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S. M. Wilson Inspiring the Future of Construction via SKILLED

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

S. M. Wilson & Co. is immersing itself into classrooms across the bi-state region, encouraging pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students to discover fun and challenging opportunities in the construction field.

SKILLED, a three-pronged initiative, provides learning opportunities starting in pre-kindergarten and extending throughout a construction professional’s career. The “discover” arm of SKILLED supports students from all experience levels as they get a first-hand, creative peek into what it might be like to work in the skilled trades one day. Kristyn Newbern, client development director at S. M. Wilson, said SKILLED is the firm’s hands-on, up-close program to introduce young people from age 3 through 18 to a future career path in the industry.

“We’re actively talking with schools, teachers and superintendents in St. Louis County as well as surrounding counties in Missouri and Illinois,” said Newbern. “The classroom initiative is ever-evolving. Kindergartners are learning what a safety vest is, what’s on a toolbelt and how to recognize various construction vehicles. Middle school students are learning real-world construction challenges through group STEM activities. High school students are discovering specific career opportunities and touring active construction sites. Our employees are donating their time and energy to make this happen. It’s truly exciting to watch,” she added.

Inspiring the future of the skilled trades by making construction an approachable, fun and understandable opportunity for all ages is a key objective of SKILLED, according to Newbern. “Our goal is to enlighten students who might not yet have this perspective,” she said. “It has become a real value-added resource for our long-time clients and interested school districts.”

Hallsville School District near Columbia, MO – where S. M. Wilson is building a gymnasium and classroom additions – is an active participant in SKILLED. “Our first program with Hallsville took place in October,” Newbern said. “They selected 15 high school students with an interest in and an aptitude for construction. They spent time in our jobsite trailer where we introduced the project team, each of our career backgrounds and discussed the technical details of the construction project on their campus. Students then had an opportunity to interact with the entire construction team and tour the site. They’ve returned to the classroom but will come back in a month or two to see the progress as they continue learning about real-world construction challenges and solutions.”

Augusta Elementary in the School District of Washington, MO will feature SKILLED as part of its annual career day. Grades K-6 will rotate in sessions to participate in a STEAM activity simulating a construction project. “Each grade had the chance to build its own unique construction project,” Newbern said. “Even at the kindergarten level, there’s an opportunity for students to draw their project on paper, build and test it, then draw conclusions and present to their peers. Older students will form teams, selecting a baseball-like card and playing the role of a contractor, engineer or architect. SKILLED is introducing a wealth of STEM and STEAM education while getting kids excited about a career in construction.”

For more information on SKILLED, contact Newbern at kristyn.newbern@smwilson.com or 314.633.9641.

50 High School Skilled Trades Teachers Semifinalists For 2019 Harbor Freight Tools For Schools Prize For Teaching Excellence

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Flat lay, set of construction hardware tools building, repair, painting accessories on wooden board background

Fifty skilled trades teachers and teaching teams from across the country were named today as semifinalists for the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. They and their high school skilled trades programs are in the running for a share of $1 million in total cash awards.

The semifinalists hail from 26 states and specialize in trades including manufacturing, welding, construction, automotive and agriculture mechanics. The teachers—some competing as individuals and some as teams—were selected by an independent panel of judges from among a field of 749 applicants. The list of the 50 semifinalists is available here.

“We never cease to be amazed by the talent, creativity and resourcefulness of skilled trades educators,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “This year’s semifinalists teach more than a dozen trades and have spent a collective 800 years in the classroom, and we couldn’t be more excited to honor their work.”

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools. The prize recognizes outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools and the teachers who inspire students to learn a trade that prepares them for life after graduation. Now, in the third year of the prize, more than 150 teachers have been recognized as winners or semifinalists. Winners are invited to attend an annual convening to share best practices for advancing excellence in skilled trades education.

“Skilled trades teachers help hundreds of thousands of students each year experience the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from learning a trade,” Smidt said. “These teachers, their students and skilled tradespeople everywhere, too often don’t receive the respect and gratitude they deserve. Without them, construction would halt, homes, cars and appliances would fall into disrepair, and our infrastructure would crumble. We are thrilled to be able to honor and elevate the importance of their work.”

The 2019 semifinalists now advance to a second round of competition, where they will be asked to respond to online expert-led video learning modules designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices. The contenders will be asked how ideas from the modules might be used to inspire students to achieve excellence in the skilled trades. Two rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to the 18 finalists and, finally, name the three first-place winners and 15 second-place winners.

The 18 winners will split $1 million in prizes. First-place winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. Second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team. Past winners have dedicated their winnings to modernizing their shops, investing in specialized tools, promoting their programs to families and purchasing equipment to prepare students for higher-level accreditations. Semifinalists whose school, district or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings were eligible to apply on behalf of their school’s skilled trades program. If they win, the entire prize will be awarded to the school.

Winners will be announced on Oct. 24.

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt, to advance excellent skilled trades education in public high schools across America. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to drive a greater understanding of and investment in skilled trades education, believing that access to quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity, good jobs and a workforce our country needs. Harbor Freight Tools is a major supporter of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program. For more information, visit us at harborfreighttoolsforschools.org/ and on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Electrical Connection Hosts Business Panel Discussion on Skilled Labor Development

in Associations/News

For Dennis Gralike, director of the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center, the need to change the mindset of skilled labor development is abundantly clear at many high school career fairs.  “I’ll enter a gymnasium and find colleges set up on one side of the gym and everyone one else directed to set up on the other side,” notes Gralike.  “Then I’ll ask the career fair coordinator why colleges and the trade programs are separated.  After all, our program offers college credits and we train a lot of college students and graduates, all free of charge and with no student loans.”

Gralike was among four panelists in the March 27, 2019 St. Louis Business Journal “Future of Skilled Labor Development” Power Breakfast moderated by Publisher Robert Bobroff.  Bobroff said a record 240 people attended the event at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in Creve Coeur, Mo.  Other panelists included Bonnie Daniels, senior vice president, culture and people services, MiTekJeff L. Pittman, PhD, chancellor, St. Louis Community College; and Sandra Marks, senior vice president, Clayco.

All panelists agreed that collaboration and partnerships among community agencies, businesses and schools remains essential to skilled labor development.   But no industry is being more rapidly transformed by technology than the electrical and communications industry.   Gralike noted that the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center is continually adapting its more than 70-course curriculum to meet those changes as it has for more than 75 years.  Through the Electrical Connection partnership, the training center is funded and operated jointly by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

“The digital age, smart infrastructure, renewable energy, robotics, advanced manufacturing, integrated communications and so much more are not possible without the skilled electricians and communication technicians we train,” said Gralike.  “But there remains a significant stigma attached to construction work that puts off high school students and other career aspirants.  We have a more than 90 percent graduation rate that launches dynamic, well-paying engineering and building careers that power and connect our businesses and communities – and it’s free of charge!”

Gralike noted that Electrical Connection’s IBEW/NECA leadership is working to change the mindset on construction careers in several ways:

  • Investing in and supporting STEM education that connects science, technology, engineering and math to electrical careers.
  • Offering continuing education to advance pace setting skills, including 58 hours of college credits through education partnerships with St. Louis Community Collegeand most major university in St. Louis area. 
  • Educating career counselors and students about the dynamic changes in the industry with training center technology that includes a rooftop solar array and courses on Building Information Modeling and next generation electrical/communication installations, including green energy, smart building technology and advanced manufacturing.
  • Broadening outreach by partnering with community organizations to attract more minorities in the electrical trades.  More than 25 percent of apprentices at the training center are minorities.
  • Mentoring programs that strengthen career development and help aspiring entrepreneurs launch their own electrical and communications contracting firms.
  • Strategic outreach to engage business and civic organizations, including board service on the Hawthorn FoundationSt. Louis Regional Chamber, the Missouri Energy Initiative, theEconomic Development Center of St. Charles County and the Missouri Governor’s Workforce Development Task Force.

Electrical Connection members provide safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  For more information visit www.electricalconnection.org.

The UP Companies Sets Standards for Recruiting a Diverse Workforce, Promoting Skilled Labor Among St. Louis Minorities

in Companies/News

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, construction jobs will grow faster than the average for all other occupations from 2014 to 2024. Despite the apparent abundance of construction work, St. Louis trades, unions and construction companies continue to struggle to find qualified, diverse workers.

 

Minority-owned The UP Companies (UPCO), which consists of Power UP Electrical Contractors and Square UP Builders, is taking several steps toward boosting diversity and making a generational impact on the St. Louis metropolitan area workforce by reaching out to minority students and hiring qualified minorities.

 

“We know that union membership in Missouri has declined from 15.5% in 1989 to 8.8% in recent years, and that the majority of union workers are between the ages of 45 and 64, so why aren’t more young minorities pursuing careers in the trades after high school? We are working diligently to change the perception of skilled labor,” said UPCO owner Michael Kennedy, Jr.

 

High school graduates who do not pursue a college education are more likely to seek employment in the trades, said Kennedy. In St. Louis City and County combined, 71% of individuals with just a high school diploma are minorities and women, and 29% are white men, according to the Coro Fellowship report.

 

Not all high school graduates go to college and there are plenty of skilled labor jobs currently available with competitive salaries and benefits, said Kennedy. A union apprentice can earn a yearly salary of $30,000 – $55,000, plus benefits and overtime pay, while a journeyman or foreman can earn upwards of $85,000 a year.

 

“With more young people pursuing college degrees after high school, less are showing an interest in learning skilled trades and joining unions, opting for other jobs that typically pay less and require less skills,” said Kennedy. “The construction consumer demand for quality, competitive pricing and a diverse workforce is increasing all the time. The industry needs more minority workers, particularly now when more and more Baby Boomers are retiring.”

UPCO has continued to realize the value in mentoring young minorities and is striving to give disadvantaged students in St. Louis City and County the opportunity for a lifelong, respectable career in skilled labor.

 

The UP Companies employs a diverse, skilled, union workforce that consistently meets or exceeds minority participation requirements on every project and provides sub-contractor services at a more competitive price. UPCO currently employs 75 union apprentices and has grown its workforce from an initial 30 to 220, which includes 20% minorities.

 

UPCO has initiated several programs aimed at recruiting a diverse workforce and encouraging careers in skilled labor among minorities. Company representatives regularly visit high schools, technical high schools, trade schools and universities throughout the St. Louis area to recruit minority students for training at the Carpenters Union and Electricians Local 57. The UP Companies even offers its employees incentives to seek out and hire qualified minority workers.

Once entered in the union program, UPCO ensures that the students get the “right start” as apprentices by providing them with tools and scheduling their job assignments near public transportation when needed. UPCO sponsors these young adults into the union where their educations are paid for through their benefits package.

 

For more information about career opportunities with The UP Companies, visit www.theupcompanies.com/careers.

 

The UP Companies (UPCO) is one of the region’s largest full-service, MBE-certified contracting companies. UPCO’s firms are Square UP Builders, a primary source of high-quality commercial and residential rough and finish carpentry and drywall services employing over 150 carpenters and laborers; Power UP Electrical Contractors, a leader in electrical systems design, installation and maintenance, and the largest minority-owned, full-service electrical contractor in the St. Louis region with more than 60 skilled union electricians; and Keep UP Commercial Services, a multi-faceted company providing grounds and building maintenance, construction and repair, and cleaning services to commercial property owners. For more information, go to www.theupcompanies.com or call 314.865.3888.

Boilermakers Seek Skilled Welders For Unique Work Opportunities

The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers announced  its Construction Division has an increasing need for experienced welders nationwide due to expanded project opportunities. The union is seeking skilled professionals interested in life-enhancing work experiences.

Headquartered in Kansas City, KS, and with 49 construction lodges across the United States, the Boilermaker organization plays an integral part in supporting America’s industrial infrastructure. More than 30,000 skilled construction Boilermakers – men and women – engage in building, repairing and
maintaining the nation’s power generation sector, oil refining, pulp and paper mills, steel mills and aluminum plants. The field offers a rewarding way of
life and unique opportunities for individuals that wish to improve their futures.

“Being a Boilermaker is difficult, but very rewarding work,” explained Roger Erickson, Administrator for MOST, the training and safety arm of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers. “We’re incredibly proud that safety is the top priority on our work sites, and while we are looking for experienced welders, we will work with each recruit to meet our qualifications and complete our required safety training courses.”

Through MOST, members receive extensive on-going safety, leadership and skills training that contribute to the organization’s highly productive and efficient workforce.

Union workers as a whole make higher wages and enjoy more benefits, such as health insurance and retirement programs, than their nonunion counterparts. According to the AFL-CIO, on average, union workers’ wages are 27 percent higher and unionized workers are 60 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions.

Retired Boilermaker Peggy Welborn (Local 69, Little Rock, Ark.) says the opportunities and benefits can be life-changing. “(As a Boilermaker,) you’re going to be dirty and tired, but the rewards are worth it. I made a good life for my son, and after 34 years I still loved my job. Not many people can say that.”

In addition to the tangible benefits, being a union Boilermaker offers camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Jonathan Nevedal, a Boilermaker graduate apprentice and the 2015 National Apprenticeship Competition winner (Local 169, Detroit, Mich.), says with the assistance of veteran’s program Helmets to Hardhats he found the right path to do something that has a familiar
feel to it. “I’m happy to be a union member. The brotherhood of the military is very similar to being a union member, especially with the Boilermakers.”

Experienced welders interested in becoming a Boilermaker should visit https://www.most-bds.org/tw_program for more information and to register.

The UP Companies Hosting March 12 Career Expo With Recording Artist and St. Louis Native, Chingy

in Companies/News

On the heels of releasing its “Old Construction Road” song and music video that encourages younger generations to consider careers in construction, minority-owned The UP Companies (UPCO) has planned a  Career Expo in March to recruit the next generation of workers and guide them on the “road” to success.

The UPCO Career Expo is scheduled for 4-6 p.m., Thursday, March 12 at UPCO’s offices, 2060 Craigshire Road, St. Louis, MO 63146. Representatives from UPCO’s distinct business units – Power UP electrical contractors, Square UP builders and Hustle UP general laborers, will be in attendance, as well as a representative from the STL Construction Career Center, a branch of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri’s (AGCMO) Education Initiative for those who may have a general interest in the industry but aren’t sure which direction to take.

Participants are encouraged to bring their resume if they have one, or they can pre-apply online at www.theupcompanies.com/careers.

Career Expo participants will also get to meet the stars of the “Old Construction Road” video, UPCO owner Michael Kennedy, Jr. and hip-hop artist Howard “Chingy” Bailey, Jr. Chingy grew up in St. Louis and began writing music at age 7. His debut album “Jackpot” sold three million copies in 2003 and featured hit singles “Right Thurr”, “One Call Away” and “Holidae In” featuring Ludacris and Snoop Dogg. Chingy would go on to record more albums throughout his career, making him an international recording artist with 50 million records sold worldwide. He is currently on the “Millennium Tour” and plans to release a new album in March 2020.

Chingy organized the recording session for “Old Construction Road” as well as lent his vocal talents to a key verse in the song. Kennedy sings several verses, while the hook and chorus are sung by Square UP employee Cornelius Blanks. A music video featuring the trio and other UPCO employees was produced by St. Louis-based video production company Unbridled Media and released to the public on Dec. 20, 2019. To date, the video has received over 17,000 views on YouTube.

VIEW MUSIC VIDEO –

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl7vuJHdH70&feature=youtu.be

UPCO Website – theUPcompanies.com/old-construction-road/

The current state of the construction industry was one of the key motivators behind UPCO releasing a parody song and music video of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X. While the construction industry may be booming and the need for new buildings and structures has increased, the workforce needed to complete those projects has decreased considerably. In fact, workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry today.

A significant part of the problem is the lack of interest from younger generations, such as Millennials and Gen Z, to work in construction despite the surplus of well-paying positions and low-cost or free education and training. In many high schools and colleges around the U.S., four-year degrees and white-collar jobs are emphasized over skilled labor training, with certain vocational programs being cut altogether. A staggering 80% of U.S. construction firms are having trouble hiring talent, and the trend is predicted to worsen.

UPCO has felt the effects of the workforce shortage on its own projects and wanted to find a unique way to reach the next generation of workers through its video and song. Hosting a Career Expo and educating this generation is the next step in that process.

“We wanted to create awareness among potential employees, particularly minorities, that we are the premier destination for careers and to motivate them to consider working for us,” said Kennedy. “The construction industry offers tremendous career opportunities and benefits to anyone who likes to see the fruits of their labor and is willing to put in the effort to succeed. We have the jobs available.”

For more information about the Career Expo and a career in construction, visit The UP Companies at www.theupcompanies.com/careers, AGCMO at www.agcmo.org, and Build Your Future – Build Missouri at https://missouri.byf.org.

The UP Companies (UPCO) is one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facilities management professionals. For more information, go to www.theupcompanies.com or call 314.865.3888.

Electrical Connection supports the 2020 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway

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By this spring, a very special home will emerge from the ground in O’Fallon, Mo. to help support the kids served by the renowned St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®.  The amenity-laden St. Jude Dream Home is being built with the support of the Electrical Connection, a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association.  NECA contractor Grasser Electric, the Electrical Connection and IBEW are donating services and materials for the construction of the luxury home which is being built by Payne Family Homes.

“Our IBEW/NECA partners are called upon to skillfully install electrical systems and fixtures in countless homes in our region, but the St. Jude Dream Home has a far reaching impact,” said Dave Roth, IBEW business representative.  “This community giving initiative advances St. Jude’s critical research and treatment of childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.” According to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, families never receive a bill for treatment, travel housing or food – because all they should worry about is helping their child live.

This is the seventh St. Jude Dream Home built by Payne Family Homes with the help of IBEW/NECA.  Grasser Electric has donated services to build five of those homes.  The seven-year-long charitable endeavor has raised more than $6.1 million locally for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

“We are grateful to all of our vendors and partners like the Electrical Connection IBEW/NECA partnership who donate skills and services to deliver outstanding luxury living, optimizing the value of the St. Jude Dream Home giveaway” said Dawn Walter, director of marketing, Payne Family Homes.

The 2020 St. Jude Dream Home broke ground on January 30, 2020 at 318 Old Forester Drive in Payne Family Homes’ Legends Pointe subdivision.   The 1.5-story, 4,100 square-foot-home will feature a number of amenities including a home cinema and security system, four bedrooms and 4.5 baths, plus a three-sided sculptural fireplace, interior stone wall, spacious loft area, cozy reading nook and more.

Tickets to win the home can be reserved beginning June 11 for $100 each, and only 11,500 will be sold. The St. Jude Dream Home will be open to the public for free tours beginning with the grand opening on Saturday, July 11. Tours will continue on Saturdays from 9:00 am until 5:00 pm and Sundays Noon until 5:00 pm until August 16. The winner of the home will be drawn on August 20, 2020.

For more information about the 2020 St. Jude Dream Home, call or text 314-477-1218 or visit the St. Jude Dream Home page at www.paynefamilyhome.com to join the VIP list for updates and more info.

The 2019 St. Jude Dream Home, which was also built with donated services from the Electrical Connection IBEW/NECA partnership earned numerous honors. It was recognized at the annual St. Jude Dream Home Builder Summit in Memphis as one of the best in the country, winning awards for Best Master Suite, Best Special Features, and Zero Hero. Zero Hero is a title exclusively awarded to builders that deliver a 100% donated home to the fundraising effort. Payne Family Homes has received the title Zero Hero every year it has participated in the Dream Home Giveaway campaign.

Established as one of the Payne Family of companies in 2007, Payne Family Homes has quickly risen to be the St. Louis metro region’s second fastest-growing homebuilder and recently was named one of the area’s fastest growing companies by the St. Louis Business Journal. For more information, visit www.paynefamilyhomes.com  or call 314-477-1218.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting stjude.org, liking St. Jude on Facebook (facebook.com/stjude) and following us on Twitter (@stjude).

The Electrical Connection IBEW/NECA partnership more than 5,000 highly skilled and safe IBEW electricians and the more than 150 NECA electrical contractors who employ them.  For more than 75 years, the partnership has trained more electricians/communication technicians than any education program in Missouri. Its award-winning work provides safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world. Learn more at www.electricalconnection.org.

The UP Companies Teams UP with Hip Hop Recording Artist Chingy to Produce “Old Construction Road” Song, Music Video

in Companies/News

While the construction industry may be booming and the need for new buildings and structures has increased, the workforce needed to complete those projects has decreased considerably. In fact, workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry today.

A significant part of the problem is the lack of interest from younger generations, such as Millennials and Gen Z, to work in construction despite the surplus of well-paying positions and low-cost or free education and training. In many high schools and colleges around the U.S., four-year degrees and white-collar jobs are emphasized over skilled labor training, with certain vocational programs being cut altogether. A staggering 80% of U.S. construction firms are having trouble hiring talent, and the trend is predicted to worsen.

The current state of the construction industry was one of the key motivators behind The UP Companies (UPCO) of St. Louis releasing a parody song and music video of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, appropriately named “Old Construction Road” featuring international hip hop artist Howard “Chingy” Bailey, Jr.

UPCO, one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facility management professionals, consists of Power UP Electrical Contractors, Square UP Builders and Hustle UP Laborers. These three distinct business units have each felt the effects of workforce shortages on their projects. In order to recruit new talent for job openings at its three divisions, UPCO decided that it needed a fun and innovative way to attract the next generation of worker.

“We wanted to do a unique project that establishes The UP Companies as an industry leader who is not afraid to have fun and take risks to get the job done,” said UPCO President Michael B. Kennedy, Jr. “We also wanted to create awareness among potential employees, particularly minorities, that we are the premier destination for careers and to motivate them to consider working for us.”

Back in August while Kennedy was traveling on vacation, like much of the country, he could not get the hit song “Old Town Road” out of his head. During his flight, inspiration struck, and he found himself writing his own lyrics to the popular song with words related to construction and UPCO. Shortly thereafter, “Old Construction Road” was born.

Upon returning home to St. Louis, Kennedy enlisted close friend and well-known rapper Chingy to help produce the song. Chingy grew up in St. Louis and began writing music at age 7. His debut album “Jackpot” sold three million copies in 2003 and featured hit singles “Right Thurr”, “One Call Away” and “Holidae Inn”. Chingy would go on to record more albums throughout his career, making him an international recording artist with 50 million records sold worldwide. He is currently on the “Millenium Tour” and plans to release a new album in March 2020.

Chingy organized the recording session for “Old Construction Road” as well as lent his voice talents to a key verse in the song. Kennedy sings several verses, while the hook and chorus are sung by Square UP employee Cornelius Blanks. A music video featuring the trio and other UPCO employees was produced soon after through St. Louis-based video production company Unbridled Media and released to the public on Dec. 20. The video is featured on YouTube and at theUPcompanies.com/old-construction-road/  

Chingy, who started the Chingy For Change Foundation to educate inner-city children on how to become positive leaders in their communities, said he was happy to help Kennedy with his unique project that gives minorities and young people a life changing, positive career path.

“I got involved with the project to bring awareness to the opportunity that the construction industry is providing for everyday people who are looking for work. UPCO is providing job opportunities to folks in need who want to work and better themselves,” said Chingy. “With me, it’s always about helping and healing. I do things out of love and compassion, so I am excited to be a part of this project and touching lives one at a time.”

In an effort to provide workforce shortage solutions and address the immediate need for staffing, The UP Companies is working on plans for a job fair in March 2020 at its offices at 2060 Craigshire Road in Maryland Heights, Missouri. Representatives from each of the UPCO service lines, Associated General Contractors of Missouri (AGCMO) and various local labor unions will be available to discuss opportunities with interested jobseekers. Applicants will also get the chance to meet the stars of the “Old Construction Road” video, Chingy, Cornelius Blanks and, of course, UPCO President Michael B. Kennedy.

Leonard Toenjes, president of AGCMO, an association dedicated to serving the construction industry and providing solutions for the workforce shortage said, “AGC of Missouri has been working at every level to help everyone in our community. AGCMO has staff and volunteers working with high schools, career and technical education schools, community-based organizations, workforce boards, career days and project owners to get out the word.”

AGCMO recently created a website, Build Your Future – Build Missouri at  https://missouri.byf.org, that provides specific entry information for construction careers 24/7, plus the organization has a very active scholarship program to help those who need financial support to be successful in construction.

“The construction industry offers great career opportunities for anyone who gains satisfaction from seeing the results of their work every day,” said Toenjes. “Construction industry careers have many personal and financial benefits for anyone willing to build their future.”

For more information about a career in construction, visit The UP Companies at www.theupcompanies.com; AGCMO at www.agcmo.org; Build Your Future – Build Missouri at https://missouri.byf.org; St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council at www.carpdc.org; Associated Electrical Contractors Local Union 57 – St. Louis at https://www.carpdc.org/Training/Schools/AECLU57JAP; Painters District Council 58 at http://www.dc58iupat.net/; and Laborers Local 42 at https://www.liuna42stl.com/.

 

 

VIEW MUSIC VIDEO –

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl7vuJHdH70&feature=youtu.be

UPCO Website – theUPcompanies.com/old-construction-road/ 

 

The UP Companies (UPCO) is one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facilities management professionals. For more information, go to www.theupcompanies.com or call 314.865.3888.

IBEW Local 1 Hosts 2020 USGBC State of the Chapter Meeting

in Associations/News
Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1, George Fujii, BSI Constructors, Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection, Joe Abernathy, vice president, facility planning and engineering, St. Louis Cardinals.

It has been a momentous first two decades of the millennium for advocates of greater energy efficiency and sustainability in the built environment.  LED lighting, solar  and renewable forms of energy, smart buildings, smart cities and smart infrastructure including electric vehicle charging stations are just a few of the innovations that blossomed over the past 20 years.  That served as the backdrop as IBEW Local 1 hosted the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) – Missouri Gateway Chapter’s State of the Chapter event on Jan 23, 2020.

Tim Green, Electrical Connection; Emily Martin, Aschinger Electric, Erik Lueders, director of sustainability and purchasing, Parkway School District, Frank Jacobs, IBEW Local 1; Jim Curran, Electrical Connection, Bob Kaemmerlen, president, Kaemmerlen Electric.

Since the USGBC launched the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification in 1999 more than 300 buildings in St. Louis have achieved LEED certification.  “Our USGBC membership also continues to drive innovation, including the Living Building Challenge which strives for net-zero water, waste and energy in structures, the WELL Building Standard which aims to improve the health and wellness of building occupants and our Better Buildings Through Benchmarking initiative which encourages deeper energy efficiency in existing buildings,” said Emily Andrews, executive director, USGBC – Missouri Gateway Chapter.  “As green design and construction has evolved, we’ve had great supportive partners like IBEW and its Electrical Connection partnership with the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).”

Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1

“LEED energized a new way of thinking about the environmental impact of what we build and innovations in greater energy efficiency,” noted Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1.  “That, in turn, spurred the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center to adapt its program to develop the skills needed to engineer and build renewable forms of energy and all types of smart infrastructure.”

Bob Kaemmerlen, Kaemmerlen Electric; Angela Moore, US Green Building Council (USBGC) – Missouri Gateway Chapter board chair; Frank Jacobs, IBEW Local 1; Emily Andrews, executive director, USGBC; Emily Martin, Aschinger Electric; Jim Curran, Electrical Connection.

Jacobs noted that IBEW/NECA played an instrumental role in developing a national curriculum for electric vehicle charging stations.  It is also is a strong advocate for the next generation human-centric LED lighting which delivers better color and visual acuity and healthier circadian rhythm.  Last year, the Electrical Connection donated services to install human-centric lighting in three St. Louis Public Schools in partnership with PLANLED, Cardinals Care and the St. Louis Public Schools Foundation.

“At the start of the millennium 20 years ago, we had just completed a $1 million upgrade to our training center to meet the ever advancing needs of the information age, including digital technology and voice/data/video,” said Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1. “As LEED and other green design initiatives developed, we continued to invest to create a highly adaptable learning laboratory, including a rooftop solar array.”

“We appreciate the Electrical Connection and IBEW/NECA’s leadership in not only delivering the skills needed to build the innovations driving greater energy efficiency and sustainability in the built environment, but they have also been a strong advocates of these innovations,” said Andrews, executive director, USGBC – Missouri Gateway Chapter. “It is also great to have our state of the chapter meeting in IBEW’s newly renovated historic union hall, which is a showcase for energy efficiency.”

The 40,000-square-foot union hall at 5850 Elizabeth Ave. is on the National Register of Historic Places for modern design.  Renovations have included a solar array topping a parking lot canopy over electric vehicle charging stations.  It also features other cost saving systems, including a new HVAC system, a white roof and new windows and water efficient fixtures.

Andrews unveiled the USGBC-Missouri Gateway Education Calendar for 2020, which is focusing on three themes: A Just & Equitable EnvironmentClimate Solutions: Addressing Urgency & Taking Action; and Resilience & Innovative Recovery. The February 11, 2020 program will feature Lisa Conway, the vice president of sustainability for Interface.  For more information on programming visit www.usgbc-mogateway.org.

The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).  It represents more than 5,000 highly skilled and safe IBEW electricians and the more than 150 NECA electrical contractors who employ them.  For more than 75 years, the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership has trained more electricians/communication technicians than any education program in Missouri. Its award winning work provides safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world. Learn more at www.electricalconnection.org.

Above Photos: 

EC-BSI – Left to right, Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1, George Fujii, BSI Constructors, Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection, Joe Abernathy, vice president, facility planning and engineering, St. Louis Cardinals.

  • EC-Parkway – Left to right, Tim Green, Electrical Connection; Emily Martin, Aschinger Electric, Erik Lueders, director of sustainability and purchasing, Parkway School District, Frank Jacobs, IBEW Local 1; Jim Curran, Electrical Connection, Bob Kaemmerlen, president, Kaemmerlen Electric.
  • EC-USGBC – Left to right, Bob Kaemmerlen, Kaemmerlen Electric; Angela Moore, US Green Building Council (USBGC) – Missouri Gateway Chapter board chair; Frank Jacobs, IBEW Local 1; Emily Andrews, executive director, USGBC; Emily Martin, Aschinger Electric; Jim Curran, Electrical Connection.
  • Frank-Address – Frank Jacobs, business manager, IBEW Local 1

The UP Companies Teams UP with Hip Hop Recording Artist Chingy to Produce “Old Construction Road” Song, Music Video

in Companies/News

“Old Town Road” parody song highlights UPCO brand, promotes careers in construction 

 

While the construction industry may be booming and the need for new buildings and structures has increased, the workforce needed to complete those projects has decreased considerably. In fact, workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry today.

A significant part of the problem is the lack of interest from younger generations, such as Millennials and Gen Z, to work in construction despite the surplus of well-paying positions and low-cost or free education and training. In many high schools and colleges around the U.S., four-year degrees and white-collar jobs are emphasized over skilled labor training, with certain vocational programs being cut altogether. A staggering 80% of U.S. construction firms are having trouble hiring talent, and the trend is predicted to worsen.

The current state of the construction industry was one of the key motivators behind The UP Companies (UPCO) of St. Louis releasing a parody song and music video of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, appropriately named “Old Construction Road” featuring international hip hop artist Howard “Chingy” Bailey, Jr.

UPCO, one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facility management professionals, consists of Power UP Electrical Contractors, Square UP Builders and Hustle UP Laborers. These three distinct business units have each felt the effects of workforce shortages on their projects. In order to recruit new talent for job openings at its three divisions, UPCO decided that it needed a fun and innovative way to attract the next generation of worker.

“We wanted to do a unique project that establishes The UP Companies as an industry leader who is not afraid to have fun and take risks to get the job done,” said UPCO President Michael B. Kennedy, Jr. “We also wanted to create awareness among potential employees, particularly minorities, that we are the premier destination for careers and to motivate them to consider working for us.”

Back in August while Kennedy was traveling on vacation, like much of the country, he could not get the hit song “Old Town Road” out of his head. During his flight, inspiration struck, and he found himself writing his own lyrics to the popular song with words related to construction and UPCO. Shortly thereafter, “Old Construction Road” was born.

Upon returning home to St. Louis, Kennedy enlisted close friend and well-known rapper Chingy to help produce the song. Chingy grew up in St. Louis and began writing music at age 7. His debut album “Jackpot” sold three million copies in 2003 and featured hit singles “Right Thurr”, “One Call Away” and “Holidae Inn”. Chingy would go on to record more albums throughout his career, making him an international recording artist with 50 million records sold worldwide. He is currently on the “Millenium Tour” and plans to release a new album in March 2020.

Chingy organized the recording session for “Old Construction Road” as well as lent his voice talents to a key verse in the song. Kennedy sings several verses, while the hook and chorus are sung by Square UP employee Cornelius Blanks. A music video featuring the trio and other UPCO employees was produced soon after through St. Louis-based video production company Unbridled Media and released to the public on Dec. 20. The video is featured on YouTube and at theUPcompanies.com/old-construction-road/

Chingy, who started the Chingy For Change Foundation to educate inner-city children on how to become positive leaders in their communities, said he was happy to help Kennedy with his unique project that gives minorities and young people a life changing, positive career path.

“I got involved with the project to bring awareness to the opportunity that the construction industry is providing for everyday people who are looking for work. UPCO is providing job opportunities to folks in need who want to work and better themselves,” said Chingy. “With me, it’s always about helping and healing. I do things out of love and compassion, so I am excited to be a part of this project and touching lives one at a time.”

In an effort to provide workforce shortage solutions and address the immediate need for staffing, The UP Companies is working on plans for a job fair in March 2020 at its offices at 2060 Craigshire Road in Maryland Heights, Missouri. Representatives from each of the UPCO service lines, Associated General Contractors of Missouri (AGCMO) and various local labor unions will be available to discuss opportunities with interested jobseekers. Applicants will also get the chance to meet the stars of the “Old Construction Road” video, Chingy, Cornelius Blanks and, of course, UPCO President Michael B. Kennedy.

Leonard Toenjes, president of AGCMO, an association dedicated to serving the construction industry and providing solutions for the workforce shortage said, “AGC of Missouri has been working at every level to help everyone in our community. AGCMO has staff and volunteers working with high schools, career and technical education schools, community-based organizations, workforce boards, career days and project owners to get out the word.”

AGCMO recently created a website, Build Your Future – Build Missouri at  https://missouri.byf.org, that provides specific entry information for construction careers 24/7, plus the organization has a very active scholarship program to help those who need financial support to be successful in construction.

“The construction industry offers great career opportunities for anyone who gains satisfaction from seeing the results of their work every day,” said Toenjes. “Construction industry careers have many personal and financial benefits for anyone willing to build their future.”

For more information about a career in construction, visit The UP Companies at www.theupcompanies.com; AGCMO at www.agcmo.org; Build Your Future – Build Missouri at https://missouri.byf.org; St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council at www.carpdc.org; Associated Electrical Contractors Local Union 57 – St. Louis at https://www.carpdc.org/Training/Schools/AECLU57JAP; Painters District Council 58 at http://www.dc58iupat.net/; and Laborers Local 42 at https://www.liuna42stl.com/.

The UP Companies (UPCO) is one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facilities management professionals. For almost a decade, UPCO has focused on its mission of Building UP Communities Through Innovation, Diversity, and Integrity, providing superior design and contracting services through each of its distinct business units—Power UP, Square UP and Hustle UP. For more information, go to www.theupcompanies.com or call 314.865.3888.

VIEW MUSIC VIDEO –

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wl7vuJHdH70&feature=youtu.be

UPCO Website – theUPcompanies.com/old-construction-road/  

 

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