The Story of AGC of Connecticut, Through the Decades
AGC/CT Chapter Presidents Since 1947
The Early Years
- AGC of Connecticut was chartered in the fall of 1947 to become the 28th Chapter of the AGC of America. There were fourteen original members. The chapter leaders elected their first president, hired their first Executive Director, Cap Grisham, and established a new office in New Haven.
- In 1948, the chapter formed closer working relationship with city councils and the State of Connecticut to work on payment issues and single contractor-to-owner methods of contracting. They established a labor relations component to negotiate with the unions and work together on industry issues at both state and local levels.
- In 1950’s the chapter became even more active in providing benefits and training for union tradesmen. They formed the first multi-trade welfare fund in Connecticut, with joint trustees from both labor and management. And they decided to make monthly employer contributions of seven cents per hour for each tradesman on their payrolls to provide for some health insurance and pension savings to their skilled employees. They also formed jointly administered apprenticeship training programs for carpenters, brick masons, operating engineers, and ironworkers.
- Attempting to establish standards for fair dealing in the CT construction market, the chapter adopted a contractors' Code of Ethics in Construction.
- On the legislative front, AGC influenced the state to adopt a uniform payment statute which guaranteed prompt payment on public construction projects assuring that subcontractors would be paid on time.
- The 50’s also witnessed several important milestones for the construction industry in general, in particular, the growth of the state construction budget through a public works program during the latter years of the Eisenhower administration. The first education and training programs through a joint venture with the unions to bring journeymen trades into supervisory positions of foremen and superintendents were founded at this time. And the decade marked the initial usage of National Maintenance Agreements in certain industrial plants and power plant construction.
- The decade of the 60’s saw AGC’s committee structure expanded to include public relations, contracts, membership growth, and manpower and training committees, in addition to the already existing labor relations and education committees.
- In 1961, several new management training programs were introduced including construction cost accounting, marketing, and business and contracts law. Several subcontractor firms were brought into the association during this year.
- In 1962, the unions and contractors worked long and hard to ratify contract negotiations and a carpenter's strike was narrowly averted.
- 1963 saw the first contractor negotiating teams formed to focus on certain trades. Laborers, carpenters, and other trade-specific bargaining committees began working early for the expiration of two year agreements coming up in 1964.
- But in 1964, despite the best efforts of the newly found negotiating committees, a two-month strike delivered a powerful blow to the contractors, and new unprecedented wage gains were realized by the unions, in which more monies were being allocated from the growing pensions funds.
- By 1965, more of the trades had broken away for the statewide multi-trade fund and had formed their own funds with contractors and union representatives as trustees.
- In 1966, the association moved to Woodbridge, and the next year, 1967, Executive Director Cap Grisham retired after twenty years of service. AGC hired Frank White as its next Executive Director.
- In the 1970’s, the chapter archives seem to be a little thin, so we pick up the action in 1978, when the Association changed its bylaws to allow construction managers the same status as a general contractors, and Construction Management (CM) became an accepted term in the Connecticut industry in the northeast.
- Under the presidency of Jim Eacott, Jr. in 1980/81, the chapter kicked off the decade by moving its headquarters to 107 Oak Street in Hartford, two blocks from the State House. In terms of accomplishments during those years, AGC retained a public relations firm to enhance its public image, won the repeal of the "Pre-File Bidding" Law in Connecticut, and the hired Francis Mazza as the new Executive Vice President.
- In 1982 and 1983, under President Paul Morganti, AGC of Connecticut increased its membership by 41% to 71 Actives, 64 Associates, and 39 Affiliates and established the Joan “Bonvicini” Blancpain Memorial Scholarship Award.
- In 1984 and 1985, under President Frank Gillon, the chapter presented the first Building a Better Connecticut Award to Gov. William O’Neill, and received a National AGC Public Relations award.
- During the presidency of Michael Timura in 1985 and 1986, the Chapter relocated its office to 500 Main St., Yalesville, CT. AGC leased space to the carpenters and bricklayers unions for their Apprentice Training.
- Terry Wooding served as President in 1988/89 and Brian Nickerson was President in 1989/90.
- In 1990, (President Arthur J. Kelly, Jr.) the chapter filed a case against the City of New Haven for its set-aside program.
- In 1991, (President Charles G. Groves) John B. Farnham was hired as new Executive Director. A Steering Committee was formed to Plan the Future Course for the AGC of Connecticut and Mike Timura was named AGC Committee Chairman of the Year.
- 1992 was a watershed year for the Chapter. President James H. Eacott, III oversaw the affiliation with the Connecticut Construction Industries Association (CCIA) and the move from the Yalesville office (which was sold to the Carpenter’s Local 24) to 912 Silas Deane Highway in Wethersfield. The chapter also won the New Haven set-aside case at the District Court Level.
- In 1993/94, during the presidency of Gregory Oneglia, AGC, with CCIA’s leadership and guidance, helped pass workers compensation reform. The chapter also stepped up its efforts to provide industry supervisory training through the Supervisory Training Program (STP).
- In 1994/95, (President Pat Centore) the CT construction industry experienced a reduction in workers compensation rates of 20%, largely as a result of the new Workers Compensation Reform Act, passed in the previous year. In a major boost for the building side of the construction industry, the General Assembly passed the $1.1 billion UCONN 2000 construction program. At this time, the chapter operated its well-received safety van program, “Operation Safe Site,” and established a new workers compensation program with Atlantic Mutual.
- In 1995/96, (President Vincent Giordano), AGC finally won the New Haven Set-Aside Case in the 2nd Circuit Federal Court, forcing the City of New Haven to dismantle its set-aside ordinances. On the legislative front, the chapter helped win passage of Self-Insured Workers Compensation Insurance Model Act. The chapter also participated in the establishment of the UConn contractor pre-qualification system, and in a portentous sign of things to come, the construction internet web site, “Construction Corner,” was launched at this time.
- In 1996/97, under President Robert Sullivan, AGC/CT received the settlement amount on legal fees from the City of New Haven as a result of the Set Aside case. During this time, the Connecticut Construction Labor Management Council was established, and the new AGC Quarterly Newsletter AGC Insights was launched.
- During the presidency of David Yoder in 1997/98, the chapter celebrated its 50th Anniversary. The Scholarship Program increased to $10,000 per year for two students. The chapter also worked with the CT Subcontractors Association on several legislative initiatives.
- In 1998/99, under President Damien Davis, AGC/CT introduced the first Build-Up Kits (A Tool Kit for Learning) into the public schools. The chapter continued to offer discount insurance programs to members through the workers compensation program with Atlantic Mutual, in its fourth year, and a new all-lines insurance program with R.C. Knox/Travelers.
The New Millennium
- In 1999/2000, under President Jonathan Miller, AGC/CT established the Build Connecticut Awards Program. At this time, the chapter built a close working relationship with Minority Contractors groups in Hartford & New Haven and offered several training courses in Blueprint Reading and Estimating.
- In 2001/2002, under President Gregory Raucci, the chapter changed the terms of office for officers to two-full year terms. Other notable accomplishments include the introduction of strategic planning as the chapter conducted a planning session the result of which was the chapter’s first Strategic Plan. AGC/CT also amended bylaws to equalize role of subcontractors with that of general contractors.
- In 2003/04, under President Steve Kononchik, the chapter helped pass a major contractor prequalification law and coordinated with the CT Subcontractors Association to amend the Fairness in Contract Financing law. During this time, the Young Contractors Forum (YCF) was established and there was an effort to upgrade the association’s use of technology.
- In 2005/06, President Joseph Milazzo was the first subcontractor member to be elected President under revised by-laws. This biennium marked significant legislative activity as the chapter worked to pass bills to prohibit the use of OCIP’s in Public Construction arena and to place liability on municipalities not using state law requiring payment bonds on municipal projects. The chapter also defeated a Contractor False Claims Act. These years saw the expansion of the Young Contractors Forum, and the replacement of the Mid-Year Meeting with the Industry Recognition Dinner.
- In 2007/08, under President Gary Timura, the chapter adopted a new Business Plan which focused on the future of the chapter. Part of that plan resulted in the hiring of Assistant Executive Director John Butts, and also included adopting a stronger focus on subcontractor issues and building the membership. On the legislative front, the chapter supported the passage of the OSHA 10-Hour bill and worked with DPW and UConn to allow CM at Risk on state building projects. During this time, the chapter stepped up its involvement in AGC of America activities, including the adoption of a goal of 100% Board participation in AGC PAC contributions, John Farnham serving as chair of AGC Executive Leadership Council (which included membership on the national Executive Board), and Terry Wooding serving as Chair of the AGC Marketing Committee.
- During the biennium of 2009/10, under President Bob Berkmoes, John Farnham, who had served the chapter as Executive Director, and was succeeded by John Butts. At this time, the chapter adopted a new Strategic Plan which focused on closer cooperation with other construction and designer trade associations, and simplifying its dues structure. For its efforts in training minority-owned businesses, the chapter received a U.S. Department of Commerce Leadership Award for its Small Contractor Training and Development Program, in cooperation with the Metropolitan District Commission (MD) and the Business Resource Corporation (BRC). In terms of legislative accomplishments, AGC and CCIA worked hard to modify the State False Claims Act to exclude construction, pass retainage legislation, and addressed proposals to improve the DAS prequalification program. And the chapter’s strong tradition of AGC of America involvement continued with the achievement of 100% Board participation in AGC of America PAC, and Terry Wooding being nominated Vice Chair of the AGC Building Division.
The 2000 Teens
- In 2011/12, James Manafort, Jr. led the association as Chapter President. The chapter stepped up its training program efforts with BIM, STP, and Young Contractor Development programs with the YCF. Some legislative issues for those two years included the Fairness in Construction Contracting Act which the chapter helped shape and Construction Contracting and Bidding Transparency Working Group, on which several AGC members served. During this time, the chapter converted its dues system to adjust to National AGC’s change from individual national member dues to a charter fee structure. In addition, Terry Wooding served as Chair of the AGC of America Building Division and on the national Executive Board. Other activities included Build CT Awards, Industry Recognition, Golf Tournament, and scholarship awards.
- The biennium of 2013/14 was the chapter presidency of Tom Giardini. The legislative sessions were active ones as the chapter helped fight off efforts to expand the state’s false claims act, consideration of a file sub bid system, and an expansion of the state’s bid listing system. During this time, the industry began its effort to address the statute of limitation issue left by the UConn Law Library case, the so-called “Lombardo” case, which allowed a contractor’s statute of limitation on public construction projects to run in perpetuity. In its first try at addressing the issue, AGC and CCIA helped lead an industry coalition bill in the General Assembly which ultimately died on the House calendar. It was during this time that the chapter added Lean Construction training to its line up of industry training programs. The chapter also continued its scholarship, Industry Recognition, Build CT Awards, and scholarship programs.
- In 2015/16, Frank Ferrucci served as president of the chapter. 2015 was a landmark year for the CCIA/AGC team as it helped lead the AEC industry effort to pass the so-called Lombardo bill which limits a contractor’s statute of limitations on public projects at 10 years after substantial completion. The chapter also led a major fundraising effort for a named scholarship at the National AGC Education Foundation in memory of past chapter president Tom Giardini. It was also at this time that the chapter participated in the ill-fated CASE disparity study. In 2016, in the wake of the untimely death of past chapter president Tom Giardini, the AGC/CT Education Foundation was formed to support workforce efforts in the construction industry, including scholarships. And under President Ferrucci’s leadership, the chapter developed the Build CT website to serve as a guide for those interested in a construction career. In the General Assembly, the chapter supported an effort to decrease retainage on DAS and UConn projects and to require CHRO to approve affirmative action plans within a time certain. We also held our traditional Industry Recognition and Build CT Awards in addition to awarding scholarships.
- The years 2017 and 2018 marked the tenure of John Mastriano as Chapter President and busy years for the chapter. In the General Assembly, the chapter successfully fought back several bills aimed at unworkable and counterproductive prequalification requirements on state contractors, and a bill to expand the number of trades to be listed by a GC in their bid to the owner. In 2018, in reaction to a DAS proposal to allow construction managers to self perform in school construction work, the chapter formed a working group that developed a series of 5 conditions under which CM’s could self perform which served as the policy on this issue going forward. And in 2018, McElroy Deutsch Mulvaney & Carpenter submitted a friend of the court brief on behalf of the chapter to the state Supreme Court involving interpretation of builders’ risk policies on construction projects. The chapter also engaged with representatives of CHRO who announced a new positive direction at the agency in the approval process for affirmative action plans. And the chapter continued to serve members with its Golf Tournament, Build CT Awards, STP training, and in addition to our traditional AGC scholarships, a new scholarship from the newly-minted AGC/CT Foundation.
- During the biennium of 2019 and 2020, John Hawley served the chapter as President. The most significant challenge during this time was when DAS succeeded in passing a bill during a special summer session allowing CM self performance which lacked the 5 conditions the chapter had advocated to the agency and to legislators. The chapter opposed this measure and although it ultimately passed the effective date for this defective statute was delayed to 2020. The chapter was active in opposing other legislation it deemed harmful to the industry, such as bills on debarment of state contractors and OSHA violations connected to state prequalification. On the positive front, the chapter supported a number of bills that benefited the industry including a successful one to require CHRO to process affirmative action plans within 120 days. Outside the legislative arena, in 2019, John Butts served as President of the AGC of America Executive Leadership Council at the national level, following in the footsteps of previous Executive Director John Farnham who served in the same role in 2007. That role also included service as a member of the AGC of America Executive Board. The chapter hosted three units of STP and helped coordinate an Opioid Awareness Stand Down. The year 2019 also marked a new direction for our Golf Tournament as we moved the tournament from Wethersfield Country Club to Tumble Brook Country Club in Bloomfield allowing us to significantly expand the field of golfers. As the world changed forever in the midst of a worldwide pandemic in March of 2020, the chapter’s focus switched on a dime to allowing our members to continue to work safely and making sure that the construction process in CT continue as an essential service. And although all in-person events were cancelled for the year, we were able to interview scholarship candidates, conduct webinars, and deliver STP and Lean classes to the members on a remote basis.
The 2000 Twenties
- The COVID-19 years continued in 2021 as Mike McPhee assumed the chapter presidency for the 2021-2022 biennium. The chapter opened the year with its Annual Meeting held remotely, featuring AGC of America President Bob Lanham and CEO Steve Sandherr as keynote speakers. As the world adjusted to a hybrid mode, the chapter lobbied the General Assembly which remained in remote fashion for both the 2021 and 2022 sessions. The chapter continued to advocate for its position on the CM self performance issue with DAS and legislators and while not managing to achieve the inclusion of its 5 so-called guard rails around the use of CM self performance by the state, was able to get the statute’s effective date extended to 2022. It was also successful in getting CHRO to include CCIA and AGC’s technical amendment included in DAS’s agency bill, which protected certain contractors from potential debarment. In 2021, the chapter also sponsored 3 units of STP, awarded 5 scholarships to students in construction-related careers totaling $13,500, and changed its investment policy to increase the diversity of investments, maximize return potential, while protecting core reserves. In 2022, after 2 years of trying, the chapter was finally successful in collaborating with DAS to develop an acceptable policy on CM self performance and seeing it through the General Assembly and on to enactment. The chapter also participated in CCIA’s efforts to defeat another attempt by the Attorney’ General’s office to expand the State False Claims Act to include construction. The 2022 session included multiple bills on wage theft and debarment, most of which the industry was successful in defeating. In addition to its time-honored events such as Built CT Awards, Golf Tournament, and Industry Recognition Awards, in an acknowledgement that the remote meeting era was here to stay, the chapter also decided to invest in an audio-visual system for the CCIA Training Room to allow for remote meetings and training programs. The chapter expanded the value of the 5 scholarships it awards to $16,000 total, and with CCIA began discussions with the CT Technical High School System and the North Atlantic Region Council of Carpenters on how to collaborate on an effort to recruit high school students as young as 16 years old to become carpenter apprentices.