A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

ABC Houston Opens New Facility to Meet the Expanding Needs of the Construction Industry: Part 1 of 2

Last week the Greater Houston Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) held an open house to celebrate the grand opening of their new facility at 4910 Dacoma Street in Houston.  ABC members, many of whom had helped renovate the facility, gathered to view the completed meeting rooms, training rooms, office spaces, and reception and break areas while enjoying appetizers and refreshments.  The grand opening also served as a thank-you to the ABC members who raised nearly $200,000 to assist with the funding of the renovation.

At the open house, I visited with William P. Sanchez, founder and President of Oxford Builders, Inc. who was a member of the leadership team that found, purchased, redesigned, and transformed the former multi-tenant office building into the beautiful and functional facility where we were standing.  We talked about some of the work he does with ABC and about the state of the construction industry.

Sanchez has worked in the Houston construction industry for over 19 years, and has been a board member of Associated Builders and Contractors Greater Houston Chapter for the last four years.  As a member of ABC’s Commercial Construction Committee, he visits schools to talk about career opportunities in construction and to help influence the curriculum offered at those schools.  That committee also facilitates student visits to construction company offices such as TDIndustries, Harvey, and Marek.  Students learn about the many types of work that they could pursue in the construction industry in addition to the skilled trades on the jobsite.  Learning that construction companies need people in accounting, estimating, managing cash flow, and in digital estimating may come as a surprise to some.

Sanchez told me that ABC also looks for new recruits for the workforce by putting ads on Craig’s List such as “Learn a Trade and get Paid.”  He said active recruitment for the next workforce is critical for filling publically-funded jobs such as schools and hospitals, because all workers on those sites are required to submit to a background check, thinning out the number of qualified recruits.  He said that for too long many politicians have demanded that bids for jobs be given to the lowest bidder, noting that as the old saying goes “you get what you pay for.”

Next I had the opportunity to pull Sam Craig, President of Craig and Heidt, Inc. aside from the frenzied background noise of all of the networking at the gathering of ABC members, who were all excited to see the new facility.  I wanted to talk to Craig, who was part of the Construction, Planning, and Design Committee for this new facility.

He told me that he was part of the ABC committee who designed “the interior finishes, the walls, the layout, the floor plan, the room size, the finishes on each individual room, and the furniture.  [They] helped select the architects, the contractors who did all the work, and followed their progress through to completion.”

Mr. Craig continued:

“There are three training rooms, a board room, offices for the ABC staff, and an entrance foyer.  We have a set up for our members who can come in and have meetings with potential clients or customers, if they want to reserve a room.  We have an unfinished area that is reserved for light craft training such as introductory craft training where we would instruct recruits in how to use a tape measure, use levels, and other basic skills needed for all trades.”
I asked whether the Construction and Maintenance Education Foundation (CMEF) would still have their facility on the east side of Houston in La Porte, TX.  He told me that yes, that facility would continue to train and certify skilled workers on the east side of Houston and this new facility would serve commercial contractors on the west side, companies who could send people here for additional training, including classes in CPR/First Aid and the OSHA 10-hour course.

Watch excerpts from my interview with Sam Craig in the 2-minute video below:

In the upcoming sequel to this article you will hear interviews from Janet King-Rogers, Director of Business Development at PDG Architects who worked on the building renovation, and from Russell Hamley, President of ABC Greater Houston Chapter.