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Opinion: Salute those workers creating spaces to live, work, play

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What image comes to mind when you hear about the design industry? What comes to mind for the construction industry? These industries impact our world from the homes where we live and the offices where we work to the roads we drive.

Here’s a salute to the work of people in the fields of design and construction.

To the local craftsman who execute an owner’s vision for it to become a reality, we salute you. Whether you call them craftsmen, tradesmen or skilled workers, they are the workers out in the field building our community. Without craftsmen in each of the trades, our community would not have schools, hospitals, churches, office buildings or any other business.

To the superintendents who work in the field coordinating the complexities of each project, we salute you. Superintendents in construction navigate tight schedules, tough logistical problems and are responsible for keeping the jobsite safe and clean.

Although everyone is acutely aware of supply chain issues, constructing a commercial building has another layer of complexity navigating construction timelines on a project. Companies don’t have unlimited storage space for materials and decor, plus outdoor storage comes with risk of theft and damage from weather elements. Those who work in the trades are moving from project to project based on schedules, so delays have the potential to impact more than one project in town. Superintendents work with each trade to ensure the project maintains a schedule for completion.

To ensure a project is safe, functional and aesthetically match the owner’s ideas, we salute you. We often don’t think about our surroundings outside of the decorations we select at home. In every building, a team worked on each detail of the project. Architects, structural engineers, mechanical/electrical engineers, interior designers and contractors work together to ensure the building is functional, dependable and designed to match the end use. Before a brick is laid or concrete slab is poured, a team of geotechnical, civil and mechanical/electrical engineers are working together to test and prepare the property. Contractors then work with numerous suppliers to ensure the building looks just as the owner imagined while meeting cost and time constraints.

To the developers who invest in our communities, whether it be with personal funds or as a steward of community funds, we salute you. Our community is built of more than just single homes and individual office buildings. The character of our community comes from the community as a whole and each individual microcommunity within it. Private developers take the risk to help areas in our community grow. Public developers find the balance of creating buildings contributing to the quality of place while also being good stewards of public funds.

To the outstanding women in construction who are an example for young females interested in nontraditional careers, we salute you. Women make up just 10% of the U.S. construction industry, mostly due to a lack of outreach, knowledge and training. There has never been a better time for companies to embrace diversity and work together to close the gender gap. Despite the barriers, women continue to build their paths in the industry. Women in the industry who attend career days and volunteer their time in the community serve as an example to children and young adults as another option for a career pathway.

To those who have given a lifetime to the design and construction industry by mentoring others, pushing the boundaries, and cultivating the industry, we salute you. Although they are fewer and farther between, there are individuals who have devoted a lifetime to the design and construction industry. Those people have made lasting contributions, command the respect of local peers, encouraged and empowered others, impacted legislation on behalf of the industry, broken barriers in the industry, actively promoted inclusion, and acted as a role model or mentor for others. 

We salute the men and women who design and construct the buildings in which we live, work and play. We salute those who support the industry and give their lives to advancing it. We salute the design and construction industry.

Megan Short is executive director of the Springfield Contractors Association, a member of the Salute to Design & Construction Council. She can be reached at megan@springfieldcontractors.org.

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