“My speech next year in Puerto Rico [at the 2016 NUCA Convention] is going to be the one you’ll want to hear. It’ll be the one where I tell you everything we’ve accomplished,” says the newly-appointed NUCA Chairman Bruce Wendorf as he leaves the podium at the association’s annual convention in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
After being sworn in on March 26, Wendorf stood up in front of his peers and discussed what being the leader of the association meant to him and what he plans to do throughout his tenure. His enthusiasm for NUCA was quite evident as he went on to emcee the evening with Chairman-Elect Jeff Rumer where they called on others to share their experiences from the association’s 50 years. The mood was vibrant and the memories were flowing. NUCA, and its annual convention, are definitely feeling renewed.
Enthusiasm radiates from Wendorf. Ask almost anyone, and they’ll have some sort of story about him — whether it’s from a board meeting or out at a networking event. It’s an energy he plans to bring as he leads NUCA for his one-year term.
“The primary goal during my term is to inspire a willingness to participate in NUCA functions, so that members can experience all the advantages membership provides,” says Wendorf. “These membership benefits do not always grab the attention of members. Plus, I want to highlight our successes. I want to bring enthusiasm to the association and get others excited about NUCA as well.”
Wendorf first became involved in construction by working for his dad, Richard, at Forsberg Construction, a utility, sitework and road building contractor located in Punta Gorda, Fla., during his summer breaks. At the time, Richard was one of the company’s four stakeholders.
“I loved being active and outside,” says Wendorf. “Doing this work gave me the opportunity to do both, while also learning what construction was really all about.”
Wendorf graduated from Florida State University in 1992 and immediately began working for Forsberg Construction, where he started out as a project manager assistant while also working in the field as a laborer. In 1994, Wendorf bid his first successful project and started the company’s “you bid it, you build it” policy. He spent the next year overseeing the project from its beginning to completion, starting with silt fence installation and ending with the final course of asphalt.
“I was the laborer, operator, foreman and project manager for this job, and I learned a lot in that one year,” says Wendorf. “Upon the completion of that project, I was permanently committed to sharpening my estimating and project management skills. I spent time behind the desk, but I also visited jobsites regularly.”
In 1997, Richard bought Forsberg Construction from the remaining shareholders, and it became a family business. Throughout the years, Wendorf perfected his skills and was eventually appointed president of the company in 2006. At the end of 2012, Wendorf became the majority owner of Forsberg Construction after Richard retired. Today, he continues to wear many hats throughout the bidding and building process, often filling the roles of estimator and project manager.
Connecting with NUCA
Joining NUCA was a no-brainer for Wendorf. With the association acting as the only national association solely representing underground utility and excavation contractors, it made perfect sense for him to become involved. He first started in 1998 with his local chapter, Southwest Florida Utility Contractors Association (which is now referred to as NUCA of Southwest Florida). He would eventually serve two terms as the chapter’s president in both 2000 and 2007. Wendorf attended his first NUCA National convention in 1999 and, from there, began to fully experience what the association had to offer.
“Some of the most valuable things I’ve learned come from the contractor members who have shared their personal business experiences, both good and bad,” says Wendorf. “There is a solution to every problem, if you’re willing to ask the right people for help and advice. There are many solutions to be found within the NUCA membership, as well as in the products and services the association provides.”
Ever since becoming a NUCA member, Wendorf has been involved and invested in the association. He started his term on NUCA’s Board of Directors in 2005 and joined the Executive Committee as Treasurer in 2011. Wendorf is a proud member of the first graduating class of the NUCA Institute (1999) and was the NUCA Convention Chairman in 2011 in Puerto Rico. He’s a part of the Safety and Damage Prevention Committee, as well as the Legislative Committee.
“I was the NUCA PAC Chairman from 2009 to 2014, and I represented NUCA as an excavator member on the Common Ground Alliance’s Data and Reporting Committee,” says Wendorf. “I have also attended the Washington Summit every year starting in 2005.”
Being involved in NUCA has helped Wendorf express his passion for his work and ensure his voice is heard in Washington. As he continues to lead his own business, as well as NUCA, he shares his hopes for the industry, his company and acknowledges an obstacle ahead.
“My hope for the utility contracting market is for an environment of less regulation, less taxation and fewer demands from the federal government,” says Wendorf. “As for my business, over the next several years I will be working hard to make my company as efficient as possible in both the office and in the field. My goal is to be one of the most streamlined contractors in the industry by utilizing new technologies and management systems.
“The single biggest challenge we face in coming years is the ability to find qualified and committed people to work at all levels of our industry,” he continues. “Everyone is needed — from labor, operators and supervisors to estimators, project managers and even equipment mechanics.”
Beyond the Office
Although Wendorf is serious about his career and NUCA, he does have plenty of fun out of the office. First and foremost, he’s the proud dad to two daughters, Katie and Daisha, who both turn 18 this summer and will head off to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. When he’s not making his voice heard for the industry, he’s making plenty of music playing drums. “Playing drums has been my favorite hobby since I was 14,” says Wendorf. “I have been in a few bands over the years, and I definitely do not consider my rock and roll career over just yet. I also like to work out, play tennis and go boating in the beautiful waters of Southwest Florida.”
Pam Kleineke is the Managing Editor of Utility Contractor.