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  • Avoiding Potholes of the Past

    Darcy Altizer, Executive Director, Southwest Washington Contractors Association 

    The Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) continues to keep our eyes on the road ahead for the construction industry. Looking to the future is critical for success, in addition to remembering the past to avoid the potholes we hit nearly a decade ago. Being aware of trends affecting construction at the national, state, and county levels will guide us in decision-making processes that will create a bigger, long-term economic impact.

    National:

    Our research tells us that construction is one of the largest industries in the United States. Studies indicate that the total construction payroll in the U.S. was nearly $6 billion in 2015. This amount was approximately 9% of the total payroll, inclusive of all industries combined. During this timeframe, there were 667,100 construction firms, of which 92% employed fewer than 20 workers. The annual pay of all construction workers in the U.S. averaged $57,000. This salary was 8% more than the average salary throughout the nation. A 2016 report published by AGC of America’s Chief Economist, Ken Simonson, implies that filling jobs in the construction industry at the national level continues to be a challenge.  

    State:

    In Washington state, construction contributed $18 billion, nearly 4% of the state’s $444 billion GDP. Construction workers’ pay in Washington averaged $55,900 annually, earning 1% more than all private sector employees in the state. Washington had 20,500 construction firms in 2014, of which 93% had less than 20 employees.  According to Washington State Economist Scott Bailey, state wide construction employment as of June 2017 was 203,100, up 8% compared to June 2016. It has been reported by multiple economists throughout the state that there is a large backlog of projects in permitting pipelines, and on the schedules of both public and private organizations. As a result, construction should stay strong for several years. 

    Clark County:

    It should be no surprise that Southwest Washington is an area that continues to flourish. Reports list Clark County as one of the fastest growing counties in the state. Current construction projects illustrate the county’s growth:

    • In 2016, seven local school districts passed levies that will pay for new buildings and other infrastructure projects. 
    • The Vancouver Business Journal’s Top Projects Awards highlighted over $384 million worth of projects. For instance, Gramor Development continues making progress on the $1.5 billion Waterfront Development. The Port of Vancouver publicized that the Waterfront Development will bring a direct economic impact of $209 million generating 2,036 local jobs.
    • Recently announced by The Columbian, La Center is moving forward with plans to develop 150 acres along I-5.

    Construction employed 12,700 in Clark County as of June 2017, up 8.5% from last year, according to Scott Bailey. We’ve discussed in previous publications that for every million dollars invested in new commercial construction, $1.89 million is generated in added sales. We know that hiring local companies is low-hanging fruit for spurring economic development in Southwest Washington.

    All of this is good news, but comes with a critical challenge that is causing a drag on our local economy; a huge shortage of qualified workers. The labor shortage is taking a major toll on the industry. Lack of qualified workers impedes on project timelines and creates backlog. Thus, workforce development is our biggest challenge. 

    The Columbia-Williamette Workforce Collaborative data tells us that 20% of the regions construction workforce is at or nearing retirement age. In ten years, there will be 15,000 new jobs in the industry. How will we replace those exiting the industry and satisfy the needs of growing companies? 

    To satisfy the needs of business short term, the SWCA will roll out a Construction Executive Summit, February 15, 2018. The goal of the summit is to help the industry to increase efficiencies through implementation of best practices and the building of relationships with construction professionals throughout the region. As an association we are proponents of laying the groundwork for business success through equal, affordable educational opportunities.

    The labor shortage is already hindering our economy and threatens to become an even bigger problem. Government entities are addressing the issue but can’t fill the need fast enough.  We ask our local educators to bring more emphasis on the trades in the classrooms, as the construction industry offers good paying jobs that can support a lifetime career. Avoid the potholes of the past; let’s start focusing on preparing the industry for future success.  

  • Local contractor gives a second chance, creates an opportunity for an ex-offender

    Andrea Smith, Marketing and Communications Manager, SWCA

    An unfortunate trend in the construction industry both nationally and locally is the workforce shortage. An unfortunate trend in society is the number of ex-offenders roaming the country, with real struggles of finding good-paying jobs. Construction can be the answer to both dilemmas, providing an employee for companies and a job for ex-offenders.

     

    One company’s success story

    SWCA member Halbert Construction Services has had success involving the hiring of a nonviolent felon. When this individual applied for a temporary position, he had just been released from prison, serving a seven-year sentence for possession. There are many misconceptions surrounding drug addictions and nonviolent felons, but it takes compassion to overlook an individual’s past mistakes. Bryan Halbert, owner of Halbert Construction stated “I knew he would make a good employee because he was sincere when he said he would not repeat his mistakes and never wanted to go to prison again. Throughout his employment, he was enthusiastic to be a good employee and was thankful for the chance to start over.”

    Halbert also offered a few accommodations, such as providing work clothing and help with transportation, noting that these accommodations were not inconvenient to the company and that they were crucial to helping this employee earn a paycheck and get his life back on track.

    In addition, the company also helped him set and reinforce goals. Goals such as buying a TV, clothes, and a car were all made possible by the support system Halbert provided.

     

    Advice to other companies considering hiring ex-offenders  

    Halbert offers some advice for other companies that are interested in reinvesting in ex-offenders:

    • Bryan notes that “you have to look past the offense. This is easier said than done but it’s the first step.”
    • Second, he states that companies should handle the interview process in a direct manner. “Don’t beat around the bush; be open and honest with all the questions and concerns you might have. Give the person a chance to elaborate and explain how they learned from their past.”
    • Lastly, Bryan recommends giving a chance because “it’s worth it.”

     

    But would you do it again?

    Bryan said he would hire another nonviolent felon again because it was a good experience. He’s happy that he had the chance to provide some positivity into someone’s life and help the individual reinvent himself. “Now this individual is working for another company because he could use us as a reference. This company also saw a great employee in him and gave him a chance. We can never understand what felons went through but we can help them accomplish a new life.”  

  • Build your business to thrive for the long haul

    Greg Usselman, Banner Bank

    With the 2017 construction season well underway, many local companies are maintaining their stride as we see how the markets respond and evolve under the current administration. As a sign of optimism, several business owners I work with are actively pursuing plans to grow or retool their companies.    

    Whatever your goals and strategies for the year, I encourage you to prepare for the possibility of change affecting your company. Change is said to be constant, and I have to agree. As a commercial banker in our region for many years, I’ve seen how even positive changes, such as a new client or project opportunity, can strain a business of any size. The key is to be proactive, not reactive.

    Business agility—the ability to quickly scale up to meet new demand or adjust in a downturn—really comes down to knowing your numbers:

    - Maintain current financials. Your recent profit and loss statement (P&L) and balance sheet help measure profitability and improve performance. They’re also vital when talking with your banker about opportunities and risks, and determining your funding needs. If you wait until you’re ready to act, it will be too late to ask your accountant to update your financials.
    - Understand your company’s debt. You’ll be in a better position to discuss options for paying down debt or planning for increased capacity if you keep tabs on this detail. Having debt is not a negative—it’s part of doing business as long as it’s in balance.
    - Assess and improve your cash flow. An experienced banker can provide an independent analysis and offer tips and tools for improvement. Even in an upswing, it’s important to look for ways to save and leverage your cash flow. It may be as straightforward as determining where you can delay payment or accelerate receipts.
    - Have a plan to increase capacity. Plans add stability and help reduce risk, and can be adjusted as your situation and the market change. But if you wait for a new project or client, you may be too late to formulate and activate a plan, and could miss your opportunity.

    In addition to remaining nimble, it’s important to surround yourself with trusted partners—accountants, attorneys and other advisors. As a banker serving our region for 23 years, I naturally view this from a financial perspective. In today’s marketplace, all types of companies can benefit from working with a banker who has the experience and resources to help you pursue your goals and guide you through familiar and unfamiliar aspects of doing business.

    I encourage you to take advantage of those resources—you deserve a high level of service. As you aim to improve your company’s resilience and adaptability, you should expect your financial experts to work hard every day to earn your business and help you succeed.

    Greg Usselman is a Vice President and Commercial Banking Center Manager at Banner Bank. With nearly $10 billion in assets, Banner Bank partners with businesses to support their financial goals. Reach Greg at gusselman@bannerbank.com or 360-213-0568. Visit bannerbank.com.

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  • The Go-to Group

    Alan Dorich, Construction Today

    The construction industry can be a difficult business, but for 70 years, the Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) has helped companies thrive. Based in Vancouver, Wash., the organization helps its members stay profitable and active.

    Executive Director Darcy Altizer explains that three contractors founded SWCA in 1947. “[They] decided we needed a brick and mortar facility to keep the plans and help facilitate distribution among our community so they would have a fair bidding process,” she explains.

    “Since then, we’ve expanded our menu of services for commercial and industrial contractors,” she says, noting that SWCA now has 365 members. “We have a four-tier level structure that helps support the objectives of a variety of members.”

    SWCA’s many benefits include its plan center that allows contractors to bid and win more jobs. While the center used to be in a brick and mortar location, “Today, it’s all online,” Altizer says.

    The association also offers business seminars, safety training certifications and a 401(k) program. “It eliminates the administrative burden for a small business to have a 401(k) retirement program,” she says. “We take care of that for our members from an HR point of view. It’s not more work added to their plate.”

    Bridging the Gap

    SWCA is seeing many trends in the Pacific Northwest, including an increased skilled labor shortage. “It’s really high right now,” Altizer says. “It’s really hard to find people to plug in to work the jobs, particularly in our region, Southwest Washington.”

    This is despite the fact that the association’s county, Clark County, is the fastest growing in the state. “We have a ton of project development,” Altizer says. “There’s a lot of work and jobs, but we are challenged with finding enough employees to meet that need.”

    Technology, she notes, helps SWCA’s members cope by keeping them efficient. For example, GPS helps them keep track of workers’ time by discovering how much time is spent traveling to and from project sites.

    “A lot of our members also are starting to use drones, so they can have a visual up above on a project,” Altizer says, noting that this helps them save time by anticipating any land development challenges.

    SWCA also has been able to offer assistance. “We help with connecting members and businesses,” she says, noting that the association has been able to nurture partnerships that make their work easier.

    For example, if a contractor has a piece of work on a project that is not in their expertise, they can partner “with other contractors to take on that other piece of the job,” she says. “Our members amongst themselves also have member discounts.”

    Finding a Place

    Altizer sees strong growth for SWCA. “We’re working really hard at examining our resources provided to our members and making them as robust as possible,” she says. “[We want] to be that go-to organization for construction.”

    She adds that SWCA has its Construction Executive Summit planned for next year in Vancouver. Its keynote speakers will include: Tiffany R. Couch, a principal at Acuity Forensics, a forensics accounting firm based in Vancouver, and Ron Frederiksen, chairman of RSV Building Solutions, a large general contractor also based in the city. 

    The event, Altizer notes, will further help define the city as a center of construction. Vancouver, which is in the southern portion of Washington, is located across the Columbia River from Portland, Ore.

    Although Clark County is very large with a population of 450,000, “We are not Seattle and we are not Portland,” she admits. “That’s a challenge for us, [being] between two huge metropolitan areas.

    “We get lost in that shuffle, between Oregon and Seattle,” she says, noting that this challenge goes back to SWCA’s start in 1947. “The contractors [said], ‘We need a place for southwest Washington.’”

    A Helping Hand

    Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) has its SWCA Foundation, which operates with the goal of enhancing its region with education grants and community outreach projects. This includes a scholarship program that awards those pursuing educations in building and construction.

    “The SWCA Foundation invests in future community leaders by offering financial assistance to students through funds raised by the generous donations of members,” SWCA says. “These awards are available to association members’ employees, their children and others who are enrolling in full-time secondary education. Students who utilize the SWCA Foundation Scholarship Program include those seeking technical training, leadership skills and a wide range of degrees from various colleges.”

    Original publication through Construction Today. View online. Subscribe to CT for free here.

  • Washington Contractors Lose Lien Rights for Failure to Deliver a Disclosure Statement

    Curtis Welch, Special Counsel, Sussman Shank LLP

    Contractors who contract directly with the owner on a Washington residential project (for four or fewer residential units), where the contractor’s bid or contract price is over $1,000, and on smaller commercial projects in Washington (where the contractor’s bid or contract price on the commercial project is between $1,000 and $60,000), must provide a statutory form of Disclosure Statement to the owner prior to the contractor commencing work on the project. Failure of the contractor to provide the owner with the Disclosure Statement results in the contractor losing his or her right to file a construction lien. 

    The form of Disclosure Statement is set forth in RCW 18.27.114 and, in general, sets forth the contractor’s registration number with the Washington Department of Labor & Industries, the amount of the contractor’s bond or cash deposit, and that the owner has the right to require the contractor to provide original lien release documents from each subcontractor and supplier on the project.  The Disclosure Statement must be in substantially the same form as the form in RCW 18.27.114. 

    The Disclosure Statement, also known as a Notice to Customer, is often confused by contractors with the Notice of Right to Claim a Lien.  Thus, contractors may mistakenly provide the owner with a Notice of Right to Claim a Lien when a Disclosure Statement is required.   The Disclosure Statement and Notice of Right to Claim a Lien are two entirely separate forms, and providing the wrong one results in the contractor losing his or her lien rights.

    In contrast to a Disclosure Statement, the Notice of Right to Lien is not required of persons contracting directly with the owner or his or her common law agent, whereas on residential projects and smaller commercial projects, subject to the limited exceptions discussed below, the Disclosure Statement is required to be provided when the contractor contracts directly with the owner.

    Any contractor contracting directly with the owner on certain projects, not just general contractors, must provide the Disclosure Statement.

    The Disclosure Statement requirements apply not only to general contractors, but also to any contractor or provider contracting directly with the owner.  For example, if a carpet installer who ordinarily works as a subcontractor to a general contractor happens to contract directly with the owner to perform work on a residential project or small commercial project, the installer must provide the Disclosure Statement to the owner.

    Delivery/Time of Delivery

    As stated above, the contractor must deliver the Disclosure Statement to the owner prior to commencing work.  The contractor must also ensure that the owner signs the Disclosure Statement itself to acknowledge that the owner received the Disclosure Statement.  The Department of Labor & Industries requires a contractor to retain a signed copy of the Disclosure Statement in his or her files for a minimum of three years and to produce a signed or electronic signature copy of the Disclosure Statement to the Department upon request.   Because of this requirement, and the risk of loss of lien rights, the contractor should deliver the Disclosure Statement to the owner in person and wait for the owner to sign and date it, instead of the contractor mailing the Disclosure Statement to the owner by certified or registered mail. 

    A recommended procedure is for the contractor to attach the Disclosure Statement to his or her contract with the owner, and require that the owner sign and date the original Disclosure Statement and to also sign and date the contractor’s copy.

    A Disclosure Statement is not required if the owner is a contractor acting as a contractor, and it is not required of suppliers.

    The Disclosure Statement need not be given if the contractor is contracting with another contractor.  Accordingly, if the owner of the project is a contractor acting as a contractor, there is no need to provide a Disclosure Statement.  Care should be taken in relying on this exemption because, even if the owner is a registered contractor, unless the owner is performing construction activities (defined under RCW 18.27.010 (1)) on the same project, the contractor-to-contractor exemption does not apply. 

    In addition, persons who only supply materials, supplies, or equipment, and do not provide labor to fabricate or install, are not required to provide the Disclosure Statement. 

    Further, the Disclosure Statement requirement does not apply to public works projects. 

    Failure to provide the Disclosure Statement when required is a violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

    Other than the consequence of losing his or her lien rights, the contractor who fails to give the Disclosure Statement when required is deemed to be guilty of an infraction under the Contractor Registration Act.  Such an infraction is deemed to constitute a violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act, which exposes the contractor to monetary penalties. 

    Conclusion

    Because of the significant consequences of failing to provide a Disclosure Statement when required, a contractor should always provide one to the owner, even if the contractor doubts that he or she needs to do so. 

     

  • Protecting Your Business from Online Fraud Tactics

    Jeff Taylor, VP/Relationship Manager Business Banking, Key Bank

    Originally published by Vancouver Business Journal

    Think your company is safe from fraud? Don’t be too sure; cyber-criminals continue to target online banking and electronic payment transactions. According to the 2016 Association for Financial Professionals (AFP) Fraud and Control Survey, nearly three-quarters of respondents said their organizations were exposed to either attempted or actual payments fraud in 2015.

    Fraud committed against business bank accounts generally occurs by writing unauthorized checks, through wire fraud or through ACH fraud. With only two pieces of information – your business checking account number and bank routing number – a criminal can make a payment for goods or services either by phone or online.

    How fraud originates

    The usual starting point for fraud is social engineering, which is the practice of obtaining sensitive information by tricking people into breaking normal security procedures.

    It’s wise to train your employees to be alert for the ways cyber-criminals target businesses. They tend to:

    • Look for those who divulge passwords or other sensitive financial or personal information
    • Direct you to a website to download something malicious
    • Ask for remote access to your computer
    • Secretly install malicious software on your computer

    One of the most common strains of social engineering is called phishing, which usually involves a spammed email, phone call, voicemail or text message sent by criminals who intend to capture personal information (e.g., Social Security number, credit card information, user IDs and passwords).

    Phishing emails often appear to come from legitimate sources you know, or a company you specifically do business with. In early May, a massive phishing campaign targeted Gmail users, spreading like wildfire as recipients would unknowingly click a realistic-looking GoogleDoc link, coming from a person whose name they recognized, sending the worm to all of their contacts. The sophisticated attack fooled many very vigilant recipients.

    Phishing emails often contain malware that can be installed on your computer when you take the action requested in the email. These emails may also attempt to steal your banking credentials or other personal information by asking you to confirm data. Malware can cause a wide range of problems, from system disruptions to the loss of personal data or identity theft.

    Your computer could also be infected when a user:

    • Visits less-than-trustworthy websites (e.g., gambling, adult content)
    • Downloads and installs “free” software
    • Visits a website that has been compromised
    • Responds to a malicious advertisement on a website

    Another type of social engineering is account hijacking, whereby your email or any other account you have associated with a computing device or service is stolen. For example, an employee may receive an email that appears to be sent from a manager requesting transactions to be initiated or a change in account information. Employees should be sure to confirm via phone or in person if a change out of the ordinary is being requested.

    Safeguarding electronic payments

    To help protect against fraudulent wire transactions, organizations need to carefully monitor all electronic payments, especially wire activity.

    Never send funds to unknown individuals. Completely understand and verify crisis or urgent requests.

    If you receive an unexpected, urgent message from any known senders asking you to wire funds to them, call them at a trusted phone number to ensure they truly sent the request.

    What to do if you suspect you’re a victim of fraud or malware

    Call your bank’s fraud and/or dispute hotline directly for an analysis of the situation and further direction. After calling the hotline, contact your relationship manager to make them aware of the issue. If you are unsure whether an email is an authentic message from your bank, call them right away to verify. Do not respond to the message.

    If you have discovered malware on your computer, clicked a link or opened an attachment and are not sure if your computer is safe, immediately disconnect your computer from the internet and your company’s network.

    Contact your bank to inform them of the malware concern and consult with a qualified IT professional to scan for and/or remove any malware and viruses. Unfortunately, depending on the type of malware, any networked computer is at risk of infection from any other computer on the same network. This is why removing the computer from the network and internet is so important.

    Remember, if you or your business is a victim of fraud, it’s important that you report it to the proper law enforcement authorities. Losses are reduced, since you can prevent unauthorized transactions before they occur. Identify potential fraudulent items quickly as opposed to waiting for your monthly statement and then identifying a problem.

  • Building with a Vision for the Future

    Chrissy Lyons, SWCA board member and  commercial & industrial sales manager for the Port of Vancouver USA.

    Real estate development starts with a clear vision that helps define a community and draw investment. A great deal of work goes into a development project before a shovel even hits the ground, and while we cannot foresee what businesses are going to locate in our community, we can apply our vision to strategically plan for and market our infrastructure and amenities to attract certain business.

    This year the U.S. industrial vacancy reached 5.3 percent (the lowest in 17 years), driving investors to continue to find value in the manufacturing and industrial sectors and opening multiple smaller locations to be close to their supply chain, consumers and a talented workforce. These manufacturers can find what they need here in Clark County – a well-capitalized community with available acreage within the Portland metropolitan area. As Portland’s downtown continues to boom, drawing in tech and software companies, it’s helping us attract commercial users as well as the R&D and manufacturing arms of these businesses.

    Advanced manufacturers are typically high-tech, clean industries that pay a living wage. They use technology to turn raw materials into products that are used by individuals and companies around the world. When these technologies change, so do their site needs, and to remain competitive we need to develop properties that incorporate required technologies of the future.

    When companies look to relocate or expand, they typically approach decisions with a triple bottom line (TBL) framework. This methodology incorporates environmental, social and economic aspects in decision-making.

    Environmental: Environmental stewardship and real estate development can co-exist, and it’s important to choose business partners that are committed to preserving natural spaces and managing resources wisely. Companies are attracted by eco-industrial planning and development that meet or exceed regulatory requirements. These types of developments make our community healthier and more appealing overall, and they’re here to stay.

    Social: Workforce is always at the top of the list for businesses. As manufacturing technology has changed, so have the requirements of a skilled workforce. Companies are looking at programs in K-12, community colleges, tech schools and workforce development associations. They’re asking how many students graduating from these programs remain in our community, so they can understand our quality of life, which helps them attract and retain skilled workers. Creating a sense of place is also important to a business and a community. As Vancouver builds out its waterfront and creates an urban environment and culture to set itself apart from other areas in the region, it will continue to attract businesses and workers who want to live, work and play here.

    Economic: While rates and incentives always play a role in a negotiation, they’re not leading the decision process today. Environmental and social responsibilities are playing a big role in how companies define their financial bottom line and plan for the whole lifecycle of a project. By designing facilities with the TBL framework in mind, companies are automatically reducing costs and retaining workers. Clark County provides access to low-cost utilities and alternative energy sources; efficient trade routes; world-class infrastructure and a workforce ready to engage in tomorrow’s economies. These amenities translate to lower overhead costs, less space and costs in warehousing, and cost-effective, on-time project delivery. Concerns about another economic recession make companies very tentative to overbuild, so they’re placing a good deal of emphasis on the ability to build for today and expand in the same location for the future.

    An understanding of how our assets line up with businesses’ TBL approach and a balanced vision in real estate development provides a wealth of opportunities for Clark County businesses to expand and puts us at the forefront for new business recruitment.

  • SWCA promotes cooperation between competitors

    With 360 members, the Southwest Washington Contractors Association does B2B in a variety of ways

    Original publication by the Vancouver Business Journal. View here.

    Community without history is like white sauce without butter; it looks right, but it lacks richness. Reaching back to 1947, the Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) was established on the principles of collaboration before collaboration was the catch phrase all the cool kids were using.

    The organization was founded by C.J. Hearns (the SWCA’s first president), Larry O. Collins and A.R. Nieman – contractors who understood that pooling resources, providing equal access to trade tools and even cooperation between competitors, made them all more prosperous than going it alone.

    “When we were established, we were the brick and mortar plan room for the area,” said Darcy Altizer, the SWCA’s current executive director. “We held the blueprints in Hazel Dell for construction projects. We would hold the blue prints and that would allow contractors who wanted to bid on a job a fair process. We still have a plan room, but it’s all online now.”

    Today, the SWCA is 360 members strong and with that show of unity comes a healthy roster of benefits that promote individual and community success. According to Altizer, the organization provides the following over and above an online Plan Center:

    • A top-rated safety and retro program, where members save an average of 50 percent off their L&I premiums;
    • Business seminars, safety trainings and certifications;
    • A multiple employer 401k plan that reduces startup costs and the administrative burden for any business and/or industry;
    • Annual scholarships and community service events through the organization’s foundation;
    • Networking opportunities.

    Lisa Littleton, president of Twice the Light and vice president of SWCA, can attest to the advantages of power in numbers.

    “In 2010, I joined four business associations to network and build my business, one of which was SWCA,” Littleton said. “As a small electrical contractor with 10 staff members, my company immediately took advantage of the benefit of the Plan Center for bidding, SWCA’s 401k plan and the Large Group Contractor’s Exchange Health Insurance Plan, saving my company several thousand dollars.”

    Since its inception, SWCA has advocated business to business relationships in a variety of ways, some of which have evolved to take advantage of the electronic age that has unfolded on their watch. In addition to membership directories, Altizer shared that over 45 structured events and education forums are offered annually. At these gatherings, member experts are encouraged to facilitate and/or present safety trainings, certifications and business seminars.

    To further support networking, branding and a pool of expertise, members contribute content to the SWCA newsletter, “Construction Connection,” and other local publications that speak to the construction industry.

    Even the online Plan Center has layers that allow members to solicit bids from other association members for their own projects. This strategy promotes a healthier local economy by keeping construction dollars in the pockets of area businesses and employees who will, in turn, spend their earned resources at area restaurants, retail outlets and the like.

    With all the energy and knowledge each member brings to the table, the SWCA is a breeding ground for new concepts and strategies. Brainstorming, problem solving and innovation occur through their member-driven committees and board of directors. This network of perspectives compounds with every additional business that joins.

    But isn’t it a poor business strategy to rub elbows with the competition?

    Not according to Tracey Malone, vice president of Halbert Construction Services. Although SWCA is made up of many facets of the commercial and industrial construction industry, even within a specific sector there are small, mid-size and large companies that focus on different sized projects. As members meet at networking events, they can share their area of expertise and refer each other out in the field.

    “I have always found it helpful to know my competitors,” said Malone. “In fact, often I get job leads that may not be quite suitable for my company that I am able to recommend to other contractors and vice-versa. We are all working together in this community and having good, friendly relationships with your competitors is healthy. I use multiple plumbers, electricians, painters, etc. I know that some are right for certain jobs and some are right for other jobs.”

    The mindset of banding together professionally seems to have a trickle-down effect on how SWCA members view their role in the community at large. In 2015, the association partnered with the City of Vancouver’s Parks and Recreation Department to conduct restorative work at Marine Park. Last year, members came together to renew the SafeChoice shelters through the YWCA.

    Individual members also catch the vision and step out where they see a need. Littleton shared that Twice the Light has rewired lighting at the Rocksolid Teen Center; stained picnic tables at a City of Vancouver park; and staffed Dozer Days to benefit local children’s charities through the Nutter Foundation.

    By promoting business to business success, SWCA has built an organization of the most qualified people in the construction industry and that focus has created individual profitability.

    “There is great power in numbers and doing business with other locally-owned businesses speaks directly to one of the SWCA core values; build a stronger community,” Altizer said.

  • Celebrating a Legacy, SWCA President Reflects on 70 Years of Growth

    Mike Nieto, SWCA Board President and Owner of Catworks Construction

     

    In 1947, the building in the local shipyards resulted in the first economic boom in Clark County. The construction industry was at the heart of this boom. To meet needs of local contractors, four men: CJ Hearns (First President of the SWCA), Clint John (CE John Company), Al Angelo (The Al Angelo Company), and Larry O’ Collins (Larry O’ Collins Incorporated) began to lay the foundation in Vancouver, Washington by establishing the Southwest Washington Contractors Association.

     

    The SWCA helped to set the foundation that eventually resulted in Clark County becoming one of the fastest growing counties in the state.  The population in 1947 was approximately 80,000 and today is approaching half a million.  Since SWCA’s inception seventy years ago, our contractors have been at the heart of Clark County.  Throughout Southwest Washington, you will find the names of Angelo, John, and O'Collins still doing business and providing jobs to many individuals in our vibrant community.  The foundations that these four men have laid were strong and have stood the test of time; Seventy years is quite an accomplishment and only something solid can withstand that length of time.

     

    Today our organization is as strong as ever. Thanks to the vision and partnerships that go back seventy years, we are thriving and growing. Today, projects are larger than ever before.  Our members are building everything from commercial buildings on the new Vancouver Waterfront, to the new casino in La Center.  You will find our more than 360 members creating jobs, building roads, bridges, buildings, and most importantly: building relationships in our community.  The SWCA and its diverse members are some of the largest employers in Clark County. For instance, Tapani employs over 400 people! 

     

    Our contractors are at the core of our economy.  Construction is a unique industry because it touches nearly everyone and every industry.  From the home that you reside, to the road on which you drive, to the buildings in which you work, our skilled craftsman make your life what it is today.  We cover you from the storms, we quickly move you down the road, we add safety and value to your life.  

     

    As a member of the SWCA for more than a decade now, I am honored to serve as your SWCA President.  I have seen the direct benefits that this organization provides for our contractors and our community.  Our board serves a diverse range of construction industry businesses, and is driven to help our industry grow and thrive.  I look forward to helping the SWCA obtain a laser sharp focus, and achieve even its loftiest goals.  I am grateful to have followed in the footsteps of some of the most amazing leaders our community and industry has seen. The ground work has been laid to continue growing in the next seventy years.  Let us work together to reach our goals, continue to build our community, and raise the next generation of contractors.  As the champions of our industry, we will continue to help guide and grow our construction community to be one of the finest in the country.  

  • 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.

  • Power of Audience

    Original publication through Auctria. View here.

    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.

    The SWCA uses their knowledge of the audience as a starting point in organizing the annual event. Core questions include:

    • What will the audience bid on?
    • What theme will strike interest?
    • What emcees will increase profitability?
    • Know the Audience

    Know the Audience: Donations

    Donation procurement for this audience is thoughtfully executed, with a steady emphasis on what contractors would want to bid on and win. When seeking donations, the first question is “will the audience want to spend money on this item?” Typically the answers generate items such as: tickets to basketball games, fishing trips, and various trips (including airfare) around the United States.

    Know the audience: Paddle Raise

    Utilizing a paddle raise is vital to fundraising success. The SWCA Foundation paddle raise helps raise money for scholarships and community projects. The core mission of the SWCA Foundation is to build the community and construction industry. Thus, providing students with scholarships to continue growth in the commercial construction industry is pivotal. Additionally, providing grants to improve the community includes investing in the rejuvenation of local parks and other community services, such as the YWCA SafeChoice Domestic Violence Shelter.

    Know the audience: Live Auction

    The emcees for the live auction are prominent and active members of the Southwest Washington community. Both have had professional or personal connections with many of the auction attendees. By knowing the audience personally, it gives the live auction a touch of sincerity and helps to increase profitability of items.

    Know the audience: Silent Auction

    The silent auction is organized with the goal of mingling while bidding. Some auctions have moved to an online or mobile service, but auction organizers knew that this would not be an appropriate tactic for this outgoing group. It all goes back to the principle of knowing the audience to reap the wanted results.

    Reach the audience

    Ongoing Promotion

    Recruiting efforts for the SWCA Holiday Party & Auction start seven months prior to the event. Knowing that the auction attendees are a generally a social group, SWCA hosts monthly Thirsty Third Thursday networking events. This is just one great opportunity to utilize systems already in place and recruit guests.

    Save-the-Date

    Save the date postcards are a useful tool to promote the SWCA Holiday Auction. The postcard provides potential attendees with a preview of the theme, and helps to promote the event six months in advance. Another helpful tip includes consistent planning; The Holiday Auction is always the First Friday of December, so recurring guests know a year in advance when the auction will occur. This helps boost attendance for the SWCA’s most prominent event.

    Engage the audience

    Facebook Ad Campaigns

    SWCA used the power of Facebook Ads to reach an audience it ordinarily would not have reached. This proved to be successful, as data shows that for a two-week span, 5,010 people were reached. Approximately 300 people were actively engaged on the SWCA Facebook page during that two-week span. The ad campaign helped SWCA reach four times the audience they would not have reached without the paid campaign, at an affordable cost. In addition, SWCA utilized the Facebook video-maker to showcase auction items. Each video was only thirty seconds long, and gave busy contractors a glimpse of available auction items.

    Audience Centric

    Each decision made in the planning of the SWCA Holiday Auction was audience centric. From the theme, to food choices, to the emcees, the question of what would appeal to the audience took full force.

    Key Takeaways:

    Theme generates interest Save-the-Date post cards allow the audience to plan attendance Networking events provide a special opportunity to recruit attendants Utilizing existing social networking to expand attendee base

    The SWCA Auction results over the years have been stellar!

    Southwest Washington Contractors Association has been able to make the following community contributions:
    In 2015, SWCA members from 7 different companies partnered with the City of Vancouver Parks and Recreation department through a grant from the Community Foundation to restore Marine Park and bring its facilities up to code and make them ADA accessible. These members donated their time, labor and equipment to replace 13 picnic tables and outdated drinking fountains, as well as landscaping improvements. In 2016, the SWCA Foundation provided $3,000 in grant money to the YWCA to rejuvenate the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Shelters. With this gift, the SafeChoice Domestic Violence Program can continue to offer a wide array of advocacy services, which include: safety planning, information and referrals, support groups, emergency shelter, legal advocacy and children's advocacy. These services are crucial to the YWCA in helping survivors escape abusive relationships and avoid homelessness.

    Auctria’s donation request links:

    Procurement Basics for SuccessWriting a Procurement Request Letter

    Find Auction DonationsDo & Don't Do; Asking for Donations

    Additional HELPFUL Facebook information & links:

    How to make a Facebook Video Use Facebook videow to capture the attention of FB users by attracting attention. Use images that tell as story. Ask friends to share and tag. Creatd Facebook videos within the FB application.

    How to make a FaceBook Ad, Getting Started Targeted Facebook ads are paid messages designed to reach the exact audience with FB targeted marketing, Connect an reach current followers or find new ones


    Special thanks to Auctria user Southwest Washington Contractors Association and their auction team: SWCA’s Andrea Smith & Darcy Altizer, Wendy Strum of We Plan It, and the SWCA Events Committee for sharing their success and insight!

    The SWCA Foundation is a 501(c)(3) with the mission of enhancing Southwest Washington through grants for education and community outreach projects. SWCA Foundation Scholarship Program: The SWCA Foundation is proud to award scholarships to qualified applicants, including those pursuing education related to the building and construction industries. The SWCA Foundation invests in future community leaders by offering financial assistance to students through funds raised by the generous donations of members. These awards are available to association members' employees, their children, and others who are enrolling in full-time secondary education.

     

  • “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

    $55,550

    Clark PUD Rebate

    $27,775

    Yearly Utility Savings

    $10,672

    Simple Payback Years

    2.6

    Return on Investment

    38.4%

    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.

  • SWCA to host holiday auction with Catworks Construction

    Vancouver Business Journal

    The Southwest Washington Contractors Association (SWCA) will host its Annual Holiday Party and Auction with grand presenting sponsor Catworks Construction next month.

    The Cuban style Christmas party will take place on Friday, December 2 at the Hilton Vancouver, 301 W 6th Street.

    Attendees can bid on vacations and gift items while enjoying food and entertainment.

    Tickets are $85. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the auction begins at 5:30 p.m.

    To view original article, click here.

  • 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.


    References:

    http://krebsonsecurity.com/2014/02/email-attack-on-vendor-set-up-breach-at-target/

    http://money.cnn.com/2015/04/14/technology/security/cyber-attack-hacks-security/


     

  • 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.

                Washington

    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.

                Oregon

    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
    (5/19/2015)


    (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.

  • Up-Close Archives

    Original publications through Vancouver Business Journal.

    Andrea Smith, Staff

    Lisa Cartwright, Staff

    Alasdair Mackenzie, Board Member

    Tracey Malone, Board Member

    Kristine Neil, Member

    Kelly Walsh, Board Member

    Mike Nieto, Board Member

    Lori Lindberg, Member

    Scott Huotari, Member

    Matt Bisturis, Member

    Eric Golemo, Member

    Eric Sawyer, Member

  • Upcoming Events

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