At the NUCA Convention in February, the association swore in a new Chairman of the Board, passing the leadership torch from Ryan Schmitt to Florentino Gregorio. Gregorio, a 30-plus-year industry veteran is ready to serve NUCA and make the association an even more valuable asset to its members.
Gregorio’s passion for construction began when he was young, watching his father work as a stone mason throughout his childhood. As soon as he was able to work, Gregorio spent his summers lending a hand at different construction companies. He attended the University of Maryland and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering in 1986. After he wrapped up his time in school, Gregorio started CNF Construction, a construction firm focused on a variety of utilities, as well as roads and bridges. In the early 2000s, Gregorio changed the company’s name to Anchor Construction. Today, Anchor Construction employs more than 200 workers and operates out of Washington, D.C.
As for his involvement with NUCA, Gregorio was first exposed to the association by attending its 2004 Convention in Orlando, Fla., after his colleague, Henry Osbourne, suggested it. From there, he was hooked and knew it was an organization he wanted to be involved in.
“I found it very beneficial and exposed me to a lot of different contractors from all over the country,” says Gregorio. “I really liked it and have been attending ever since. I try to bring at least four to five of my employees so they can reap the benefits and bring what they learn back to the other guys.”
One convention spurred into something greater for Gregorio and he began getting involved in the association’s committees. He’s been particularly involved in the Educational, Safety and Contracts and Documents Committees.
“You get exposed to a lot of different things,” he says. “It just makes you a better businessman and more valuable to your colleagues.”
Going for the Goal
As the year goes on, Gregorio’s primary goal as chairman is to keep increasing the number of members that are a part of the organization. By doing so, NUCA can continue to expand and better its services. To help with this, Gregorio is sticking to the plan originally put into place by the Immediate Past Chairman Ryan Schmitt.
“I’m a big believer of the plan and its No. 1 objective is to improve and expand services so NUCA becomes more valuable to its members,” says Gregorio. “The last few years with the economy have been tough so some people have gone out of business or some simply cannot afford to take time off to attend events. We’ve seen numbers go down, so now is the time to rebuild. We need to have more members.”
With more members, Gregorio would like to add more chapters across the country. This will enhance membership services for those in the area, as well as strengthen the group’s voice on important industry issues. Gregorio was a major component to the birth of the D.C. chapter, so he understands just how important chapter development is to the association.
“We started NUCA of DC and North Texas last year, so we definitely need to keep the momentum going,” he says. “Ken Sommers [NUCA’s Chapter Director] has a great program for doing that, so I’m eager to see what will happen. It would be great to develop chapters in areas such as California, where we have quite a few members but no chapter presence. For example in D.C., I kept getting inquiries about a local chapter so it became evident that we needed to make it happen. From those inquiries, we were able to create one and now we have more than 60 members. That needs to be done all over the place.”
As an industry in general, Gregorio wants to continue letting lawmakers know just how valuable the health of our infrastructure truly is. To accomplish this, he mentions the importance of events such as NUCA’s Washington Summit and others promoting the industry to local government.
“It’s important to reach out to government officials and keep infrastructure fresh in their minds,” says Gregorio. “One of our biggest challenges is that a lot of our stuff is underground, so a lot of times it doesn’t get the coverage that it needs because you’ll only hear about it when a sewer or water line breaks. We have to keep pushing for those things because it’s an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ mentality. Don’t want lawmakers forgetting to put money into the infrastructure.”
Gregorio also notes that the industry needs to be proactive on attracting quality people into the workforce. With employees getting older and technology becoming more prevalent, it’s important to have skilled workers on hand.
“Attracting good, quality people to the construction industry needs to be a goal for us,” says Gregorio. “Over the years, we have done a great job attracting more people but we need a bigger pool to pull from. At some point, the jobs will come more frequently and we’ll need people to fill the demand.”
The NUCA Necessity
If anyone is on the fence of joining NUCA, Gregorio is quick to point out the benefits of belonging to such an organization. A common theme in his reasoning is “There’s strength in numbers.”
“Association involvement is a must,” explains Gregorio. “If you’re in business, you need to be involved with some sort of association.
You need to know what’s happening in the industry, what the politics are and what changes are coming down the pipe — association involvement offers you that. Being a part of an organization such as NUCA helps you stay in tune with other members and issues that affect the way you do business.”
Speaking of members, Gregorio points out that camaraderie is another benefit to joining NUCA. Becoming a part of an association puts you in touch with other companies, their expertise and their personal experiences.
“Everyone is pretty open and willing to help wherever they can,” says Gregorio. “Or maybe one day you’ll need a job or someone will move to your area and need one. NUCA offers those networking ties. You may even be able to team with other members to land a bigger job together. There’s strength in numbers and that’s especially true with NUCA.”
Pam Kleineke is Associate Editor of Utility Contractor.