadium.  Drake subcontracted the electrical work to Amelco.  Drake was terminated from the project for an alleged default under the prime contract.  Drake terminated its subcontract with Amelco.  The termination provision provided:

    CONTRACT CANCELLATION: If the Contract between Owner and Contractor is cancelled in whole or in part through no fault of Contractor this Subcontract may be cancelled by Contractor in whole or in part without liability for damages and Contractor shall be liable to Subcontractor only for the reasonable value of Subcontractor’s work completed to the extent that Contractor has received payment for said work from Owner.

    Amelco sued Drake for non-payment. Drake argued that paragraph 7(c) made receipt of payment by Drake a condition precedent to Drake’s liability to Amelco for non-payment. The Washington Court of Appeals held that subcontract term did not require Amelco to wait for payment indefinitely until Drake was paid by the owner, but rather “postponed payment for a reasonable period of time after the work was completed.”

    Thus, Washington courts will construe a “pay-when-paid” clause as requiring the general contractor to pay the subcontractor within a reasonable period of time regardless of whether the contractor receives payment by the owner.


    The leading case on “pay-when-paid” clauses in Oregon is Mignot v. Parkhill.  In Mignot, the payment provision provided that

    It is fully understood by and between the parties hereto that the Contractor shall not be obligated to pay Subcontractor for any of the work until such time as Contractor has himself received the money from Bates Lumber Co.

    The general contractor argued that receipt of money by it from the owner (Bates Lumber) “was a condition precedent to liability of [the general contractor].”  In analyzing the terms of the contract, the court found that a payment provision without clear and unambiguous language providing that receipt of payment by the general contractor from the owner “is merely for the purpose of fixing time” of performance and “will not be regarded as evidencing conditions precedent.”

    Thus, in Oregon, a contract providing that “Subcontractor will be paid within 10 days after General Contractor receives payment from Owner” will likely be construed as fixing a time for payment and, even if the general contractor is never paid by the owner, the general contractor is still obligated to pay subcontractor within a reasonable period of time.

    Understanding your contracts and, more importantly, the implications of your contract terms can make or break your success on a project. If you have questions regarding your contract rights, you should talk to an attorney specializing in construction law.

    Learn more about Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt here

  • Bid Protests in Public Contracting

    By Albert F. Schlotfeldt, Attorney at Law

    Public works projects in Oregon and Washington have a competitive bidding process by statute.  The purposes behind the statutes are to obtain the best work for the lowest price and to create competition so as to prevent favoritism, fraud and corruption.  In addition to the state statutes state agencies, such as the Department of Transportation, have their own regulations governing public contracting.  Generally, all such statutes and regulations require the bid to be awarded to the lowest responsible and responsive bidder.  

    The statutes also contain provisions allowing unsuccessful bidders to protest the award to the contract to the apparent low bidder.  To be able to protest you must have “standing” which means you believe you are the bidder who should have been awarded the contract.  Protests are typically made to the procuring agency and to the designated person, typically the contracting officer.

    There are numerous grounds to protest bids.  Typically the bid must contain a “material irregularity” which results in a non-responsive bid.  An irregularity is “material” if it gave the bidder a substantial advantage not enjoyed by other bidders.  An example is a non-certified WBE.

    Typical reasons for the rejections of bids often involve bid irregularities or non-responsible bidders.  For bid irregularities, some of the typical grounds would be use of the wrong form, unauthorized additions, deletions or conditions in the bid, added provisions, unsigned bids, the inability to determine unit prices from the bids, unbalanced unit prices and missing addendum. 

    Bidders may be found to be not responsible if they have submitted multiple bids, have colluded with other bidders, not become pre-qualified as required, have a poor performance record, are not authorized to do business in the state or are not financially responsible.

    Bid protests are normally made by way of a protest letter.  It is important that the letter be very clear, and must be specific about the errors being complained about.  Often the letters can convince the agency.  The opportunity to also speak before a governing board is often afforded the protesters and the apparent low bidder.  The public agency generally has the ability to deny the protest, reject the bid, or reject all of the bids.

    Bid protests have extremely short timelines and specific requirements.  You should promptly and carefully review all bids.   Act quickly and follow the exact process for the bid protest.  When doing so however, and be careful what you wish for.  Give serious consideration to your own bid and consider whether you truly would want to perform the project at the price you bid.  Finally, do not challenge bids unless you are serious.  Challenging bids too frequently and without firm legal grounds can cause animosity with the procuring agencies and result in a bad working relationship in the future.  Finally, have legal counsel available that is familiar with the bid protest process who can help you quickly in the event of a proposed protest.  

  • SWCA leader appointed to Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek Business Association Board of Directors

    The Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek Business Association has appointed Lisa Cartwright, assistant executive director of the Southwest Washington Contractors Association to its Board of Directors.

    Lisa participated in organizing the Hazel Dell Parade of Bands this year and her knowledge and skillset was a clear asset to the Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek Business Association.

    Lisa lives and works in the Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek area and has been the assistant executive director for the Southwest Washington Contractors Association for 20 years. Her duties include fundraising, membership services, supporting the SWCA Foundation, bookkeeping and managing the online Plan Center. 

    About the Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek Business Association: 

    The Association incorporated in 1956 to unify the Hazel Dell and Salmon Creek communities and publicize an area of Clark County encompassing a wide variety of resources, products and services. The Association has successfully provided a positive forum for business owners, employees, neighborhood associations and community representatives to gather and share information and common challenges impacting the Hazel Dell/Salmon Creek area. To learn more about the Salmon Creek Hazel Dell Business Association go to http://hdscba.org/

  • Local business owner receives SWCA Foundation John McKibbin Legacy Scholarship


    The SWCA Foundation has awarded local business owner Jesse Murray of Painting Perfection, the John McKibbin Legacy Scholarship in the amount of $1,000 to put toward his Leadership Clark County (LCC) tuition.

    The John McKibbin Legacy Scholarship was created by the SWCA Foundation in order to honor the lifelong public service the late John McKibbin invested in the local community. McKibbin was a former Clark County commissioner and Washington state senator who was devoted to numerous civic- and leadership-oriented organizations, including LCC.

    SWCA Foundation president Mike Nieto of Catworks Construction said, “We felt it was important not only to honor John, but to invest in the future leaders of Clark County in his remembrance.”

    The scholarship is dedicated to Southwest Washington Contractors Association members who wish to develop their respective community in Southwest Washington by participating in LCC.

    The mission of the SWCA Foundation is to enhance Southwest Washington through grants for education and community outreach projects. 

  • SWCA employers recognized for excellence as statewide leaders in work-site safety

    (VANCOUVER, Wash.) – The Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) Retro Group has received a refund from the Washington Department of Labor & Industries for $915,282, making it the best performing Retro program in the state of Washington for the 2014-2015 policy year with a 48.2% return rate.

    The Retrospective Rating Program was created by the state to reward contractors for having fewer workplace injuries than anticipated by state actuaries for their class of business. In 1997, the Southwest Washington Contractors Association implemented the program, known as Retro Group. The group has repeatedly reported high returns because of the willingness of each company to maximize safety and manage claims proactively.

    SWCA Retro Group participants meet 6 times per year to discuss and learn about improving safety for their employees. SWCA Retro Liaison Eric Sander of Precision Bonding, LLC, is the program administrator and works with other high-profile safety experts within the SWCA membership to provide quality and timely training for worksite safety improvements. In the past year, these have included confined space entry, claims handling, ladder safety, and other topics aimed at reducing injuries on construction projects.

    Employers must meet minimum qualifications in order to participate in the Retrospective Rating Program. These include an adequately sized premium to reduce risk of non-performance, a commitment to safety by top management, commitment to a drug-free workplace, financial solvency and an agreement to keep injured employees on salary for at least 90 days.

    The SWCA Retrospective Rating Program is currently accepting applications for enrollment through June 10th.

    If your company is interested in participating in the SWCA Retro Group, contact Eric Sander, SWCA Retro Liaison at (503) 806-0909 or eric@precisionbonding.com

  • Are You Paying too Much on L&I Premiums? 

    By Eric Sander of Precision Bonding LLC,
    SWCA Retro Liaison 

    The Washington Department of Labor and Industries created the ability of employers to establish "Retro" plans back in 1985. The intent was to motivate employers to maintain a safe workplace. An employer reporting a lower workers compensation claim amount  than "expected" would then be eligible to receive a refund for the difference. 

    The SWCA established a Retrospective Rating Program in 1997. The goal of the group has been to maximize refunds to member businesses and maintain the safest workplaces in the state. Over the history of the SWCA group, it has averaged over 50% in refunds. This is the highest of the 8 Retro Groups in construction in the state of Washington. Willingness to maximize safety and manage claims proactively has produced great results for the SWCA group, which the numbers demonstrate.


    There are individual Retro plans and Group Retro plans. Currently, there are 8 associations in the construction industry that have established Group Retro plans with a policy period of July 1 to June 30. These are ABC of Western Washington, AGC, BIAW, Master Builders, Smart A-Team, Smart Dream Team, Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) and Tri-City Construction. To participate, the state requires that companies must have employee classifications in the building trades (GC, PLBG, Electric, Underground, Utilities, Drywall, Roofing, etc.)

    Group Retro plans allow multiple employers to join together and have all of the combined premiums weighed against the combined claims (loss) experience. This allows an individual employer to possibly still earn a refund even if they suffer some claims activities, but the group still receives a refund. The groups are allowed to determine their own standards for participation. The state does not monitor or influence the content of agreements made between the group and individual companies. Part of the state’s requirements is that the group must create a plan to help employers improve workplace safety. Each year, the group is required to submit a plan as to what they will do to improve safety and prevent employee injuries.

    Retro Groups also provide assistance to the employers when accidents do occur. Many of the groups employ “Third Party Administrators” to assist the employers in management of their claims. They work closely with each injured worker, employer, attending physician, and the state claim administrator assigned to each case. The state will pay for all medical expenses incurred to return the worker to pre-injury health. The state also offers the option of paying the injured worker’s payroll for the time needed off work to be treated. The employer also has the option of keeping the injured worker on Salary (Keep on Salary or KOS) for any period of time they desire. The employer can also provide “light duty” work (approved by the attending physician) to help the injured worker earn his/her salary while recovering. 

    For more information about the SWCA Retro Group, contact Eric Sander of Precision Bonding, LLC (503) 806-0909 or email eric@precisionbonding.com

  • Local contractors association partners with Prime Fighting 7 to bring professional sports to Southwest Washington (2/22/2016)

    (Vancouver, Wash.) – Prime Fighting LLC announced today the launch of its first annual Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Dinner presented by Charlie’s Bar & Grill to be held at 4:30 p.m. on May 7, 2016 at the Clark County Event Center, 17402 NE Delfel Rd Ridgefield, WA 98642.

    Professional MMA athletes in the region are looking to access local financial support needed for equipment, specialized training, and nutrition. In return, the folks behind Prime Fighting hope to bring a sense of community around the event, as MMA is the only professional state sanctioned athletic sport in Southwest Washington.

    The Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA), a local professional association focused on building connections in the construction industry, has partnered with Prime Fighting to promote this night of networking for business leaders and community members in Southwest Washington.

    “The SWCA is excited to be a partner of Prime Fighting and looks forward to being a supporter as it continues to grow,” said Darcy Altizer, executive director. Alasdair Mackenzie of Prime Fighting is a board member at the SWCA and sees this partnership as an opportunity to form mutually beneficial relationships between the business and professional MMA communities.

    The VIP tickets for this event are $135 and include dinner, a comedic performance by Jerry Miner, and six Washington State sanctioned professional and amateur fights. The main event headliner is Clark County resident and professional MMA fighter Mohammad Abed-Rabuh, who will be battling Joey Gomez of Hilo, Hawaii for the Lightweight Title. These fights will be streamed live via GFL Entertainment.

    Tickets are available for purchase now at www.primefighting.net.

    About Prime Fighting LLC
    Prime Fighting LLC is a professional and amateur Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) promotion company located in Vancouver, WA that is dedicated to delivering exciting, well-matched fights and providing athletes a platform for national and international recognition. For more information, visit www.primefighting.net or contact Alasdair Mackenzie at (360) 518-6088.

  • Upcoming Business Seminar helps contractors get paid

    By Roy D. Pyatt, Landerholm, P.S.

    Tired of losing money when projects don't go according to plan? We've got a class for that.

    Getting Paid is the second installment of the Public Contracting education series presented by Riverview Community Bank. Join us on March 4, 2016 to learn key steps for getting paid on projects with problems, delays, and conflicts. 

    The advice provided in these seminars comes from leading attorneys in the construction and related fields in Southwest Washington. Attorney LeAnne Bremer, for example, is the managing partner of the Vancouver office of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP. LeAnne has been serving clients in the construction industry for over 25 years and was a featured speaker at last October's seminar. 

    "The value that SWCA's seminars provide is to pull in speakers with extensive knowledge and experience in construction-related fields," says LeAnne, "specifically those who work in the trenches and can share useful and practical insight as well as tips on best business practices."

    Attorney Paige Spratt from Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt will kick this March installment off with a workshop focused on change orders and resulting claims. "It's all about document control and notice," says Paige. "I will give practical tips of how you can solve a lot of these problems. My presentation will focus not only on legal jargon, but on best practices."

    Attorneys Roy Pyatt and Tim Calderbank from Landerholm, P.S. will highlight the critical steps contractors must take to record liens on private jobs and file bond claims on public works projects.

    "I see too many project managers and other higher-ups working on projects without knowing the key time periods and steps to preserve their lien and bond rights," Calderbank, a member of Landerholm's construction and litigation teams. "When it comes to payment issues, my happiest clients are the ones who have taken the time to learn and employ the lien and bond rules during the good times--before things take a wrong turn on any given project."

    Most business owners avoid litigation whenever possible, according to Brad Andersen of Landerholm, P.S., who will be presenting "The Top 10 Ways to Get Into a Lawsuit" as part of the seminar.

    "While I enjoy advocacy and the pursuit of justice," says Brad, who recently finished a seven-week jury trial in King County, "I know litigation and trials are very difficult on my clients."

    Many potential jury trials can be successfully resolved with proactive resolution practices and sound assistance from legal counsel early in the process. Clients just need to know what to do in the pre-litigation stages--an important focus of Brad's presentation. 

    The seminar will conclude with a keynote presentation on the upcoming development of the Vancouver waterfront from Katy Brooks with the Port of Vancouver and Jim Edwards of Gramor Development.

    Register for Public Contracting: Getting Paid here

  • Vancouver Energy to present at Southwest Washington Contractors Association Shop Talk (1/15/2016)

    (Vancouver, Wash.) - The Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) is hosting Shop Talk: The Changing Energy Landscape and Benefits to the West Coast with keynote speaker Jared Larrabee, general manager of Vancouver Energy. The event, sponsored by Columbia Bank, will be held at Mill Creek Pub, 1710 SW 9th Ave Suite 101 Battle Ground, WA 98604 from 7:30-9:00 a.m. on January 27th, 2016.

    Topics to be covered by Larrabee include an overview of the West Coast fuels market, significant changes in US oil supply, West Vancouver Freight Access. A portion of the time will also be devoted to questions and answers.

    The cost of registration is $10 and includes breakfast. Members of the public may register by contacting the SWCA at (360) 694-7922. SWCA members may register online at www.swca.org/events.

    About Vancouver Energy:

    Vancouver Energy is a joint venture between Tesoro and Savage that was created to design, construct and operate a terminal that receives – but not refines – crude oil by rail and loads it onto ships bound for oil refineries on the West Coast. More information about Vancouver Energy can be found at www.vancouverenergyusa.com.

  • Southwest Washington Contractors Association announces new 2016 board members

    (VANCOUVER, Wash.) – The Southwest Washington Contractors Association welcomes five new members from local companies supportive of the commercial construction industry to its 2016 board of directors.

    New members include:

    Shane Tapani, vice president - Tapani Inc.

    Jerry Sauer, owner - Excavator Rental Services LLC

    Drew Barrett, business development manager - Barrett & Company Certified Public Accountants

    Jared Currie, controller - Anchor Concrete Inc.

    George Schmidt, vice president - 3 Kings Environmental Inc.

    Bryce Sinner, corporate counsel for Stellar J Corporation, has also been named 2016 SWCA board president.

    “I’m very excited about these great additions to the board of directors,” said Darcy Altizer, SWCA executive director. “They each bring a unique perspective and construction expertise that will support the SWCA in expanding our understanding of the industry, resources for our members, and footprint in economic development throughout Southwest Washington.”

    SWCA 2016 Staff and Board of Directors

    About Southwest Washington Contractors Association:
    Located in Vancouver, Washington, the Southwest Washington Contractors Association has more than 63 years of experience as a resource for commercial construction professionals. It is comprised of general contractors, specialty contractors, engineers, architects, and service companies supportive of the construction industry.

  • SWCA Breaks Ground with the City of Vancouver (6/26/2015)

    City of Vancouver Parks and Recreation officials and members of the Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) today, June 26, 2015 held a groundbreaking ceremony for their collaborative community project to provide facility upgrades at Marine Park, which will be completed between June 26 and July 31. A donation of $50,000 by the Community Foundation to the City of Vancouver provided materials for these site improvements, while SWCA members will provide equipment and labor.

    The 26-acre site connecting to the Waterfront Park offers walking trails, play equipment, picnic shelters, boat launch, and restrooms. At the ceremony, Mayor Tim Leavitt said, “The timing for this project could not be more ideal. I just had multiple citizens of the community mention the picnic benches falling apart at Marine Park. Parks like this need more attention and we are only able to provide that through partnerships like these.” Replacing the 13 picnic tables with ADA compliant ones will be the focus of the project. It will also include the replacement of a drinking fountain and landscape repairs, all aimed at providing an improved park site for community members to utilize. 

    Darcy Altizer, SWCA Executive Director, said at the ceremony that building community is just as important to members as building actual structures within the community. SWCA Board Member Mike Nieto of Catworks Construction was integral in pinpointing Marine Park as the SWCA’s second community project. He had been searching for a project which aligned with the SWCA mission and provided members the opportunity to connect their trades with a good cause. The partnership between the City of Vancouver and SWCA turned out to be an excellent fit. 

    SWCA members donating their resources to the project are Anchor Concrete, Catworks Construction, Equipment Rental Services, North Fork Landscape Inc., Precision Rebar & Accessories, Stellar J, and Waste Connections Inc.

  • Southwest Washington Contractors Association members maintain safest work spaces

    (VANCOUVER, Wash.) – The Retrospective Rating Program was created by the state to reward contractors for having fewer workplace injuries than anticipated by state actuaries for their class of business. In 1997, the Southwest Washington Contractor’s Association implemented the program and returns over 50% of contractors workers compensation paid to Washington State Labor and Industries department annually. Year after year, the SWCA program has been named best in the state at returning money to members and ensuring safety in the workplace.

    This year, SWCA members who are a part of the Retrospective Rating Program will receive over $650,000 in reimbursements collectively due to their outstanding safety performance at worksites. Program administer Eric Sander of Precision Bonding, LLC, says, “SWCA has the highest three-year average refund in the state of Washington for the construction industry.” SWCA members have been improving worksite safety through this program for nearly 10 years.

    Employers must meet minimum qualifications in order to participate in the Retrospective Rating Program. These include an adequately sized premium to reduce risk of non-performance, a commitment to safety by top management, commitment to a drug-free workplace, financial solvency and an agreement to keep injured employees on salary for at least 90 days.

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