I was lucky enough to have the honor to serve as the 2016 National Chair of the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). When you research ABC on their website, you will notice their mission statement is:
ABC will continually strive to be the leading voice promoting free enterprise within the construction industry. ABC will promote and defend the merit shop philosophy. This philosophy encourages open competition and a free-enterprise approach to construction based solely on merit, regardless of labor affiliation.
It is an association of over 21,000 members covering every corner of our great nation, from Gaum to Maine. During my year as Chair, I got to meet members from nearly all 69 local chapters.
Willmar Electric was a founding member of the Minnesota/ North Dakota chapter. Several members of our company have served ABC in dozens of roles for nearly 50 years.
Last month, I was disappointed when I was told by a couple of companies they didn’t plan to renew their membership in 2021. Both gave the same reason. It is a reason I have heard many times before.
“We don’t see value for our company.”
It isn’t an answer unique to ABC. I have heard it given by others for many organizations we have been a part of over the years.
No matter how many times I hear this answer, it makes me feel a little lonely.
Because I’m not going to give up because others want to stand on the sidelines. I’m not going to stop working and donating to the causes I think are needed to keep our industry strong.
When people tell me they don’t see the value, I hear them saying, “you keep fighting, you spend your time and resources. We can share in the rewards, but you can pay the price.”
If enough members don’t renew, ABC will have to cut back on what they do to fight on behalf of Merit Shop contractors. But anyone member can drop out, and nobody will see a noticeable drop-off in services. ABC will continue lobbying in Washington DC and in each of the state Capitols on behalf of the people who make up our industry. We will testify at Congress, go to city hall, and support court cases on behalf of free enterprise.
Lonely might be an exaggeration because it’s only a few out of 21,000, so maybe I should find a different word.
I realize some may join solely for business development reasons. Others might join because they see a tangible return on investment from ABC’s service. I think ABC gives us enough value for safety, education, and many other direct items to justify our membership. But the heart and soul of ABC is to “promote and defend the merit shop.” The value of promoting and defend the merit shop is priceless. I can’t measure its value.
We belong to ABC because somebody needs to pay dues to ensure the association can continue to fight the battle surrounding free enterprise in the construction industry in Washington, Saint Paul, Lincoln, and Oklahoma City. (I could list off more state capitals if you like, but I think you get the point).
Others are content to sit on the sidelines. It leaves me feeling…
Because 21,000 others see the value in ABC. Thank you.