Robert A. Briant completes 33 years of service as Utility and Transportation Contractor Association’s (UTCA) chief executive in December.
When Bob Briant joined the association, he was its first full-time employee. At that time the association membership numbered 60 member firms, and today UTCA includes l,100 member firms.
With the beginning of the new year, Bob Briant Jr. will take over the direction of the association.
Prior to joining UTCA, Briant served with the original construction industry advancement program, which was then known as the Construction Industry Advancement Fund (CIAF). While serving with ClAF, Briant handled education and training programs and acted as the staff person for several of the organization’s committees.
He also was the first full-time employee of that organization as well.
After accepting the offer of the association board of directors to lead the organization, Briant established the first office on Route 1 in Edison. A secretary was hired and several association committees were established that focused on specifications, government relations and construction funding. Within a brief period, the association was recognized as an up and coming group.
Also, within that first year, a number of utility contractors from southern New Jersey, led by William Feather, joined as members of the association, and the group truly became a state organization.
Over the next few years, under the leadership of Ed Cruz and George Harms who served as association presidents, the organization began to grow in membership. With the advent of the Federal Clean Water Act, Briant began to work closely with representatives of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA).
Through his efforts, association working groups were established with both environmental agencies as there developed a need to standardize various provisions of Contract Documents for sewer and water construction in New Jersey.
The results of these efforts were pursued by several other contractor associations around the country, and later became the sewer construction regulations utilized by the NJDEP today.
Through the association’s participation in the National Utility Contractors Association, a number of UTCA initiatives were implemented by other associations around the country.
In 1976, Briant launched the association magazine Utility and Transportation Contractor, which is published in-house. The publication was originally printed quarterly, but it is now published six times a year. Since the magazine’s inception, it has been recognized with two national awards.
Another initiative established by Briant was the scheduling of an annual convention in the place of a dinner. The first convention was held in the Holiday Inn in Atlantic City in 1975 with 400 members in attendance. This past September’s convention attendance included approximately l,440 association members.
During the early 1980s, Briant began to focus association efforts toward diversification of construction markets that included road, bridge, hazardous waste remediation and marine construction. These initiatives were successful as they enabled the association membership grow to 500 member firms, and the organization affiliated with the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). It also was a time when the UTCA staff grew with the addition of Bob Briant Jr.
Over the years, Briant has been asked to identify the reasons for UTCA’s success. He has always given credit to the direction that has been offered by the association’s board of directors. Association staff efforts have always focused on achieving measurable results based on identifying goals that benefit the industry.
The association’s record of successes has been extraordinary and continues. The fact that close to 80 members participate with association committees also has been especially helpful.
Briant also realized early on that every organization has to established traditions and loyalties. Through his urging, the association established the William Feather and Larry Gardner Memorial Awards and several annual scholarships. The association also created the Construction Industry Hall of Fame to recognize the service of exceptional New Jersey construction industry leaders.
The service of Briant over the past 33 years is marked with many highlights. During that period, UTCA has initiated numerous pieces of legislation that have become law and benefit the industry.
The association’s community service projects have gained national recognition and with Briant serving as chairman of the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, it is clear that the association has earned the confidence of State Legislative Leaders and the Office of the Governor.
As Briant mentioned during the recent association convention, it has been a great run that will be continued under the leadership of Bob Briant Jr. and the board of directors. He will continue to serve the association beyond Jan. 1, 2006, as an assistant to the staff.
(This article appears courtesy of “Utility and Transportation Contractor.”)