AGCMO Teaching Project Manager Development Courses



Individuals interested in acquiring education in how to work as an effective construction project manager are invited to learn this specialization from the Associated General Contractors of Missouri.

AGCMO is offering a five-unit, interactive, online curriculum in project management beginning this week through July 28 from 8 a.m. to 1 pm.  AGCMO President Leonard Toenjes says the AGC Edge Project Manager Development Program provides the necessary skills and knowledge to increase one’s ability to work successfully with others to ensure project success.

The five courses instruct attendees in the basics of project management and provide tactics and strategies for ensuring project success. Toenjes says the virtual education offers construction-specific training developed and field-tested by and for contractors.

The units included in the program are: 1) An introduction to the basics of project management; 2) Initiating and Planning Part 1; 3) Initiating and Planning Part 2; 4) Executing; and 5) Monitoring, Controlling and Project Closeout.

The cost is $1,695 for AGC members and $2,375 for non-members.

For more information, contact education[@]

Women of STEEL Makes Strong Debut

By DENISE HASTY, AGC of Missouri

AGC of Missouri has launched a new women’s construction group that is gaining a large following across Missouri and attracting national attention. Just coming off its first Annual Conference and about to undertake another four networking events, AGCMO’s new Women of STEEL group also will be a featured program topic at next week’s AGC of America Annual Convention in Las Vegas.

Construction firms and associations around the country have been celebrating women’s roles in construction during NAWIC’s Women in Construction Week ™ (March 5-11). This year’s theme, “Many Paths, One Mission,” celebrates the different journeys women have taken toward the same goal: strengthening and amplifying the success of women in the construction industry. And that’s exactly what some key AGCMO members and staff had in mind when they formulated the idea for a new Women of STEEL (seeking to engage, elevate and lead) interest group over a year ago.

According to AGCMO member Amanda Bohnert, CPSM, chief marketing officer, S. M. Wilson, and one of Women of STEEL’s co-founders, “There are many women working in construction who are not a member of the trades or formal groups.  However, they are vital to our industry and work in all sorts of jobs, i.e. HR, estimating, purchasing, project support, accounting, marketing, etc. When we founded Women of STEEL and created our mission, we were looking for a way to help them expand their professional horizons, learn from others’ experiences and have an opportunity for professional development”.

“At the same time, we saw an opportunity to elevate member engagement and provide a greater ROI for our member companies,” Bohnert added. “Our initial year exceeded our expectations with an outreach to more than 500 women, engaging member firms

throughout the state.”

The group started with a strong mission and no budget. Through social media, direct mail, newsletter promotion and word-of-mouth, interest grew for a virtual kick-off meeting last spring followed by a hybrid presentation by career coach Maisha Christian and a series of happy hour networking events around the state. The group also had a breakout session at the annual AGCMO/MoDOT Co-op meeting in December. Women of STEEL has accumulated an impressive following of 500-plus women in the group’s debut year, culminating with the first Women of STEEL two-day annual conference last month in Jefferson City.

Social media has been instrumental in connecting prospective members to Women of STEEL.  Event listings and updates can be found at: Facebook , Instagram, LinkedIn and in the organization’s Facebook Group.

Upcoming Women of STEEL events include a special breakout session, “Discovering Your Superpowers,” and WOS happy hour at the AGCMO Annual Convention in Cape Girardeau March 27-28. WOS happy hours are scheduled May 16 and 17 in mid-Missouri and Kansas City, respectively, followed by an event at S. M. Wilson hosted by WilsonWomen on June 22nd and another in southeast Missouri on Nov. 16.

Plans are already underway for a 2024 Women of STEEL conference. Topic suggestions already are flowing in – from learning about contract terms and negotiations, successfully navigating difficult conversations and avoiding the Superwoman Syndrome, to increasing confidence and juggling work and family while succeeding at both. Have ideas? WOS would love to engage with even more women in the industry.

For information or to register for upcoming events, contact Denise Hasty at

Denise Hasty, CAE, is Vice-President, Advocacy and Public Relations, for AGCMO.

Contractors Debate Bidding Same Public Job Twice due to Cost Spikes, Unknowns


Contractors in St. Louis and elsewhere are frustrated in the public bid world these days.

With material pricing uncertainties, inflation, supply chain delays and more, qualified contractors are often finding it tough to submit an affordable project bid response that matches the agency’s bid documents.

Evidence of this frustration can be seen in few – or no – responses to public lettings, illustrated recently with the proposed expansion of America’s Center downtown. The convention center expansion drew only one bidder for phase I, Ben-Hur Construction, whose bid came in $40 million over the owner’s expected budget. Phase II of the $210 million expansion project attracted no bidders. And in late December, operator St. Louis Convention/Visitors Bureau said there were not enough funds to complete the project. The bureau announced it had to use dollars reserved for phase II to meet the rising costs of phase I.

AGCMO President Len Toenjes says what has occurred with the America’s Center RFQs is not an isolated scenario.

“Typically an engineering firm develops a preliminary estimate and then it’s a matter of gaining bonding approval on a public sector project,” Toenjes said. “From that point on, as a public project is let, it becomes readily apparent very quickly – from the time of the engineer’s preliminary cost estimate onward, that those initial numbers didn’t factor in inflation, or enough inflation, into the formal bid documents.”

Toenjes says he has witnessed a number of contractors who have had to return to the public agency to provide all the back-up to substantiate what is the reality – the increased cost of materials, labor and more. “Trying to work through that issue becomes problematic,” he said. “And it’s real.”

From the contractor’s perspective, another issue also becomes real. If the bids come back over the estimate and the public agency rejects all the bids and does not award the project, those bidding contractors’ numbers are no longer private information. Their information is public, enabling their competitors to see exactly what their numbers are.

KCI Construction President Tom Huster says this, too, is frustrating.

“Two weeks after the agency rejects the bids, our numbers are out there for all to see,” said Huster. “Everyone knows your price. You’ve got a target on your back that makes it extremely difficult to bid that same job twice.”

Huster and other contractors have spoken with MoDOT about merely sharing the percentage that each competing bid is over the letting amount, rather than reporting the exact numbers provided by each contractor bidder. According to MoDOT, the U.S. Dept. of Justice and The Office of Federal Procurement Policy require that government-funded projects must disclose the costs of what government is agreeing to buy and at what prices in the name of taxpayer full transparency.

AGCMO Partnering in Prepping Inmates for Construction Careers


Thanks to a three-year workforce development grant, AGC of Missouri is partnering with the Missouri Career Center in Springfield, MO to teach construction courses to inmates statewide that will soon complete their sentences and be released to start over.

AGCMO District Representative for Southwest Missouri Charlyce Ruth says in March the AGCMO began teaching courses in heavy highway construction, manufacturing and warehousing to inmates preparing for release from correctional centers across Missouri. Those serving their time and within 20 to 180 days of being released are taking the opportunity to build skills through education in areas such as forklift operation and work zone flagging.

“We began teaching in five prisons,” said Ruth. “Now we’re teaching in nine across the state. We’re excited to be a partner with the City of Springfield and the Missouri Career Center in this three-year program that is giving inmates an opportunity to gain construction industry skills and help them change the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their families.”

AGCMO Vice President of Safety Brandon Anderson is heading up the teaching.

“It’s a completely voluntary program for inmates who are interested,” Anderson said. “We’re particularly excited about the courses we’ve gotten to teach at Chillicothe Correctional Center in Chillicothe, MO, one of only two all-female prisons in the state. Historically these inmates have only been offered administrative and cosmetology courses. This facility embraced the opportunity to offer construction industry expertise and training and their inmates have been eager to learn. Given the dire need for construction industry workers, this program offers inmates the chance to prepare to earn a living wage as soon as they’re released, and it’s bringing qualified individuals into the construction industry.”

Upon release, former inmates will have additional training opportunities via AGCMO and the Missouri Career Center. Inmates receiving training through this grant plan to return to Southwest Missouri to live and work.

For more information on the program, contact Ruth at or Anderson at

Sign of the Times: MO, IL Public Projects Draw Only One Bidder



Within the past 45 days, two major public-sector building project lettings – one in St. Louis, the other in Springfield, IL – have been left wanting for bids from contractors.

The first project, phase two of a proposed expansion to St. Louis’ downtown convention center, met with only one bidder for phase one and no bidders for phase two. The contract to build the second half of the Cervantes Convention Center expansion/modernization, estimated by city officials to cost $70.8 million, received nary a bid. Phase one of the project, awarded in early May to the only bidder – Ben Hur Construction – included approval of a $123.9 million contract with the construction firm, 65 percent higher than what the city initially budgeted.

The second project, the largest-ever renovation of the Illinois State Capitol, attracted only one bidder with a price tag that came in 43 percent over the state’s job cost estimate. Core Construction Services of Illinois Inc. was awarded the $243.5-million project, for which the state budgeted as part of a 2019 capital improvements package. Four contractors expressed interest at a pre-bid session, according project architect Andrew Aggertt, but only one firm bid on the contract.

“I am not surprised,” said Leonard Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri, referencing the lack of bidders. “These longer-term projects, with inflation as it is and all the different work opportunities there are, dissuades contracting from trying to work in the public low-bid market because that carries a lot of risk, especially now.”

In contrast to private-sector construction projects, taxpayer-funded public builds don’t allow for provisions such as escalation clauses, according to Toenjes, to help minimize the risk contractors bear when there are supply chain unknowns. Private sector project agreements also frequently include flexibility in working with the project owner when diesel prices double over the course of the project timeline.

“The long-term nature of some of these projects often requires that contractors go back to owners and restructure various portions of the contract to account for dramatic cost escalations,” Toenjes said. “These candid constructor-supplier-owner conversations are often needed these days to keep a project on track. In a public low-bid, hard-bid situation, this type of flexibility often is not possible.”