The second I saw that beautiful boat cruising through the columns of the giant Marriott Resort lobby, I knew it was going to be great convention. And when lunch arrived and the Constructor Exhibitors put out that incredible spread or gourmet cuisine and drink, my suspicions were confirmed.
But the 94th Annual AGC Convention was much more than great atmosphere and food; it was full of life and hope for the construction industry. Located in Palm Springs, at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Hotel, the event drew more than 2,200 people from 870 different companies and exceeded last year's event by 25%, making it a “big success,” says new incoming AGC President Paul W. Diederich.
I bumped into Diederich, while I was coming out of a forum on the benefits of Lean Construction. I asked the new AGC head what his immediate plans were for the organization.
“My first order of business is to capitalize on the fact that our economy is coming back,” says Diederich, who is also president of North Dakota-based Industrial Builders, Inc., a family-owned, full-service general contractor.
After this, he says he want to get a larger workforce interested in joining the AGC, and also reach out to young people.
After speaking with Diederich, I headed to lunch in the resort pavilion area. While enjoying crab cake burgers, ceviche shots and Chinese chicken salad, I toured the area, where a myriad of exhibitors set up booths and displayed some of the latest advancements in construction technology and networking.
Exhibitor highlights included building information software such as BIM, Trimble Buildings, Smartbid.net, and isqft.com. The latter set up a virtual golf hitting green for guests. It was one of 18 sponsored miniature golf holes scattered around the pavilion.
After lunch I sat in on a roundtable discussion for CEOs called “It’s Lonely at the Top; What Keeps You up at Night?” This fun and informative discussion was led by leadership coaches, one of which was an army major. It began with all the CEOs and business leaders in the room standing up, switching seats and introducing themselves to someone new in the room. From here the discussion covered leadership skills; resiliency and accountability; and peer interaction.
Another interesting session was “Contract Killer Clauses and How to Avoid Them.” Led by a panel with legal expertise on owner, contractor and subcontractor positions, this one-hour discussion on reading, understanding and signing construction contracts kept the room riveted with various topics designed to help keep contractors and owners out of court and on the field.
Other highlights of my visit included a technology showcase focused on new mobile apps; a “Ten Minute Construction Law Drill,” where industry and legal experts were asked a series of questions and had only 10 minutes to respond. The rules were enforced by moderator, attorney and National Football League referee Ed Hochuli.