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January 30, 2023
The DJC sat down with incoming AGC of Washington President Glyn Slattery for a look at his priorities for this year and his journey to lead the AGC for 2023. Slattery is vice president and construction executive at Lydig Construction.
Q: What are your priorities for the AGC this year?
We are at a very unique point in time as an organization, having just celebrated our first 100 years this last year. As we look forward to this coming year, it is important to me to reflect on our past accomplishments and build upon them. This approach has helped to define the priorities for 2023 and beyond.
One priority is to address the needs of one of our great assets our building. For as long as I can remember, dating back to junior high, I have been fondly aware of the building that the AGC members constructed on Lake Union and the legacy that they built in that undertaking. Future generations have benefited from the vision of those leaders, and the associated revenues generated that go to fund many of our programs, allowing us to be in a stronger financial position to improve our industry and support our members. We completed a study of our building this last year and intend to develop and implement a plan for its future that will ensure that it remains one of our great assets and a continuing icon for the construction community.
Another priority of mine is to continue to improve the construction industry to provide a fair and equitable work environment for all individuals and firms regardless of ethnicity, gender, religious beliefs or other preferences. Treat others as we would want to be treated. Here at the AGC, we have made significant steps over the past few years to bring attention to the inequities and, as an organization, to provide a positive example.
One significant AGC of Washington initiative is the Culture of CARE (Commit, Attract, Retain, Empower) that was launched roughly three years ago and has since gone national. By adopting the Culture of CARE, companies are making a public commitment to foster a culture that is diverse, safe, welcoming and inclusive.
We have made good progress thus far, but we need to press further. What I would like to see over the next year is a more diverse mix of individuals from our member firms actively involved with the AGC, serving on committees and participating in our events. And while we have seen an increase in the number of certified firms joining our association, I see this as the tip of the iceberg. There is plenty of room for further improvement.
I would be remiss if I did not also state as a priority AGC’s continued efforts to improve the working environment for each one of our members and for the construction industry as a whole. That means working with our state officials to agree on legislation that results in fair work requirements for all contractors, subcontractors, vendors and others relying on this industry for a living.
Q: What challenges does the industry face?
A concern that continues to face the construction industry nationwide is that of an aging workforce, resulting in worker shortages from the associated attrition. I feel that the key to success in attracting the next generation of workers is to get them interested while they are still in middle and high schools. AGC has been brainstorming on this for several years now. A task force was established to address the challenge, and in association with the AGC Education Foundation, the AGC launched its Core Plus Construction program about two years ago. The AGC program has been adopted and is in use in 80 school districts and 11 skill centers within the state, providing the ability to get in front of students and their parents and educate them on the great satisfaction that a construction career can offer while providing an industry certificate. Our priority this year will be to approach more districts, encouraging them to adopt this program, as well as helping to strengthen current adopters.
Q: What are some more challenges?
Another concern involves rules and regulations that are developed and imposed by the state government without significant consideration for the people working in this industry. Many times, the rules established are extremely challenging for contractors, reducing competition, and limiting opportunities for certified businesses. They are also often run to the legislators for a vote of approval without being properly and thoroughly vetted, and with vague verbiage that leaves the practical application up to the interpretation of who knows who. I am not suggesting that this is the intent of our government, but it is the result of the government-imposed rule changes orchestrated without input from the people and firms that the rule changes directly affect, such as the AGC and its members.
Why does this concern me the most? Because it has historically been the most difficult to influence and predict. In my estimation, of the four topics that I have listed our building asset, workforce development, equal opportunity and involvement, and the new rules flowing out of the state Legislature the flow of new rules and regulations has proven most difficult for the industry to be heard and to effect positive change.
Q: What keeps you up at night?
Frankly, I do not get stressed out about much. I welcome challenges and I hate losing! I never give up. If the challenge seems ominous I simply dig deeper, doing what it takes to steer towards a favorable outcome.
That said, the one thing that has bothered me the most, ever since I was a child, was people that would pick on others simply because they are different. Perhaps this is because I was bullied as a child. As I developed through high school, and became more confident in myself, I stood up to bullies, particularly when they were picking on others that were smaller or different than themselves. Throughout my career those feelings have not changed, but the playfield is different. I find myself promoting the rights and opportunities for historically excluded individuals and firms, and feel a great deal of satisfaction when I can make a difference for someone.
Q: How did you get into construction?
In junior high, I rode to school with another student, who was the grandson of the founder of a large Seattle construction firm, and we became friends. It was through him that I initially became aware of the construction industry. Later, in high school, I had an art class, but my art talent was so “spectacular” that the art teacher referred me to a drafting class, indicating that it was more my style. It was really the combination of these two that first made me aware of the construction industry as a possible career. That said, I initially was convinced that I wanted to be an architect.
It was then, that a friend of my father, and a graduate from the Building Construction program at the University of Washington, spoke to me about planned goals and accomplishments that I envisioned in my coming career. After I explained my thoughts he said, “You don’t want to be an architect, you want to be a contractor.” After he described what it was like to be a contractor, I knew that construction was the path for me, and I never looked backed.
I entered the Building Construction (now Construction Management) program at the UW, and immediately upon graduation I followed by earning a master of civil engineering degree from the University of Colorado. During the period that I was attending the University of Washington, I worked several construction-related jobs including home and small business remodeling, installing security alarms, and working as a carpenter on a SeaTac-area hotel.
On a side note, it was at the end of my third year in college that I married my high school sweetheart. She was my inspiration and support then and continues to be as we approach 43 years of marriage together.
Looking back, I am grateful that I had the childhood experiences and relationships that have driven me to this rewarding career. I think that is one reason why I have been so interested in getting in front of students early and why I have been so excited about the AGC’s Core Plus Construction program. Many students simply may not be aware of construction as a career option. Core Plus provides interaction between educators, construction professionals, students and their parents, allowing students to make more informed decisions that will shape their lives.
Q: What is something most people don’t know about you?
I enjoy golfing and hunting, but having grown up on the beach in Fauntleroy, I am passionate about saltwater sport fishing. “Fish Camp” is almost legendary within our family, including our four grandboys who love getting out on the boat with their “Papa G.”