Utility & Transportation
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From the desk of: tom hardell
s 2017 draws to a close, I am both honored and excited to begin my new role as President of the UTCA Board. First, I would like to thank the UTCA Board of Directors for having faith in me to lead the Association. I am also humbled knowing that I am following some large footprints, not the least of which are from my immediate predecessor, Jim Coddington, who oversaw the passage of the TTF reauthorization. Congratulations Jim on such a successful term. Closest to my heart, are the Board legacies of George Harms Construction and George Harms himself, who have been dedicated to UTCA from the very beginning. I am proud to be the third person from George Harms Construction to fill the role of President. George Harms truly understands the importance of the Association, and joined in the late 1960s, shortly after the organization was formed. He went on to become the 8th President, serving from 1976 – 1977. George recognized the importance of continuing his firm’s involvement in the Association and chose Ed Nyland as his successor. Ed went on to be the 24th and 38th President of the Association, serving from 1993 – 1994, and again from 2007 – 2008. I am proud to continue their service to our industry in the coming year. Now that the gas tax has been increased, the Association is able to focus on other important work around the state, and I have identified four main items to define my tenure. As my first initiative, we must institute a CPI for the motor fuel tax. The fight to renew the TTF was fierce, and decades long. Pegging funding to inflation will ensure that as the cost of doing business incrementally rises, so will the gas tax. While the modest, scheduled increases will not negate the need for another replenishment in eight years, they will go a long way toward creating the long-term, sustainable fund that our industry needs. My second initiative will be to secure increased funding for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority. The last toll increase was a 53% tiered-increase that passed in 2008, with the final hike going into effect in 2012. Those increases financed the Authority’s $7 billion capital program, which should be complete by 2018. The Turnpike Authority will need increased revenue in order to fund any future capital programs.
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Similarly, we need a dedicated source of funding to invest in water and wastewater systems. Every day, our state loses 130 million gallons of treated drinking water through crumbling water pipes with no coordinated effort to repair them. During our last major drought sixteen years ago, NJDEP developed an interconnected drinking water system to address water management - it was never built. NJ tests higher than Flint, MI for contaminants, yet we are now just scratching the surface of testing our drinking water systems. EPA has ordered our combined sewer overflow communities to adhere to management plans to help keep raw sewage out of rivers and oceans, but there is very little funding for this important work, and we have a long way to go. My third initiative will be to advocate with the new administration to create a comprehensive capital plan for water and sewer backed by a sustainable way to fund it. Last, but certainly not least, I feel it is central to my job as President to make sure that UTCA is doing the best it can for all of you. I will focus on generating new members to increase our strength as an industry; I will work to engage our current members and encourage them to be more active; and most importantly, I will lead with the interests of our whole industry at heart. In closing, I would also like to extend a huge congratulations to Harry Chowansky for being awarded the Third Annual Robert A. Briant, Sr. Memorial Award at our 2017 Convention. This prestigious and hard-earned distinction celebrates Harry’s achievements during his tenure as a UTCA Board Member, as a Past President, and for his leadership in the industry. Congratulations Harry. I would also like to commend Zone Striping on celebrating 35 years in business and offer my best wishes for the next 35 to come. As I look to the future of the Association, I see a path that is bright. I look forward to working with all of you in the coming year to help make New Jersey a better place to build. Any comments or suggestions please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cover story 50 UTCA’s Annual convention
2 23 29 35 39 59 69 81
15 investment in transportation infrastructure critical 64 zone striping completes 35 years in business 92 mccarthy & company celebrates 50 years
President’s Message Financial Overview Legal Dig Accounting Corner Legislative News Safety Perspective Labor Relations Engineering Exchange
NEWS 73 redefining your employee benefit package 87 top ten 401(k) compliance pitfalls 97 six mistakes in construction insurance programs
Published Bimonthly During 2017
1670 Route 34 North Farmingdale, NJ 07727 PO Box 728 Allenwood, NJ 08720 PH: (732) 2924300 FAX: (732) 2924310 www.utcanj.org
Publisher: Robert A. Briant, Jr. Editor: Helene Nasdeo Editorial Contributors: Anthony Attanasio, Zoe Baldwin, Dan Neville Advertising Manager: Helene Nasdeo Photographer: Image Up Production/Graphics: Lauren Hagan Circulation: Helene Nasdeo Printed By: American Plus Printers Affiliations: ARTBA, Clean Water Construction Coalition, Water Infrastructure Network UTILITY AND TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTOR (ISSN 01924843) is published six times a year by the Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey, 1670 Highway 34 North, Farmingdale, NJ 07727. Periodical postage paid at Farmingdale, NJ and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UTILITY AND TRANSPORTATION CONTRACTOR, PO Box 728, Allenwood, NJ 08720.
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By: senator Bob gordon
ew Jersey’s economic growth, housing values, and quality of life depend on our ability to develop and maintain a 21st Century transportation infrastructure over the next decade to make up for years of neglect and underfunding. That’s why I was such a staunch proponent of legislation to establish a $2 billion a year Transportation Trust Fund to rebuild our crumbling roads, bridges and mass transit infrastructure, and why I have led the fight to expand our trans-Hudson rail, bus and ferry capacity. The Utility and Transportation Contractors Association was one of our most important and consistent partners in our successful bipartisan push for final passage of the Transportation Trust Fund legislation last October, ending a four-month stalemate that had idled contractors and construction workers across the state. With passage of the TTF bill, we were able not only to allocate $1.6 billion in state funding for previously approved work, but also to put an additional $400 million out the door last spring for shovel-ready projects, including a lot of long-overdue road repaving and bridge repairs. The failure to maintain a “state of good repair” was one of the main reasons that New Jersey motorists were incurring a highest-in-the-nation $600-a-year in unnecessary repair costs due to poor road maintenance. The $2 billion a year in state funding for transportation infrastructure is matched by more than $1.5 billion a year in federal funding and augmented by another $700 million in New Jersey Turnpike Authority and South Jersey Transportation Authority funds. Investing in our transportation infrastructure not only puts people and businesses to work repairing roads, bridges and our rail lines, but also is one of the best ways to promote economic
investment in transportation infrastructure critical to nj future growth and create jobs. Expanding the New Jersey Turnpike to 12 lanes through central New Jersey is the most important single reason that Amazon and other companies are building and expanding their distribution centers and warehouses throughout Middlesex, Union, Mercer, and Burlington counties. Raising the Bayonne Bridge to enable the new Panamax super-freighters to navigate the Arthur Kill into Port Newark will further grow our logistics sector, as will investments to upgrade Newark Airport, which is one of FedEx’s busiest hubs. We need to make sure we are spending that money in a cost-effective way. That’s why I worked with the UTCA to introduce Senate Bill 3409 setting up a predictable process for contractors and government entities to immediately and predictably address changed conditions that affect the costs of highway, bridge and other construction contracts after the work is underway. New Jersey can’t do it alone, even with an expanded Transportation Trust Fund and a robust Turnpike Authority capital program. That’s why I have taken a leadership role through my chairmanship of the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee to ensure that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey makes the expansion of trans-Hudson commuter capacity its top priority in the decades ahead, and that New Jersey Transit has the resources and leadership it needs to once again become one of the leading mass transit agencies in the nation. The construction of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, the George Washington, Bayonne and Goethals bridges and the Ou-
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terbridge Crossing -- following the construction of the six rail tunnels that now carry NJ Transit, PATH and Amtrak trains under the Hudson -- inextricably linked the New York and New Jersey economies. We need to make up for Governor Christieâ€™s horrendous mistake in cancelling the ARC Rail Tunnel by making sure that the Gateway rail tunnels are built before the 107-year-old rail tunnels that were so badly damaged by superstorm Sandy have to close for repairs. We need to make sure that we expand the Northeast Corridor from two to four lanes between Newark and Secaucus, build a new Portal Bridge over the Hackensack River and construct New York Penn Station South in order to double NJ Transit rail commuter capacity to Manhattan. We need to expand the Port Authority Bus Terminal to meet a 50% projected increase in bus ridership by 2040, and we need to grow our PATH capacity by lengthening the platforms in Jersey City to accommodate longer 10-car trains while we are extending the PATH line to Newark Airport. Transportation is the key to New Jerseyâ€™s future prosperity and economic competitiveness, and we need to do all we can to invest in that future. Senator Bob Gordon (D-Bergen/Passaic) chairs the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee and is Vice Chairman of the Transportation Committee.
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By: Bill ruckert, provident bank
he future of interest rates has been a leading topic among economists in the recent past. The discussions were fueled by the 2016 Presidential election, the Fed’s decision to increase its “overnight rate” twice this year and US Treasury rates continued fluctuation. While opinions vary, higher interest rates are inevitable. With this in mind, and the historically low interest rates over the past 9 years, business owners and banks alike, need to carefully analyze what higher interest rates mean to their respective businesses. As a point of perspective, there is a whole generation of companies and people who have never experienced an interest rate of 5%, never mind the 10% and 15% many of us can remember. Not only do these higher rates seem unimaginable now, equally unimaginable is that business was conducted with near double digit interest rates, profits were made, personal income grew and inflation was under control. While there is no suggestion here
verted” yield curve reflects long duration interest rates sloping downwards as economic conditions are expected to slow. The great recession has for the most part seen a flat yield curve which has put great pressure on bank earnings. Borrowers, on the other hand, have enjoyed interest rate protection in both short and long term duration loans. The two recent short term interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve have not correlated necessarily into higher long term rates as those markets tend to work independently. For example, in 2017, the Prime rate (short term duration) has increased 50 basis points since March while the 10 Year Treasury Note (long term duration), has declined almost 40 basis points as of early September.
the yield curve what does it mean to my business
Economists, bankers and investors are all clamoring for normalcy in the markets; however, low interest rates, coupled with an employment level viewed as full and inflation well below its target all seem to point to unchartered waters. While it is unlikely your business will end up with Gilligan on a deserted island, you should consider the potential of the yield curve normalizing, and what that means for your business. As we enter the 4th quarter and you begin tax planning, financial statement preparation and forecasting for next year, a review of your financing arrangements and interest rate risk would be prudent. Your accountant and banker are critical to this process and can bring value to the analysis.
that rates are moving in that direction, the comfort and stability of the recent low interest environment seems to be waning. As you conduct an analysis of what higher rates mean to your company, a brief review of the yield curve and its dynamics is appropriate. The yield curve reflects an interest rate for a specified duration and its shape is generally on an upward slope. Typically, the longer the duration, the higher the interest rate, otherwise known as a “normal” yield curve. At times the curve can be “steep” meaning uncertainty of the future causes rates to be higher. A “flat” yield curve demonstrates a lack of “spread” in rates between short and long term durations indicating uncertainty regarding interest rate movements in the future. An “in-
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Harry Chowansky on being the recipient of the Robert A. Briant, Sr. Memorial Award, Carl Bloomfield for being the recipient of the Larry Gardner Memorial Award, Steve Brawer on being inducted into the NJ Construction Industry Hall of Fame and Zone Striping for its 35 years in business. Lastly, I want to congratulate our good friend Tom Hardell, President/COO of George Harms Construction Company on being named President of the UTCA and wish him great success. About the Author. . . Wm. J. Ruckert III is Senior Vice President of Middle Market Lending at Provident Bank. Based in Provident’s Iselin office, Ruckert oversees commercial financing for companies with sales of $15 million or more. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Loyola College in Maryland.
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By: Paul t. fader, association legal counsel & adrienne isacoff, Florio, perrucci steinhardt & Fader, LLC
idders have long been used to the requirement to identify their subcontractors who will be performing work in one of the four prime trades (plumbing, HVAC, electrical, and structural steel and ornamental iron work) when bidding on a municipal job. The Local Public Contracts Law (N.J.S.A. 40A:11-1 et seq., “LPCL”) requires subcontractors performing that work to be named in the bid proposal. N.J.S.A. 40A:11-16. What bidders generally do not focus on is that the statutory requirement to identify subcontractors on local jobs is limited to the construction or repair “of any public building by any contracting unit” (emphasis supplied). Most municipalities require bidders to identify their subcontractors regardless of whether the project is a building or some type of horizontal construction – e.g., a road or bridge. However, municipalities have the discretion whether or not to require naming subcontractors in all projects that do not relate to “buildings.” Other requirements of the LPCL apply to projects other than those for the construction or renovation of a building. For example, the provision that allows contractors to deposit bonds with the contracting unit in lieu of retainage applies to contractors for the “construction, alteration or repair of any building, structure, facility or other improvement to real property” (emphasis supplied). N.J.S.A. 40A:11-16.1. A certificate of the bidder showing that it owns, leases or controls all of the necessary equipment required by the plans and specifications may be required from any bidder submitting a bid on “public work.” N.J.S.A. 40A:11-20. A bid bond must be furnished by a person bidding on a contract for “the erection, alteration or repair of a public building, structure, facility or other improvement to real property. . . ” and the bidder’s surety must submit a certificate guaranteeing that it will submit such a performance bond if the contract is awarded to its principal. N.J.S.A. 40A:11-21, 22. Another provision of the LPCL makes it a mandatory bid requirement, which can neither be waived by the municipality, nor cured by the bidder, to name subcontractors and provide the bid bond and surety certificate, but only “when required by the bid plans and specifications.” N.J.S.A. 40A:11-23.2. Since bid bonds and consents of surety must be provided when the project involves utility or transportation work, as well as for public buildings, there is no question that those requirements are mandatory for all jobs that meet the monetary threshold for such requirements. Even if the municipality fails to require those bid elements in its bid specifications, they are statutorily required. If you are the
second low bidder and the low bidder has failed to furnish a bid bond or consent of surety (whether the project is for vertical or horizontal construction), you can challenge the bid, although you may only convince the court that all bids should be rejected and the project should be readvertised to make the specifications conform to public bidding requirements.
Whether a Bidder must name Subcontractors depends on a confusing mix of statutory definitions
what’s so special about “public Buildings”
But even though it may appear that N.J.S.A. 40A:11-23.2 makes it mandatory to name your prime subcontractors on all jobs, it ain’t necessarily so! If the project is a “public building” then the requirement is mandatory. However, if the municipality is soliciting bids for a transportation or utility project, there is no mandatory requirement with respect to naming subcontractors. The municipality has the option of requiring the naming of subcontractors in its bid specifications and only if it does so will the requirement be mandatory. If the low bidder fails to name its subcontractors in this scenario, it is unlikely that you will be able to challenge the bid or the bid specifications. The few court cases that have focused on this messy set of definitions have done little to shed light on why the LPCL requires municipalities, bidders and their counsel to scratch their heads at the nuanced differences between “public buildings,” “public works,” and “public building, structure, facility or other improvement to real property.” Gaglioti Contracting, Inc. v. City of Hoboken, 307 N.J. Super. 421 (App. Div. 1997); Star of the Sea Concrete Corp. v. Lucas Brothers, Inc., 370 N.J. Super. 60 (App. Div. 2004). It may be time to revisit this statute to make the language more consistent and less open to litigation. For now, make sure you know which definition applies to which bid element as you submit bids and before you go to court!
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ensure construction workers are properly classified By: christopher cowan & dawn greenberg, cowan, gunteski & co., P.A.
To grasp the complexity involved in this determination, business owners need to gain an understanding of the tests outlined in each payroll statute. FEDERAL CLASSIFICATION Since Federal income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare Tax, and Federal Unemployment Tax are each governed under separate statutes, an analysis of each tax may be necessary for many types of workers.
Federal regulations provide for three classification rules: statutory employee and non-employee rules, common law control rules, and Section 530 relief rules. Certain occupations, such as qualified real estate agents, are automatically classified as statutory non-employees and thus are treated as independent contractors under all three Federal
payroll tax statutes. It is not necessary to perform any further evaluation in this case. Similarly, some occupations are classified as statutory employees as a matter of law. However, unlike statutory non-employees, these classifications differ between the payroll tax statutes, making it necessary to review each statute separately. Many employers believe that a written employment contract stating that a worker is an independent contractor will protect them upon audit, but this document only offers evidence concerning the intent of the relationship. Although this type of document provides no guarantees, if properly structured, it can help to establish other important evidence essential to meeting the common-law control test. However, the most well-written contract in the world holds no value if the facts and circumstances of the actual relationship do not support it. An auditor will look at different types of control between an employer and his workers, including behavioral and financial control, as well as the relationship of the parties. Behavioral controls may be demonstrated by such factors as the employerâ€™s ability to dictate the exact manner in which a job is performed or the hours that must be worked. Providing workers with office space at the employerâ€™s location or supplying them with tools to perform services may indicate financial control. Other factual evidence may also be considered, such as the workerâ€™s formation of a separate legal entity and the manner in which income and expenses related to the activity are reported for tax purposes. While any of these factors may be indicative of the type of relationship between the employer and the worker, no one factor determines the outcome. All evidence should be looked at in its entirety.
hile worker classification has been a topic of concern for many years, the taxing authorities are honing in on this issue with a renewed vigor. Misclassifying workers can result in substantial penalties and put an employer at greater risk for a lawsuit. Making the distinction between an employee and an independent contractor, however, is not always as simple as it seems. Rather than one set of determinative rules, we have several sets of indicators based on facts and circumstances. There are separate Federal and state payroll statutes and classification criteria for each type of tax. As a result, an employer could feasibly have a worker classified as an employee for state unemployment and disability purposes, but also as an independent contractor for all other types of payroll taxes.
Since not all industries operate the same way in the marketplace, some employers may find relief under Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978, which was enacted due to complaints that the Internal Revenue Service used the common-law control test to arbitrarily reclassify workers as employees. An employer may treat a worker as an independent contractor if these four eligibility requirements are met: 1. Consistently treating the worker in question as an independent contractor. Alternately or simultaneously treating a worker as an independent contractor and an employee from year to year violates this requirement.
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2. Consistently treating a worker within the same job class as independent contractors for all periods beginning after 1977. 3. Consistently reporting all amounts paid to workers being classified on Forms 1099-MISC, when required.
4. Demonstrating a reasonable basis for treating the worker as an independent contractor. An employer may rely on one or more safe harbors or other reasonable basis for meeting this requirement. Safe harbors include: court cases or published rulings, prior IRS audits, or industry practice. If an IRS auditor determines that an employer meets some of the eligibility requirements for relief under Section 530, he/she will offer a settlement under the Federal Classification Settlement Program (CSP). A CSP offer is graduated based upon which requirements are satisfied and range from 25% to 100% of one year’s tax liability. The real benefit to these settlements is that there is no assessment on prior years provided the employer properly classifies the worker as an employee prospectively.
treated as employees. C. Customarily engaged in independently established trade or business. The worker must demonstrate that independent business is conducted by any factual means possible, including establishment of a separate business entity, business cards and advertising. What are the red flags that can trigger an audit? Barring specific industry practices, businesses issuing large numbers of Forms 1099-MISC relative to Forms W-2 are prime targets for an audit. Using independent contractors who receive only one or very few Forms 1099-MISC from other employers may also increase the risk of audit. Although most independent contractors want to avoid employee classification just as much as the employer does, audits can arise as a result of complaints from workers and labor unions. Some workers may want to be treated as employees in order to be entitled to benefits. An unfavorable finding in this instance may affect the employer’s cost of health insurance, pension contributions and any other benefits to which employees are entitled, in addition to the payroll tax assessment. The construction industry, in particular, bears its own inherent risk of audit since the IRS and state taxing authorities have targeted this sector.
Not unlike the Feds, New Jersey has separate classification rules for income tax witholding and unemployment and disability taxes
Some employers may qualify for a new optional Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP). This program provides employers with an opportunity to reclassify workers as employees for future tax periods with partial relief from federal unemployment taxes. NEW JERSEY CLASSIFICATION Not unlike the Feds, New Jersey has separate classification rules for income tax withholding and unemployment and disability taxes. To further complicate matters, they are administered by two separate governmental agencies. Although the IRS determination of a worker’s classification is a factor, NJ utilizes its own 14-point test for income tax withholding purposes. Many of the factors are the same or similar to the Federal tests, but they may not always yield the same result. In the case of construction contractors, income tax withholding may be necessary even if a worker is an independent contractor. A 2006 law change (effective 1/1/07) made a seven percent income tax withholding mandatory for unincorporated, unregistered construction contractors. Governmental entities, homeowners and tenants are exempted from this withholding requirement. The NJ Department of Labor imposes the “ABC Test” upon employers to make a determination for unemployment and disability purposes. The factors of this test are: A. Control. The same control factors as used in the Federal common-law control test are analyzed – behavioral, financial and relationship. B. Outside the usual course of business. To meet this test, workers must not perform the same job as other workers who are
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The IRS and the State of New Jersey are aggressively seeking to create more tax revenue, and this area of taxation provides a terrific opportunity to do just that because of its complexity. As they say in sports, the best defense is a good offense. Employers should review their own individual situations to determine if worker classification is an issue. If so, engaging a tax professional to perform an analysis of your employment practices and workers can highlight areas of concern, help to minimize risk and provide strong audit support. To discuss further, contact Cowan, Gunteski & Co., P.A.’s Chris Cowan at email@example.com / 732.349.6880, ext. 7725 or Dawn Greenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org / 732.349.6880, ext. 7718. Cowan, Gunteski & Co., P.A., a leading accounting and profitability consulting firm serving the tristate area, provides services that extend far beyond those of a traditional accounting firm. With extensive experience working with general contractors, builders, tradesman and supply houses that support the construction industry, CG team experts are dedicated to enhancing client profitability and provide personalized consultation to maximize results.
state & federal update By: zoe baldwin, director of government relations IN THE STATE HOUSE
ON THE HILL MEGAPROJECT, MINOR PROGRESS In early September, President Trump met with New York and New Jersey elected officials to discuss the future of the multibillion-dollar Gateway Tunnel. Senators Schumer, Booker, and Gillibrand, Governors Cuomo and Christie, and nearly a dozen members of Congress spent close to an hour at the White House working on securing a tangible federal commitment for the critical infrastructure. Senator Schumer and Rep. King called the meeting positive, while Governor Cuomo was more metered, saying that while productive, the meeting with the White House was ultimately inconclusive. Despite mixed reactions to the meeting, real progress was made one week later when the House passed a spending bill that included $900m for the project. It is widely accepted that Gateway is the most important transportation infrastructure project in the country. Amtrak, which owns the existing, century-old rail tunnel under the Hudson, has warned that damage caused by Hurricane Sandy could cause an emergency closing of one of that tunnel’s two tubes. If that were to happen, train traffic between New York City and points west would be reduced by 75 percent, hobbling our region’s economic engine.
All this to say, make sure you’re ready to vote on November 7. As the political landscape shifts going into a new administration, it’s more important than ever to make sure your interests are well represented in Trenton. Have any questions about your local race or where the candidates are on our issues? Reach out to us, we’re happy to help make sure that come November, contractor voices are heard. As a reminder, the legislators listed at the end of this article voted against TTF renewal. A MOMENT OF SILENCE UTCA was deeply saddened by the loss of South Jersey Senator and friend to the industry, Jim Whelan, who passed away suddenly following a heart attack in August. UTCA Bob Briant, Jr. said in a statement, “Jim was a tireless advocate and a thoughtful policymaker who left an indelible mark
VERYTHING BUT THE KITCHEN SINK As you are no doubt aware, New Jersey is at the peak of a busy election season, in which the Governor and all 120 members of the legislature are on the ballot. Adding to the milieu are two struggles that have insiders hedging their bets on what the NJ political field will look like in a year. First, leadership in the Assembly has been a source of contention as Middlesex Assemblyman Craig Coughlin seeks to unseat Hudson Assemblyman Vincent Prieto as Assembly Speaker. The bout has already affected chairmanships in the lower house, but it looks like all sides are looking for unity once the decision is made. Then there is the federal corruption trial of Senator Menendez, which, if he were to be found guilty, has the potential to shuffle up the congressional delegation.
on this state. He truly understood the importance of infrastructure, and fought hard to preserve the vitality and legacy of Atlantic City.” Our thoughts and prayers are with the Whelan family during this incredibly difficult time.
THE SONG REMAINS THE SAME Any movement on an infrastructure package may be pushed even further back as lawmakers contend with immigration, an omnibus, and a possible tax overhaul, among other issues. Lawmakers are still waiting for details from the Trump Administration on what it wants to see in an infrastructure bill. House Ways and Means Chair Kevin Brady has said he is open to incorporating funding for infrastructure investment into a tax overhaul, and in recent talks, Trump did not rule it out. In the upper chamber, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair John Barrasso highlighted his priorities for rural communities, adding that we may need to rely on more public financing than the Administration is currently planning. He added that any package must also address ways to speed up bureaucratic processes that entangle infrastructure project delivery.
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BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED SRFS As previously reported, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce favorably reported to the House HR 3387, the “Drinking Water System Improvement Act,” which reauthorizes the Safe Drinking Water SRF and substantially increases annual funding for the program. The bill authorizes $8 billion over a five-year period, which is a major victory given current funding for the Drinking Water program is only about $950 million annually. In late September, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held its perennial water infrastructure hearing, “Building a 21st Century Infrastructure for America: Water Stakeholders’ Perspectives,” which we hope will trigger the reauthorization of the Clean Water SRF. Historically in the House, the SRFs are heard by separate committees, then joined afterward. Should the full House approve the bill, it will head to the Senate, where the Environment and Public Works Committee has jurisdiction over both revolving funds. After years of delay, the bipartisan House measure will put some pressure on the Senate to work toward consensus in a timely manner. TIGER TAILS State and local officials have until October 16 to apply for $500 million in TIGER grants. The FY17 TIGER program is giving special consideration to communities in rural areas. As of this writing, New Jersey has not submitted any applications. In
its FY18 budget request, the White House proposed cutting the TIGER program altogether. IT’S NOT SHAMELESS IF IT’S TRUE - It’s an election year, and the entire legislature and the governor are up for election. Now more than ever, it is critical that we support our TTF champions, as many are now facing challenges for their votes in favor of responsible funding. If we lose even one friend in the legislature due to their vote for the TTF, we greatly endanger future renewal efforts. We sincerely hope that you’ll consider supporting the UTCA PAC, CONSTRUCTORS FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT UTCA continues to be the leading voice for infrastructure construction in Trenton and Washington DC. Whether it is providing expert testimony before business and legislative groups or positively effecting the legislative process, UTCA stands alone in its record of achievement for our industry. This success is only possible with your support of the Association, and more importantly, with your support of the industry’s PAC: Constructors for Good Government. Please consider contributing in 2017 as UTCA will continue to be very active in the upcoming legislative session, and a robust PAC only strengthens our voice. Thank you for your continued support.
Voted against ttf renewal • Senator Van Drew • Assemblyman Andrzejczak • Assemblyman Land • Assemblyman Brown • Assemblyman Mazzeo • Senator Allen
• Senator Bateman • Assemblyman Zwicker • Assemblyman Ciattarelli • Senator Tom Kean • Assemblyman Green • Senator Doherty
• Senator Connors • Assemblywoman Gove • Assemblyman Rumpf • Senator Holzapfel
• Assemblyman Peterson • Assemblyman DiMaio • Assemblyman Space • Senator Bucco
• Assemblyman McGuckin • Assemblyman Wolfe
• Assemblyman Bucco • Assemblyman Carroll
• Senator Beck • Assemblywoman Downey • Assemblyman Houghtaling
• Senator Pennacchio • Assemblyman Webber • Senator Gill
• Assemblyman Dancer • Assemblyman Clifton
• Assemblywoman Oliver • Senator Cardinale
• Assemblywoman Handlin • Senator Turner
• Assemblyman Auth • Assemblywoman Schepisi
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UTCA’s Annual convention big success featured kris “tanto” paronto awards to Steve Brawer, Harry Chowansky & Carl Bloomfield By: zoe baldwin, Director Of communications
t was a banner year for the UTCA, as the 52nd Annual Convention turned out to be one of our most successful yet. Approximately 1,400 people representing more than 300 companies converged at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City for three days of networking and festivities. We’d like to thank everyone who participated in this year’s gathering. As always, a major highlight of the event was the myriad networking opportunities for exhibitors and attendees. More than 80 companies displayed their wares on the convention floor, running the full gamut of goods and services that help keep you in the business of building. The Convention is now in its third year at the Borgata, which once again provided a world class experience. The annual Fall Golf Outing at the Atlantic City Country Club in Northfield, NJ has long been the unofficial start to the Annual Convention, this year drawing more than 80 golfers to the outing and luncheon. Thanks to our cigar sponsor, JRCRUZ Corp. and everyone who participated, the Fall Outing was an absolute success and set the bar for the weekend to come. Later that evening came the official convention kick-off, the always-popular Opening Reception, sponsored by Foley Incorporated. Atlantic City’s own Senator Colin Bell stopped by, joining the large crowd that mixed and mingled for several hours. Many of you already know
Kris “Tanto” Paronto Friday Luncheon Keynote Speaker
Senator Bell, as he specializes in construction and employment law for several member firms. Everyone enjoyed a great variety of food, drinks, and networking as day one of the Convention came to a close. On Friday, the Luncheon began with a welcome from President Jim Coddington followed by the presentation of the 2017 Larry Gardner Memorial Award to Carl Bloomfield of the Graham Company. Carl was selected for his years of support as an active member of the Convention Committee, a regular contributor to the UTCA magazine, and his unflagging support of the Association. Tom Bracken, President and CEO of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, was honored with the inaugural UTCA President’s Award for his work to improve our infrastructure and make New Jersey a stronger, better place to do business. The Premier Sponsor of this enjoyable event was Williams. After the award ceremony, the crowd was awed by guest speaker Kris “Tanto” Paronto, a former US Army Ranger who survived the 2012 Benghazi attack. Tanto kept the audience riveted, giving insight and lessons learned from his experiences and leadership during the infamous Islamic militant strike on an American diplomatic compound in Libya, which ultimately led to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and information officer Sean Smith. This edge-of-your-seat appearance and sold-out book signing was sponsored by our friends at the Operating Engineers Labor Employer Cooperative (ELEC).
Jim Coddington, left, presents Carl Bloomfield with the Larry Gardner Memorial Award
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Sponsored by C & H Agency and United Airlines, the President’s Reception on Friday night was standing room only, and proved to be the place to be in Atlantic City. Several friends from the
tures, JESCO, M.L. Ruberton Construction, Northeast Remsco Construction, Tilcon, South State, and Vianini Pipe. Last but not least, very special congrats to George Helmer who was recognized for twenty-two years of service to the Association as a member of the Board of Directors and now serves as Board Member Emeritus. We will miss his leadership on the committee.
political world mixed in with the crowd, including State Government Committee Chair Assemblyman Troy Singleton (D-7), Assembly Environment Committee Chair Tim Eustace (D-38), Transportation Committeeman Assemblyman Dan Benson (D14), and longtime industry ally Assemblyman Sean Kean (R-30). Further strengthening the partnership with our friends in labor, we were also very pleased to be joined by leaders and representatives from the Operating Engineers Union Local 825 and the Laborers International Union Locals 472 and 172. The President’s Reception was followed by the annual PAC Auction Party, which benefits the Constructors for Good Government Political Action Committee. This year’s event featured more than 100 items available in both silent and live auctions. Professional auctioneering by Ritchie Brothers energized the room to raise more than $38,000 for the PAC, which helps ensure that UTCA can continue the fight for legislative and regulatory change. Many thanks to all of our donors and bidders, your generosity is critical to strengthening our industry’s voice in Trenton.
Michele Kremer has her extended time in the money booth as winner of the Saturday morning Scavenger Hunt
The Saturday morning breakfast program paid tribute to outgoing President Jim Coddington, with the traditional presentation of the personalized manhole cover by Campbell Foundry. Jim Coddington has always been an outstanding leader and ambassador for the construction industry. Throughout his presidency, Jim effectively and articulately represented the UTCA in meetings with elected officials at all levels of government, heads of State Agencies, labor officials and leaders of many other industries. Thanks to his leadership, the Association was a driving force in the passage of the New Jersey Transportation Trust Fund Renewal, establishment of the local government transportation infrastructure bank, the passage of our signature Environmental Infrastructure Trust (NJEIT) legislation, and the supplemental $400 million appropriation to support transportation infrastructure spending. Jim also traveled to Washington, D.C. and met with Congressional representatives to address industry concerns and the need for long term and sustainable federal funding for infrastructure. Jim worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of our industry, and we cannot thank him enough. The program closed with a drawing sponsored by our Premier Sponsor, Construction Risk Partners for his-and-her’s watches and a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. Congratulations to Noah Rice of Reinforced Earth Company who won the Surface Pro and Tino and Mary Ann Garcia of Ferreira Construction who took home the designer watches.
Jim Coddington presents Steve Brawer with the NJ Construction Industry Hall Of Fame Award
Jim Coddington is presented with his personalized manhole cover for his year of service as UTCA President
We would also like to thank the corporate sponsors of our PAC Auction Party, without whom, none of this would be possible: Atlantic Concrete Products, Cohen Seglias Pallas Greenhall & Furman PC, Earle Asphalt, EIC Associates, High Steel Struc-
We rolled out a new event this year to liven up the exhibit floor, inviting attendees to test their sleuthing skills in our inaugural Saturday Scavenger Hunt. Hunters received a list of clues and scrambled to find the answers from the vendors on the floor. In the end, Michele Kremer proved her skills by getting all of the correct answers and her name chosen out of a drawing, and was able to nab nearly $200 in an extended spin in the Money Booth! The exhibit floor came to a close with a grand prize drawing sponsored by Hoffman Equipment. Congratulations to Nick
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Genchi, the lucky winner of vacation package!
Saturday afternoon brought the return of the Annual Spouse’s Program held at the Gypsy Barand was sponsored by George Harms Construction. Medium Craig McManus performed to a packed room, and his paranormal insight were thoroughly enjoyed by all. Elsewhere in the Borgata, there was stiff competition at the Fourth Annual UTCA Poker Tournament sponsored by Montana Construction. Congratulations to John Norton of Kennedy Companies who took home the purse of $400. The Annual Dinner Dance was sponsored by Komatsu Northeast and Wirtgen Group, and had some great new features for 2017. This year’s event was Masquerade themed, and attendees were certainly dressed to impress. Before even entering the beautifully decorated ballroom, couples were treated to a red carpet style step-and-repeat, where UTCA photographer David Glasofer captured all the glam. And that wasn’t the only event making Saturday night’s dinner dance a memorable affair: UTCA legal counsel for 30 years, Steven Brawer was inducted into the New Jersey Construction Industry Hall of Fame. Steve served the Association from 1984-2014, and truly helped build the foundation of our industry’s strength and success. Congratulations on your Hall of Fame induction Steve.
the stage, which really got the crowd moving on the dance floor after a delicious filet mignon dinner.
Paul Fader inducts Tom Hardell as UTCA’s New President
Separately, during a private event at the Palm restaurant in Tropicana, Bob Briant, Jr. was honored by the Board and staff for 35 years of service to the Association. In addition to a custom fishing pole provided by the Board, Bob was shocked as his permanent caricature was unveiled on the wall of the private dining room, positioned just below Frank Sinatra. The UTCA staff and Convention Committee are applauded for the planning of this year’s event, and the change of venue to the Borgata Casino was once again a big success. CEO Bob Briant, Lauren Hagan, Helene Nasdeo, Dan Neville, Anthony Attanasio, and Zoe Baldwin did a great job with this special event. UTCA will return to the Borgata Casino September 27-30 for the 2018 Convention.
Bob Briant, Jr. presents Harry Chaowansky with the Robert A. Briant, Sr Memorial Award
Later in the evening, Jim Coddington was recognized for his year of service and success as Association President, and Paul Fader, UTCA’s General Counsel, gave the Oath of Office to Tom Hardell as UTCA’s new President. Following his induction, Tom thanked everyone for their support and presented his agenda for the upcoming year. The evening program continued with the presentation of the Third Annual Robert A. Briant, Sr. Memorial Award to Harry Chowansky of HC Constructors. The award celebrated his achievements during his tenure as a UTCA Board Member, Past President, his leadership on Association committees, and his tremendous dedication to the broader community through NJ Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Foundation, the Appalachian Service Project, and Habitat for Humanity. Harry thanked his family, his employees, and the UTCA Board of Directors. This award recognizes the tireless efforts of Bob Briant, Sr. during his many years of service to the UTCA, and is considered the Association’s most prestigious honor. Finally, Cheers the Band took
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Bob Briant, Jr. signing his caricature in The Palm Restaurant
what are roles and responsibilities during crane operations By: travelers indemnity company
perating a crane can be a high-risk activity at a construction site. Beyond the potential for serious injuries or death, a crane accident can impact the project’s budget and schedule. Crane accidents also can harm a construction company’s brand and reputation.
“Making sure all members of the team are qualified to do their jobs should be a priority for companies,” says Hank Dutton, a Travelers Risk Control crane safety professional, who was named the 2013 Top Trainer from Crane & Rigging Hotline Magazine. Training can help companies increase the awareness of risk and job-site safety associated with crane operations. Crane safety specialists can assist companies in educating employees — from the lift director to the operator and even those working nearby.
These standards also define the qualifications for personnel involved in lifting operations. Two commonly used terms for describing these qualifications are “qualified” and “competent” personnel. A qualified person, according to ASME and OSHA, is “a person who, by possession of a recognized degree, certificate or professional standing, or who by extensive knowledge, training and experience, successfully demonstrates the ability to solve/resolve problems relating to the subject matter, the work or the project.” A competent person, according to OSHA, is “one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are unsanitary, hazardous or dangerous to employees, and who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” 4 Key Roles During Crane Operations Following is a closer look at some, but not all, of the responsibilities of four key roles identified in ASME B30.5 and B30.3: Crane Owner The crane owner is the party with custodial control of the crane and provides the necessary operational and maintenance information to the crane user. Other responsibilities include, but are not limited to:
Having a well-trained lift team can help mitigate, and possibly eliminate, some of the hazards associated with using cranes. A safe lift depends on a number of people filling roles including operators, riggers, signal persons, crane owners, crane users, lift directors and site supervisors, and the communication between those people.
al structure during lifting operations.
• Providing a crane that meets the user’s requested configuration and capacity. • Providing all applicable load rating charts and diagrams and additional technical information when requested by crane user; field assembly/disassembly; operation; maintenance info; and placards and warning decals supplied by the manufacturer. Understanding the Safety Requirements The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) volume B30.5, which addresses mobile cranes, and B30.3, which addresses tower cranes, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) have requirements for personnel involved in lifting operations. Make sure to review both standards to ensure all of the roles mentioned are assigned within your organization-
• Establishing inspection, testing and maintenance procedures, and informing the crane user. • Designating qualified personnel for maintenance, repair, transport, assembly/disassembly and inspections. • Maintaining data for the rope currently installed on each drum of the crane.
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Crane User The crane user arranges the crane’s presence at the site and controls the crane while on site, including ensuring only qualified operators who meet ASME’s standard B30.5 requirements - Hank Dutton operate the crane. The crane user also ensures all members of the lift team are aware of their roles and responsibilities. Other responsibilities include:
“Making sure all members of the team are qualified to do their jobs should be a priority for companies”
• Ensuring compliance with requirements of the current ASME volume.
• Ensuring the crane is operating according to manufacturer’s requirements and the worksite regulations. • Using only qualified supervisors and operators. • Ensuring the crane is in proper operating condition by verifying proper documentation has been received from the crane owner and frequent inspections are performed. • Verifying the crane has sufficient capacity to perform the work. • Informing crane owner if any rope has been replaced or shortened. Site Supervisor The site supervisor exercises supervisory control over the worksite and the work currently being performed. In some cases, the site supervisor and the lift director may be the same person. Other responsibilities include: • Ensuring the operator meets requirements of the applicable ASME volume. • Ensuring the crane meets inspection requirements prior to initial use. • Determining which regulations are applicable to crane operations. • Ensuring a qualified lift director is designated, rigging is supervised by a qualified person and maintenance is performed by a designated person. • Ensuring crane operations are coordinated with other jobsite activities. • Ensuring the area for the crane is adequately prepared, including access roads, sufficient room to assemble/disassemble the crane, ground conditions, proximity to power lines and other hazards and traffic control.
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• Ensuring adverse conditions are addressed, such as poor soil, wind velocity or gusting winds, fog, heavy rain, cold and artificial lighting. • Allowing crane operations near power lines only after applicable requirements are met. • Permitting special lifting operations, such as multiple crane lifts, only after the applicable procedures are implemented. Lift Director The lift director directly oversees the work being performed by the crane and the associated rigging crew. According to ASME B30.5, a lift director must be onsite for all lifting operations. Responsibilities include: • Halting crane operations if alerted to an unsafe condition. • Ensuring area preparations are completed before crane operations commence. • Ensuring necessary traffic controls are in place. • Ensuring workers understand their responsibilities and the associated hazards. • Appointing signal people and ensuring they meet the applicable requirements. • Allowing crane operations near power lines only when applicable requirements are met. • Ensuring precautions are implemented for special lifting operations, such as multiple crane lifts. • Ensuring rigging is performed by competent personnel. • Ensuring the load is properly rigged and balanced. In addition, OSHA requires lift directors be both competent and qualified, or a competent person assisted by at least one qualified person, when performing multiple crane lifts Travelers Indemnity Company www.travelers.com
zone striping completes 35 years in business By: anthony attanasio, executive director
ver the last 35 years, Paul Mitchell, Jr. built Zone Striping into one of the region’s premier striping contractors. He credits much of his success to two main factors: always being prepared to react to the market, and high quality employees. While Zone Striping’s story begins in 1981, the Mitchell family’s striping legacy dates back to 1959. That year, Paul’s grandfather, Eric Paul Mitchell secured his first jobs painting parking lots, after a 10 year career of general painting at Lakehurst and McGuire and other military bases. Over the next two decades, Eric continued to grow the business and his family. His son, Paul Sr., went on to build a name for himself as a mechanical engineer, and started a family of his own. Neither Mitchell could have predicted that it would be young Paul Jr. who would grow this steady family business to the multi-state juggernaut it has become. Paul Jr. began working for his grandfather while still in high school. He not only enjoyed the work, but also saw the potential to take the business to the next level. Paul bought the company from his grandfather right after high school graduation. At the time, the company had three employees including his brother Mark, but Paul had much bigger dreams for the newly rebranded Zone Striping, Inc. 1984 was the true turning point for Zone Striping with the birth of the Transportation Trust Fund. When Governor Kean shared his vision for a long term, robust transportation funding mechanism, Paul immediately knew this was a moment in history that could not be taken for granted. Surveying the landscape, Paul quickly realized there were no major striping contractors in South Jersey and moved to seize the opportunity. He invested in both new equipment and staff in order to be positioned to begin work once the TTF was up and running. While continuing to complete parking lot jobs and other private work, Paul got his first public roads job when Chip Ottinger, Sr. of South State, Inc. gave him his first big break. “Chip called me on a Friday and offered me the striping work on his Route 38 paving job. I accepted and he told me I started on Sunday!” After a very successful experience working on the South State job, Paul
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and his company began getting calls from other South Jersey firms like A.E. Stone, Richard Pierson, Asphalt Paving Systems and more. Paul and his team began to complete more and bigger successful public jobs. Throughout the 1980s, Paul’s company continued to take on new projects, challenges and partners. The company began performing work for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority and entered into new relationships with companies such as J. Fletcher Creamer, Schiavone and Robert T. Winzinger, Inc. As Paul’s company was approaching its 10th Anniversary, he could proudly say that Zone was qualified to work for every transportation agency in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and was also performing an ever growing portfolio of county and municipal projects. This growth, coupled with the company’s constantly improving skills and efficiencies, married perfectly at a time when public agencies were realizing it was far more economical to rely on the private sector for striping. Zone was perfectly positioned throughout it all and reaped the benefits of Paul’s foresight and strategic planning. In the lead up to the 2002 Winter Olympics, Paul was offered an opportunity thanks to once again being prepared to react to new opportunities and markets. As part of a $1.5 billion design-build project, Mitt Romney and the Olympic committee put forth a robust infrastructure plan for the Salt Lake area. The project’s general contractor accepted a “value engineering” proposal, from Zone’s epoxy vendor to complete the entire project with epoxy resin paint. Local contractors proved unable to successfully install the material, and time was of the essence as the games approached. The material vendor, Epoplex, called in Zone Striping
and for the two years leading up to the very successful winter games, Zone delivered its work on time and on budget.
Mitchell is especially proud of the team he’s built and the trust he can place in them because it allows him to run the company, not the jobs. As of 2017, Zone Striping now has 110 employees. Several of the company’s key employees remain including brothers Mark and Eric, Vernon Leeds, Ken Draycott and many more. Paul grows somber as he discusses the loss of Wayne Ramsey in February. Wayne had been a 20 year employee of the company and worked his way up from an operator, eventually running the entire operations division and shop. Paul points out that the company could not have grown as it did without employees like Wayne, and he is truly missed. The future is indeed bright for Zone Striping. The company is regularly performing work in five states and completes more than 1000 jobs each year for more than 500 customers. They work seven days a week and can have as many as 30 jobs going each day. While challenges like ever increasing regulation and managing differing contract specifications in different jurisdictions will always be issues, Zone continues to gain new customers and opportunities with each passing day.
Back row (L to R) Paul Mitchell, Eric Mitchell, Vern Leeds, Jr., Vern Leeds, III Front row (L to R) Mark Mitchell, Ken Draycott, Leon Heil
Paul’s constant mantra of being ready to react has kept them ahead of the curve no matter what the challenge. When there was a material shortage several years ago for thermoplastic, Paul
In the last ten years, Paul has truly embraced the value of subcontracting work. While he always enjoyed working as a prime contractor on private jobs, the company truly grew and flourished as a sub. Paul focused on building long lasting and solid relationships with dozens of general contractors, which led to true stability for his business. Over the last 5-6 years, as the market suffered and GCs were hurting for business, Zone Striping was able to assist its primes by providing top notch productivity and efficiencies that saved real money on every project. By being such an asset to prime contractors, Zone remained extremely competitive and successful during difficult times. Even with these downturns in the market, Paul’s company has continued to grow with new equipment purchases and new employees.
was positioned to react because Zone performs every striping technique and is skilled with every type of material that is on the market. “I never started out with a vision to grow, I set out with a will to always be prepared to react. As a result, we grew due to the success of our work and by growing with our customers.”
Looking ahead, Paul and his brothers are focused on succession planning. They are proud to say that several members of the family’s next generation are working part time for the company and have begun to show an interest in continuing the proud family tradition of being one of the region’s premier striping contractors. UTCA would like to congratulate Paul and the entire Zone Striping family for completing 35 very successful years in business.
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obama-era costly overtime rule is over before it begins By: greg trif & seth spiegal, mcelroy, deutsch, mulvaney & carpenter, llp
n August 31, 2017, a federal court in Texas struck down a Rule issued by President Obama’s Department of Labor (“DOL”) that would have significantly increased the number of employees eligible for overtime pay under federal law. The court’s decision is applicable nationwide and is welcome news for contractors and all employers, especially because President Trump’s DOL has suggested that it will not challenge the court’s invalidation of the rule. The original, less expansive rule will continue to apply.
The FLSA, through what is known as the “white-collar exemptions,” “exempts” from its overtime requirements certain employees who hold the status of an executive, administrative, or professional. As a general rule, the exemption is also limited to
On May 18, 2016, the Obama DOL issued a Rule that significantly increased the minimum “salary level” required for an employee to be eligible for the executive, administrative, or professional exemption. Under the Rule,, employees are required to receive overtime pay if they earn less than $913 per week (or $47,476 annually), rather than $455 per week (or $23,660 per year), even if the other requirements for exemption are met. The Rule was scheduled to go into effect on December 1, 2016, and its impact on employers was expected to be significant. The DOL estimated that the Rule would automatically benefit 4.2 million workers who previously were not eligible for overtime pay. Under the proposed Rule, a construction supervisor who performs certain exempt duties such as overseeing a project from start to finish or hiring and firing employees, and who earns an annual salary of $45,000, would be ineligible for the exemption and, therefore, entitled to overtime pay. Upon the Rule’s announcement, contractors were left to decide whether to increase the salaries of certain employees in order to keep them at exempt status, or to provide those employees overtime pay in accordance with the FLSA.
As most employers are aware, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) requires employers to pay employees at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour; and 1½ times the employee’s “regular rate” of pay for all hours actually worked in excess of 40 hours in a workweek. Some state laws offer employees additional overtime benefits, but New Jersey law is largely consistent with the FLSA on the issue of overtime. While employers in the construction industry may be required to pay specified overtime under an employment contract, such as a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”), construction employers in general are still subject to the FLSA. For example, even where a CBA governs the employment of trades personnel and field workers, contractor-employers still must abide by the FLSA with respect to both those CBA-covered employees and the employees not covered by the CBA, such as project managers, superintendents, and office staff.
employees who meet three requirements: (1) the employee must be paid a predetermined salary not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed; (2) the salary must equal at least the minimum level of $455 per week (or $23,660 per year); and (3) the employee’s duties must primarily feature certain “exempt” functions, such as managing the employer’s enterprise, performing work that requires advanced knowledge, or exercising discretion and independent judgment with respect to matters of significance. Blue-collar laborers are ineligible for these exemptions, but in some instances, depending on the facts relating to their job duties, project managers and superintendents on construction projects may be considered exempt.
Following the DOL’s announcement, 21 states and a group consisting of more than 50 businesses filed federal lawsuits, which ultimately were consolidated into one action, requesting the court to stop the DOL’s enforcement of the Rule. On November 22, 2016, just days prior to the Rule’s effective date, Judge Amos Mazzant of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas issued a preliminary injunction that immediately stopped the Rule’s implementation – and the upward adjustment of the salary level – until the court had an opportunity to consider the merits of the matter in more detail. The DOL, under
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President Obama, appealed the court’s ruling to a federal appeals court. While the appeal was pending, President Trump took office and assumed control of the DOL. In a brief submitted on appeal, the Trump DOL argued that, although it has the authority to adjust the salary level, it “decided not to advocate for the specific salary level ($913 per week) set in the final rule at this time” and “intends to undertake further rulemaking to determine what the salary level should be.”
On August 31, 2017, while the appeal of the preliminary injunction was pending, the lower court issued its decision on the merits and struck down the Rule. The court held that the salary level under the Rule was too high and would exclude too many employees from the executive, administrative, or professional exemption who otherwise fulfilled the “duties” requirement of the exemption. The court further held that the Rule was not “based on a permissible construction” of the FLSA because “the Department does not have the authority to use a salary-level test that will effectively eliminate the duties test.” The court reasoned that, “[b]y raising the salary level in this manner, the Department effectively eliminates a consideration of whether an employee performs ‘bona fide executive, administrative, or profes-
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sional capacity’ duties.” Since the court found that the Rule was inconsistent with Congress’s intent, it concluded that the Rule is “invalid” and void. With the Rule stricken, the same construction supervisor discussed above, who performs exempt duties and earns $45,000 per year, may, under the right circumstances, qualify for an exemption. On September 5, 2017, the Trump DOL withdrew its appeal of the November 2016 preliminary injunction. Given the Trump administration’s generally pro-business positions and the administration’s indication that it disagrees with the large increase in the salary level, the administration likely will not appeal the court’s final ruling. In July 2017, however, the administration requested public comment about the current overtime exemptions, including whether the current $23,660 threshold should be updated. Thus, while the administration’s current intentions regarding the FLSA’s overtime exemptions are not clear, contractors can take some comfort in the fact that the potentially troublesome and costly Obama-era rule may be no more.
keys to success in employee engagement and retention By: nancy damato, partner, rda benefit services
n employee benefits package has become a very important tool for attracting and retaining quality talent in today’s competitive environment. According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) 2017 Employee Benefits survey report, one-third of organizations have increased their overall benefit offerings in the last 12 months, with health (22%) and wellness (24%) benefits being the areas of highest growth.
6. Financial wellness is another key area of importance. In addition to 401K and retirement savings plans, offering group life insurance as well as employee access to financial advice, is on the rise. Think about the fact that nearly seven in 10 said they worry about money while on the job and 44% said financial concerns cause them stress on a daily basis, according to a 2016 survey by Money magazine.
We all know that the cost of employee benefits, especially health insurance, continues to rise. But, are you aware that there are many exciting and innovative solutions available to groups of all sizes to help you manage these rising costs? No matter what the size of your company, you should definitely be considering these new options as part of your employee benefits strategy. Not only do these options provide additional benefits, they can also provide you with more benefits at a lower cost.
Education is key to any successful employee benefits change. Explaining why this is happening and how it will improve the quality of the benefits they will be receiving will make the change a smoother transition. Give them additional time to make an educated decision.
1. Get creative with your Medical benefit offerings. Offer multiple plans, so employees have a choice, based on their individual needs. 83% of all employers share the cost of the premium with the employees, according to the 2017 SHRM Employee Benefits Report. Are you also considering all carriers available to you? Some of the HMO offerings now include out of state coverage nationwide. 2. Consider combining a high-deductible health plan with an H.S.A. or HRA to cover the deductibles and other expenses related to the health plan. This provides costs savings on the medical premium, while providing employees the benefits of additional coverage for their out of pocket expenses. This can be custom-designed to suit the needs of your employees. 3. Making Wellness a key part of your benefits strategy is on the rise. Incorporating wellness and fitness into your culture has many benefits, ranging from lower absenteeism and reduced health care costs, to name a few. Combining an HRA strategy with a wellness component is becoming more popular. 4. Be sure to include Dental and Vision as part of your benefits package. While most companies offer dental insurance, there has been a steady increase of those that have added Vision as a basic benefit over the last few years. It is important to note that medical conditions can be diagnosed through regular dental and vision exams. 5. There has also been an increase of companies offering Ancillary Benefits—benefits like critical illness, cancer and accident insurance, as well as ID theft protection. These are benefits offered through the employer and paid for by the employees.
redefining your employee benefits package:
Provide employees with the tools to better understand their benefits on an ongoing basis and this, in turn, will help them to get the most from their benefits. Keep the lines of communication open. Your broker should be available to assist employees with benefit questions and claim issues on a regular basis. The right benefits package not only results in high employee satisfaction, it can help you to attract and retain the best talent out there. After payroll, healthcare and employee benefits remain an employer’s greatest expense. In fact, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, employee benefits cost private industry 30% of the total compensation package. You should also be providing employees with an Employee Compensation Statement at the end of the year so they are aware of the value of what you are giving them. Shouldn’t you be exploring your options to be able to offer the best combination of benefits? Benchmarking your company’s benefits against the rest of your industry is a great way to get started. This provides you with valuable information on how your benefits package compares to others in your industry. You should definitely consider all your options to see which ones provide the best value to your firm and your employees. After all, isn’t job satisfaction one of the keys to a successful business? RDA Benefit Services has been providing member firms of the UTCA with comprehensive benefits packages and the tools for successful benefits programs for more than 20 years. For assistance with your benefits, please feel free to contact us at 855-6930772.
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ANNOUNCING THE 2018 ENGINEERING EXCELLENCE AWARDS (EEA) COMPETITION! By: joe fiordaliso, acecnj
or almost fifty years, the EEA has been the benchmark for excellence in the consulting engineering profession. Our competition showcases New Jersey projects on the national stage and elevates the stature of firms here at home. The EEA offers a unique opportunity to compete head-to-head for the best engineering works of the past year, showcase client’s work, recognize project teams, colleagues, and contractor partners.
Imitated but never replicated, the EEA is known as the Academy Awards of the Engineering Profession, and promises not to disappoint in 2018. ACECNJ’s top projects will be eligible to move on to compete in ACEC’s National EEA competition. To be considered for this year’s competition, project submittals are due November 13, 2017. Those projects are judged by industry leaders from UTCANJ, NJ Turnpike Authority, Delaware River Port Authority, North Jersey Transportation Planning Authority, University Professors and County Engineers.
2017 Award Winning Projects included: GRAND HONOR AWARD – LARGE PROJECT AECOM / STV Inc. / Santiago Calatrava “World Trade Center Transportation HUB”
GRAND HONOR AWARD – SMALL PROJECT AmerCom Corporation “Metro Road Bridge Replacement in 9 Days”
Companies that received Honor Awards in 2017 were: Honor Award - Large Project: HNTB Corporation “Rehabilitation of Park and Watchung Avenue Bridges” Hardesty & Hanover “Garden State Parkway Bridge over Great Egg Harbor” Parsons “Route 35 Emergency Restoration MP9 to 12.5” Greenman-Pedersen AECOM’S WORLD TRADE CENTER TRANSPORTATION HUB
With the 2018 EEA competition rapidly approaching, we hope to see even more of the UTCANJ members on project submissions.
“Route 31 Section 8P” Dewberry “NJDOT Route 46 Rockfall Protection Fence”
The 2017 EEA competition was a tremendous success with over 45 submittals ranging from highway to infrastructure to environmental projects. With the inclusion of contractors in this year’s competition, we were able to tap into not only the design aspect of a project, but also the construction side. ACECNJ was pleased to present contractors of winning projects with an award certificate on the night of the Engineering Excellence Awards Banquet. The contractors who were a member of the Grand Honor Award winning team were recognized on stage with their consulting engineer firm to accept their award.
AmerCom Corp’s Metro Road Bridge Replacement
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Johnson Mirmiran & Thompson
“Route 18 Bridge over Route 1”
“Emergency Bridge Repair - Rt. 3 over Hackensack River”
Gannett Fleming Inc.
“Centralizing for Efficiency”
“Union Schoolhouse Road Bridge”
Jacobs Engineering Group
Stantec Consulting Services
“Route 72 Manahawkin Bay Bridge Contract 2”
“Emergency Restoration of Ocean Drive (CR619)”
Arora and Associates, PC “Route 54 Rt 322 over Cape May Point Branch” WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff “New Rt 72 Manahawkin Bay Honor Award - Small Project: The RBA Group an NV5 Company
“Replacement of Barnegat Bridge”
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This year’s event is scheduled for March 14, 2018 at Forsgate Country Club, 375 Forsgate Drive, Monroe Township. If you have any questions about the event or project submittal process please contact email@example.com or Gabrielle Liguori at 732-606-5755.
By: JOHN HIGGINS, PATTERSON SMITH ASSOCIATES
etirement plan sponsors are tasked with complex fiduciary and administrative responsibilities, with pitfalls around every corner. When compliance tasks fall through the cracks, the IRS, through the Voluntary Correction Program (VCP), provides a way for plan sponsors to correct mistakes and preserve their plans’ tax-favored status. Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Failures discovered via the VCP, along with tips to help you avoid these mistakes and tighten up your firm’s compliance practices in 2017. 1) Failure to amend the plan based on tax law changes by the end of the period required by the law. Legislative changes sometimes require a plan document amendment; check with your TPA or service provider to be sure your plan document reflects recent changes in the law. 2) Failure to follow the plan’s definition of compensation for determining contributions. The integrity of nondiscrimination tests relies on accurate compensation reporting. Be sure your testing census corresponds to your plan document’s definition of compensation and that it incorporates any excluded elements of compensation, such as bonuses and overtime.
TOP TEN 401(K) COMPLIANCE PITFALLS 4) Failure to satisfy plan loan provisions. Coordinate your payroll remittances with your TPA or service provider, and periodically audit loan payment history to ensure accuracy. 5) Impermissible in-service withdrawals. If your plan offers an in-service withdrawal or hardship provision, be sure to verify hardship claims through proper documentation. 6) Employer eligibility failure. This failure occurs when an employer adopts a plan that it legally is not permitted to adopt. Ask your TPA or service provider to verify that your plan has been established under proper guidelines. 7) Failure to satisfy IRC 401(a)(9) minimum distribution rules. Required minimum distributions (RMDs) come into play when an employee attains age 70½. Run periodic reports to put upcoming RMDs on your administrative radar. 8) Failure to pass the ADP/ACP nondiscrimination tests under IRC 401(k) and 401(m). Some nondiscrimination test failures occur because of inaccurate census data. Do a thorough review of census data, and ask your TPA to perform a midyear test to help uncover any inaccuracies that may affect the test results. 9) Failure to properly provide the minimum top-heavy benefit or contribution under IRC 416 to non-key employees. Failed top-heavy tests require corrective contributions in the form of minimum contributions. 10) Failure to satisfy the limits of IRC 415. Exceeding the aggregate contribution limit ($54,000 in 2017, or $60,000 for employees age 50 and older) is a compliance violation. Ask your payroll provider if it has safeguards in place to cease contributions once the limit is reached. Review contribution reports periodically to ensure that employees do not exceed the limit.
3) Failure to include eligible employees in the plan (or to exclude ineligible employees). When eligible employees are excluded from the plan, they may not receive contributions to which they are entitled. Conversely, when ineligible employees are included in the plan, they may receive contributions that they shouldn’t receive. Double-check that new employees meet eligibility requirements and that hire dates are accurate.
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mccarthy & company celebrates 50 years in the construction Industry By: eileen monesson, CPC, principal with PRCounts
hat began as a typical firm in 1967, McCarthy & Company, PC is now considered a leader in construction accounting in the Tri-state area. John (Jack) D. McCarthy, CPA, founded the firm to serve closely-held and middle market companies. By the time his son, Martin C. McCarthy, CPA joined McCarthy & Company in 1993, it had four employees who served a diverse mix of clients. “My first client was a construction contractor,” says Marty. “I immediately realized that I have a talent for helping owners of construction companies strengthen their financial position, grow their business, and become more profitable. Therefore, I decided to buy the firm from my father in 1996. Although I was only 25 years old, I grew up in the profession and wanted to devote my career to helping construction contractors meet or exceed their goals.” Marty’s gut feeling that construction accounting was his calling paid off. Twenty-one years later, the firm employs nearly 30 professionals focused on serving the accounting and financial needs of notable clients in heavy construction and other industry sectors. Business owners trust McCarthy & Company to assist them with a strategy to achieve their goals. The firm establishes realistic benchmarks for clients to assess how well they are doing or to alert them to issues that need to be addressed. By looking at key indicators such as productivity, job costing, profit margins and cash flow, McCarthy & Company helps clients achieve a higher level of success. “I brought in a partner, David Gibbs, CPA, MBA, in 2003,” adds Marty. “Together we have grown the business to what it is today. While most of our growth has been organic, we have merged in a few firms that specialized in specific areas that are important to the success of our construction clients.” McCarthy & Company merged in Mazur, Krieghbaum & Higgins, CPAs, LLC, another leading construction accounting firm and long-time UTCA member, in December 2016. “Mazur was the perfect firm for us to merge with,” Marty explains. “Not only
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Martin C. McCarthy
were we able to enhance the specialized services we offer clients, but we had the opportunity to expand our footprint into New Jersey and New York.” Clients engage McCarthy & Company because its team is responsive and knows what tax elections apply to contractors and which accounting methods are best for financial reporting purposes and reducing their tax obligation while maintaining and expanding their bond program. McCarthy & Company helps construction clients become more profitable by working with them to manage their business, operate more efficiently, sharpen job cost estimates, control operating costs, improve cash flow, obtain financing, and exceed surety bond requirements. The firm is well-regarded by sureties, bonding agents, and banks for the high quality of its financial statements and industry knowledge. “Most of our clients are referred to us by these institutions which is a testament to the quality and value of our work,” claims Marty. Mary Stoll Walter, AFAB, CRIS and vice president of The Stoll Agency, Inc., a leader in bonding and insurance services to the construction industry, agrees. “I have worked with Marty and his team for more than 25 years. He is the best construction accountant that I know. I wish every CPA had the same level of knowledge on the construction industry. Marty knows what sureties and bonding agents need to base a decision. I trust the numbers on the financial statements provided by McCarthy & Company and do not hesitate to refer my clients to the firm.”
Well-respected as a business strategist, the true value that Marty brings to a relationship comes from his insight on the key metrics that business decisions should be based. Entrepreneurs and seasoned business owners look to Marty to provide them with the tools to enhance and grow their business.
Long-time client Nicholas Sabia, Sr., president of D. M. Sabia & Co., Inc., concurs with Mary. “I value the relationships that McCarthy & Company has with sureties, insurance agents and bankers. It makes me very confident about working with the firm.” In addition to traditional accounting, audit and tax services, McCarthy & Company provides: bank financing, benchmarking, bonding advisory, cash flow management, financial reporting, forensic accounting, job costing, litigation support, internal control, merger and acquisition, operational review, profit enhancement and valuation services. The firm’s clients range from large heavy construction companies to home builders, general contractors, subcontractors, as well as marine and other niche specific contractors.
specializes in sales and use tax, nexus studies, long-term financial planning, employee benefit plan audits, and tax credit analysis.
“Most of our clients are referred to us by these institutions which is a testament to the quality and value of our work.” - Marty McCarthy
Based in Layfette Hill, PA, McCarthy & Company was named a Top 30 Accounting Firm in 2017 by the Philadelphia Business Journal. Published annually, this elite list includes some of the most prestigious firms in the Philadelphia region. The firm has offices throughout the Tri-state region, including Philadelphia, New York City, and in Woodbridge and Beachwood, NJ.
“Fifty years is an impressive milestone for any business,” says Michael Platt, publisher of INSIDE Public Accounting. “It is an even more impressive milestone for a partnership.” According to INSIDE Public Accounting’s annual Survey and Analysis of Firms, only 40 percent of the more than 500 participating public accounting firms can claim a legacy of at least 50 years or more.
“I have also recommended Marty to sureties with complex bonding claims,” continues Mary. “He is respected in the industry for the forensic accounting work he delivers in cases which sureties need this level of service to resolve an issue.”
“We are proud that McCarthy & Company has served as a trusted advisor to construction contractors, sureties, bonding agents, and bankers for 50 years,” says Marty. “We attribute our success to the fact that we are focused on our clients and dedicated to their success.”
Marty can be contacted at 610-828-1900 or Marty.McCarthy@ MCC-CPAs.com.
Although more than 80 percent of McCarthy & Company’s clients are in construction, the firm also works with municipalities and clients in the real estate, professional services, waste management, logistics, and service industries. McCarthy & Company
Pictured left to right are Don Kaiser, Mike Mazur, Joe Abreu of Green Construction and Rich Higgins.
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By: zach Granata, aai, rue insurance
he ubiquitous Geico call to action of “15 minutes can save 15%” has created a perception that insurance is a commodity product and cheapest price rules. However, being a part of a firm that has been providing insurance advice for 100 years, I am surprised by the number of business owners that have fallen into that perception trap. This moniker is even more problematic when considering the complexity of insurance policies for those in the construction industry. We find that insurance generalists that lack experience or expertise in the construction industry often make mistakes that could cost business owners significant dollars. The following is a list of the top six all too common mistakes we find in construction insurance programs.
Misclassified Payroll As most business owners know, your annual Workers Compensation and General Liability Insurance premium is determined largely by the amount of payroll your company has in each of your “Classifications”. Depending on the size of your business and the primary duties of certain employees, you may be missing out on more accurate classifications that offer - Zach better rates. For instance, New Jersey has three different types of paving classifications, each with a significantly different rate associated with it. The generalist insurance agent may not be familiar with the many classifications that are available. This is one benefit of working with agents active in the UTCA. Agents in the UTCA not only know the industry, but also know how to structure your program to prevent mistakes that inflate your costs. Job functions and duties should be reviewed regularly to ensure that the most appropriate and cost-effective classification is being used. Payroll classification is not just a mistake at inception, it can also happen after expiration of a policy when an auditor is looking through your books.
six (all to common) mistakes in construction insurance programs In addition, your general liability audit should be treated differently from your Workers Compensation audit. Each policy has a defined set of rules that allow for specific payroll exclusions. Examples of these savings can include: overtime, fringe benefits, drivers, insured subcontractors, and many others. The best way to prevent errors made at audit is by scheduling a time to sit down with your agent prior to providing the data to the auditor. This could help avoid a costly overpayment to the insurance company! Improperly Valued Equipment Equipment is often a top asset of a construction operation. With that in mind, when was the last time you updated the current values on your Inland Marine policy with your agent? In the event of a claim, if a piece of your equipment is damaged by a covered loss and it’s a “total” loss, your insurance carrier will only pay you the depreciated value of that machine and NOT necessarily the dollar limit that you have listed on your policy. That means you may be paying for insurance that you won’t even be able to collect at the time of the claim. Reviewing these limits or exploring the additional preGranata mium required for Replacement Cost coverage can resolve this issue. Make sure your agent is reviewing this with you annually.
“Mistakes you don’t want to be made because of dollars you don’t want to spend”
Errors Made at Audit It may seem easy enough to prepare your payroll figures for the past year and hope that you’ll be getting money back from the insurance carrier. Unfortunately, solely providing your raw payroll records to the insurance company auditor does not guarantee that you will receive the best possible results. When it comes to calculations or rules that decrease costs, most insurance auditors will not seek them on your behalf; they expect you, the insured, to identify and present all applicable credits at the time of the audit.
Missed Payroll Credits You do not have to be a union shop to be eligible for a credit on your Workers Compensation policy. Most companies performing prevailing wage work are eligible for a credit ranging from 5% 25% of premium. The most important aspect in obtaining this credit is the payroll data that you submit. The New Jersey Workers Compensation and Insurance Bureau (NJCRIB) gives you the option to select the time period you use, so be sure to report one that maximizes your credit opportunity. The paperwork associated with this credit may be confusing, and accuracy is crucial. For example, if your Workers Compensation policy costs $100,000 and you submit an inaccurate or late credit application, you could cost your company up to $25,000. Most agents that work in the construction industry know all about these credits and will often assist you in completing the applications to ensure accuracy and punctuality.
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Confusing Exclusions You have a business to run. When your insurance policies finally arrive in the mail, you may never get an opportunity (nor desire) to read through the entire policy to identify questions or concerns. Insurance policies are long, complex and in many instances written in legal terms. Often times an exclusion within your policy is more restrictive than the title may lead you to believe. For instance, many “Subsidence Exclusions” contain wording that extends the definition to include any movement of earth. I can’t think of a more basic description of the average UTCA contractor than a “mover of earth”. Currently, there are insurers that are requiring this exclusion on every General Liability policy that they issue. All UTCA members should be on the lookout for that exclusion and other hidden pitfalls! Are you “Picture Perfect”? There is a certain level of discretion used during the pricing of your insurance program and your insurance carrier may not have the opportunity to visit your location, your job sites, or perform their
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own extensive investigation of your business. Intangibles such as a strong safety culture or low employee turnover are not included items on a typical insurance company application. It is up to your agent to “paint the picture” to your insurance carrier. That picture is how terms, conditions and pricing are determined. Even Workers Compensation policies where, “the rates are the rates” have opportunities for credits based on claims experience and safety practices. Many times opportunities for savings are missed because the carrier just wasn’t aware. How does your agent know what separates your business from the average contractor? What does your picture look like? Always empower your agent with this kind of information. You wouldn’t let your general practitioner perform heart surgery, so why entrust your commercial insurance program to an insurance generalist. These examples are just a few of the common mistakes we find in reviewing construction insurance programs. Be sure to speak with a construction specialist to maximize your protection and minimize your unnecessary expenses.