Mike: I am the luckiest person in the world because right after I graduated college I interviewed with a group of gentlemen at the Northeast Louisiana Contractors Association, a small chapter of AGC of America. They must have seen something in me because they gave me an opportunity to be their executive. I worked for that chapter for eight years and then went to work for a larger AGC chapter in Jacksonville, Florida. I spent six years in Florida and then was hired here at AGC Georgia in 1995. The person I replaced was the chief staff officer for 41 years. I’ve now worked within the AGC organization for 37 years. It’s been a tremendous career so far and my responsibilities as CEO are all encompassing, as any CEO job. As a statewide chapter, our general and specialty contractor members are big and small, perform public and private work and are from all regions of the state. In addition to our contractor members, we benefit from having service providers and suppliers in our membership. I’m honored to advocate for all the incredible companies making up Georgia’s commercial construction industry.
RKR: In this day and age, it’s impressive you have worked for one company your entire career.
Mike: Yes, it’s not as commonplace today as it was a generation ago. What makes my job so great are the people I have worked with over the years. In my opinion, construction is the last faction of the true free enterprise industries where you can be self‐made. Contractors face tremendous odds and challenges. I think it’s a tremendous industry to work in and work for. Never do I have two days that are the same. It’s not just going in and sitting in a cubicle or office day in and day out. Our AGC Georgia team does a little bit of everything from being at the Capitol, to visiting governmental offices, to working with construction instructors at schools, to working with industry professionals and even buyers of construction services.
RKR: What major initiatives are underway at AGC Georgia? AGC of America?
Mike: Compared to all 88 chapters of AGC of America, we are a very diverse and our membership is large ‐ so we do a lot. AGC Georgia is very active in the governmental arena. We recently had a legislative committee meeting with more than 30 people in the room talking about the issues impacting our industry. We are very engaged in safety, which is job one for our members. We work to help contractors embrace evolving technology, and we provide a lot of training, including building information modeling certification courses. We also offer education in the areas of professional development and soft skills. The one area requiring a lot of our resources is workforce development. Our contractors need more qualified and skilled people on their projects. We are seeking more young men and women to view our industry as a rewarding career path that can be entered by either earning a college degree in construction management or becoming skilled in trades such as electrical, masonry, painting, carpentry, etc. The workforce initiatives and related issues are the same challenges across America. We have an aging work force that is leaving the industry at a far greater rate than new people are entering. In fact, it’s at approximately a 4:1 ratio. This statistic alone keeps us focused on the fact that we must do a better job of developing a sustainable pipeline of talent in all construction career paths.
RKR: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Mike: I can look back on a lot of things where we have had a positive impact on the market in construction. We have made it easier for contractors to do their job, to make them more productive, to make them more profitable, to make their jobsites safer, and to make it a better place to work. When you feel that you are having that kind of an impact, it makes you want to do more. I find it rewarding to look in the law books in Louisiana and Florida and here in Georgia and see AGC’s fingerprints on legislative successes. It’s great to hear someone talk about what they learned when they came to a class and how they put their new knowledge to work for themselves and or their company. Knowing you are making a difference is rewarding.
RKR: What does the future hold for the construction industry in Georgia?
Mike: The future is bright. As the hub of the south, Georgia is perfectly positioned. Helping our economic growth is the fact that Atlanta is the third largest city with Fortune 500 headquarters behind New York and Houston. We continue to have corporations relocate their headquarters here. America's shift to the sun belt is at a steady march. I heard an economist state "that by 2044, half of America’s population will live in the 14 southern states." And he backed that up by saying "you don’t ever hear people say, ‘I can't wait to retire so I can move to New Jersey.’” Our quality of life and the fact that we still have affordable land and housing are major reasons Georgia is a great location for business and families. Also helping keep Georgia vibrant is the Savannah Port and the multiple military bases. Having said all that, I also think we have challenges ahead of us. We need to maintain a strong education system to provide our students the ability to be work ready, job ready. We have counties suffering from a negative population shift and I attribute that to those areas not having an economic base. When you simultaneously have two Georgias, you really need to be attentive to both their needs for the greater whole to be successful in the long run. AGC Georgia continues to look at the big picture and see how our industry can help all communities.
RKR: What are your interests outside of work?
Mike: I enjoy playing golf, but I don’t get the opportunity very often. Making it worse, people who see me play say I don't play at all! When the opportunity comes, I don’t turn down a chance to quail hunt. The best thing I have going for me is a great family. My wife and I have two grown daughters and my youngest just delivered our first grandchildren – twin granddaughters. I’m enjoying as much time as I can with them now. The other pretty exciting thing this job provides me is an amazing opportunity to travel the country. I’ve seen a lot of it by attending AGC of America meetings around the country. My wife and I especially love visiting national parks.
RKR: Anything else you would like to add?
Mike: Yes, I would like to offer a little about RKR’s team leader. Randall Redding is a special contractor. He is what I call a “contractor’s contractor” and he has a great reputation in the industry. He was an outstanding president for AGC Georgia and he has served on our board and our executive committee. I admire how he empowered his employees to get engaged with AGC Georgia. Everyone I meet with RKR truly wants to help make the entire industry better by offering their individual expertise to the greater good. I appreciate him and leaders like him. They enjoy healthy competition among their competitors, but keep the AGC Georgia values of “skill, integrity and responsibility” at the forefront and want the entire industry to be better. Its people like Randall and his team who make my job so rewarding and who make AGC Georgia so successful.