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  • July 07, 2014 11:43 AM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    The primary ballots for the 2014 elections go out in the mail today and we want to make sure you know who your AGC is endorsing. The Government Affairs committee has met with candidates both in Spokane and the Tri Cities region to discuss the issues most important to our industry – including transportation funding, workforce development and regulation reform. Based on those interviews, the Inland Northwest AGC Board of Directors is endorsing the following candidates:

    6th Congressional District:US Rep Cathy McMorris-Rogers

     

    Washington State

    6th District

    Senator Michael Baumgartner

    Kevin Parker

    Jeff Holy

     

    4th District

    Josh Arritola

    Leonard Christian

     

    3rd District

    Marcus Riccell

     

    8th District:

    Brad Klippert

    Larry Haler

    Sharon Brown

     

    16th District:

    Maureen Walsh

    Terry Nealey

     

    Spokane County:

    Commissioner Al French

    Auditor Vicki Dalton

    Sheriff Ozzie Kenezovich

    Treasurer Mary Kuney

     

    We encourage you to communicate these endorsements with your employees to help us build a stronger construction industry.

  • July 07, 2014 11:35 AM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    There were 325 data breach incidents and 8,320,325 people exposed to data theft from the beginning of 2010 through late June, according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Almost two breaches every day involving two of every 100 Americans. When thieves steal personal information, the victims look for someone to blame; the target is usually the person or company who had their data to start with. Businesses that suffer data breaches involving the possible theft of others' information can expect to receive lawsuits. Legal actions taken so far have not produced sizable awards, but they have produced some guidance from the courts.

    Some plaintiffs' actions have failed because they could not prove that a data breach actually harmed them. A federal appellate court ruled that only one of three plaintiffs had a cause of action against a company whose computer servers were stolen. That plaintiff had suffered an identity theft; the court ruled that it was possible that the server theft caused the identity theft. Because the other two plaintiffs could not show that the server theft harmed them, the court said that they had no cause of action. Likewise, a federal court ruling on an Indiana case said that a data breach alone was not what state law defines as a "compensable injury." In both of these cases, plaintiffs sought recovery for the cost of credit monitoring services, but the courts ruled that these costs were not compensable damages.

    Plaintiffs had no more success in a class action suit against supermarket chain Hannaford following a three-month data breach that exposed millions of credit card numbers and led to 2,000 incidents of fraud. Claiming that the chain had violated an implied contract to protect their data, the plaintiffs sought compensation and an injunction ordering Hannaford to disclose the breached data and to pay for credit monitoring services. However, the court ruled that Hannaford had no implied contract with its customers and owed no compensation to those affected customers who did not have fraudulent charges on their accounts. It also ruled that customers whose credit card issuers removed fraudulent charges from their accounts were not entitled to damages. Finally, the court denied the request for the injunction because the plaintiffs had closed the affected accounts.

    Banks that reimbursed customers affected by a 2005 data breach involving TJX Corp. had more success in court. The company, which operates popular retail chains, suffered the theft of 45 million customer records from its systems. The banks removed fraudulent charges from their customers credit card accounts, then filed a class action suit against the company. TJX eventually settled for more than $40 million.

    Many business owners see these large-scale events as the problems of large corporations, any business that keeps records of confidential customer information, such as credit card numbers, has a serious exposure to this type of loss. Some insurance companies now offer security liability insurance to protect businesses against being held liable for harm resulting from a data breach. One company's policy covers a business' liability resulting from a failure and inability of its computer security system to prevent a computer attack or to minimize its effects. It covers only losses resulting when a source outside the organization causes a data breach.

    Since virtually every organization keeps some customer information on its computer systems, every organization should at least consider purchasing security liability insurance. A professional insurance agent can suggest coverages appropriate for the organization's exposures and identify insurance companies that can provide them at a reasonable cost. Businesses must do everything they can to protect customer data, but if things go wrong, the right insurance will help the business survive.

    Article submitted by:

    Jim Dinneen, Inland Insurance, Inc.

    9016 E. Indiana Ave, Ste A.

    Spokane Valley, WA 99212

    509-456-2648 phone

    Email: jim.dinneen@inlandins.com

    Website: www.inlandins.com

  • June 09, 2014 1:10 PM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    The Inland Northwest AGC presented it’s 2013 National AGC Safety Awards and local safety awards to over 25 member companies this past week.

    Recognizing AGC Contractor Members for Safety Excellence Since 1926, the National AGC Safety Awards (NASA) program has been an ongoing effort to offer AGC members an opportunity to evaluate their safety record. NASA compares a member's safety record with other AGC members according to the member size and construction type. Additionally, NASA provides a great opportunity for contractor members to compete for nationally recognized awards that have excellent safety records.

     

    The AGC also presented local safety awards to honor those companies in our region that go above & beyond to maintain a safe workplace. This program compares companies in the same division on a local level.

     

    Safety awards are given to members who have an incident rate 25% below each division's average and members who have a zero incident rate in the following divisions: Building, Highway, Heavy/Industrial, Municipal/Utilities and Associate/Specialty.

    Congratulations to the following NASA Winners:

    • AM Landshaper Inc.
    • ARK Commercial
    • Burton Construction
    • Clearwater Construction & MGMT LLC
    • COBRA Building Envelope Contractors
    • Dew Drop Sprinklers & Landscaping
    • Dix Corp
    • Drywall Specialties Inc.
    • Federal Engineers & Constructors
    • Frank Gurney Inc.
    • Loon Lake Sand And Gravel
    • Lydig Construction Inc.
    • N A Degerstrom Inc.
    • Northwest Fence Co. Inc.
    • Performance Contracting Inc.
    • Steelhead Mechanical LLC
    • TW Clark Construction LLC
    • Williams Bros. Construction LLC
    • WM Winkler Co.
  • June 02, 2014 9:26 AM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    Heavy Highway Project Superintendant needed for $10-$30M dollar projects in the northwest.  Need 5-10 years experience managing large projects.  Construction management or related degree is required.  Must be willing to travel.  Must be proficient in written and verbal skills, must understand scheduling and cost control, must be able to read and understand owner specs. and plans, must have a general knowledge of safety requirements and must perform as a productive member of a management team.

    Wage DOE, paid family medical, retirement, 401(K)

    Send resume to: M.A. DeAtley Construction, Inc. PO Box 490, Clarkston WA 99403, Fax to 509-751-1922 or email to deedee@madcon.net

  • May 29, 2014 9:55 AM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    AGC Retro just received a whopping 42% Group Refund and over half of the members in the program are earning 54% refunds their workers compensation premiums as a result of a performance based refund distribution designed to reward safety and light duty efforts!

     

    Van Hardy, Chairman of the program said, “I could not be more pleased with these outstanding results.  Year over year we continue to be a top performing construction Retro group.  I see competing plans elevating their penalty risk to percentage levels that can only be described as dangerously aggressive and twice as high as AGC is willing to risk on behalf of our members.  I am reminded that sticking to our core principles which include consistently well thought out policies and processes is the right way to operate and is of great benefit to our member companies.  How are we able to produce long term results that exceed our competitor Retro groups with less risk, lower administrative expenses and a much higher percentage of total refunds returned to our members?  We have the best design, the strongest and most capable staff, the most committed participant companies and a member staffed Retro Committee that never deviates from our mission of making sure everything we do is in the best interests of our participant companies.”

    Learn more or get your free analysis today.

  • March 24, 2014 8:10 AM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    by Tyler S. Waite, Campbell & Bissell, PPLC

     

    In an effort to move toward an international standard in the classification and labeling of hazardous chemicals, OSHA’s “Hazard Communication Standard” (HCS) has been revised to align with the international “GHS” system.  Once this transition is complete, the new standard should make the workplace safer through communicating better information to workers and by providing emergency responders with consistent standardized information.  Additionally, the change is expected to ease international trade barriers associated with existing inconsistencies in chemical labeling and classification. 

     

    What is “GHS”?  GHS is an acronym for the “Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals.”  At least sixty-five other countries have already adopted, or are in the process of adopting the GHS system.  GHS provides a comprehensive scheme to define and classify physical and environmental chemical hazards as well as a universal method of communicating hazardous information and protective measures through universal labeling requirements and Safety Data Sheets (SDS).  SDSs will include new information and look different than the current MSDS sheets.  The new SDS sheets will include things such as pictograms, signal words and hazard statements. 

     

    What this means for contractors/businesses: The GHS aligned requirements will be phased in over the next three years.  OSHA set a December 1, 2013 deadline for employers to train workers on the changes to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (in other words, if you have not completed the training, you are already 4 months past the deadline).  By June 1, 2016, employers are required to be in full compliance with all provisions of the updated standard, and distributors will not be allowed to ship products using the old HCS labeling system after December 1, 2015.  Hazard communication infractions result in frequent OSHA citations, and OSHA intends to review companies’ plans and records for hazard communication procedures during site inspections. 

     

    Many businesses have not yet provided training concerning the new standards, and many do not realize they fall under the requirements of the new OSHA standards.  The new standards are far reaching and often apply to commonly used chemicals such as paints, as well as consumer grade adhesives and cleaning supplies.  Even cosmetologists and salons may be subject to the new GHS training requirements if certain chemicals are used in the workplace.  Employers have always been required to provide hazard communication trainings to new workers under the general industry standards but employers are now required to update their operations and retrain employees.  Under the revised GHS system, workers need to understand the new labeling scheme.  Training includes instructing workers how to read and understand the new Safety Data Sheets, addressing risks posed by hazardous chemicals, and ensuring that workers have an understanding of the new labeling elements.  

     

    Many American and foreign chemical manufactures are already using the updated GHS labeling and SDSs.  It is crucial that employers train their workers to ensure that they are familiar with the new labeling and SDSs.  This will ensure that employees understand how to use the new labeling, and access information effectively. Additional information can be obtained at: https://www.osha.gov/dsg/hazcom/ghs.html. 

  • March 10, 2014 11:11 AM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    Distracted driving not only is a serious problem on the road, it is a major concern for businesses with fleets of vehicles that want to reduce the frequency and severity of accidents and control expenses.  Distracted driving can be caused by activities ranging from using a cell phone or texting to eating and drinking, grooming, reading directions, or changing a radio station or MP3 player. 

     

    Recent statistics about distracted driving related to the use of cell phones and texting are particularly alarming:

    • Regardless of the texting method – voice-to-text or manual – driver performance suffers equally, according to a study released in April 2013 by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute ( TTI).
    • The National Safety Council in a study released in May 2013 estimates that 25 percent of all crashes involve cell phone use based on data reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). However, the National Safety Council believes “the number of crashes involving cell phone use is much greater than what is being reported (because) many factors, from drivers not admitting cell phone use to a lack of consistency in crash reports being used to collect data at the scene, make it very challenging to determine an accurate number.” 
    • Finally, a study released by AAA in June 2013 concluded that “talking on a hands-free phone isn’t significantly safer for drivers than talking on a hand-held phone and using hands-free devices that translate speech into text is the most distracting of all.”

     

    Besides the inconvenience and expense of taking a vehicle out of service for repairs after an accident, even minor injuries to a driver can become a major concern and disrupt a business’ ability to serve customers. A business often can benefit from an annual review of losses that includes cross-referencing accident reports with cell phone records for individual drivers and calculating the extra expenses incurred by not reporting small accidents to its insurance carrier. One of the most effective ways to accomplish this review is with a professional fleet management company that has the experience and expertise to evaluate the total cost of a fleet of vehicles.

     

    Businesses that don’t take seriously the problems caused by distracted driving can pay a high price.  For example, a vehicle involved in a serious accident could be required to be taken out of service during an investigation from several days to many months, while the business is still required to make payments on the vehicle.  In addition, a business involved in a legal dispute resulting from an accident may be subpoenaed to provide detailed documentation such as the driver’s statements and possible phone records if the driver is suspected of being on the phone at the time of the accident.

      

    A good place to begin to reduce risks caused by distracted driving is to develop a written policy for all drivers, whether they drive company-owned vehicles or use their own vehicles while on company business.  Sample wording may state, “Individuals are encouraged to use their cell phones only when the vehicle is legally parked.  The use of cell phones while driving is strongly discouraged in order to practice good defensive driving skills.  Notwithstanding the foregoing, compliance with state and local cell phone laws is required.”

     

    According to AAA, industry research indicates there are about 9 million cars and trucks on the road with “infotainment” systems and that will jump to about 62 million by 2018.  It’s time for everyone to face the reality of distracted driving and take necessary actions to drive responsibly.

     

     


     

    Thomas Gardner, a Director for Enterprise Fleet Management in Washington can be reached at 425-687-9826.  Gardner is supported by an experienced team of veteran mechanics and accredited Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) technicians to serve the fleet maintenance needs of businesses with mid-size fleets.  In addition to maintenance management programs, Enterprise’s services include vehicle acquisition, fuel management and insurance programs, as well as vehicle registration, reporting and remarketing.  Visit the company’s web site at www.efleets.com or call toll free 1-877-23-FLEET.

  • March 02, 2014 1:00 PM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    Thank you to everyone that made it to our 2014 Tri Cities Owners Panel and Construction Outlook. We have some of the presentations available from that day available for you online.

     

    Presentations

     

    Economic Forecast Data

  • March 02, 2014 12:42 PM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    By: Jason T. Piskel*

     

    All public works projects in the state of Washington require the owner to reserve a contract retainage of no more than five percent of the money earned by the general contractor as a trust for the protection and payment of (1) the claims of any person under the contract; and (2) the state with respect to taxes, increases, and penalties imposed pursuant to unemployment compensation, industrial insurance, and excise taxes. RCW 60.28.011(1)(a). This retainage statute has a surprising number of options and clauses for early release of money that many contractors do not realize. In addition, the retainage statute offers flexibility to contractors and should be considered before bid and again after bid award.  Let's look at some of those options.

     

    Where the Money is Kept.

    The contractor has the option to direct where the reserve is held. The options are (1) in a fund by the public body; (2) deposited by the public body in an interest bearing account of a bank, mutual savings bank, or loan association (with the interest being paid to the contractor); or (3) placed in escrow with a bank or trust company via joint check to the bank or trust company and the contractor. Under the third option, the check is converted into bonds or securities chosen by the contractor, must be approved by the public body, and is held in escrow with the interest going to the contractor. This seems like a great idea and a win for the contractor to earn interest, unless you have watched the market over the last several years, the interest on the reserve may be worth nothing if you need that capital to continue your effective prosecution of the job and other jobs. The statute also offers another alternative, posting a bond for all or any portion of the contract retainage.

     

    Bonding Around Retainage

    As a practical consequence this reserve is kept by the public owner and can be kept for a very long time after beneficial occupancy. Perhaps the drafters of the statute knew of this and provided an option to allow contractors to get their money without having to wait for it. To that end, contractor may submit a bond for all or any portion of the contract retainage in a form acceptable to the public body and from a bonding company meeting standards established by the public body. The public body must accept a bond meeting these requirements unless it can demonstrate good cause for refusing to accept the bond. The public body must release the bonded portion of the retained funds to the contractor within thirty days of accepting the bond from the contractor. Whenever a public body accepts a bond in lieu of retained funds from a contractor, the contractor must accept like bonds from any subcontractors or suppliers from which the contractor has retained funds. The contractor must then release the funds retained from the subcontractor or supplier to the subcontractor or supplier within thirty days of accepting the bond from the subcontractor or supplier.

     

    This process is taken essentially verbatim from the statute; and is usually readily received by the owner when used. There are, however, some other options contractors may use to get the retainage released. On the normal schedule, sixty days after completion of all contract work, the owner must release and pay in full the retainage. However, if all contract work is done other than landscaping the contractor can request payment of the retainage less that of the portion applicable to the landscaping scope. Another option the contractor may use is to request that the contract retainage be reduced to one hundred percent of the value of the work remaining on the project.

     

    Retainage is an important aspect of every project. It protects owners and contractors from unknown or unforeseeable claims generally arising from the lower tier. However, many contractors already take prudent steps to protect against claims and can better utilize the retained capital instead of waiting for the owner to release it after the end of the job. The cost benefit analysis of a retainage bond and the value of the use of that five percent is a decision to make with your CFO or accountant, and trusted bonding agent (let's also not forget your lawyer).

      

    *Jason T. Piskel is a founding member of the multi-practice law firm Piskel Yahne Kovarik, PLLC.  Jason represents companies in the construction industry, including general contractors, engineers, architects, and sureties. He can be reached at 509 321-5930

  • February 24, 2014 1:52 PM | Cheryl Stewart (Administrator)

    Lisa Parker established her company “Flash” over 12 years ago after she was a very successful buyer for Nordstrom. Her company imports over 500 fashion accessory items annually, mostly from factories in Bangkok, Thailand. Proprietary designs account for twenty five percent of these items.

     

    For about six months now, Lisa has been dissatisfied with all the mistakes coming out of their supply chain. Lisa is the principle buyer for the company, as well as head of marketing and sales. The Operations Manager in charge of the supply chain is May Hanson.  Lisa has not had the time or inclination to dig into this area. Frankly she had always relied on May to handle all aspects of the “operations” of the company. Things were fine until their on-line sales spiked about a year ago and she added several chain boutique stores.

     

    Lisa heard about Hank Jacobs, a supply chain, operations and process consulting expert. She is meeting with Hank to review his proposal to do an assessment of the operations area.

     

    “Hank, it seems in reviewing your approach you indicate that you are not only going to thoroughly investigate the systems and processes of the entire supply chain but you also talk about determining if we have the right people in the right positions,” said Lisa, “Please tell me more about that.”

     

    “Let me explain my philosophy about the relationship between, systems, processes and people,” Hank began. “We will discover all the critical issues that are preventing your systems, and processes from being performed seamlessly. But since systems and processes are made for and by people; the root cause of any failure in execution is always people.”

     

    “As part of our approach we assess your key people for their suitability and fit for the responsibilities that are appropriately associated with their position,” said Hank.

     

    “It says in your proposal that you will return a guaranteed four times ROI on your fees.” Lisa inquired, “Is that right?”

     

    “That is absolutely correct,” Hank replied.

     

    “Well, please start immediately so we can get things right for our customers,” said Lisa.

     

    After three weeks of investigation and assessments Hank was ready to share with Lisa the current realities of her supply chain’s systems, processes and people.

     

    Hank is reviewing with Lisa two of the most revealing models and diagrams. “As you can see, we have created a sequential, linear flow diagram of all your supply chains systems and their sub-processes,” Hank explained. “In this chart, we have highlighted with symbols and colors, those areas where there are disconnects, delays, and poor system or process design. This other chart documents the processes that are incomplete, erroneous, not being followed, are untrained or ignored. All of this is fixable and we will be helping your people implement all the required changes. However, remember my philosophy that systems and processes are made for and by people and executed by people, not robots.”

     

    “So the key question is – do you have the right people in the right positions for us to effectively help you implement what needs to be done?”

     

    “To answer that question”, Hank continues, “we assessed a few of your key supervisors and of course May Hanson.  Let me say that people are complicated so I want to share with you how we use surveys in an attempt to better understand each person.”

     

    Hank shows Lisa his “Understanding People” Iceberg Model.

     

    “As I understand it, you have had May in this position for about five years, and during that time, you have for the most part, experienced how she behaves around you, in meetings, and perhaps with her people,” Hank said. “You have observed her decisions and actions during this time, and now discover that when pressured with increased business and stresses on the systems and processes, she is making poor decisions, not taking the right or timely actions and her people find her hard to work with. Does that about sum up your observations?” Hank asked.

     

    “That seems right on,” Lisa agreed.

     

    “In looking at the model, what we just discussed is observable and is above the water line,” said Hank. “We gave May and three supervisors assessments that tell us about their unique characteristics that are below the water line.”

     

    “We gave May four assessments to take. Let me summarize the key findings,” Hank said. “To start, May is passionate about outdoor activities and feels her calling in life is to help save the planet. Her critical thinking is biased in favor of how everything affects her. She has a fairly good self-image, but is constantly comparing everything to how she thinks things ought to be. Her view of people is fairly negative and really expects them to mess up more than perform well. She has poor systemic thinking and her practical thinking is quite unconventional. All of this indicates she is not a person to be leading up the creation and execution of systems and processes,” Hank explains.

     

    “The results also revealed that May is motivated by altruistic thinking, she does not spend a great deal of thought on your business or supply chain. She enjoys being the leader, and doesn’t like rules unless she came up with them. May has learned to get along with people and likes them to respect her position and authority, but she doesn’t command their respect. She doesn’t mind a chaotic environment because then people have to keep checking with her to get their job done. May has learned over the years how to convince people to her way of thinking by being very persuasive,”

    Hank concludes.

     

    Lisa’s mouth is a bit agape. “Well no wonder there are issues in her area, she seems to be a very poor fit for Operations Manager,” Lisa said “In fact, Lisa continued, I’m not sure where she can fit, given our mission and goals.”

     

    “Our thinking exactly,” Hank agreed.

     

    “We have some good news,” Hank said. “In assessing your three supervisors, Bob Tinker stood out as a very good fit for the position. The other supervisors and all the people in the group respect him. Frankly, we think he has been waiting for you to discover your mistake of keeping May in the position. It might be good for you to talk with him and see what you think,” Hank concluded.

     

    “Hank, this is great news, thank you for your guidance,” Lisa said. “By the way I’m thinking of promoting our top sales person to Sales Manager. Looks like another great use of your assessments.“

     


    Biography:           Bert Holeton (CMC, CPVA, CPBA) is the Founder and CEO of The Mastermind Group, Inc. The purpose of The Mastermind Group, Inc. is to support leaders of organizations and businesses to achieve and sustain success. Since 1980 Mr. Holeton has consulted with over 80 companies in 14 industries ranging in size from startup to Fortune 100. He continues to consult all over North America and now resides in Leavenworth, www.the-mastermind-group.com

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