Spearheaded by utility contractors and industry suppliers there, NUCA of Middle Tennessee is striking a chord and filling an important need in this booming region.
If you haven’t visited Nashville lately, you may not recognize the area.
A fast-growing economy and urbanization are dramatically transforming the region. Construction cranes dominate Music City’s skyline. New sports stadiums and entertainment districts are popping up next to the famed honky-tonks, recording studios and BBQ joints.
But amid the population growth, often a region’s public infrastructure doesn’t keep pace.
With gridlock and other headaches on the rise, the need for an organized group grew more apparent to the region’s utility contractors.
Matt Mingus, chief safety officer of Team Construction, Nashville, is one early champion who rallied fellow excavators with the idea of forming a regional NUCA Chapter.
“We’re leveraging our presence as an industry… giving ‘voice’ to the vital infrastructure work our companies do here,” explains Mingus, who is now the Middle Tennessee Chapter’s first elected president.
“As a unified group, we’re in a better position to speak up and achieve a number of goals us utility contractors share in common,” adds Mingus, “such as improving workforce development and updating the state’s dig laws.”
The chapter is also hosting a series of local forums to draw attention to upgrading the region’s aging infrastructure systems. Recent guest speaker panels featured government officials from Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Williamson County and even the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
In its inaugural year, NUCA of Middle Tennessee has already become one of the region’s most esteemed groups, thanks to its active membership and triumphant grassroots movement that got it started.
The idea for forming NUCA Middle Tennessee Chapter quickly gained momentum. In fall 2018, Mingus gathered fellow contractors for BBQ dinner at his company’s shop, as well as lunch at the local Outback Steakhouse.
Forming a core organizing group, their ranks grew to 25 representatives who attended a formative meeting in Gallatin, Tenn. Plans were drawn up for the chapter’s launch.
“We realized our greater strength in numbers, plus our shared passions for getting things accomplished as an industry,” recalls Darren Cleary, president/CEO of Cleary Construction, Tompkinsville, Ky., who was elected chapter’s president-elect.
By year’s end, the founders elected a 9-person local Board of Directors and completed the chapter’s formation. Their efforts were guided by NUCA Chapter Development Director Kenneth Sommer, who helps facilitate local NUCA chapter startup movements.
Since its February 2019 launch, the Middle Tennessee Chapter’s membership has grown rapidly from zero to 40 members companies. Their success has sparked the recent formation of neighboring NUCA East Tennessee Chapter centered in the Knoxville area.
“What a rewarding journey it’s been to see our own chapter come alive and prosper here, thanks to the group effort of many NUCA champions here in the region,” remarked Jake Jones of Southern Site Contractors, Gallatin, Tenn., a founder and chapter vice president.
The chapter’s regional territory covers 41 counties surrounding Nashville in the state’s geographic center. Even companies outside this region are welcome to join.
The chapter’s growing membership roster includes other such prominent contractors as Brooks Excavation Contractor, Garney Construction, Hawkins & Price, Moore Construction Co., Portland Utilities Construction Co., RAWSO Constructors, Rock Solutions, SAK Construction, and Stansell Electric Co.
Still in its infancy, the chapter has begun holding training workshops, facilities tours, and popular networking events.
“If you’re involved with excavation and utility work, join us here in Middle Tennessee for great comradery, outstanding educational programs and many opportunities to connect,” invites Chapter Board Director Craig Ingram, public awareness manager for Tennessee 811.
This article was written by Ken Sommer, NUCA’s Director of Chapter Development.