Gary Klebs portrait
Gary Klebs
The Associated General Contractors of Alaska logo
Navigating a Pandemic through Partnerships, Perseverance
By Gary Klebs

efore I introduce myself, I’d like to thank Past President Chris Reilly for the role he played in guiding this organization through one of the most challenging years in recent memory. Rest assured, I’m committed to picking up exactly where Chris left off. I’d also like to welcome all new and existing board members who were recently elected to AGC’s Board of Directors; thank you all for volunteering your time to furthering the mission of AGC and advancing the interests of Alaska’s construction industry. A special thanks to AGC’s 2021 Executive Board of Directors:

Sarah Lefebvre, AGC E-Board Vice President
(Exclusive Paving)

Brian Midyett, AGC E-Board Secretary
(STG Pacific, LLC)

Marcus Trivette, AGC E-Board Treasurer
(Brice, Inc.)

Saigen Harris, AGC E-Board Contractor-at-Large
(F & W Construction)

Kirk Currey, AGC E-Board Associate Member

Chris Reilly, Immediate Past President
(Rain Proof Roofing)

Thank you for being champions of our industry—I look forward to working with you all.

Starting KLEBS Mechanical in my garage in 1986 and growing our family-owned business to where it is today has taught me some invaluable lessons on leadership and success. Among them is the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people—something the team at AGC has clearly considered when looking at our board, staff, and diverse body of members. Equally important is an organization’s ability to adapt in the face of hardship. As you’ll soon notice in our annual report, we have this in spades too.

I’ve spent enough time in this industry to be able recognize the key ingredients that shape successful organizations, with a commitment to advocacy and education at the forefront. It’s an honor to be named the Associated General Contractors of Alaska’s board president for 2021. And I’m just as thrilled to be able to introduce AGC’s 2020 Annual Report to members and share the ways that this organization has continued to serve its members, industry, and community through times of crisis.

From the onset of the pandemic, AGC was in our leaders’ ears, urging them to categorize construction as an essential industry to keep our members working. The women and men of the construction industry have been responsible for a variety of projects supporting Alaska’s response to the pandemic, including building and maintaining critical infrastructure such as healthcare facilities.

We testified on behalf of AGC members and the construction industry on eight different assembly initiatives that would have negatively impacted our member base. Additionally, AGC tracked and lobbied for more than a dozen construction industry-related pieces of legislation. AGC executive leadership even met with Alaska’s congressional delegation in Washington, DC to advocate on behalf of our members at a federal level.

Earlier in the year, we hosted our Annual Legislative Fly-In where 18 AGC members attended 45 meetings with Alaska state legislators, the governor’s office, and commissioners from the Department of Labor and the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities to promote AGC’s legislative priorities for our industry.

AGC immediately joined the OneAlaska coalition to prevent Ballot Measure 1 from passing and threatening Alaskan jobs and the overall health of our economy. This was no small task, and AGC recognized the need for involvement on all fronts, and even saw members of our team promoting the “Vote No on 1” message while enduring freezing temperatures leading up to election day. The combined efforts of our industry were successful, and a bright spot in our economy was kept safe from yet another tax structure change.

Most recently, AGC’s PAC raffle raised more than $18,000—money that was and will be donated to legislative candidates who support the construction industry in Alaska.

On matters of education, we are particularly proud of the fact that AGC was able to distribute more than $25,000 in scholarship funds to students pursuing higher education in construction-related programs at UAA and UAF.

To educate and assist AGC members, we compiled a list of essential resources on the homepage of our website detailing the latest mandates, safety and travel recommendations, and information related to financial relief packages. This was in addition to hosting a variety of COVID-related webinars on topics related to personal protective equipment, policy, and safety updates to AGC members—all free of charge.

Partnering with the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, we combined a number of COVID-related safety plans to create a single safety template which guided rural and urban jobsites. This plan was approved by the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Social Services, the Department of Commerce, as well as the Governor’s office. The plan was implemented immediately throughout the state and used by members as a template to keep construction moving forward while keeping our workforce and communities safe.

Other partnerships included working with the Alaska Certified Erosion and Sediment Control Lead (AK-CESCL) steering committee to create a 1-year automatic extension for professionals who already held a 3-year certificate. For those not currently certified, a temporary non-compliance waiver was granted. We also partnered with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to establish a grace period allowing Construction Quality Management certification extensions through January 1st of 2022.

Our virtual Agency Day webinar allowed members to engage in presentations from Alaska’s congressional delegation, the Department of Transportation & Public Facilities, and USACE officials, among others to hear about agency plans for the coming construction season. This event attracted more than 200 participants across the state and provided answers to some of our members’ most glaring industry concerns.

As of October 2020, AGC has facilitated certification trainings for:

  • 255 AK-CESCL students
  • 55 CQM students
  • 176 RMS students

Every effort AGC makes is to promote our members’ skills, responsibility, and integrity, and to make the public aware of the dedication our members have to keeping their employees and the communities they serve safe. I’d like to recognize the amazing 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 Coordinator Kimberley Gray; Fairbanks Branch Manager Brittany Hartmann; Membership Director Clare Kreilkamp.

With the goal of keeping Alaska’s construction industry essential, we can look to the construction industry as a bright spot for our economy. I am humbled by what the AGC of Alaska team and members have accomplished in one of the most difficult years to date. And I’m looking forward, filled with pride and optimism, to what we can achieve next.

Gary Klebs