Efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in the construction industry were recognized by the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers (SLCCC) during its annual awards on March 6, 2017 at the Palladium, St. Louis, MO. Awards were presented to St. Louis Lambert International Airport for Organizational Excellence, to Brandt Contracting as the Minority Business Enterprise of the Year and to Sal Valadez of the Laborers Union and to Dan Lester of Clayco for Inclusion Champions.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport Wins Organizational Excellence Inclusion Award
Piloting the journey for Excellence was the Business Diversity Development team at St. Louis Lambert International Airport. The scope of their efforts extended beyond the local and federal programs for inclusion and are designed to level the playing field for minority and women owned firms. Contract proposals included provisions for participation in all areas, including construction, professional services, concessions and goods and services. The 2016 annual report encapsulated their success. For federally funded construction projects, DBE’s received 28% of over $25 million spent. Under the local program for construction and professional services, MBE’s received 32% and WBE’s received 7% of the $45 million spent.
The Business Diversity Development program has promoted diversity and inclusion by making it easier for companies to manage contract compliance through tools such as an online portal to streamline reporting requirements and to manage their records. They also provided an online certification process through a re-vamped web site that has seen a dramatic increase in the number of companies certified.
Lambert also partners with other organizations for inclusion. This has included collaboration with the SLCCC, Missouri Department of Transportation, Justine Petersen, the St. Louis Development Corporation and the Missouri Regional Certification Commission, as well as their own Annual Business Diversity Forum.
Lambert has implemented diversity and inclusion with their own policies and practices including their own programs and employment and with support for active mentoring programs for women and minority owned firms..
Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award
The Minority Business Enterprise of the Year Award was presented to Brandt Contracting, a specialty contracting firm that provides excavation, grading and cleaning services. Formed in 2007, the business has grown to $3 million in annual volume. That growth has been guided by an advisory committee through the Regional Union Construction Center and includes participation from a construction attorney, insurance industry and general contractor.
The successful growth of the company was also attributable to the company’s principal, Sedrick Brandt. He received his B.S. in Information Systems from Maryville University, graduating cum laude. This was while working as a full time operating engineer in the construction industry and raising a young family. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to participate in a Small Business Administration entrepreneurial forum. From that, he purchased a commercial cleaning franchise which he operated successfully while maintaining his full time construction job.
In 2011, Brandt Contracting completed development of the “Brandt Works Safe” policy. This was developed with the assistance of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri and Fred Weber Inc. with the goal to promote an accident free work environment. He has made sizeable investment in information technology to support estimating and bid proposals catapulting the firm into a technology realm comparable to much larger firms. Brandt Contracting developed a strategic plan with prescribed milestones for growth and has since expanded their foot print to work in Joplin, Jefferson City and Byrnesville, MO.
Brandt Contracting has been certified as a minority owned business, disadvantaged owned business in both Missouri and in Illinois and was also certified as a Section 8(a) through the U. S. Small Business Administration.
Inclusion Award Presented to Dan Lester of Clayco
As a fierce advocate for minorities, a diversity and inclusion award was presented to Dan Lester of Clayco. He has leveraged his experience as a diversity and inclusion educator with his talent as a professional speaker to work with management and field personnel in construction. He came to the construction industry from DeSmet Jesuit High School where he served as the first African American faculty member and administrator. At DeSmet, he trained faculty, staff, students and the DeSmet community on factors of diversity, equity, inclusion and cultural awareness. He has leveraged that experience to create viable and realistic solutions to educate the construction workforce on diversity and cultural competence.
Joining Clayco’s Concrete Strategies division in 2015, his efforts supported the company’s effort to increase their employment minority percentage from 11% up to 17%. He has worked with the ACW Alliance team on the BJC Campus Renewal Project as the Workforce Relations Manager where he has worked with companies to help them meet contractual work force obligations to include staffing with minorities and women. He created a curriculum that trains on integrating basic cultural competence into safety orientations and started the ACW Divergence Newsletter which highlights diversity and inclusion on the project. That project currently enjoys 20% minority participation and 6% female participation in the field work force.
Other achievements include his work with organizations such as the Missouri Governor’s Collegiate Fellows program, Construction Forum Education Foundation, PEOPLE of Construction Board Member, FOCUS St. Louis Diversity Leadership Fellowship participant, Job Corps, Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, Diversity Committee of the SLCCC, and the Construction Career Development Initiative.
Inclusion Award Presented to Sal Valadez of Laborers Union
A second Diversity and Inclusion Award was presented to Sal Valadez of the Laborers International Union of North America – Midwest Region as a champion for immigrants. Born in Mexico, his father was one of the World War II railroad Braceros —Mexicans who were sent under arrangements between the U.S. and Mexico to keep the railroads running in the U.S. during the war. They were subject to racism, unsafe working conditions and poor living arrangements.
After the family arrived from Mexico with his family, this inclusion champion grew up in Aurora, IL. He dropped out of high school, served in the U.S. Army and subsequently earned his GED, high school diploma, Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. He acquired extensive experience in the non-profit and higher education sectors prior to joining the Laborers International Union of North America. He is currently the greater St. Louis Diversity, Outreach and Marketing Representative for the Laborers International Union of North America Midwest Region.
Valadez has been someone who has helped to connect newest arrivals with resources to make them feel welcome in the region. Among his achievements, he single handedly designed and organized events from Central and Southern Illinois to Franklin County to connect immigrants and other at risk populations with resources. This included employment opportunities in construction as well efforts to address health, education, shelter and basic human needs. One project has been a health fair at St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church which completed its 3rd annual event last year. The fair offered free health screens, immigration and education resources and live music. The region’s labor unions are invited participants to help focus on establishing relationships based on mutual trust and respect.
Valadez has built working relationships with community resources such as the St. Louis Mosaic Project, Immigrant Service Provider Network, Human Trafficking Collaborative Network, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Cambio De Colores and the Gateway Welcome Project.
Best practices in the construction industry were also recognized by the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers (SLCCC) during the annual awards.
The St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers (SLCCC) is the owner organization representing major buyers of construction. SLCCC serves as the owner advocate organization for achievement of best value in project delivery and is the regional leader that champions best practices through educational programs, information dissemination and collaboration.