Gary Klebs portrait
Gary Klebs
The Associated General Contractors of Alaska logo
Swan Song
By Gary Klebs

t’s been a hell of a year. Through it all, the staff, board, and committees at Associated General Contractors of Alaska, or AGC, have been relentless advocates for an industry that continues to lay the foundation for an even sturdier Alaska economy.

When the pandemic hit, AGC immediately began lobbying congress, state, and local leaders to categorize construction as an essential service to keep our members working. They created a COVID-19 specific website within the AGC homepage where we housed industry-specific documents and templates for our members, including up-to-date state, federal, and local mandates, as well as safety and travel templates for essential businesses and information on financial relief packages.

They partnered with the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities to compile best practices from various COVID-19 safety plans for rural and urban jobsites into one template, which was approved by the DOT, DHSS, Department of Commerce, and the governor’s office to help our contractors standardize the protocols for COVID-19 on the job site and for travel around Alaska.

I remain as honored to have served—and equally as proud of this organization—as the day I stepped into this role. With the end of my term right around the corner, I’m confident that, with my successor Sarah Lefebvre, AGC of Alaska will remain in safe, supportive hands.

Something I touched on in my previous letter is what initially drew me to this incredible place: the allure of the Alaska experience. While breathtaking views and abundant recreational opportunities have certainly played their part, this experience has also been inextricably tied to my time in the construction industry.

Through nearly half a century, I have made countless business connections, some dear friends (maybe an adversary or two), and a collection of memories I wouldn’t trade for the world.

“AGC works to build the value of the companies that build Alaska.”
I am constantly reminded of the importance of AGC to this industry. Since 1949, AGC has served as the iron voice of Alaska construction. Our benefits to members are as diverse as they are valuable. Every benefit AGC offers supports a pillar of our mission statement and works towards our underlying goals of advocating for our members and Alaska’s construction industry, providing educational opportunities for our members, and promoting members’ skills, responsibility, and integrity.

Whether your business is a member of AGC or not, you’re benefiting from AGC’s constant advocacy efforts. Recently, AGC partnered with our national organization to launch a “Construction is Essential” workforce development campaign to encourage careers in construction as a viable option for those who lost their job as a result of the pandemic. They’ve also advocated to end COVID unemployment benefits on a state and federal level to put Alaskans back to work. These are just two of the ways AGC is working to address the critical shortage of qualified workforce our industry is facing.

AGC strongly pushed back on the Small Business Administration over the “Loan Necessity Questionnaire” that has heavily burdened all applications for the Paycheck Protection Program, or PPP, loans of more than $2 million and long delayed the forgiveness of many of those loans. We also hosted webinars for our members to help them understand the $350 billion state and local government American Rescue Plan and what it means for construction.

“Joining AGC of Alaska is the best possible way to ensure that your voice is heard.”
Our members received action alerts and advocacy updates on efforts to encourage President Biden and Congress to take action to improve the construction supply chain, not make it worse. AGC regularly meets with our Congressional delegation and governor’s office to discuss and provide industry feedback regarding COVID-19-related regulations.

Advocacy, education, and promotion are the focus at AGC every day of the year. I cannot emphasize enough that these are just some examples of how AGC works to build the value of the companies that build Alaska. Providing a voice for our members will continue to be an area that AGC remains committed to, and the more members that are part of our association, the louder our collective voice is.

I will always maintain that joining AGC of Alaska is the best possible way to ensure that your voice is heard on the myriad of issues affecting day-to-day construction operations. It is also the easiest way to become ingrained in an exceptional community of hardworking and talented professionals.

I’d like to thank each and every one of you for allowing me the opportunity to lead this special organization.

And one final time, I’d like to thank and recognize the incredible staff at AGC of Alaska for their commitment to the mission and membership of AGC: Executive Director Alicia Siira; Assistant Executive Director Thea Scalise; Special Projects Coordinator Margaret Empie; Events and Communication Coordinator Kimberley Grey; Fairbanks Branch Manager Emily Braniff; and Membership Director Clare Kreilkamp.

Gary Klebs
Board President