The Inland Northwest region of the contiguous United States — up by Canada nestled between mountain ranges and glacier lakes of Spokane and Coeur d’Alene — may seem faraway to some. But amid its huckleberry picking, potato farming, hunting and skiing sits a bustling population center with a thriving industry for excavation and utility construction.
So much so that a new NUCA chapter has emerged strongly in this region, following weeks of recent groundwork by the contractors based there. Though still in its formative year, the NUCA of Eastern Washington & North Idaho Chapter has already made its mark as one of the region’s most active and highly regarded groups, thanks to its grassroots movement that got it started.
Scot Hattenburg, president of M&L Construction, based in far Eastern Washington near the Idaho border, is one early champion who rallied fellow excavators with the idea of forming a regional NUCA chapter. He was inspired by many Seattle-based fellow contractors involved with neighboring NUCA of Washington and what they’ve accomplished as a chapter.
The idea quickly gained momentum among Inland Northwest excavators, banding together in September 2015 as a core group. Within weeks, the group’s ranks grew to 25 representatives who attended their first formative meeting in Post Falls, Idaho.
Then by year’s end, 60 industry representatives gathered for the chapter’s official kickoff in downtown Spokane featuring a construction projects preview.
“We were all excited by the thought of giving ‘voice’ to the vital infrastructure work we do here. Being part of something bigger than our individual companies,” Hattenburg recalled. “As a unified force, we realized our greater strength is in numbers,” added Hattenburg, who is now the new chapter’s first elected president.
During fall 2015, founders gathered to complete the chapter’s formation. Their efforts were guided from the get-go by NUCA Chapter Development Director Kenneth Sommer, who helps facilitate local NUCA chapter startup movements.
“How gratifying to see our own NUCA chapter come alive and prosper here,” said Christie Coulter, also an early contractor champion and controller for T. LaRiviere Equipment & Excavation/C.N.I., Athol, Idaho. “We now have greater clout to address issues impacting our companies. We’re working with local government and industry officials to help improve systems and ease regulations on our industry.”
The chapter also holds training workshops, safety programs and popular networking events featuring guest speakers.
“Government officials and major utility company executives are even knocking at our door, wanting to speak before our chapter,” Coulter pointed out. Most recently Spokane Mayor David Condon and Spokane County Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn addressed the group.
The chapter’s growing membership roster includes other such prominent construction companies as Lance Pounder Excavation, Conner Excavating, Schimmels Construction, Hattenburg Excavating, Murphy Brothers, Shamrock Paving, Clearwater Summit Group, WM Winkler Co. and many more.
“If you’re involved with excavation and utility work, we invite you to join us here in the Inland Northwest during this exciting historic first year,” added Hattenburg.