Construction Forum STL Announces Third Annual “Building Tomorrow Awards” Recipients

By on October 3, 2017

by Tom Finan, Executive Director, Construction Forum STL

A visionary developer, a regional connector, a program that teaches kids design and craftsmanship in the Old North Neighborhood, and a groundbreaking program to put ex-offenders to work in construction will be recognized during an awards luncheon at The Moto Museum on October 25 at the third annual Construction Forum STL “Building Tomorrow Awards”.

To register online to attend the event, click here. Sponsorship opportunities are available. The event is a fundraiser for the Construction Forum Education Foundation (CFEF), which has a dual mission of K-12 STEM education directed at careers in construction and action-focused construction industry research.

Sponsorships are available. Sponsors already on board include Seiler Instrument, STL-KC Carpenters Regional Council, and Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council. For sponsorship information contact Tom Finan, by email, or by phone at 314.880.2063(o) or 314.743.7505(c).

The awards recognize individuals and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in the core areas which the Forum was founded to address: Diversity, Workforce Development, Regional Unity and Working Relationships.

Over two dozen nominations were received for this year’s awards. The final selections were made by the Forum’s Board of Directors.

Award recipients are:

Board of Advisors’ Award: Steve Smith, CEO, Lawrence Group. An architect by training with a broad vision for his hometown, Steve Smith’s work has touched all of the core areas addressed by Construction Forum STL – diversity/inclusion, workforce, regionalism, and collaboration.

A recent ceremony renamed the Missouri Theater Building  – the last remaining undeveloped historical structure on North Grand Avenue in the Grand Center District– as the “Angad Paul Building”. The revitalized building will house the headquarters of steel products firm Bull Moose Industries, an arts hotel, retail, and commercial office space.

This is the latest chapter in a saga that was shared in June 2014, when Smith presented to Construction Forum STL at the Sun Theater, which was also a Lawrence Group project. Smith recounted his company’s journey from a single building to many projects in the area. That vision has since morphed to include the former derelict Federal Mogul site, rebranded as The Foundry on I64/40 at Grand. Smith’s approach works because he connects seemingly disparate individuals and organizations and because of his enthusiasm for rebuilding neighborhoods and creating opportunity at all levels.

Diversity (individual): Tracy Elsperman Hart, president, Tarlton Corporation. Elsperman Hart is recognized for outstanding leadership in developing a sustainable corporate culture of diversity and inclusion and her tireless efforts to foster a larger cultural shift in the construction industry.

A female, minority employee at Tarlton wrote: “Diversity is not only about race, culture, education, ethnicity, experience, religion, or gender. Diversity is also being open to different experiences, opinions, and ideas. Tracy has been working hard to make sure that the corporation has a culturally inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome and appreciated. Under Tracy’s leadership, Tarlton Corporation has a unique cultural environment where even though we are a diverse group of individuals, we are all the same as people, and as members of the teams we are respectively assigned, we can apply our skills, talents, and experiences to collectively achieve the company’s goals and objectives.”

Diversity (organization): STL/KC Carpenters Regional Council. Through an innovative partnership with federal probation officials, the St. Louis-Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council is offering ex-offenders a second chance at life. Deemed unemployable by many companies because of their criminal past, these apprentices are finding an open door and welcoming faces in the Carpenters Union.

“I don’t ever stop. I’ll keep trying and keep trying until you give me a chance. That’s all I need is a chance,” said Clifton, a Cape Girardeau student studying welding at the Carpenters training center in southeast Missouri. Breaking down barriers to employment, the union is helping ex-offenders gain the necessary skills to find steady work, earn a good living and get their lives back on the right track.

Workforce Development (individual): Jim Duane. A tireless advocate for workforce inclusion who was always first to arrive, last to leave, coordinator, counselor, and connector, Jim Duane recently retired from St. Louis Community College’s Workforce Solutions Group. With retirement he also left the Building Union Diversity (BUD) program, where he shepherded 10 cohorts of aspiring construction workers through the ropes.

One of his nominators wrote: “Jim Duane’s dedication to helping the less fortunate gain a foothold in the STL construction industry is beyond reproach. Since the 1980s, Jim has served in a number of positions that placed non-traditionals into workplace readiness programs.

“Before his recent retirement, Jim went out of his way to ensure that BUD graduates pursued numerous trade opportunities. His passion to help others is reflected in the BUD program’s outcome measures: 90% of those enrolled graduated; 80% of graduates are indentured in trades.

“This award is a fitting tribute to a man who invested his life’s work seeing that others were afforded second and third chances! In other words this sums up Jim Duane: ‘From everyone to whom much is given, much will be required…’ (Luke).”

Workforce Development (organization): Building Futures. Filling the pipeline with skilled trades people is already a critical need in our industry. Building Futures introduces K-12 children to design with computers and construction with hand and power tools. By providing free training to disadvantaged youth, Building Futures gives them skills and career direction to quality local jobs.

Building Futures, located in Old North St. Louis, inspires children to think critically, design in two and three dimensions and translate their design to physical objects. Started five years ago, they have grown to serve over 650 kids this year. They provide free Saturday workshops, classes in schools that can’t afford traditional shop classes, after school clubs and summer camp programs.

Darla Green, parent of one of their students wrote “Our family has been a recipient of the Building Futures Program for four years. During those years, Tyler has learned skills that will serve him throughout his adult life. He has learned to work independently, to follow direction, and to realize a sense of satisfaction when he has reached a goal.” Mentor John Farmer wrote, “Erion talked about the shop class where he designed and built things with real power saws and nail guns! At Building Futures, his imagination can play. He learns to respect power tools and the safety rules.”

Regional Unity Award (individual): Mary Lamie, executive director, St. Louis Regional Freightway.  Mary Lamie has displayed a unique ability to transcend industry, political, and geographic borders in helping the region to claim its place as a national and international transportation center.

When Mary Lamie came on board as executive director of the Freightway in July 2015 she began checking out the efforts that the region’s peer cities — Kansas City, Nashville, Memphis, Indianapolis, and Columbus — had made in attracting logistics development. She found that while the St. Louis region had clear advantages over other areas in terms of ground, rail, air, and river transportation, the region had been out-marketed by other areas with far less in their portfolio. Site location planners told her that they hadn’t been aware, or been told of what is available here. Further, the large number of political entities in the region made it difficult to figure out where to get information.

As Freightway executive director, Mary Lamie recognized the importance of assessing and prioritizing logistical infrastructure projects and facilitating collaboration on those projects. Lamie is by training a professional engineer with a Masters from MO S&T and over 25 years of experience in transportation, engineering and management. She and her staff have triaged most issues and have made significant progress in mounting a regionwide effort to address them.

Working Relationships Award (individual): Michael Myers, Castle Contracting. Relationship building is at the core of everything Mike Myers does. As Chief Operating Officer at Castle Contracting, he’s a partner, mentor and advocate to colleagues throughout the local construction community. Myers is committed to elevating the role of laborers and developing their inherent potential as project leaders.

He’s nurtured and equipped dozens of laborers to successfully function as project superintendents. His advocacy also includes serving on the Laborers Joint Apprenticeship Committee and Contract Negotiation Committee.

Myers is a mentor and business adviser to several minority contractors, including Glasper Professional Services, Brandt Contracting, BRK Electric and Quinn Hauling. By forging a strategic partnership with Glasper to deliver utility mapping services, Myers enabled the civil engineering firm’s sustained growth. He’s authoring a partnership manifesto outlining his approach to building long-term relationships with GCs, vendors and partners.




About Tom Finan