In the afterglow of being awarded SEDCOR’s 2017 Outstanding Construction Alliance Member, Rich Duncan credited his namesake company’s employees.
“Rich Duncan Construction is so driven as a team, and so mission-driven, it makes it possible for me as the owner to step away and give time and give back to the community.
“It’s just one of those perfect things,” he said.
Duncan was surrounded by family and co-workers at SEDCOR’s annual awards luncheon at the Salem Convention Center on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 14.
During the proceedings, five other business entities were cited for their contributions to the local economy and beyond. Honored were Wilco, Agri-Business of the Year; Wells Fargo, Community Service Award; Willamette Valley Pie Company, Manufacturer of the Year; and the State of Oregon and City of Salem, Outstanding Public Partnership.
“That was the economy of Salem in that room,” Duncan said in describing the community members seated at the tastefully appointed tables for the well-attended event. Indeed, there were representatives spotted from every sector of civic and business life at the convocation.
Amid the throng were members of the Construction Alliance, originally formed to create a competitive advantage for developers, companies and investors. But the business coalition went well beyond that, uniting resources to erect projects in the public good, including a dorm at the Oregon School for the Deaf, an educational pavilion at The Oregon Garden and a major renovation of the Mount Angel Community Fest Hall. Duncan helped coordinate an effort for Mount Angel that resulted in $300,000 in in-kind materials and services.
Duncan, who launched his construction company in 2002, was credited with being the catalyst behind forming the Construction Alliance in 2009.
Mount Angel alliance member John Gooley, who came to the awards lunch dressed in alpine lederhosen, said, “If it wasn’t for Rich Duncan, there might not be a SEDCOR Construction Alliance.”
“The economy was pretty tough when we first got started,” Duncan recalled. “We were looking at whether there was buying power in coming together. And then we saw there was an opportunity to communicate as one, so that when companies came to Salem, they would know that they didn’t need to bring a contractor from Minnesota, that we were capable right here in town of taking care of any project and being a resource.”
In time, the focus turned to the pressing need for a trained and educated construction workforce.
“It was kind of a marketing, economy driven deal in the beginning,” Duncan said, “but it quickly leveraged to education because everybody was short qualified manpower. The alliance graduated quickly to a lot more focus on education than buying bulk lumber or supplies.
The Construction Alliance has partnered with Salem’s Career Technical Education Center (CTEC), the 150,000 square-foot facility where high school students gain valuable experience in the trades, including residential construction.
Duncan said in addition to providing mentoring to the students in the construction program, the alliance developed a certificate program for CTEC that identifies core competencies. “We crated the baseline education component,” he said. “The certificate recognizes that a student has reached a level of competence that qualifies him or her for potential employment. They can walk in with that certificate and we can recognize that they understand safety and know how to use a tape measure.”
Duncan, the first president of the alliance, understands there is much more to be done to provide a steady stream of qualified trades-educated students coming out of Mid-Willamette Valley high schools.
But he also recognizes that the community is that much closer to the goal thanks to the united efforts of area construction companies and CTEC.
Is it another perfect thing?
“Time will tell,” Duncan said.