The Keystone Contractor Magazine Winter 2023

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The Magazine of the Keystone Contractors Association
Get Organized to Boost Profitability Crisis Communications Planning How to Write a Winning Proposal Mental Note Tools to support workforce wellness
Winter 2023

The Magazine of the

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Partner Editor Content Advisor

Creative Director

Marketing and Social Media Writer Advertising Director

Atlas Marketing

Chris Martin

Tracy Sturla

Keystone Contractors Association

Jon O’Brien (717) 731-6272

Denise Dolgos Beth Martin

Erin McCullough

Susan Matson

Tracy Sturla (412) 749-9299


Learn more or visit the KCA Events webpage for up-to-date information.

KCA Scholarship applications due February 1

KCA Fall Clay Shoot

TBA Construction Safety Week

May 1 - 5

National Safety Month sponsored by National Safety Council June

Construction Opioid Awareness Week

July 24 - 28

KCA Safety Award applications due September 1

Construction Suicide Prevention Week

September 4 - 8

KCA Annual Clay Shoot to benefit college scholarships


KCA Top Young Leader Award and Tom George Community Service Award applications due December 31

Events are subject to change and exact dates will be announced in future issues.

We consult with construction companies to enable greater employee, project, and company performance. Improve Project Results Bob Dresser 401.430.9188 Change Management Claims Avoidance Practices Construction Expert Witness as recognized by the American Arbitration Association Construction Leadership Consulting Contract Strategies and Formation Employee Motivation Productivity Enhancements Risk Assessments Stakeholder Alignment (IPD+) Atlas Marketing can help define your unique value and devise a marketing strategy to reach customers seeking what you have to offer. View our FREE PR Crisis Planning Guide 4 STEPS TO TAKE NOW to prepare for a PR CRISIS


I am humbled and honored to be the incoming president of the Keystone Contractors Association. When I arrived in Pennsylvania from Arizona in the late 1980s for my wife to pursue her higher education, I was truly lost in a world so different from the one I grew up in. Many times, it was intimidating. I met professionals through the KCA who put me on equal footing and gave me great confidence to stay the course. I am still in awe of the leaders who have now afforded me this opportunity to lead the KCA.

When I started working at Penn Installations, Inc., I was a young man, terrified by the overwhelming unknowns of commercial construction and the associated risks. More than 30 years later, I am now a slightly less terrified adult who has the same concerns I did back then, but have many construction professionals I have met through the association to help me through such quandaries and coach or direct me to the right resources.

I was able to use experiences from the KCA to help with my career development back then as I do now to assure that I am mitigating risks and making the best decisions to propel our company forward. I now count several competitors as friends and, although I would like to beat them on every bid, I would like the bids we lose to go to like-minded companies that take pride in their projects and refuse to make compromises in the quality of the job or the safety of their craftspeople.

The KCA participated in labor relations back when I started, and those efforts have grown each year to greater reflect the needs of our membership. Whether it’s safety, labor relations, regulations, legislation, career development, etc., the KCA is a phone call away. Just think of the KCA as an extension of your staff. They listen to your calls and are constantly evolving to assist our members. I am particularly proud of our scholarship program. I have met the first two recipients and know they will make an impact in our industry.

Lastly, I want to commend John Panzitta for his hard work as president. Under his presidency, the KCA launched an emerging leaders group of talented and smart young professionals. The future is bright for the KCA, and it’s exciting to see how the organization has adapted over the years to improve the standards of the construction industry. John is one of many construction professionals who helped and guided me through this exciting journey.

I look forward to working with the membership to continue improving the construction industry in Pennsylvania and look forward to member input on how we can ensure that I continue to move the KCA ahead!

Interested in sharing a message, opinion, or letter? Members can submit ideas to Tracy Sturla at

Howard Bernstein President, Keystone Contractors Association


My two-year term as the 42nd president of the Keystone Contractors Association has ended and I have handed the baton to Howard Bernstein to lead this proud organization. The membership is in great hands with his leadership, wisdom, and integrity. Howard is always striving to get better, and I can’t wait to see what accomplishments the KCA achieves during his term.

I was honored and thrilled to lead the KCA. First and foremost, the camaraderie and best practice sharing that exists through the KCA is what I benefited most from during my term. It was invaluable to hear from and share with competitors about how to address industry challenges. Those experiences of breaking bread with competitors while chatting about the industry are something I will cherish. We faced some daunting issues over the past two years, but together we got through them.

At the top of the list of challenges was operating during a pandemic. The KCA worked with other industry stakeholders under the guidance of the General Contractors Association of PA to produce Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 Plan for Construction, which contained the list of recommendations that Governor Wolf used to reopen construction. This plan put the health and well-being of each construction worker as the top concern. It’s a plan that every KCA member should be proud of.

Making the welfare of the construction worker our top priority carried over into labor relations during my term. With our labor partners, we negotiated agreements that retain and attract the best workforce in Pennsylvania. Our relationships with the Carpenters, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Cement Masons, and Millwrights have been greatly strengthened in the past two years.

For years, the KCA has made the health, safety, and well-being of the worker of utmost importance, and during my term as president, I can proudly say that this has not only continued, but it has improved.

To Howard, I know you will build upon our proud tradition, and I look forward to KCA’s successes and growth under your leadership.



Advantage Steel & Construction, LLC.

Alexander Building Construction LLC

Atlas Marketing

Babst, Calland, Clements &Zomnir, P.C.

Barry Issett & Associates

Beckley & Madden, LLC

Benell Inc.

Bhaumik Engineering LLC

Bill Anskis Inc.

BL Companies

Bognet Construction

Bowles Rice Brightbill Industries

Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz

Burns White

Business Information Group, Inc.

Caretti, Inc.

Carlisle Area Chamber of Commerce

Carlisle Construction Materials

CBIZ Insurance Services, Inc.

Central Contractors’ Supply Co., Inc./ Overhead Door Co. of Johnstown

Charlson Braber McCabe & Denmark

Civil & Environmental Consultants, Inc.

CLA (ClftonLarsonAllen LLP)

Cohen Seglia Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC

Cresswell Brothers

Darr Construction Co.

EAS Roofing

Eastern PCM LLC

Edward A. Reider Inc.

Enerfab Power & Industrial Inc.

Enterprise Fleet Management

Eshbach Brothers LP

First Davis Corp

Foster & Foster Actuaries and Consultants

G.C. Zarnas & Co., Inc.

George M. Wildasin Ce Inc.

Grand Vistas

Houck Group

Houser-Ford Group at Morgan Stanley Jem Group, LLC

J.C. Orr & Son, Inc.

Johnston Construction Joseph Miorelli & Co.


Konchan, Inc.

Leibold Inc.

Lockton Companies, LLC

M.L. Acri, Inc

Macri Concrete Marmat Inc.

Masonry Contractors Association of Central PA Massaro Corporation

McClure Company

McConkey Insurance & Benefits McCrossin McCrossin Foundations

Mid-State Construction

Modernfold of Central PA Novinger’s, Inc.

NUCA Pennsylvania

PA Masonry dba PA Group, Inc.

Panzitta Enterprises

PBX Penn Installations

Pennsy Supply

Perdomo National Wrecking Co LLC.

Performance Construction Services, Inc.

PJ Dick

PPL Electric Utilities

Providence Engineering Corp Pullman SST, Inc

Quandel Construction Group Ralph E. Jones, Inc

Reager & Adler, PC

Rescue One

Ridgetop Interiors, Inc.

Rocky Bleier Construction Group

Sandra Palone & Associates, LLC

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP

Schlaegle Design Build Associates, Inc.

Schooley Mitchell of Pittsburgh Seubert & Associates, Inc.

Serviam Construction


Smith Masonry, Inc.

Spartan Construction Services

Stalwart Insurance Group Stambaugh Ness

Stouffer Mechanical Contractor LLC

Strategic Executive Consulting Strickler Agency, Inc.

The Blue Book

The SRS Group, LLC

Troianiello Masonry, Inc.

Willig Williams & Davidson


Mental Note

Tools and resources to support workforce wellness

The construction industry is doing a better job of prioritizing the mental health of its workforce.

Construction firms and industry associations are partnering with experts to create programs that encourage workers to recognize when they are struggling and to have the courage to seek help. That’s important because the industry has the second-highest rate of suicide of all occupations.

Promoting those assistance programs is the key. With that in mind, The Keystone Contractor has compiled a guide that includes tips from experts and a list of resources.

Our hope is that this information will be widely shared so that it reaches those who need help now and those who may need help in the future.

Man Therapy

A unique resource is delivering tailormade messages to the construction industry in a light-hearted way that’s been well-received. is a website created about a decade ago that is targeted toward men. It uses a mix of humor and straight-talk — “It’s OK to cry, even when it’s not about sports” — to offer advice about mental health and wellness topics that may be difficult for men to discuss, including substance abuse, layoffs, anger management, and sleep deprivation.

“We’ve got stories of guys saying your website saved my life last night. It’s just incredible to get that kind of feedback,” said Joe Conrad, founder, and CEO of Grit Digital Health in Denver, which operates

The goal is to reduce the stigma of seeking help for mental health

by delivering messages in a “manly” manner. “Taking care of your mental health is the manliest thing you can do.”

The website offers free tools and advice, including a “20 Point Head Inspection,” in an anonymous fashion. Users do not have to register to use the website.

Important messages are delivered in brief videos through a character, Dr. Rich Mahogany, in a skit along the lines of those done by “Saturday Night Live,” but with serious underlying messaging.

“It’s not a joke. We use humor, and that’s how guys are. But we then turn the corner and even when we’re dealing with very sensitive topics, we talk to guys and give it to them straight,” Conrad said.

Grit Digital Health recently created a series of videos with Mahagony as a construction worker, speaking to industry-specific challenges in mental health and wellness. Below is an example — see the next page for two additional examples.


Taking care of your mental health is the manliest thing you can do.

Construction companies that are interested in obtaining full-length videos and using the campaign, which includes related print materials, should contact Grit Digital Health.

“We want companies to realize there are benefits to the company and the bottom line. Investing in the mental health of employees provides you with a safer workplace. When people shot up on time and well rested, you win. ”

“It’s not just, ‘Let’s do this so guys don’t kill themselves.’ Let’s think about how we can help them and the whole company thrive, as well as job site benefits.”

The campaign was developed at the request of Hensel Phelps Construction in Colorado, which wanted to do more to improve the mental health and wellness of its team members.

One video addresses substance abuse. It opens with Mahogany unwinding after a hard day on a job site.

“After a long stressful day of trying to follow nonsensical plans, it’s nice to take the edge off with a couple of cold ones. But if you find that the beers are calling the shots, it might be time for a change. It can feel overwhelming at first. It’s like breaking ground on a new project. But you build buildings that scrape the sky. You take lumber and steel and transform them into modern marvels. You got this.”

Mahogany offers advice about finding other outlets to relieve stress, such as exercise. Employers can help their workforce manage their mental health

It is clinically proven that if you ask someone if they are considering are not going to put that idea in their head. So don’t be afraid of asking that question because asking that question is throwing them a lifeline. It’s giving them an opportunity to say what’s in their heart and to get them help that they need.
Bold And
Mental Note (continued)
Mandi Kime, Director of Safety Services, AGC, Washington State
Candid Conversation
Suicide Prevention and Mental Health In Construction

and mental health



that “it is OK to not be OK,” said Cal Beyer, vice president of workforce risk and worker wellbeing at Holmes Murphy, an insurance brokerage firm with a national footprint based in Iowa whose specialties include construction.

Beyer helped launch the mental health and suicide prevention initiative in construction in 2014 while working as a director of risk management for a contractor located in the Pacific Northwest.

“Acknowledge that these are trying times and that the company cares about them and their families,” Beyer said. “Actively communicating about the importance of mental health reinforces that seeking help is a sign of strength and not a sign of weakness.” (continued)

Rich Jones, Chief Clinical Officer, YouTurn

Listen to Rich Jones talk about how to recognize the warning signs of someone who may need help.

Construction Industry Alliance for Suicide Prevention Construction Suicide Prevention Partners • Construction Industry Suicide Prevention Take Action Guide • Toolbox Talks • Boom! Goes the Stigma Podcast AGC of Missouri Suicide Prevention Resources 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and Crisis Text Line) Best Practices Guide for Mental Health Intervention in Construction Man Therapy — Construction Videos • Counting • Protein Shake • Yoga Construction Executive: • Using Role-Playing to Teach Peer Support for Mental Health and Wellbeing • Focus on Cardiovascular Health for Construction Worker Wellbeing • The Power of Peer-to-Peer Support for Promoting Jobsite Mental Wellbeing • Improving Access to Health Care and Wellness Services for Construction Trade and Craft Workers Construction Suicide Prevention Week Construction Industry Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Summit, March 27-29, 2023, in Kansas City, Missouri Video: 2-minute Toolbox Talk on Suicide Prevention & Opioids in Construction Video: Strategies and resources for leaders who want to incorporate suicide prevention into their organization’s wellbeing practices
and wellness by building a culture that
and communicates
team members
It’s normal and it’s OK to be not OK … 90% of Americans have reported that at some time in their life they struggled with emotional, psychological, or substance abuse problems … it’s actually normal to go through this stuff ...

Cal Beyer offers this advice:

How can employers help their workforce?

• Adopt a culture of well-being to combine physical health and emotional health.

• Share information about mental health for employees to share with their loved ones.

• Encourage leaders to be intentional in demonstrating care for workers by being visible and vocal about mental health and to be vulnerable about seeking help themselves or for family members.

What can be done to encourage more men to consider their mental health and wellness and seek help?

• Double down on physical health to promote wellbeing, including warmup exercise programs,

nutrition, hydration, and stress-management skills, like deep breathing.

• Reduce barriers to care-seeking by promoting onsite wellness and health services.

• Provide training to teach informal leaders to be mental health and well-being champions and peer coaches.

• Educate workers on their employee health and welfare benefits.

What can be done to target the construction worker audience?

• Incorporate mental health and well-being into apprenticeship programs.

• Focus on reducing the frequency and severity of musculoskeletal injuries that create chronic pain, disrupt sleep, contribute to fatigue, and lead to unnecessary opioid pain management prescriptions.

• Aggressively promote Employee Assistance Programs from employers and labor unions, as well as 988 (Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and Crisis Text Line).

• Conduct Toolbox Talks on various topics relating to physical health and mental well-being topics.

• Create a custom hardhat sticker to show support for mental health.

How can workers help colleagues?

• Make a personal commitment to be a quality teammate.

• Commit to being your brother’s and sister’s keeper and adopt a mindset of no person left behind and being there for every teammate.

• Be observant and go to a co-worker to ask if they are OK when you see changes in their behavior.

• If the co-worker says they are fine, it is OK to say, “You don’t seem fine. I care about you. I have rough times, too, let me know if I can help. I’m here for you if you want to talk or need support.”

If you still get the response “I’m fine,” you can reply with, “I’m worried about you, and I care too much to not say something. I want you to know that I’ve got your back when I say I do. You know you can call day or night.” KC

Mental Note (continued) 12 THE KEYSTONE CONTRACTOR


Recognizing Career and Technical Education

With significant workforce shortages projected, the construction industry will be relying heavily on career and technical education (CTE) to train the next generation of carpenters, masons, electricians, pipe fitters, heavy equipment operators, site managers, and other professionals.

The importance of CTE will be celebrated in February during CTE Month, a public awareness campaign by the Association for Career and Technical Education. Events will be held throughout the country to celebrate the value of CTE and the achievements and accomplishments of CTE programs.

Construction companies, architecture firms, engineering firms, and others are encouraged to participate and partner with and promote high school vocational programs and technical colleges.

Some schools, including the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, have seen enrollment boom in recent years as more young adults choose careers where they won’t be stuck behind a desk interacting with people on Zoom calls all day.

But there is still work to do to persuade others, including parents and adults who are looking for a change, of the value of pursuing a future through a technical curriculum.

“I think there’s still a stigma associated with CTE, and I don’t think that’s an appropriate stigma in most cases. CTE is extremely valuable to the industry and to the overall economy,” said Ellyn Lester, assistant dean of construction and architecture at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

“I think that one of the key ways that we can make a difference in whether or not young people join the profession, the construction industry, is to really emphasize the opportunities that are out there,” she said. “It’s not a situation where you’re just swinging a hammer. That belief is still there. That assumption is still there. And the level of knowledge and expertise that you have to have is so critical today, but it’s not being shared with lay people or people outside the industry.”

The Pennsylvania College of Technology has added additional sections of some courses, including HVAC and construction management, to accommodate students who have been on waitlists. The college has hired additional faculty, built additional teaching space, and is creating a new lab for commercial HVAC instruction.

There are many great stories that can be used to promote the CTE curriculum as a path toward a construction career, Lester said.

“The industry is never boring. There’s no part of the industry, from my perspective, that is ever boring. There are always changes. There are always innovations happening. You’re on to the next project. You’re on to the next opportunity,” she said.

“Anyone who wants to see a beginning, middle, and an end, there’s nothing better than actually seeing a building come to fruition and the topping off ceremony, the ribbon-cutting ceremonies, to give you a sense of accomplishment, that you really are creating something in this world.”


Get Organized to Boost Profitability


The new year is the perfect time to take stock of where you stand and make resolutions to improve in certain areas. Doing so will benefit your clients, your company, and, yes, your employees, too.

For the construction industry, opportunities abound, from getting organized to evaluating employees to streamlining processes to improving relationships.

Technology can improve organization by making it easier to manage contracts, schedules, estimates, change orders, and other critical documents. There are many options, but it’s important to make sure the software you choose fits your needs and meets your expectations.

Take multiple software for a test drive first, suggests Bob Dresser, a construction expert advisor/ witness who is president of Strategic Executive Consulting in Mechanicsburg.

Make sure the software offers the tools that you need and will improve your productivity and your ability to manage, report, and predict the impacts of your decisions.

ProCore, Timberline, and Sage are among the most commonly used tools, but there are others available as well.

Some examples, according to Dresser, include: Teknobuilt’s Pace 4.0: Enables end-to-end digital management and construction workflow automation and has intelligence to help solve problems and make decisions at the root of issues. Pace is state-of-the-art and works at all levels of an organization, from C-suite to foremen.

Contractor Foreman: Basic tool that helps streamline tasks for smaller-size constructors and projects.

Raken: Allows project managers to maintain daily work logs, schedule and assign jobs to employees,

send updates to field agents, and generate and share snapshots of a project’s progress.

Houzz Pro: Focuses on lead generation solutions for small contractors or subcontractors looking for individual jobs such as home improvements. It comes with templates and allows custom templates to be created.

Monday: A general project management software that does not include industry-specific features or tools.

CMiC: Construction accounting software includes accounts payable/receivable, billing, and consolidated general ledger applications.

Other examples, according to a recent article by Forbes, include:

JOBPROGRESS: Developed by contractors, its capabilities include managing proposals and bids and project management.

Fieldwire: A cloud-based project management tool that is for use by contractors of all sizes, including subcontractors. Because it is cloud-based, additional services are necessary for the storage of documents, on a platform such as Dropbox.

Buildertrend: Forbes describes it as “one of the more complete apps” capable of managing all aspects of a project, from presales and project management to invoicing and real-time communications.

“There are many to choose from,” Dresser said. “It is most important that you evaluate your real needs, short and long-term, based on your leadership’s vision. Be honest about your needs prior to contacting potential companies. Include your service and growth expectations as well as your technical needs. It may help to have a third party walk you through this introductory process.”

Dresser offers five other suggestions for how to break bad habits and start your company on a new trajectory in the new year.


Construction contracts can be long and boring. An important but often overlooked strategy is to break them down into an abbreviated (continued)


Get Organized to Boost Profitability


“Reader’s Digest” version for each functional group in your organization to ensure all are clear about their obligations. This communication piece helps to ensure compliance with terms, minimize the potential for legal trouble, and maximize profit potential on each project.

“Whether you’re a purchasing manager or project manager, scheduler, safety or quality coordinator, each role will have some pertinent contract clauses that they need to be aware of,” Dresser said.

“You need to know what the contract says you must do. The contract may say if I’m going to be late doing something, no matter the reason, I may have 14 days to give my client notice. I need to demonstrate that we are making our best efforts and have developed mitigation measures, and communicate everything to the clients within those 14 days with how this event impacts the project schedule and costs.”

Managers shouldn’t

mistake of assuming all contracts are the same or that they know all of the terms by heart because they were involved in the negotiations.

Contract summaries can be created in-house by project managers or legal counsel or can be

outsourced to outside counsel. Outsourcing may cost a few thousand dollars, “but it’s probably the best few thousand bucks you’ll ever spend,” Dresser said.

“I would say rule number one for the new year is to know your contracts, no matter what it takes. Make sure your people know what their roles are as far as being compliant with your contracts.”


Don’t leave anything to chance when launching a new project. Nail every detail down beforehand, from the labor and materials to the equipment and tools. If temporary power and water are needed, make sure they are installed.

“There’s nothing worse than for anyone to get to work and not have everything they need to perform with good productivity,” Dresser said.

Projects that get off to a rough start impact morale, he said, in addition to wasting money.

Creating a RASI (responsibility, accountability, support, and information) matrix that matches duties to the responsible parties is a way to simplify a project with multiple stakeholders and make sure they work seamlessly as one team, Dresser said.

“Moreso, implementing a detailed pre-planning process, such as workface planning, which leads into a disciplined mobilization readiness platform, will ensure your sites hit the ground running.”

All of these are practical approaches and can be created in a Microsoft spreadsheet and do not require fancy technology.

make the


“Change is usually a dirty word in construction. Construction superintendents and foremen are usually apprehensive to bring a problem or a change to the owner or the engineer because it usually creates negative tension,” Dresser said.

It shouldn’t be that way. The sooner that everyone involved in a project recognizes there is a need to change something, regardless of what caused the change, the easier it will be to keep a project on schedule and minimize cost increases.

“The thing we’re doing and that’s getting a lot of traction is embracing the concept that ‘change is your client’s best friend,’” Dresser said. “If you do things in a timely manner, like right now, as soon as you sniff that there might be an error or a problem in the field, you bring it forward immediately and engage the appropriate parties.”

The more people who are involved, the more brainpower that is tapped, and the easier it will be to navigate the change effectively.

“It’s when you hesitate and don’t bring things forward right away, that’s when the tension mounts and problems start,” Dresser said. “Being transparent and honest with change is usually a very good thing and will be received well.”


“Make sure your relationships are strong and positive in nature,” Dresser said.

Such a scenario might be: “I have a problem on

a job that has really been wearing on me, and I’ve been apprehensive to bring it forward to you, but in the spirit of starting the new year, I’d like to bring it forward now and work it through with you.”

Transparency, Dresser said, mitigates risk.

“By having these tight teams as far as trust and communication, I think the biggest win over time is that we mitigate risk, thus reducing all stakeholders’ contingencies and making the total installed cost for the owner much more streamlined.”


The new year is a good time to have each employee review their job description to make sure that what they are doing matches up with what they are supposed to be doing.

It doesn’t take much time and can lead to better efficiency, Dresser said, to identify gaps and overlap.

Managers should also conduct employee evaluations with a caring approach.

“I have a client right now who is doing a really good job of employee evaluations. They are really putting a lot of horsepower and meaning into assessing how their employees are doing and interviewing all their employees,” Dresser said.

Evaluations are a way to set up the company for success in the future by building and retaining a strong workforce, including helping team members to develop new skills and to advance their careers.

“What do you want to be doing a year from now or three years from now? What kind of training do you need to get you where you need to be? What are your greatest strengths? What do you really need to improve?”

“Your whole company will benefit from a good evaluation process,” Dresser said.


The Importance of Having a Crisis Communications Plan

Organizational disruptions are something every company will face. Sometimes these disruptions are easily managed, while other times they quickly morph into a crisis. How you manage and lead your team through a crisis begins with planning.

To effectively manage during a crisis, companies must first anticipate what could go wrong and create a crisis management plan, which is a blueprint for how to respond.

“The more you have preplanned, the better position you will be in to respond,” said Susan Matson, vice president of Atlas Marketing, a marketing and communications firm based in Pittsburgh that offers crisis communications services for the construction industry. “Planning takes a level of stress off the crisis completely.”

“It’s not the crisis, it’s how the company is going to respond and act and interact with their audiences. That’s what people will remember.”

A crisis can result in significant costs, including loss of revenue, regulatory penalties, and higher insurance premiums. Not all costs are financial, though. Reputation may be tarnished. Customer loyalty may wane. Talented employees may lose confidence and depart.

In the construction field, crises are not limited to safety incidents on a jobsite or weather emergencies. They can include everything from supply chain breakdowns and equipment theft to technology failures and cybersecurity breaches.

A crisis is anything that interrupts regular operations. A plan should be developed to address all possible scenarios.



“The objective of the plan is to define people’s roles and responsibilities because, in a crisis, one of two things happens. It’s the deer-in-the-headlights moment where everybody stands and waits to be led or waits for a leader to show up, or everybody wants to be a leader and then it’s even more chaotic,” said Chris Martin, president of Atlas Marketing.

Plans should include:

• a list of potential crisis situations;

• the names of individuals who should manage, communicate, and stay informed;

• the audiences that require communication;

• examples of message points to communicate;

• what should happen from an operational standpoint in the first 24 hours; and

• what resources could be available to you as you manage through the crisis.

As you go through each potential situation, pay attention to the different communication needs and how your designated crisis team may be able to address those needs.

Developed plans should be as detailed as possible and stored in multiple formats in multiple locations. Digital copies should be available on the company intranet, computers, tablets, and phones. Paper copies should exist as well, in case the crisis is of a technological nature.

The plan should identify the team that will make decisions and the various audiences that will need information. Plans should include phone numbers, email addresses, social media channels, websites, and other avenues for sharing information so there is no added delay in communicating.


Employees will need to know different information (should I report to work?) than customers and vendors (will my order be filled, or my project continue?) and the general public (is there a safety risk?).

Internal audiences — employees, (continued)

“The real purpose of a crisis communications plan is to define roles and responsibilities of the team and then plan the actions as a result of the various scenarios identified.”

board of directors, owners, and other company locations — should be targeted first.

The goal should be to quickly gain control of the situation, build trust, and keep operations going as smoothly as possible during a crisis.

While some work may have to temporarily pause, other work, both in the field and at the office, must proceed.

It’s critical to look at the company’s entire operation to determine what should be paused. For example, if there was a safety incident on a jobsite, the marketing team must make sure it does not proceed with planned promotions on social media about how safe your company is. Potential clients and the general public are perceptive and will not appreciate the conflicting messages. In fact, that could create a separate crisis.

Every team member must understand what their role is. Members can be issued a summary of their responsibilities. That summary can be on a physical wallet-sized card, a digital version they can keep on their phone, or both.

For many team members, their role may be to proceed as usual, but not to make any public statements. A dedicated spokesperson should be identified to handle messaging, so it is consistent. The CEO may seem to be the obvious choice, but their time is better spent focusing on operating the business.


It’s important to provide information to various audiences. At the initial stage of a crisis, the message may be that an investigation is ongoing, and that further information will be provided at a later point. “While we don’t want to ever say ‘no comment,’ it’s OK to stop and pause and gather the facts before we respond. We simply want to communicate that,” Matson said.

A crisis management plan should include a review process after the crisis has been resolved. Did

the plan work as intended? What lessons were learned that could be used in the future?

After a plan is written, it should be practiced so key players know their roles.

“It’s always good to do a fire drill — just like we did when we were in grade school — and test the process,” Matson said.

The plan also should be updated regularly, at least annually. Updates should account for changes in personnel, additional corporate locations, or new scenarios for a crisis.

“Be prepared. If you are not prepared, if you stick your head in the sand, it will be much harder and a lot more stressful,” Matson said. “Being ill-prepared will prove more difficult to address the situation.”

How a company responds to a crisis can make or break the brand, so it’s important to be prepared.

Click here to learn more:

Download a Free Crisis Communications Guide from Atlas Marketing

The Importance of Having a Crisis Communications Plan


KCA Attends GOSH Conference

The Keystone Contractors Association was an exhibitor at the recent 2022 GOSH (Governor’s Occupational Safety & Health) Conference in Hershey, PA, from October 31 through November 1. For over 90 years, the GOSH Conference has educated and empowered safety professionals, employers, and employees throughout the commonwealth. More than 80,000 business and labor professionals came together during these two days to exhibit and hold seminars and training sessions in an effort to help make Pennsylvania a safer place to work.

KCA Hosts Annual Clay Shoot

Each year the KCA holds a special clay shoot to help fundraise for the KCA scholarship program. Congratulations to The Ironworkers foursome who had the highest team score and Wade Baumgartner who had the highest individual score. A special thank you to Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters, Laborers District Council of Western PA, Millwrights Local 443, Ironworkers Local 404, and Miller Financial Services for their sponsorship and support!

KCA 84th Annual Meeting

On December 9, 2022, during the KCA’s 84th Annual Meeting, KCA Secretary Joseph Orr III presented John Panzitta with a gift on behalf of the membership for his outstanding leadership as president of the KCA. Panzitta served as the 42nd president of the KCA from 2020 to 2022.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Chris Hoover, Local 404 Business Agent President; George Zalar, Local 404 Business Manager FS-T; Dan Hoke, Local 404 Apprenticeship Training Coordinator; Tad Hoffmaster, Iron Worker Employers Association Chairman

The KCA’s

Improving Project Outcomes

Series Continues

On October 12, the KCA hosted Project Team Leadership — best practices for developing team leadership. The event featured guest speakers Rudy Shadle (left), assistant project manager at Quandel Group, and Hayden Woland (right), a student at Pennsylvania College of Technology, who focused on best practices for sharing information between generations. There was a special focus on leadership development and how to transfer knowledge from Baby Boomers to Gen Z.

Wade Baumgartner, Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters

Women in Construction Week 2023: Celebrating a Milestone

A significant achievement will be celebrated in March during the 25th annual Women in Construction Week.

The share of construction workers who are women, which has been increasing steadily for years, reached an all-time high of 14% in August, according to The Washington Post, citing federal data.

More than 1 million women now work in the industry. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo set a goal of doubling that to 2 million over the next decade when she announced the Million Women in Construction Initiative last summer.

Increasing the ranks is a matter of reaching out to female students who are looking for a career and

The share of construction workers who are women, which has been increasing steadily for years, reached an all-time high of 14% in August

reaching out to adults who are looking for a change in careers. They need to be shown what an “amazing industry” construction is, said Bethany Tesche, vice president of sales and marketing at Houck Group, a commercial specialty contractor in Harrisburg.

“There are more career opportunities than ever before, and I think those opportunities have been a great gateway for increased awareness for women in the construction industry,” Tesche said.

She has seen many more women join the industry since she first joined Houck Group nearly ten years ago.

“I think a lot of it is family related — a family member was involved in the industry, so they had an awareness of what construction looked like,” Tesche said.

“Some of the strongest women that I know in the construction industry have come from a family in the same or similar industry. They knew about and had a passion for construction because of their long line of family members in the industry and experiences that they had.”

Women in Construction (WIC) Week, created by


the National Association of Women in Construction, celebrates the work of women in the industry, raises awareness of the many opportunities available for women in the industry, and emphasizes their growing role.

It will be celebrated this year on March 5-11.

Young women are learning about potential construction careers earlier than they used to because more colleges are offering degrees in construction management, according to Lauline Mitchell, president of the National Association of Women in Construction.

The expanded use of technology has created more opportunities for women, too, she said.

“I also think that we’ve started to get rid of our negative stigma that the construction industry sort of has held onto for many, many years,” Mitchell said. “I think that’s been a great benefit and part of that, I’d like to believe, is attributed to women coming in and sort of reshaping some of the experiences that people have with contractors or construction in general.”

Construction offers alternatives for those who are not interested in working in an office environment, she said.

“This is a great place. It’s a very middle-class living, solid, very reasonable in terms of being able to provide for your family,” Mitchell said. “It’s a great way of life in that sense.”

Tesche joined Houck after working for the Central Penn Business Journal, where she created marketing plans for her clients, the majority of whom were construction companies.

That positioned her to move into the industry.

“When I first began my career, I hadn’t initially considered construction. I didn’t know anything about it. It just kind of happened organically, but the more I learned about the industry, the more interesting and attractive it became to me,” Tesche said.

She started at Houck as a marketing coordinator, advanced to director of marketing and client relations, and recently was promoted to vice president of sales and marketing. She is the first female vice president in Houck’s history and the first female member of its leadership team.

“It’s quite a privilege,” Tesche said. “I’m extremely grateful and humbled for the opportunity to represent my gender in our construction industry and at this company. I’m excited to see where things are going

and how we are reaching out to not only women in general in a male-dominated industry, but also to the next generation of women in construction.”

With the industry facing a looming workforce shortage, recruiting women will be essential to building a future workforce. Many women have skills that are transferrable. Mitchell can attest to that, as she entered construction in her 30s after studying liberal arts in college.

She had always wanted to learn about carpentry and building, so she enrolled at a local college after her daughter was born. Her instructor suggested that with her computer skills, she should look into construction management.

Twenty years later, she is director of preconstruction at BBI Construction in Oakland, CA.

“That’s where my strength lies, in terms of being able to create a team and form a unit to perform this work.”

Tesche has just concluded her three-year term on the board of directors of the Associated Builders and Contractors Keystone chapter and is a charter member of the South Central PA chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction. Both organizations have done a lot to recruit and welcome women into the industry, she said.

During Women in Construction Week last year, Houck partnered with HB McClure and JEM Group to sponsor a networking event that benefited the Girl Scouts, which has programs for educating young women about careers in construction.

Events are still being planned by construction firms and NAWIC’s 118 chapters for this year’s Women in Construction Week.

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How to Write a Winning Proposal

Proposal development is a pain point for many construction companies. While they regularly showcase their creativity on job sites, their proposals to bid for new work come off as flat and boring with irrelevant information.

Writing a proposal that stands out is challenging. It takes practice. It takes time. And often, it takes some guidance from an expert to get it right.

Atlas Marketing, a marketing and communications firm based in Pittsburgh that specializes in construction marketing, provides proposal development among its many services.

“We have heard from multiple clients that we’ve helped them improve their process. One general contractor, in particular, has told us that they increased their win rate by 40% since we helped them,” said Atlas President Chris Martin.

Atlas creates a customized plan for each client. “We’re not just pulling previous material off the shelf and saying, ‘Here’s what you should do.’ We’re working with their business development team, their marketing team, and their leadership teams to understand the business and how the proposals fit into the operations versus just giving an across-the-board response. It’s very customized and very strategic to their business,” Martin said. “We’ve helped specialty contractors, general contractors, and heavy highway contractors go through this process. It’s not always going to be the same. It’s going to be very specific to their segment of the industry and their audience.”

Common obstacles in the proposal process

Common deficiencies that Atlas identifies in bid proposals include wordiness, a lack of visuals, and relevant support.

Keep the language simple and avoid jargon. Make sure project profiles that are submitted to highlight work experience are relevant and from the same specialty, such as health care, commercial, retail, or senior living. And don’t forget to spruce up the proposal document. Make it engaging. Black words on a white page are boring and send a message that your company isn’t creative.

Digital proposals offer a lot of opportunities. “How you present that information is going to be critical,” Martin said. “It can’t just be words on a page. There should be graphics. There should be, if possible, videos. There should be photos of previous projects, BIM imagery, charts, and graphs to make it easier for the recipient to understand what it is you are going to do for them and make the project a success.”

Proposals typically will be reviewed by a panel. The members of that panel may have diverse educational backgrounds and may digest information differently.

“One of the things you have to be mindful of is making sure that your proposal flows,” said Atlas Vice President Susan Matson, “and that not (continued)


How to Write a Winning Proposal

everybody reads all the details. Use images and graphics and headlines and sub-headlines; create the bite-size pieces throughout as callouts. The goal is to create an opportunity for those who skim as well as those who dive in deep. Appeal to both audiences because both are going to be looking at your proposal and have input on the final decision.”

The goal, Martin said, is for the proposal to impress decision makers enough so that they will be prompted to ask questions and want to know more about how you can deliver for them. That opens the door for deeper dialogue.

“Make it so that they can understand your solution and then can ask more questions that you can respond to,” Martin said.

Another piece of advice Atlas offers to clients is to focus on the audience. Atlas often sees proposals that are written for the wrong audience. Instead of being written to help the bidding company and potential client make a decision, they are written from the perspective of the contractor.

“Always remember that it’s the client’s project,” Matson said. “It’s their challenge that they’re seeking your expertise and your know-how to get it accomplished. So how will what you’re going to bring to the table help them?”

Matson suggests asking, “If the project is a hospital, how are you going to be able to successfully complete that project for their audiences? For the patients? For the families? For the doctors and the nurses and the staff?”

How to stand apart with your proposal

Construction companies must focus on what makes them different from their competition. Boasting that you complete projects safely and on time is not enough.

“Everybody says the same thing about being safe and on time,” Matson said. “That’s great, that’s something that everybody is looking for. But what are you going to do to achieve those goals? How are you going to be safe?”

It takes a cross-departmental team to create a winning proposal. Members from different departments bring different talents and expertise, Matson said. Atlas Marketing typically engages with various departments,

but mainly is involved with business development and marketing.

As mentioned previously, use graphics and a balanced layout to help your proposal stand out. Another goal should be to reinforce the solution and value your company provides by finding methods to help the potential customer make the decision to hire your firm.

Reduce time spent on proposal redundancies

All proposals will include some of the same boilerplate information. That can be written in advance, perhaps with long, medium, and short versions being prepared.

“If you look at your proposal, probably more than half, I might venture to say 60% of it or higher, is going to be somewhat the same from proposal to proposal,” Matson said. “So don’t be rewriting that every time. That costs money. That costs time. Then you don’t have the time focused on what is different about this project for this particular client or prospect.”

Once the proposal is complete, it’s wise to have a fresh set of eyes look at it, someone who was not involved in writing it. That person may identify inconsistencies, lack of flow or appropriate voice, or errors.

It’s also critical to review the RFP or guidelines to make sure that all directions have been followed and that all the required information has been provided. Failure to submit a complete proposal can result in disqualification. Atlas Marketing has supported clients in this way in the past and served as a Red Team to ensure the response matches the initial request.

It’s unrealistic to expect that every proposal will be a winner. When a proposal is rejected, it is important to know why it did not make the cut, so future proposals can be stronger.

A phone call to the project owner to ask why you fell short can elicit critical information. That step is not taken often enough. Many owners are forthcoming and will provide honest answers. But remember what your goal is.

“This isn’t an opportunity for argument,” Matson said. “This is an opportunity for you to learn. Know that there could be harsh words on the other side, and you need to be willing to accept that and understand that that feedback is being given to you honestly. So, thank them. Ask for a few minutes of time. Ask them where you fell short. Ask them what made the winning proposal get the job and not yours.”



Robert Leahey Elected to Represent the KCA on the GCAP Board

In 2022, Robert Leahey from McCrossin was elected to represent KCA as an officer on the General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania Board of Directors. Also, Noble ‘Bud’ Quandel has been reappointed as KCA’s co-chair for GCAP’s Political Action Committee. Mr. Leahey and Mr. Quandel are joined by John Panzitta of Panzitta Enterprises and Christopher Magent of The Butz Family of Companies as KCA’s representatives on the GCAP Board. GCAP is a statewide organization that represents over a thousand commercial construction companies based throughout our Commonwealth. For more information please visit General Contractors Association of Pennsylvania.

Board Members Take Their New Positions with the KCA

The KCA announced the new board positions for 2023/2024. New officers named are: President, Howard Bernstein of Penn Installations (top left); Vice President, Joseph Orr III of J.C. Orrr & Sons (top right); Secretary, David Miorrelli of Joseph Miorelli & Company (bottom left), and Treasurer, David Jones of Creswell Brothers General Contractors (bottom right).

High School Develops a Marketing Plan to Raise Awareness Around the Trades

Jon O’Brien of the KCA, approached Northern York High School Teacher, Jim Neessen about having high school students develop a marketing plan around building positive awareness about the trades industry. Neessen, who oversees the club, Think Bunch Marketing Agency, gathered some of his top students to develop a campaign to heighten the awareness around careers in the trades. The name of the campaign is “Trade Builders.” On December 14, some of the Think Bunch Marketing Agency students presented their ideas to members of the KCA.

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: Jon O’Brien, Executive Director of the KCA; Students: Jason Keiffer, Jack Carluccio, Sierra Bruce, and Emily Smutsky; and Teacher/Advisor Jim Neeseen. Not pictured: Rachel Sealover and Josh Figueroa

The marketing plan is continuing to be developed, but their plans include the use of social media and events to help build awareness. Follow the students on Instagram and on TikTok @tradebuilders. Watch their YouTube video to hear their presentation to the KCA.




Isett Selected as a Leader in Construction and Real Estate in Lehigh


and Central Pennsylvania Markets

Barry Isett & Associates, Inc. (Isett) has been recognized in the inaugural Leaders in Construction & Real Estate Awards by both Lehigh Valley Business and the Central Penn Business Journal. Isett was selected as the sole company honoree in the engineers category for both regional publications alongside various leaders in the architecture, construction, and real estate industries.

The Leaders in Construction & Real Estate Awards honor the individuals and companies who are changing the landscape of their region through design, construction, engineering, lending, innovation, and more. The construction categories include architects, developers, engineers, general contractors, homebuilders, lender/bonding agents, project managers, and sub-contractors. Real estate categories include commercial real estate agents and residential real estate agents.

Honorees for the Leadership in Construction & Real Estate Awards for each region were chosen by the editorial staff of Lehigh Valley Business and Central Penn Business Journal.





& Associates

Hosted by: Jon O’Brein of the KCA and Chris Martin of Atlas Marketing

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LEFT TO RIGHT: Suzanne Fischer-Huettner, Senior Group Publisher of BridgeTower Media; Kevin Campbell, President and CEO of Barry Isett LEFT Samantha Melhorn, Regional Marketing Manager; Nick Bauer, Project Manager, Construction Materials Testing of Barry Isett & Associates

The Keystone Contractors Association is a Pennsylvania commercial construction trade association dedicated to improving the construction industry by focusing on safety, education and training, labor relations, community service, career development, and government relations.


VALUABLE MEMBER SERVICES: Education and training, career development, safety, labor relations, community service, and government relations.

KCA AFFINITY PROGRAMS: Your company and employees can take advantage of an extensive array of discounted services and products. We often hear members say the total dollar amount saved from these discounts offsets their annual membership dues!

ONLINE RESOURCES: Weekly toolbox talks, equipment recalls, "members only" wage rate information, monthly safety campaign calendar, and much more!

NETWORKING: Construction industry social events, webinars, podcasts, virtual educational sessions, and improving project outcomes group discussions.

MEMBER AWARDS PROGRAMS: KCA recognizes the state's most innovative, safest, and communitybased construction companies and professionals. Our prestigious awards include: The Thomas George Memorial Community Service Award; The KCA Top Young Leader Award; and, The KCA Annual Safety Awards!

Join now and gain access to valuable resources, benefits, and services that can help your company in today’s marketplace. APPLY NOW!

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