On the final day of AGC’s convention in Las Vegas, the association installed its 2014-15 officers, including new president Alan Landes, a 40-year veteran with rail and heavy/highway firm Herzog Contracting Corp., St. Joseph, Mo., where he serves as president and CEO. He takes the helm from outgoing president Paul W. Diederich, president of North Dakota’s Industrial Builders Inc.
Landes says he is pleased to see the construction industry emerging from the recession but understands that the recovery does not extend equally to all regions or sectors. Many firms that depend heavily upon the public sector, especially highway and public works contractors, are still struggling, he adds.
“We have a ‘devolution’ going on in this country right now. The states know that no more federal dollars are coming their way, so they have to go to the private markets to fund their projects,” Landes says.
He says the result has been a bigger interest in exploring public-private partnerships, alternative funding and project delivery methods. His own firm, Herzog, has been involved in several P3s, including the Eagle P3 FasTracks project in Denver.
“People are seeking out P3s by default,” Landes says. “But it is very expensive to get into that contest. It’s essential to have an equity position for a P3 to work well for you.”
Landes will use his tenure as AGC president to push member involvement and workforce initiatives. “Our declining industry workforce is the number one issue we have,” he says. “A high level of vocational classes in the [high] schools doesn’t exist any more. We need to help change the mission of our schools. Not everyone wants or needs to go to college. With training, they can make a very good living in construction and the trades. We just need to get that message out to students—and their parents.”
Landes says he will work with AGC staff to show the association’s members, and the industry, that relationships and networking in construction—with clients, owners, designers and fellow contractors— mean more than ever.
The industry’s image and “our prospects can be improved, once people see the incredible opportunities here,” he says.