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Nov. 27, 2017

Rising tide lifts all merit shop constructution

The Excellence in Construction Awards is a nationwide awards competition honoring exceptional projects built by Associated Builders and Contractors members.


By Walter Fritz

Human beings love competition. It seems built into our DNA Athletic competition in front of large crowds of enthusiastic fans took place as early as 2000 B.C. Competition isn't limited to physical sports. The board game known as "Go" in English (Weiqi in Chinese) traces back to ancient China before 2300 B.C. In Asian cultures, Go is seriously competitive in the way video games are today in the professional ELEAGUE, its modern equivalent.

Awards shows on TV routinely draw huge ratings, whether for films like the Oscars, or for music like the Grammys or American Music Awards. We watch driven in part by our competitive instincts, but also to admire and learn from examples of craft excellence.

We don't expect huge ratings in the construction industry for our awards. We don't have a red carpet or a massive international television audience watching anyway, which might be for the best. Nevertheless, measuring our skills in competition and recognizing those who set an example for their peers is just as important as a Best Actor statue.

The Excellence in Construction Awards is a nationwide awards competition honoring exceptional projects built by Associated Builders and Contractors members. Projects are judged on set criteria including project design and implementation, innovation, safety, and responses to project challenges, by a panel of judges with background and experience in the construction industry, and knowledge of the technical aspects of construction. Local winners advanced to national level competition.

Our awards recognize work by contractors and subcontractors on collaborations and projects, sharing best practices and inspiring others to adopt new and better ways of working that deliver outstanding results. This is especially important when taxpayer's dollars are involved on public projects, especially vital public facilities and infrastructure we all depend on daily.

The awards give us an opportunity to focus attention on some of the most important issues in the construction industry. Good safety practices ensure all employees have a quality work environment in which to do their best work, and both companies and clients save costs due to lower insurance rates and no delays in work schedules. Sustainability efforts in construction such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification demonstrate responsible environmental stewardship, which we all need to be concerned about living on planet Earth.

I can tell you from firsthand experience as an entrant in these awards, it is a time-consuming and detail oriented process. Every facet of your project is scrutinized. Did we deliver the project on time? Did we deliver within budget? We submit our safety records. We describe the inevitable challenges that arise. At our company, Nuera Contracting LP, we know from decades of experience in working within occupied communities that the only thing that would have surprised us was no surprises.

Over many years of developing our specialty expertise in the renovation of senior living communities, nothing is ever where it's supposed to be. We accept challenges. It's central to our mission. Anyone can be a builder, but not everyone has the mindset of selling solutions to problem. If we can set an example for our colleagues and our industry, we all benefit through improved results, value driven budgeting, and clients who are proud to show off their finished projects. An improved reputation for excellence among all merit shop contractors is the tide that raises all of our boats and the tools in them, too.

At this year's San Diego Excellence In Construction Awards held November 17, Berg Electric Corporation won Top Project by a Subcontractor for its outstanding work on the WeWork B Street coworking space project. Top Project by a General Contractor was our work at Nuera Contracting LP along with our many subcontractors on the Wesley Palms Retirement Community Renovation project.

For the first time, ABC also recognized an Outstanding Superintendent of the Year, Colin Gillanders of Tri State General Contracting.

Supervisor Kristin Gasper of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors (District 3) received the 2017 Excellence in Leadership Award for her commitment to ensuring that construction projects are open to all bidders, regardless of labor affiliation.

Walter Fritz is President and CEO of The Nuera Group of Companies (, and chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors, San Diego Chapter. For more information visit


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