With a virtual gavel-passing ceremony Tuesday, David Howard, CEO of Koss Construction Co., became the 57th Chairman of the ACPA Board of Directors. ACPA 2020 Chairman Greg McCormick, Northern Improvement Co., passed the gavel and credited David for his work with the CP Tech Center, ACPA membership development, concrete pavement promotion, and his role in leading a full-scale restructuring of ACPA committees.

After accepting the gavel, David spoke to more than 500 annual meeting participants, saying, “With this gavel now firmly in my hands, I have one overriding, current matter on my agenda as the 2021 ACPA Board Chair. I want to express to the membership my sincere appreciation for the job Greg has done this year,” he said, adding, “It’s been a tough year and it was truly a pleasure getting to know Greg and working with him.” In recognition of Greg’s service as 2020 Chairman, David then cued a surprise video tribute to Greg, the fourth-generation leader of Northern Improvement.

David then described how Koss Construction Company has a long history with ACPA, adding that the company was one of nine founding members of ACPA in 1963. Koss Construction, he said, has a long history with leadership, George C. Koss was on the original board and served as the 3rd ACPA Chairman in 1966. David’s predecessor, Don Beuerlein, was the ACPA Board Chairman in 1997. He added only one other company, Ballenger Co. (later Ballenger Paving Div., APAC-Georgia, Inc.), another founding member of the Association, has had three ACPA Chairs.

“Koss holds a unique leadership position within the Association,” David said, adding, “Personally, for me there is some symmetry that I will Chair the ACPA Board of Directors in 2021. When I was interviewing with Ray Michel [the second President of Koss Construction Co.] in the late 1980s, I remember apologizing to him that I had a little concrete under my fingernails. I had just come from working with the Iowa State University concrete laboratory. Needless to say, Ray Michel’s eyes lit up at that point and it didn’t take me long out on concrete paving projects with Koss Construction Company across the Midwest to understand the glint in Ray’s eyes; he had a young engineer who liked working with concrete.”

“Our industry is an industry of opportunity,” David continues.  “It is a fact that bright, hard-working people find success in this industry.”

“After 32-plus years in the industry–in the concrete pavement contracting business–and 16 years as President and CEO of Koss Construction, I have this year begun a transition. Tim Gerhardt has been brought on as the new President of Koss Construction, and I know pretty well what Tim’s job will entail in the coming years, but I have a little less certainty for what comes next for me, and I must tell you I’m enjoying that immensely.”

“I’m looking forward to this opportunity and I thank all of the members for their support of this association,” he said. “I guarantee you that 2021 will be a year of change for our industry and for the association. They say that whatever happens after the pandemic will be the new normal, and whatever that new normal is, we will look forward to the challenges. We anticipate changes coming in Washington, DC. An optimist would note that both the incoming president, just like the outgoing president, and the US House of Representatives, want to double funding for infrastructure. We do have, however, a US Senate that has refused to do anything significant on highway funding for well over a decade now. There are still two seats up for election in January, so there is hope for a robust funding measure, legislation coming out of Congress to replace the last highway bill that expired last September.”

“I know when George C. Koss testified before Congress as the Interstate Highway Act of 1956 was being debated, the Senators had one question over and over that they were asking our industry, and it was, ‘Could we do it?’ It’s serious business when Congress enacts legislation to get something done. They want to see it get done, and I think most of us would agree that our industry and the highway industry in general, have been underfunded for the past couple of decades. While we know we can do more, and ramping up quickly is certainly within our ability, we need to be certain we have the tools when the time comes.”

As examples of these tools, he cites workforce development, specialized equipment, manufacturing lead times, material supplies, and logistics. He also emphasized the importance of having industry leaders who can quickly address specification, design, and construction problems at the state and federal level.

“ACPA was created in 1963 by a group of concrete pavers because they were ramping up to deliver the Interstate highway program, but they needed help with these very same measures,” David said. “Do not ever underestimate how important this Association will be to your business when times of rapid change arise. Much groundwork has already been laid, but there is always more to do. We will be three years into the promotion plan, this will help us be ready for an increased program. At a time where state DOTs are under immense budget pressure, it is important that we have the expertise to advocate our products to these owners and agencies.”