Jeff Humbert Reflects on His Tenure as Chairman of ABC of the Carolinas
By: Gregory L. Shelton
Horack, Talley, Pharr & Lowndes, PA
Associated Builders and Contractors of the Carolinas’ annual conference took place in Wilmington earlier this month. During a break in the events, I sat down with Jeff Humbert, outgoing Chairman of ABC Carolinas, to talk about his tenure at the helm of the organization.
While Jeff is among the most committed, hardest working members of ABC Carolinas, he also has a day job. Jeff is Project Executive for Charlotte-based general contractor Edifice, Inc., bringing 26 years of construction experience to Edifice with a focus on the industrial market. Jeff leads project teams and serves as the owner’s single point of contact from pre-construction through close-out. Jeff also oversees project managers and superintendents, and monitors customer satisfaction, schedules, quality, and budgets.
Jeff holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management & Finance from East Carolina University. He also maintains a General Contractor’s License from the State of North Carolina and is a LEED Accredited Professional. In addition to his association and leadership in ABC-Carolinas, Jeff is also actively involved in the Tilt up Concrete Association, the National Association of Industrial Office Properties, and the Charlotte Region Commercial Board of Realtors.
Shelton: You’ve taken the helm of ABC Carolinas in a particularly political year. How has ABC Carolinas engaged in the political process to represent the interests of its members?
Humbert: Governmental affairs has always been a cornerstone of ABC, both nationally and locally. The motto ‘Get into Politics or Get out of Business’ rings loud and clear in Columbia, Raleigh, and Washington D.C.
I visited the legislatures in Columbia and Raleigh with fellow ABC Carolinas members to meet with our local representatives and raise awareness about issues important to our members. We have been conducting these annual events, which we call “Hard Hat Day at the Capital,” for years.
We also foster relationships with leaders on a local level. Pat McCrory, our keynote speaker at this conference, is a case in point. We are proud to have the next governor of North Carolina share time with our members.
While we have always been very active in representing our members’ interests, we stepped up to a whole new level in 2012. At last December’s planning meeting, I challenged ABC Carolinas’ members with what I called the B.H.A.G (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), which was to have a full time lobbyist representing ABC Carolinas in the North Carolina and South Carolina legislatures.
We accomplished this goal earlier this year. On April 9th, Doug Carlson, President of ABC Carolinas, announced to our membership that the ABC Board of Directors authorized moving forward to hire a Legislative Director for the Carolinas. With input from membership at events hosted regionally by ABC members, the slogan ‘Seize the Opportunity’ took hold, resulting in our hiring Benton Albritton as Legislative Director. Benton was born in Raleigh and graduated from UNC-Wilmington. He worked on the re-election campaign of Elizabeth Dole in 2008. In early 2009 Benton started working for Senator Burr in Washington D.C. until June, when his true calling to ABC was recognized.
Filling the slot of Legislative Director will propel our organization in the years to come. The timing was right for us to take the next step and really increase our voice in government. I applaud our members for making this happen.
S: What principles have guided you as Chairman of ABC Carolinas?
H: I believe in basic business principles which include financial stewardship and a philosophy labeled as ‘The Value Proposition.” We are charged as individuals to lead and represent our beliefs; being a steward of member’s funds, investing in individuals, events, and programs to ensure our industry’s future is Job One.
Our members are our heartbeat. To have the record membership growth and retention as we do speaks volume to the efforts of our staff and membership as a whole. I am a big fan of watching individuals grow when they work with their peers striving for a common goal.
I’ve also been guided by the idea of efficiency and ownership. We’re making significant progress toward our goal of combining our corporate office space and our training center into a central location. Our goal of ownership is on the horizon, and we are closer to fulfilling our 3 and 5 year plan of having training centers and offices in our representative markets.
Finally, consistency. The leadership of our organization has been strong for a number of years, and my goal was to leave the organization as my predecessor, Bill Caldwell (President of Waldrop, Inc.), left it for me: uncluttered, transparent, and stable.
S: Are there any new developments in ABC Carolinas’ efforts to train and educate the construction workforce?
H: A trained and ready workforce is key to our merit shop philosophy. We just completed our first full year at the new training center in Charlotte. We realized we had two options: One, grow by by offering existing services to more user groups; or Two, provide more services to existing users.
So we did both.
The staff at the training center reached out to our membership base and core group users to determine their needs. As a result, we offered excellent courses which were well attended.
Our training program continues to grow. In addition to our Charlotte training center, we are hosting classes and certification courses in Raleigh, Fayetteville, and on-site, to support the needs of our users.
S: Thanks for sitting down with me and answering these questions.
H: Glad to help. See you on the boat.