Sometimes in your pursuit of success you can lose track of the things in life that really matter. Often it takes tragedy for you to stop and take stock in one’s life. Losing two longtime board members this year at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Southeastern Michigan (ABC SEMI) we had much to mourn, but also much to celebrate.

“Dale Belsley and Dave Sheffield would have wanted us to celebrate their lives and contributions to ABC not to mourn their passing,” said ABC SEMI President Keith Ledbetter. “These were two amazing individuals who not only positively impacted their families and companies, but the communities they lived in and the industry they worked in. To say that these two men embodied character and integrity would be an understatement. The impact that they have had in shaping the future of our chapter is felt on our board of directors and visible in the brick and mortar of the walls of our academy and headquarters. The success we enjoy and celebrate today is built on the foundation that both Dale and Dave have laid. For that, ABC SEMI will be eternally grateful.”

Ledbetter believes that it is in part to the inspiring stories shared about our late board members that motivated his board and staff to make that extra effort this year. He has seen his team be the best they could even if only to honor the memories of their colleagues and friends. Ledbetter admits it is not an easy thing to accept and that there will be a void at ABC SEMI, but that it would be a disservice to both not to carry on at the highest level possible.

“Dave and Dale were both very demanding in the quality of work they expected,” said Ledbetter. “But most of all they were demanding of themselves and the role that they played in their families, businesses and at ABC. I for one am a better person for having known them and believe everyone who had the pleasure to work with them gained value in that experience.”

ABC SEMI undertook an ambitious growth plan this year for the Southeast Michigan Construction Academy (SEMCA) with goals to both grow their student body and expand the number of trades offered. Certainly, SEMCA Vice President Mickey Mortimer admits he wants to see the school expand its students, but it must be tempered with adding the “right” mix of trade opportunities to meet the industry demand.

“We are aware that our school is growing almost at an alarming rate,” said Mortimer. “I am proud we had over 450 students and that the school side is a success, but I want to make sure we are not just growing in numbers, but in our curriculum as well. We continue to seek out opportunities to expand our carpentry, HVAC and even plumbing programs. And I feel with the addition of our new Education Director we have created the foundation we needed to proceed with stability and sustainability. I don’t just want us to have a good year this year…but for years to come as well.”

SEMCA Education Director Deanna Morley felt it was important to get their house in order and make sure that they were fiscally and academically sound in moving forward. She is proud that they have not only passed all their audits but have even managed to make needed improvements to their facility while paying off the building.

Dave Sheffield | 1954–2019

“I wanted to make sure that we had done our due diligence in ensuring that we continued to stay compliant and accredited for the foreseeable future,” stated Morley. “That required a team effort to guarantee that all of our documentation was done properly and up-to-date. And that we had an ironclad process in place moving forward to ensure that our program was orderly and seamless as possible.”

SEMCA runs campuses in Madison Heights, Monroe, Adrian, and Lapeer to meet the growing need for education in the trades while making it convenient for students to drive to throughout southeast Michigan. Morley give high marks to Education Services Coordinator Grace Bonventre for keep track of all the various students and making sure any needs they may have regarding their education at SEMCA are met.

“I have to credit Grace and our instructors for the excellent year we are having,” said Morley. “Her day-to-day efforts to make sure our instructors have the tools they need to give our students a world-class education is a crucial piece in our puzzle of success. No one person can make this work—it really does take a team of dedicated individuals to make this happen and I am proud to play my part in our continued achievement.”

Ledbetter points to several accomplishments that validated the success of ABC SEMI on a national level as well: Membership growth, STEP Safety Program growth, Membership Retention and 3-Year Chapter Level Accreditation. In addition, ABC sent the local winning SEMCA student to compete in the National Craft Championship in Long Beach, CA.

In addition, this year, Ledbetter was challenged by the Board with improving ABCs safety of its members and with that in mind hired Kim Gamet to be their on staff Safety Director providing safety training and evaluation to the list of impressive services they offer their members.

“Safety is the key to our Chapter’s growth—it is and has to be priority one for us in addressing concerns our membership has about the future of their companies,” said Ledbetter. “By bringing Kim on board we have made a firm commitment that we take our members and the safety of their employees seriously and want to make sure that they have the access to the training they need to ensure a brighter future for their staff and company.”

Gamet, who is Navy veteran and former law enforcement officer is no stranger to safety with numerous safety officer positions for major industrial and health care facilities—even having several family members serving as safety officers but she has always wanted to make a difference where it would matter most, which led her to ABC.

Dale Belsley | 1954–2019

“I am committed to changing the safety culture of our members here,” said Gamet. “I am so pleased to see so many of our members embracing safety in their own companies and utilizing the services we are offering here at ABC. Safety cannot be something our members do in addition to everything else—it really must be a part of everything they do. I feel like we have only just begun to scratch the surface on safety here and will continue to see our programs and the services we offer grow by leaps and bounds.”

Along with the numerous services offered at ABC SEMI this year, Member Relations Manager, Ashley Weaver, and the events staff put together dozens of events for members to participate in, such as: Excellence in Construction Awards, SEMCA Graduation Gala, Christmas Party, Regional Craft Championship, Clay Shoot, Go-Kart Competition, Planning Conference, and Oktoberfest, to name a few. According to Weaver, it is the networking opportunities that contractors have found to be most valuable in establishing long working relationships among our membership. This year along with building upon the already established Emerging Professional (EP) program, launching the Women in Construction Committee (WICC) and the Student Chapter (SC) was a priority for Weaver to not only recognize the excellent women owned and run companies that make up ABC SEMI but as well provide all members a talent pool with highly educated college students from Lawrence Technological University.

“We provide excellent networking opportunities for our members,” said Weaver. “I am particularly proud this year we were able to launch WICC and SC. We have some incredible women who work in this industry and as owners and operators of some of our strongest companies I thought it was a natural. To learn and share ideas of how to navigate this often male-dominated trades and not only succeed but prosper in business.”

Congratulations to ABC SEMI Board, committee members, staff and instructors in making 2019 another banner year for ABC SEMI.