May 21 is World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development 2019
They say it takes a village to raise up a child. An industry-focused village of builders, suppliers and community partners has been working together for more than 10 years to raise up and increase participation by minority- and women-owned businesses in Missouri’s construction industry. And their efforts are starting to pay off.
According to Steve Lewis, vice president of inclusion for the AGC of Missouri, here are just a few of the results of the decade-long effort:
- Diverse membership in the AGC of Missouri has risen from miniscule 10 years ago to 14 percent today, with plans to grow total membership by an additional 25 percent over the next two years. Diversity within the AGCMO board of directors’ membership also has grown significantly, with currently five black (non-Hispanic) and 10 female members serving.
- Becky Spurgeon, president of Interface Construction, a minority- owned business, currently serves as chair-elect and, in January 2020, will become chair of AGCMO’s board of directors.
- Michael Kennedy, Jr., chief executive officer of KAI Enterprises, also a minority- owned business, is vice chair of AGCMO’s Building Division in 2020.
- A robust AGCMO Diversity Committee crosses all disciplines within the industry and is currently comprised of 20 members, with 45 percent diverse representation.
- Four St. Louisans serve on AGC of America’s national Diversity & Inclusion Committee. Steve Lewis is the chapter representative and Frank Wilson, president of BFW Contracting LLC, serves as chair.
The first chapter within the 89-chapter AGC of America to hire a full-time diversity director 10 years ago, the Missouri AGC chapter was recognized in April with the AGC of America national Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award for being a champion in advancing diversity and fostering a culture of inclusion within its workforce, supply chain and in the communities in which it serves. The award was presented at the AGCA 2019 national convention in Denver to Lewis; Spurgeon; Wilson; Monica Bailey, director of diversity, McCarthy Building Companies; and Len Toenjes, president, AGCMO.
Wilson also received a national Chairman of the Year Award for his service, leadership and dedication as chair of the AGCA’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Other St. Louis-based members serving on the national committee include Bailey; Michael Kennedy, Jr., chief executive officer of KAI Enterprises; and Lewis.
“AGC of Missouri, as one of the first AGC chapters to dedicate time and resources to diverse businesses, has been a leader in advancing diversity and inclusion within the association,” said Brynn Huneke, director, diversity & inclusion, member engagement for AGC of America. “AGC of America was honored to present them with the 2019 Diversity & Inclusion Excellence Award for an AGC Chapter.”
In addition to great leadership, Lewis believes it’s been the broad range of community partners and programs that has created sustainable and growing diversity in Missouri. The former AGC of St. Louis (now part of AGC of Missouri) participated in the Stempel Plan Mentor-Protégé program in a joint venture with the St. Louis Minority Business Council. Today, AGCMO provides significant financial support and serves on the board of directors of the Regional Union Construction Center (RUCC). In addition, many AGCMO members serve on the advisory boards of companies that participate in the RUCC program. From 2001-14, AGC of St. Louis operated the Construction Careers Center Charter High School that provided an open opportunity for high school students to be introduced to the construction industry. The CCC offered gateways to the construction industry through programs like Ameren’s Skilled Trade Education Program, preparing students for careers in the energy industry. CCC also participated in the Architectural, Construction and Engineering (ACE) mentoring program whereby many students earned internships with AGC-member companies.
AGCMO also is a member and sponsor of the National Society of Black Engineers and its Pre-College Initiative Program that prepares and introduces students to Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) for the careers of today and tomorrow. Other major community partnering programs included MoDOT’s I-64 Workforce Development Program, the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge project, and the current NGA West project. AGCMO is also active and a sponsor of the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program. Among others, it sponsors Missouri Women in Trades, providing support for tradeswomen in the industry. AGCMO also is an investor and serves on the board of directors and technical assistance committee of the Contractor Loan Fund, a $10.6 million private equity fund that provides financing for minority- and women-owned businesses. An AGCMO representative also serves as a board member for the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE) and also regularly participates in MoDOT and MOKAN training symposia. AGCMO is a member of the MoDOT statewide Inclusion Advisory Council and Regional Diversity Council. AGCMO also serves on the Diversity Committee and Cultural Competency Task Force of the St. Louis Council of Construction Consumers and the Education and Diversity Committee of the St. Louis Construction Cooperative, a labor-management organization.
Lewis wants to thank the members of AGCMO’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee for their tireless efforts that continue today:
- Monica Bailey, McCarthy Building Companies
- Sedrick Brandt, Brandt Contracting Inc.
- Don Buchmueller, EM Harris Construction
- Roslyn Croft, Tarlton Corporation
- Steve Faust, icon Mechanical Construction & Engineering, LLC
- Amy Heeger, AME Constructors, Inc.
- Steven Harris, RubinBrown LLP
- Howard Hayes, Paric Corporation
- Michael B. Kennedy, Jr., KAI Enterprises
- Thomas E. Kuhn, Millstone Weber, LLC
- Vicki LaRose, Civil Design, Inc.
- Steve Lewis, AGCMO (staff liaison)
- Emily Martin, Aschinger Electric Company
- Donald Rosenberger, PE, Delta Companies Inc.
- Patricia Schaeffer, D & S Fencing Co., Inc.
- Roger Spearman, A-1 Private Investigations, LLC
- Robert Taylor, Realm Construction, Inc.
- John VanAsdale, BSI Constructors, Inc.
- Ronald Wiese, Alberici Constructors, Inc.
- Frank Wilson, BFW Contracting LLC
- Scott Wilson, S.M. Wilson & Co. (chair)
- Michael Zambrana, Pangea Group
The Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) is the leading association for the construction industry. AGC represents more than 26,000 firms, including over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and over 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. More than 10,500 service providers and suppliers are also associated with AGC, all through a nationwide network of chapters. https://www.agc.org/
The Associated General Contractors of Missouri is the leading voice of the construction industry in Missouri, representing over 500 commercial, industrial, heavy and highway contractors, industry partners and related firms in 110 counties throughout Missouri.