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Southern Illinois Builders Association Celebrates 75 Years of Growth, Support & Improvements For the Region

in Associations/News

When a small group of contractors decided in 1945 to band together to improve their industry’s working conditions and to stimulate development throughout the region, they could not have forecast what has become a long record of growth and service to Southern Illinois businesses and workers.

Now observing its 75th anniversary of service to the region, the Southern Illinois Builders Association has grown from 10 member companies in two counties doing business locally to today’s 450 active, affiliate and associate members in 39 counties doing business in several states.

More importantly, according to Donna Richter, the group’s Chief Executive Officer, the work of the Association has resulted in a vastly improved labor-management partnership, in a widely recognized and outstanding worker safety program, and on-line digital plans rooms giving members access to plans specifications and addenda to about 2,000 commercial projects bid annually.

The Builders Association has marked progress annually with a banquet, but because of recommended safety steps for dealing with COVID-19, the Board of Directors has decided against such an event this 75thAnniversary year and is planning a celebration in 2021.

“The region’s growth and economic development of the last several years would not have happened without the results-oriented committee work of many builder-members,” Richter said, “but of course there’s much yet to accomplish before we celebrate the 100th year.”

Current Board President is Hank Rohwedder of Hank’s Excavating & Landscaping, Belleville; First Vice President is Jeff Limbaugh of Limbaugh Construction Co., Granite City; Second Vice President is Scott Plocher of Plocher Construction Co., Highland, and Secretary/Treasurer is Richard Boyer of Boyer Fire Protection, St. Louis.

The Southern Illinois Builders Association is based in O’Fallon and offers members digital plans rooms in Marion and O’Fallon. More information about the Association is at

IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center Navigates Covid-19 Challenges

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At Missouri’s oldest electrical industry training center, restructured classes complemented by remote learning has become the “norm” in this era of Covid-19.  And as leadership at the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center monitors the pandemic with an eye to fully reopening classroom instruction this September, its blended learning model has provided insights to improve the program.

“Before the pandemic, we already had a robust blended learning program established with online coursework and homework,” said Dennis Gralike, director of training.  “The real challenge has been the hands-on lab instruction.  Conduit bending, work with motor controls and the like can’t really be done from home.”

To adapt, Gralike and his staff have resequenced classes to engage students in hands-on learning in smaller batches to accommodate social distancing.  Each student is provided a face mask and instructions on protecting themselves from the virus, essentially learning new safety protocols they will encounter on job sites.

The training center is now guiding 35 students through the final semester of their five years of training so they can graduate this summerThere are approximately 60 new apprentices who began work this year but are still waiting to start their classroom-related instruction.  The training center is jointly funded and operated by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and members of the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

“There’s been a tremendous interest in our training program since the pandemic hit,” noted Gralike.  “Applications are up about 20 percent.  Covid-19 has brought so much change and accentuated our dependence on disruptive technologies, such as remote learning and working, robotics and smart building technology.  Someone has to engineer, install and maintain that technology and that’s been our graduates.” 

Gralike also noted an improvement in the quality of applicants to the training center which he attributed in part to a long-time emphasis on STEM education by the IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership.  Founded in 1993, the Electrical Connection has supported STEM education programs in public and private schools and through partnerships with the Saint Louis Science Center, Mathews Dickey Boys & Girls Club, the St. Charles Economic Development Center and other civic and educational organizations.

While the pandemic has created challenges for the training center, it has also helped improve instruction.  “The remote classes have given us insights on patterns of learning by individual students,” said Gralike.  “We can see which areas of instruction they are struggling with and better orient instruction to each individuals’ needs.”  Gralike said they will use what they’ve learned to refine instruction in the classroom setting.

What’s still unknown is how soon and in what manner high school career fairs will resume. “When they do resume, Dennis Gralike and his staff will be able to make any even more compelling case for electrical careers,” noted Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection. “High school students, parents and teachers have lived the value of the technology we engineer, install and maintain that’s been providing reliable power and connecting a world in isolation.”

Located at 2300 Hampton Ave, the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center has trained more highly skilled and safe electricians and communication technicians than any education program in Missouri.  The five-year, 10,000-hour training program has a 90 percent graduation rate and an effective outreach program. For the last nine years, minorities have made up 25% to 40% of apprenticeship classes which start every 6 months.  The center also conducts continuing education classes for journey workers who want to keep pace with changing technologies.  In addition, the training center has education partnerships that offer college credits.

The training center is operated jointly by IBEW/NECA, which invests $3 million annually in training.  Training is free of charge with apprentices earning a living with benefits as they learn.  There are no student loans and there is no expense to taxpayers.

Through its Electrical Connection partnership, IBEW/NECA provides safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world. Learn more at

The Salvation Army Welcomes New Divisional Commanders

in Associations/News

Lt. Colonels Robert and Collette Webster, currently serving as divisional leaders for the Indiana division, have been appointed as divisional leaders to the Midland Division serving Missouri and Southern Illinois.  Current Divisional Leaders, Lt. Colonels Dan and Dorene Jennings, are now assigned to lead The Salvation Army Northern Division serving Minnesota and North Dakota.

Lt. Colonel Robert Webster is a graduate of Asbury University with a degree in Physical Education and Recreation.  He also holds a Masters of Ministry Degree from Olivet Nazarene University.  Before becoming a Salvation Army officer, he worked as a Physical Education teacher for the Tampa, Florida Public School System, and as a Community Center and Recreation Director in Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Lt. Colonel Collette Webster is a graduate of Asbury University, where she majored in Physical Education with a minor in Psychology and was an all-state honoree in volleyball for the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.  She has continued her studies at Olivet Nazarene University and Trinity International University.

Lt. Colonels Webster brings 60 years of combined experience as officers and have held several pastoral appointments, including appointments in St. Louis, MO, New Albany, IN, and Port Huron, MI.  They have also provided leadership for The Salvation Army’s youth programming as the Divisional Youth Secretaries in the Wisconsin and Upper Michigan Division and as The Salvation Army’s Central Territorial Youth Secretaries.  They pioneered the work at the Ray and Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in South Bend, Indiana, with Lt. Colonel Bob as the Senior Officer (Executive Director) and Congregational Life Officer, and Lt. Colonel Collette as Officer for Youth and Program Development.

Also, Lt. Colonel Bob Webster has received several honors such as the Kiwanis International Robert P. Connelly Award for Heroism, Life Membership with the International Association of Fire Fighters, Founding Member of the Port Huron Police and Fire Chaplain Service, member of the New Albany, Indiana Fire Department Chaplain Service, member of the South Bend Police Department Chaplain Service and Teacher of the Month for the Hillsborough County Florida School System.

Lt. Colonel Bob Webster has also served as a Chaplain (CISM) at many major disasters around the country including; Hurricane Andrew, the Mississippi River floods in St. Louis, tornados in Kentucky and Indiana, plane crashes in Indiana and Iowa, and at the World Trade Center (Chaplain to the Fire Department of New York) and Hurricane Katrina (DMORT Chaplain).

Lt. Colonel Bob loves playing golf and woodworking, while Lt. Colonel Collette is an avid reader.  Each enjoys spending time with their grandchildren.

IFMA S. Louis Appoints Members to Board

in Associations/News
Scott Held

The St. Louis Chapter of IFMA (International Facility Management Association) announced officers elected to its board of directors and board members appointed to chair its committees. Their terms run from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021.

Elected to the board and their respective companies are:

  • President, Scott Held, Ameren Corp.
  • Immediate Past President, Jeff Touchette, Jarrell Mechanical Contractors
  • Vice President, David J. Gardin, Kindred Healthcare Inc.
  • Treasurer, Michael Wright, Ameren Corp.
  • Secretary, Gary Wood, Stryker Construction

Members who are chairing the organization’s committees are:

  • Membership, Karl Gnau, ABBCO Service Corp.
  • Marketing, Erin Valentine, McCarthy Building Companies
  • Education, Tauquincy Neal, St. Charles City-County Library
  • Programs, Jennifer Johnston, Murphy Company
  • Sponsorship, Matt Huesling, Woodard
  • Advocacy Liaison, James Delgado, Cozad Commercial Real Estate
  • Golf Classic, Andrew Dillard, Ritchie Bros.
  • Special Events, Kristie Gabel, Elite Cuisine
  • Sustainability, Tauquincy Neal, St. Charles City-County Library

About IFMA St. Louis

IFMA St. Louis offers its members a learning and networking environment among its diverse membership and supplies its members with the tools to achieve their professional goals. Started in 1985, IFMA St. Louis has more than 250 members representing small and Fortune 500 companies throughout the region. Considered a leader among local chapters, IFMA St. Louis holds monthly programs to enhance members’ knowledge and provide networking opportunities. IFMA members also value their membership to build their careers, seek counsel and advice from other facility management professionals, access a variety of resources and achieve professional certification. Represented in 142 chapters and 16 councils worldwide, IFMA members manage more than 78 billion square feet of property and annually purchase more than $526 billion in products and services. For more information, visit

Coronavirus Outbreak Puts the Brakes on Some Planned Public Work Jobs

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Submitted by Site Improvement Association

Just how much has the outbreak of the coronavirus impacted the construction industry in St. Louis city and county?  Well, if public works projects were used as a measuring stick, more than 42 percent of planned public improvement projects have either been eliminated or placed on hold for an indefinite period of time.

That is the findings of a survey conducted by the Municipal League of Metropolitan St. Louis and one of its members.  SITE Improvement Association. SITE is a construction contractor association composed of 215 construction companies and businesses associated with the construction industry.

About a quarter of the Municipal League’s 88 members, or 21 cities, responded to the survey.  Those municipalities reported they planned to construct more than 130 projects with an estimated value of $38.2 million in improvements this year before the coronavirus hit.  Now, due to uncertainty of revenues, these cities have dropped or indefinitely delayed 77 projects or $16 million.

“Cities, just like many private businesses, are facing the harsh reality of a loss in revenues created by the coronavirus impact on the economy,” said Pat Kelly, Executive Director of the municipal league.  “Not only have these and other cities had to scale back their public improvement programs, but many also had to close some of their facilities and furlough or layout employees because of the bleak revenue picture.”

Many municipalities finance their capital improvement programs through sales tax revenue.  When stores, restaurants and other businesses had to close, those revenues were lost.

Most survey respondents said they would hope to add the projects and purchases back into their budgets either this year, if money became available, or next fiscal year.

Among some of the responding cities cuts were:  Chesterfield which started their fiscal year with a capital improvement budget of $5.3 million and cut five projects valued at $2-million; Ladue which had 13 projects at a cost of $6.5 million and has now deferred all the work; and Overland which budgeted $1.2 million for 18 street projects and now is planning only six projects and dropped $1.1 million.

Construction work was not the only budget items to be scaled back, according to the survey.  The survey revealed that 67-percent of planned capital purchases by municipalities such as new equipment, vehicles for police and fire departments also have been dropped or suspended.

“This is a real blow to the gut for the local construction industry,” said SITE Executive Director, Terry Briggs.  “There are many construction firms who depend upon municipal work to make or break their fiscal year.  Their only hope now is for the cities to receive some financial assistance from the federal government and thus be able to add some of these projects back into this year’s construction schedule.”  Several proposals are now being discussed in Congress to aid municipalities across the country whose budgets have been decimated because of the coronavirus outbreak and its impact on revenues.

Briggs did note that some public bodies are continuing their capital improvement programs undeterred by the virus.  “MSD is a good example of that,” said Briggs.  “The sewer district’s revenue comes from user fees billed monthly.  “Many contractors are thankful the sewer district work is continuing.”

Construction Jobs Rebound in May, Recoup Half of Huge April Losses

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Submitted by AGC

Construction employment bounced back strongly in May from April’s mammoth losses, adding 464,000 jobs during the month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported.

The bureau’s latest monthly employment report, released on June 5, also shows that construction’s unemployment rate improved, but still stands at a worrisome 12.7%.

Construction’s added jobs contributed to a surprisingly large 2.5 million increase in overall employment in May.

Construction economists viewed the numbers as positive news but cautioned that economic clouds could gather down the road.

The BLS report indicates that construction’s April jobs numbers were even worse than the bureau initially estimated. In its new report, BLS revised the industry’s April job losses downward by 20,000, to 995,000. That reflects the sharp downturn in the economy from the coronavirus.

The jobs added in May recoup 47% of the April losses.

Moreover, construction’s May jobs gains were significant across all industry sectors.

The specialty trade contractors segment led the way, adding 325,300 positions.

Buildings construction gained 104,900 and heavy and civil engineering construction saw its workforce expand by 33,700, the bureau’s numbers show.

Construction’s May jobless rate declined from April’s 16.6%, the worst in decades, to 12.7%. But that still was more than three times worse than the year-earlier level of 3.2%.

Ken Simonson, the Associated General Contractors of America’s chief economist, said in a statement, “The huge pickup in construction employment in May is good news and probably reflects the industry’s widespread receipt of Paycheck Protection Program loans and the loosening of restrictions on business activity in some states.”

But Simonson added, “Nevertheless, the industry remains far short of full employment and more layoffs may be imminent.”

As most states and localities approach the July 1 start of new fiscal years, they face major shortfalls in tax revenue. Simonson said more public construction projects are likely to be canceled unless an infusion of aid from the federal government is approved. In particular, AGC urged Congress to approve significant infrastructure funding measures.

Anirban Basu, the Associated Builders and Contractors’ chief economist, has a more bullish view about the May numbers for the overall economy and construction. “For contractors, this is purely good news,” Basu said in a statement.

He added, “With the economy beginning its recovery sooner and more dramatically than anticipated, fewer projects are likely to be postponed or canceled.” That could lead to increased state and local tax revenue, with some of that, he predicts, available for infrastructure projects.

Even so, Basu said, “Make no mistake—these remain treacherous times,” with construction’s jobless rate still high, state and local budgets continuing to be “in tough shape” and increased infections possible as more businesses reopen.

Social Services Organization Hands Out Smiles by the Dozen on National Donut Day

in Associations/News

Held annually on the first Friday in June, National Donut Day is a sweet time to celebrate America’s heroes. On June 5, The Salvation Army thanked the men and women on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic by delivering donuts and hope.

This tradition dates back to World War I when nearly 250 Salvation Army volunteers traveled overseas to provide emotional and spiritual support, fried confectionary, clothes, and supplies to troops. For more than a century, the organization has continued to provide snacks, hydration, and comfort to the first responders and front-line workers.

“The Salvation Army has always been a beacon of hope and healing for those fighting for good.  Today, we thank those who have kept our country healthy, safe, and fed during the coronavirus pandemic.” said Lt. Col. Dan Jennings, Division Commander for The Salvation Army Midland Division.

This year, The Salvation Army celebrated with a moment of goodness in the St. Louis, MO, area by making special deliveries:

  • HSHS Hospital, 1 Saint Elizabeth Blvd., O’Fallon, IL
  • SSM Health DePaul Hospital, 12303 Bridgeton, MO
  • SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, 3360 Vista Ave., St. Louis, MO

The Salvation Army Midland Division serving Missouri and Southern Illinois supported locally-owned donut shops by purchasing the delicious treats from Tony’s Donuts, Kruta Bakery, and Krispy Kreme to help celebrate the day.

Since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak, The Salvation Army has responded with personal protective gear (PPE) donations, childcare, meals, hydration, and cot delivery to front-line workers across the country.

The Salvation Army has also adapted its own services to meet the growing needs of America’s most vulnerable with drive-thru food pantries, increased capacity at emergency shelters, remote emotional and spiritual care through live stream services, care hotlines, and more.

To learn more about how you can get involved with your local Salvation Army, visit 

Flooring Industry Council of Greater St. Louis Provides Covid-19 Relief

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Donates to St. Louis Community Foundation, Sends PPE to Contractor Members 

The Flooring Industry Council of Greater St. Louis (FIC) donates to the St. Louis Community Foundation Covid-19 Regional Response Fund to support regional nonprofits that are serving local communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.

Taking action, the FIC also sent PPE to company members to share with their employees in an effort to support safe work environments for employees and customers.

“FIC flooring contractors serve the Greater St. Louis Community. Therefore, in times of need we are eager to do what we can to help. Every little bit helps”, said Brian McGee, FIC President, Ambassador Floor Company and Mid-West Floor.

The Flooring Industry Council (FIC) of greater St. Louis is a non-profit organization providing support to flooring companies which employ the INSTALL craftsmen of Floor Layers Local 1310. These craftsmen receive four to six years of classroom and on-the-job training in every aspect of flooring installation.

FIC companies serve residential, commercial, and industrial markets performing installations quickly, cost efficiently and with the highest degree of quality. For more information, visit or call the FIC office at 314-968-3522.

Builders Hardware Manufacturers Launch Updated Certified Products Directory

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New Directory Features Enhanced Search-ability of ANSI/BHMA Hardware

The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA®) has launched a new online Certified Products Directory (CPD) featuring enhanced speed and search-ability, improved interface and security, and greater depth of information. BHMA created this directory, originally established in 1998, as a resource to help architects and specifiers select the best certified builders hardware products for their building projects. Its first online version was launched in 2013.

“This complete revision from the current directory to one that has numerous enhanced technological features has been a major initiative for our organization,” said Ralph Vasami, executive director of BHMA. “As the ANSI standards development organization for builders hardware in North America, BHMA represents more than 80 percent of the industry’s manufacturers. Thousands of certified hardware products are included in our BHMA CPD database—and it is growing every year.”

Technological advancements included in the new BHMA CPD are as follows:

  • Greatly Enhanced Speed and Productivity: A higher collaboration speed allows for reduced time working between the manufacturer, testing labs and BHMA.
  • A Detailed, Accurate, Consistent and Searchable Database: Ideal for creating quick queries, data is easily retrievable for analysis.
  • Improved Security:  Data access security is up-to-date, including security functions related to permission-only levels for different tiers of the user base.
  • Data Management: Data management is simplified, and additional checks and balances provide improved accuracy.

“With the 40-plus builders hardware standards that we maintain and update on a regular basis, full population of the new CPD is expected to take several months,” noted Vasami. “So, for a limited time, both the new searchable BHMA CPD and the outgoing PDF-based CPD will be available to all users.”

For more information, visit the CPD at, or contact Larry McClean at

The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) is an industry leader in building safety and security. BHMA® is the only organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop and maintain performance standards for locks, closers, exit devices and other builders hardware. The widely known ANSI/BHMA A156 series of standards describes and establishes the features and criteria for specific types of hardware products. In addition, BHMA sponsors third-party certification of hardware products, which is a requirement for a product to bear the “BHMA Certified” mark — ensuring that the product meets the ANSI/BHMA standard. For more information on BHMA, please write to BHMA, 355 Lexington Avenue, 15th Floor, New York, NY, 10017 or visit the Web site at

A Piece of St. Louis Labor History Gets a New Home

in Associations/Homepage Primary/News

Capri Pools & Aquatics Installs Eight-Ton Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 Logo at the Union’s New Training Center                     

A 50-year-old ornamental union logo has a new home at the new Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 562 training center in Earth City, Mo.  Capri Pools & Aquatics installed Local 562’s eight-ton logo etched in tile that was originally created for a pool at the union’s old headquarters in North St. Louis County.

Measuring 13 feet in diameter, Local 562’s logo will be the centerpiece of a monument at the new training center at 3755 Corporate Trail.  The training center will open this summer.

“It was created and placed at the bottom of pool at our old headquarters on Larimore Road around 1970 to remind our members and their families that they belong to something special,” said John O’Mara, business manager, Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562.  “The pool itself was pretty unique.  It was built as a recognition of our union member’s hard work during the week, giving them a place for their families to rest, relax and be with friends.”

O’Mara said that about 15 years ago the pool was going to be filled in, but union members wanted to preserve the iconic logo.  It was extracted from the pool and later placed near the first tee at the union’s Emerald Green golf course.  When the long time headquarters at 12385 Larimore Road in Spanish Lake, Mo. was sold in 2017, the logo was placed in storage.

“As we train the next generation of Local 562 craft workers in new technologies in our industry, we also want to remind them of the generations of our workers who have help build the foundation of commercial, residential and industrial projects that sustain us today,” said O’Mara.  “The newly placed logo is also a reminder of our successes and sacrifices that have improved the rights of workers and delivered greater prosperity for families.”

Founded in 1912, Plumbers and Pipefiiters Local 562 represents more than 4,200 union members.  Learn more at

Based in St. Louis, Capris Pools & Aquatics specializes in engineering, building and maintaining all types of aquatic centers, water parks, natatoriums, municipal swimming pools and a variety of recreational centers.  The firm has delivered more than 30 aquatic projects in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Arkansas, Colorado, Kentucky, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Ohio.  Learn more at

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