Another in a series of byte-sized one-on-one visits with construction industry insiders. John Meese, CEM, senior director of heavy equipment for Waste Management, is the 2016-17 chairman of AEMP. Meese has set his sights on a more diverse association.
1) What is your goal for AEMP in terms of diversity?
The goal is establishing contact with the diversity groups that are invested in the construction industry. [We want to] approach them about what we do and what they can gain from AEMP. The ultimate goal is, once that relationship is established, we can lessen our problem with the workforce [shortage].
There’s a huge workforce out there that the broad, “WASP”-population of contractors doesn’t know how to tap, or don’t know exists. And that group doesn’t know how to approach us about becoming partners, whether they’re subcontractors, lead contractors or whatever. I think there are diverse contractor organizations that could have “WASP” subs, so it works both ways for us. But if we don’t reach out to those associations, we’ll never know who their membership is that can benefit from membership in our association.
2) What is your plan to accomplish this?
The first thing I’m going to do is tap into [AEMP board member from United Rentals] Dennis Walker because he is on board with a number of those associations and because United Rentals is doing business with so many of them. He has lists that we can work off of.
At that point, I’ll work with [AEMP executive] Stan [Orr] to develop an initial introduction to reach out to them. If there’s a positive response, we can work on it from there as far as explaining to the associations what we may be able to do. If there’s no response, maybe we send the letter again or put some phone calls out there and not just take a “no” for a “no” right off the bat.
3) A year from now, what would you hope to see?
At our October meeting in Cleveland, I asked people to look around. What did they see? A lot of white faces, and predominantly male white faces. A year from now at the Annual meeting, when we look out, we see polka dots all around the room representative of all the different ethnicities and also a greater population of females, because we’re not tapping into that at all. We may get one or two females on the municipal side who have risen through the ranks, but we’re not really tapping into the customer base that AEMP is all about.
To be able to look out across the audience and see the different races, the different genders: That’s how we will be able to say, “We did something.”