An “Essential” Industry

Clearly this has been an unprecedented spring for all of us in the utility construction industry.

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Since almost all of our state governors began imposing stay-at-home orders in March, we’ve had to make changes to our business operations. These changes affect every aspect of our day-to-day work, from keeping six feet apart to stop the spread of coronavirus and wearing masks to adjusting our labor needs, or even applying for government loans to keep our businesses afloat.

With everything happening, I feel fortunate today to be a NUCA member. Time and time again we say that there is strength in numbers, and here’s the proof: that strength allowed NUCA to convince the federal government to declare the utility construction industry an “essential” business. Thankfully, that official declaration kept our operations going and our employees working. If that hadn’t happened, what would your business be doing right now? I can only speak for myself, but the situation would be much worse.

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We know that our industry is essential to delivering clean water to the community, or sending wastewater the other way. Our projects also deliver natural gas and electricity to homes and businesses. We are certainly essential when it comes to underground telecommunications systems, enabling millions of Americans to use the Internet and work at home. So that “essential” industry declaration by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and followed by almost every U.S. state was important to all of us. (If you want to read it, it’s available online at

Many locations are in the process of figuring out how to reopen their businesses. NUCA has available (on the same webpage) a sample COVID-19 return-to-work checklist that utility construction companies can use to establish a safe path forward to return their employees to work in a world affected by this disease. The plan also contains temperature scan protocols and a subcontractor safety certification form. Take a look at our sample plan, and the other resources NUCA has gathered on our website for you and the others in our industry.

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Let your subcontractors and colleagues know there is an organization looking out for our industry. Show them Utility Contractor magazine, NUCA’s website, and your local Chapter’s many networking activities and let them know NUCA membership has many benefits open to them. Take a few moments and let them know NUCA would like to have them as members this year. I’m still very enthusiastic that each one of you can recruit one new member this year and expand NUCA’s abilities to benefit all of our operations. I’ve been in this industry for 40 years, and know we have room for a lot more of us to help each other in challenging times like today.

Sincerely yours,

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Fred Chesney, NUCA Chairman of the Board / Centerline Utilities Inc.

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