CEFGA Honors Employees and Companies with Inaugural Awards Program

Construction companies are realizing it is not enough just to complete world-class projects. They must look to the future and build their workforces as well.

To address the construction industry’s persistent labor shortage challenges, companies are getting involved in local schools, building quality craft training programs, hiring from programs like CEFGA’s Construction Ready, and identifying career pathways for their field-level employees.

To recognize and celebrate individuals and companies who are making a difference in the industry’s fight to find and develop craft professionals, CEFGA hosted the First Annual Craft Pro Champions Awards Breakfast at The Gathering Spot in Atlanta on August 8, 2019. More than 70 industry professionals attended the event, which honored 12 individuals and companies as Georgia’s best construction field-level employees and employers.

(Scroll to the bottom of this page for the list of winners and a photo gallery, and watch the entire program on our YouTube channel. For information and applications for the 2020 Craft Pro Champions Awards, click here.)

The Craft Pro Champions Awards were created out of a partnership between CEFGA and Atlanta CareerRise, who together pursued and won the Job Quality Initiative Grant offered by the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

“One of the many outcomes of this grant is our awards program here this morning,” said CEFGA President and CEO Scott Shelar. “As an industry we must do a better job of lifting up and praising our existing field-level employees. In order to attract more people to our industry, we have to make our industry more attractive, and that’s a big part of what this celebration is all about.”

Shelar said CEFGA’s Construction Ready team, led by Vice President for Construction Ready Jamie Buck, began analyzing retention rates from that program and discovered the one-year rate was around 70 percent.

“We were proud of that retention rate,” he said, “but we still asked ourselves, ‘What’s happening to that other 30 percent?’”

The team identified three major reasons employees leave the industry after graduating from Construction Ready and going out into the field: 1) Some make poor choices and don’t uphold their end of the agreement with their employers. 2) Some simply decide construction is not a good fit for them. 3) Some don’t receive the appropriate training or a clear career path from their employers to position them for long-term success in the company.

That last point in particular caught the CEFGA leadership’s attention. Around the same time, Cinda Herndon-King, then-Executive Director of Atlanta CareerRise, asked Shelar if CEFGA would be interested in applying for the grant from the National Fund for Workforce Solutions.

The opportunity coincided perfectly with CEFGA’s emerging desire to, as Shelar said, “celebrate those construction companies who are actively engaging with their local schools, who work to build quality craft training programs, who hire from programs like Construction Ready, and who identify and promote career pathways for their field-level associates.”

Herndon-King retired in July 2019 and was succeeded by John Helton, who spoke at the breakfast on behalf of Atlanta CareerRise.

“We’re so happy to be here today to applaud you and celebrate the successes you’ve had in making this work happen,” Helton said. He praised the honorees for working “to create better jobs, to retain employees so that your companies are more profitable, and also to make it easier for people to get ahead and do better for themselves and their families.”

Janice Urbanik, Senior Director for Innovation and Strategy for the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, spoke about her organization’s mission to collaborate with workers, employers and communities to advance a skilled workforce, promote good jobs and invest in equitable outcomes.

“I’m thrilled to be here to celebrate and recognize true leaders in your industry who are really focused on developing their workforce and at the same time advancing their businesses,” Urbanik added.


2019 CEFGA Craft Pro Champions Award Winners

K12 Pipeline Graduate of the Year
Recognizes a graduate of a high school construction program who is excelling, advancing and thriving in the construction industry. Winner: EVAN MAGEE, Kennesaw Mountain High School, Class of 2018; Crew Supervisor, Holder Construction Company

K12 Pipeline Employer of the Year
Recognizes an employer for working with local elementary, middle and/or high school construction programs to make students aware of careers in construction and connect them with career opportunities. Winner: SWOFFORD CONSTRUCTION, an Austell-based commercial contracting firm with more than 35 years experience in religious, education, professional, retail, institutional and industrial facilities.

Construction Ready Graduates of the Year
Recognizes program graduates who have been with their company at least two years and are excelling, advancing and thriving in the construction industry. As of August 2019, 961 students had graduated from Construction Ready since the program’s inception in 2014. Winners:

  • LANRAY BAKARE, Build Cobb Group 6; Senior Project Coordinator, Vankirk Electric
  • KHALIL DAVIS, Westside Works Group 11; Field Safety Coordinator, DPR Construction
  • MIKETA GRANT, Westside Works Group 18; Foreman Laborer, Marek Interior Systems
  • NICHOLAS HOLMES, Westside Works Group 2; Foreman in Training, Anning-Johnson Company
  • TRAYAN TONKOV, Build Cobb Group 1; Repair and Restoration Foreman, Precision Concrete Construction

Construction Ready Employer of the Year
Recognizes a company for hiring and effectively developing Construction Ready graduates. Winner: PRECISION CONCRETE CONSTRUCTION, a full-service concrete construction company based in Alpharetta. Precision has hired from Construction Ready since 2014, including all new labor for its Turnkey Division over the past two-plus years.

Craft Pro Emerging Champion Employers
Recognizes companies who recently have begun creating workforce development strategies that promote field-level career progression and provide workers with accessible training and skills development opportunities. Winners:

  • ASTRA GROUP, a Woodstock-based company specializing in infrastructure, transportation, public, community, athletic and recreational facilities across the Southeast
  • DPR CONSTRUCTION, a nationwide commercial contractor and construction manager with expertise in advanced technology, commercial, healthcare, higher education and life science markets.
  • SWINERTON, a commercial construction company that provides a broad range of services in 16 markets across the U.S.

Craft Pro Champion Employer
Recognizes companies for their ongoing use of workforce development strategies that promote field-level career progression and provide workers with accessible training and skills development opportunities. Winner: ANNING-JOHNSON COMPANY, a specialty construction contractor in eight markets across the U.S. including Atlanta. The company regularly hires from CEFGA’s K12 Pipeline and Construction Ready programs – including 30 graduates of the latter – and demonstrates an extraordinary commitment to workforce development through an innovative joint training program.

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