Chairman’s Message — Special Recognition and Looking to the Future

Bruce-WendorfAs I write my final Chairman’s message, I am compelled to thank all of the previous NUCA leaders I have looked up to and respected over the years. I hold the following individuals in the highest professional regard and they certainly deserve recognition: Mark Accetturo (2003), Bill Bowman (2004), Cheryl Yoder (2005), Jim Stutler (2006), James King (2007), Terry Dillon (2008), Lyle Schellenberg (2009), Dan East (2010), Ryan Schmitt (2011 and 2012), Florentino Gregorio (2013) and Ron T. Nunes (2014).

Each and every one of these leaders has had a significant impact on me throughout my involvement with NUCA since 2003. I am sure each of them has reached the conclusion of their term as President or Chairman with the hope that they have had a positive impact on NUCA. Like them, I hope that I have had a notable, influential, successful and impactful term as Chairman. I know the succession of future leaders at NUCA will serve this association honorably, with great ideas and with the best interests of the entire membership. I wish Jeff Rumer, Kara Habrock, Mark Fuglevand and Dan Buckley all the best. I assure you NUCA is in very capable hands.

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The Future of Our Industry

One of the most important issues we are facing now, and in the years to come, is the decline in the underground utility and excavation workforce. In my humble opinion, it is the biggest threat to our industry because the problem is just getting worse. The solution depends on changing the perceptions of the industry and the minds of entire generations — and honestly we are already far behind the curve. The younger generation is certainly different and a lot has changed due to the tremendous impact technology has had on our culture. High schools are judged based on how many students they send to college, and the unfortunate reality is that students are told that if they don’t go to college, they will end up ditch diggers. How do we ever overcome that stigma? We need to reinforce the fact that you can make money with a shovel in your hands now, excavator controls in your hands next, a set of construction plans in your hands later, and, one day, hold a paycheck in your hand with your signature at the bottom.

In a world with so many outside forces influencing the career decisions of the emerging generations, one of our best options is to look to our own children and the children of our employees. They are the ones who can see firsthand the payoff that hard work provides and we are the biggest influences they have. As owners of businesses, we are the first line of defense against the assaults on our industry and we should be speaking highly of our work. Ask yourself if you want your children to be in the utility and excavation business. If the answer is “no,” then why not? I think being a “ditch digger” is something to be proud of, so let’s all work on changing the perception. NUCA’s Education Committee is currently working on developing a high school curriculum for students interested in underground utility and excavation construction. It is the first curriculum of its kind and any NUCA member can participate on the committee. Knowing that NUCA is tackling this critical issue eases my mind, but the fight is far from over. I encourage you to participate on the Education Committee and bring your enthusiasm. The need for a capable workforce is real and together we can find the right solution.

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Thanks for a great year!

Bruce Wendorf, NUCA Chairman
President, Forsberg Construction Inc.
Proud NUCA Member

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