A lot has happened in the last 40 years. The Vietnam War ended, MTV changed from music videos to scripted reality TV, the Berlin Wall fell, chunky cell phones morphed into tiny, powerful mobile devices, Harry Potter got kids (and adults) reading again and frozen yogurt shops are on every corner. That’s a lot of stuff, and NUCA of Rhode Island (NUCA of RI) has witnessed it all.
Back in 1973, a group of utility contractors concerned about the lack of unity in the underground utility construction industry in Rhode Island came together to discuss their options. The Utility Contractors Association of Rhode Island was born, and the group was officially named the state chapter of NUCA the following year. The founding firms included: A.E. Bragger Construction Co., Capaldi Brothers Corp., V.F. Capaldi Construction Corp., M.A. Gammino Construction Co., J.H. Lynch & Sons and V.J. Paolino Construction Co.
Current President of NUCA of RI Michael Donatelli says the original goal of the association was to challenge the teamsters in their regulations. It was initially difficult to have their voice heard with such a small group, but 40 years of existence has seen its membership swell from 20 companies in the beginning to 90 today, representing more than 7,500 employees.
“To be the smallest state in the union and survive 40 years is saying a lot for the membership,” Donatelli says. “Through tough economic times as well as climate (floods, hurricanes and blizzards) and political changes, our organization held together through the strength of its members. The structure [the founding members] set up and the example they set made it easy to get new and young blood involved to carry the torch.”
Celebrate Good Times
NUCA of RI knows how to balance business and pleasure. While the group is very active with lobbying and legislation in Washington and at a state level, members know how to have fun, too. In honor of the association’s 40th anniversary, members enjoyed a gala event in June with dinner and dancing, and many NUCA officials were in attendance, including Chairman Florentino Gregorio, Chairman-Elect Ron Nunes and CEO Bill Hillman.
The scholarship golf tournament is NUCA of RI’s biggest event each year. This summer’s outing was the group’s 35th annual and its most successful. Members also have a chance to socialize with each other outside of work like at a Providence Bruins hockey game or a sunset summer cruise.
“It is always important to get members together outside of the workplace and put a face to the name,” Donatelli says. “As we are made up of a diverse group it is always fun to have lawyers, engineers, architects, contractors and suppliers in the same room sharing dinner and drinks and building a better mousetrap. Throw in a politician or two and it is always a fun night.”
In the midst of all the fun, the diverse group never loses its focus: to support legislative causes that directly affect members and to ensure everyone is trained in a safe manner.
“We are made up of a wide diversity group of contractors, suppliers and professionals — both union and non-union,” Donatelli says. “Whether for funding, licensing or small business regulation, the organization bands together to promote our cause. It is important that our members get out and let their local, state and federal politicians know that they work in our industry and that their actions affect us.”
Future plans for NUCA of RI include working to get all members — new and old — more involved. Improved training sessions will soon be offered, and legislative strategy sessions and increased lobbying for project funding will be at the forefront.
“It is important to show what our organization has to offer and in return see what members can offer us with regards to participation and knowledge,” Donatelli says. “At our meetings, we bring in guest speakers and we also hear from our members what is happening in the field regarding enforcement or how they overcame the ever-changing requirements of different municipalities in the state. Knowledge is the key to success. The better we keep members informed, the stronger we become.”
Congrats on the last 40 years, NUCA of RI, and here’s to another strong 40 years of utility contractor representation.
Kelly Pickerel is a Contributing Editor of Utility Contractor.
Previous Presidents of NUCA of RI
Angelo V. Paolino 1973-1978
Albert E. “Ted” Bragger Jr. 1978-1980
V. Herbert Capaldi 1980-1982
Michael A. Favicchio 1982-1984
Richard J. Pate 1984-1988
James E. Monroe 1988-1991
Mark A. Bragger Sr. 1991-1997
Jon S. Toegemann 1997-2002
Andrew Crowshaw 2002-2004
Karen Quattrocchi 2004-2006
Ronald Nunes 2006-2010
Michael Donatelli 2010-present
Start a NUCA Chapter in Your State, Region
Did you know that NUCA’s Chapter-In-Development Program is ready to help utility construction professionals start new NUCA chapters in their state or region? Interested?
Why start a local chapter?
It offers a forum through which companies in your area can address local concerns in the utility construction industry, including government regulations and safety issues.
It provides valuable networking opportunities for your business.
It is a unique and rewarding opportunity to help build a local organization from the start.
Who to Contact: NUCA Director of Chapter Development Kenneth Sommer is available to help facilitate the startup and management of your new chapter. Contact him at 703.890.7805 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a list of current NUCA chapters, please turn to page 38.