The NDA’s incoming executive director and outgoing president share their perspectives on today’s demolition activity and how a new leader can help to build upon a legacy.
When Cheryl Caulfield recently took the leadership position as executive director of the National Demolition Association (NDA), she filled the shoes of a leader 25 years in the making.
For more than two decades, Mike Taylor led the trade group, then based in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Caulfield says Taylor helped to evolve the NDA, which started out with just a small number of active charter members, into a global trade organization with more than 800 member companies. Taylor retired from the position at the end of 2014 after 25 years of service.
Caulfield, a seasoned executive who brings more than 20 years’ experience to the demolition association, says she plans to build upon Taylor’s legacy for the short term by getting to know each and every member. For the long term, she foresees broadening the services the association offers to its members.
Furthering the transition, the NDA announced in October 2014 that SmithBucklin Corp., with offices in Chicago and the District of Columbia, is its new management company.
Caulfield and NDA outgoing President Jeff Kroeker, of Fresno, California-based Kroeker Inc., share their perspectives on today’s demolition activity, from a growing number of environmental regulations to the positive outlook for the U.S. construction industry and its effects on demolition. NDA Vice President Peter Banks of CEI Boston LLC, Norfolk, Massachusetts, is set to replace Kroeker as president at NDA’s Demolition 2015 Convention & Expo in Nashville, Tennessee, March 21-24.
Caulfield also discusses how she intends to continue the successes of the NDA as well as involving more professionals in the association’s activities.
Construction & Demolition Recycling (C&DR): How will your background of more than 20 years of association experience help you to serve as the new NDA executive director?
Cheryl Caulfield (CC): There are some aspects of my new job as the executive director of the NDA that are common to managing any association: advocating for a group of people within a certain industry; providing valuable education to help them do their jobs better and more profitably; growing the ranks of membership; planning and executing meetings of all types and sizes; and acting with fiscal prudence on behalf of a trade organization.
My background as president and CEO of the American Bearing Manufacturers Association brings me into contact with professionals who work in a less well-known segment of American industry.
C&DR: What kind of legacy did your predecessor, Mike Taylor, leave for the organization and how do you plan on continuing that legacy and building upon it?
CC: Mike helped build the NDA from a small number of charter members to a global trade organization with more than 800 member companies, which represent close to 85 percent of gross sales in the demolition industry. He was responsible for fostering our key initiatives of environmental stewardship, disaster response and safety and health education.
I plan on building upon that legacy by first capitalizing on the deep well of expertise and professional services the NDA now has on-hand to help grow the association to new heights.
Secondly, I hope to empower the members of the NDA to take the reins of the organization and drive it in a dynamic direction in the years ahead. Our members volunteer their incredible talents and precious time to the organization, which represents their specific needs. NDA members are enthused about getting more deeply involved and driving the association to new levels of success. I hope that will be part of my legacy.
C&DR: What goals do you have in your new position for both the short and long term (one-5 years, 5-10 years)?
CC: For the short term, I plan on getting to know each and every member. Member after member tells us that the first time they got truly involved in the NDA was the moment they realized how much the NDA has to offer them.
I will be reaching out to inactive members and encouraging them to get more involved. We’re going to be inviting them to come to one or two board meetings that are held four times a year in different parts of the country and of course, invite them to come to the annual NDA Demolition Convention & Expo. Speaking of which, this year’s convention offers the most comprehensive education conference in the industry. Attendees will achieve measurable results in heightened asset performance, increased ROI (return on investment), profitability and efficiency at every level by staying ahead of the curve with the latest industry trends and developments.
For the long term, my goal is to broaden the services we offer our members. We’d like to bring more companies “into the tent” that are not strictly demolition contractors. We invite general contractors, leaders of recycling and salvaging businesses and landfill operators—anyone involved in the demolition process—to join. Together we can all make a major impact where it’s needed.
C&DR: What are the most pressing legislative or regulatory issues affecting the demolition industry and what is the NDA doing to address them?
Jeff Kroeker (JK): Among the most pressing issues affecting the demolition industry is the growing number of environmental regulations that affect our industry, regulating any number of things happening on the job site. Since the NDA was founded, we have established an excellent relationship with the EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) and have worked in tandem with them to help evaluate and regulate areas of environmental concern in areas that directly affect our industry. We are going to strengthen our advocacy work in the years ahead, stay on top of regulations aimed at protecting the safety of demolition workers and the general public and continue to push local, state and federal agencies to include qualified demolition contractors in their emergency response teams.
C&DR: In what ways will the extension of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) building rating system benefit demolition contractors in the next year and a half?
JK: A growing number of NDA members work on projects where the owner or developer is going for LEED certification. A project can earn points by repurposing or recycling nearly all of the concrete debris generated. Many have the necessary equipment—crushers, screens and portable plants—to handle this work. What’s typically done is the contractor crushes the concrete into gravel, which is reused as pipe bedding, structural fill or a sub-base layer for roads and building foundations. I should point out that the vast majority of our member companies—even those not involved in LEED projects—are already recycling up to 80 percent of the debris from demolition.
C&DR: Construction activity certainly affects the demolition industry, what is your forecast for the upcoming year related to the two?
JK: Since demolition market activity is linked so closely to the construction market activity, it’s more than fair to say when the construction industry is up, our industry follows suit. The majority of NDA member companies handle commercial and industrial projects versus residential, so we can look at forecasts for those two segments of the construction industry. According to a report just issued by New York City-based Dodge Data and Analytics forecasting activity in 2015 (“Construction Industry to See More Balanced Growth in 2015”), overall, the U.S. construction market will grow by 9 percent, a larger improvement of the expected 5 percent gain in 2014. The commercial building segment will have the largest rise, with an increase of 15 percent. Institutional building, which could cover schools and health care facilities, will advance 9 percent, according to Dodge. Anecdotally, I can tell you that nearly all of our members are reporting business (with the exception of the scrap market) is doing very well and most are optimistic they’ll reach prerecession levels in the next few years.
C&DR: As NDA’s president, what advice do you have for your members based on your vantage point in the industry?
JK: My advice is to “stay the course,” as President Reagan often said. While doing so, they need to look at professional education and development as an essential part of their businesses. The NDA is offering a preconference workshop before our convention this year. The topic is minimizing risk in all aspects of planning a job. Our educational webinars held throughout the year can help members realize their training objectives.
I also advise those members who have not yet taken a very close look at the new technologies that are available to our industry to start now. These technologies, systems and project management tools are helping those in our industry increase our margins and raise our efficiency. I also strongly suggest they get more involved in the NDA to take advantage of networking with others in the industry who are experiencing the same challenges they are.
C&DR: For those who are in the industry, but not NDA members, how would they benefit from becoming members?
JK: As one of our members recently said, how could you ever consider not being a member of the premier trade group that represents your industry? Membership is inextricably linked to his company’s success, he said. Belonging to the NDA gives a professional firsthand knowledge from his peers and the chance to network with the “best of the best.” Members get access to invaluable educational materials through our members-only portal. They can share best practices and stay up to date with industry news. They can heighten their visibility and brand themselves as a member of the premier trade association.
The respondents are executive director and president, respectively, of the National Demolition Association (NDA), www.demolitionassociation.com.