Building Bridges and Paving the Road to Opportunities
September 2009 - Vol 1, Issue 5
|DBE Spotlight - Debra Ricker|
Vice President, L&D Safety Marking Corporation and Worksafe Traffic Control Industries, Incorporated
DBE Connections caught up with Debra Ricker of L&D Safety Marking and Worksafe Traffic Control in Barre. Debra, and her sister Lorena, started L&D in 1985 with a loan co-signed by their father. Twenty-five years later, they have three businesses and sixty-two employees.
Q: How did you get started in the safety industry?
A: In 1985, most road striping was done by paving companies. When the regulations became more stringent, Lorena and I set out to learn the art of striping. The first year was rough - with poor quality, leased equipment and learning on-the-job. Once we made a commitment to staying in business, we were able to buy equipment and hire a crew. We striped roads, installed signs, and learned a lot.
Q: How did Worksafe begin?
After completing a 100-mile turnpike sign installation in Maine, we realized that we could not only install signs, but make them ourselves. We built a 5,000 square foot sign shop for both highway and commercial sign fabrication (a third business, Always on Time Signs, provides commercial signage). We expanded to sell all the equipment one needs in a work zone - cones, paddles, message boards, etc.
Q: Tell us about Smart Work Zones.
A: This is a relatively new area, where we place a queue sensor (the device that collects the traffic information) and video trailers that monitor and measure traffic volume and speed. The vehicle delay time is then calculated and the information is sent to the traveling public through message signs and a web site.
Q: What work have you been doing for VTrans this year?
A: We just finished re-striping all of Interstates 89 and 91. We're just starting the striping of state routes and testing the addition of rumble strips in the road centerline to reduce the incidents of vehicles crossing into oncoming traffic. We will stripe about 80 percent of all the paving work underway this year in Vermont, and we'll upgrade some signage. 94% of L & D's work in Vermont this season is on VTrans projects. We're also working in Maine and New Hampshire.
Q: You have been active with AGC, and you've recently won an award.
A: We won the "AGC Best Builder, Specialty Construction" award for work on the Richmond/South Burlington Interstate-89 Safe Work Zone. I first met the AGC folks in 2000 at a meeting between AGC members and VTrans. It was here that I realized the businesses at the table were my future customers. I was later asked to join the AGC Board of Directors and also served as President.
Q: What advice would you give to new DBE businesses?
A: First, do what you sell. You have to fully understand the nature of your work in order to successfully win contracts. Second, stay active in the DBE program, there are many resources available to you. Third, get involved with local trade organizations, like AGC and VCLT, and national ones as well. Lastly, love your work and make a difference.
Q: What is most rewarding about your work?
A: We really make a difference in people's lives; we get people home safely every day. I participate in the Federal Highway's Strategic Highway Safety Committee in Vermont. Over the past twenty-five years, we have seen a reduction in crashes. This is a very quantifiable way of measuring our success.
|Vermont Women's Transportation Seminar (WTS)|
October 6th from 2:00-4:00pm
National Life Cafeteria
1 National Life Drive
Montpelier, VT 05604
Event Highlights include:
- Panel of current and former female leaders in Vermont's transportation sector to discuss shifting roles, opportunities and experience over time . Panelists include:
Resource Systems Group
L&D Safety Marking
UVM Transportation Research Center
Dir. of Maintenance,
Engineering & Compliance
Burlington International Airport
- Discussion with WTS leaders from the Boston Chapter and National Office with helpful hints on building a successful Vermont Chapter
- Chapter logistics session, including an overview of by-laws, opportunities for leadership, membership and upcoming events.
...as well as refreshments and plenty of opportunity for networking!
Founded in 1977, WTS is an international network that works to create new opportunities to advance the careers of women in transportation. Visit www.wtsinternational.org
for more information.
Call Cassandra Gekas
In the March issue of DBE Connections we reported the late-breaking news that Vermont expected to receive approximately $125.8 million in Stimulus funding for road and bridge work, under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), as well as $5.6 million in Public Transportation funding and $6.2 million for safety improvements to the Knapp Airport in Berlin.
Barely six months later, VTrans has awarded contracts for the first 30 ARRA projects, with an aggregate value of more than $80 million, representing much needed road, bridge, and infrastructure work in communities all over the state, in addition to the airport project. To stay in compliance with the ARRA time requirements, the balance of all ARRA funds will be awarded over the next five months, including approximately two dozen paving, bridge and transportation enhancement projects that will be managed by Vermont towns and municipalities.
This infusion of ARRA funding has significantly increased construction contracting opportunities on VTrans projects for Agency contractors, sub-contractors, suppliers and other vendors. As of late September, VTrans has advertised and/or awarded more than $260 million in federally funded construction projects in 2009, and that figure is expected to exceed $300 million by the end of the calendar year. Compared with approximately $100 million awarded in an average year, the scope of increased contracting opportunities is remarkable.
ARRA is all about job creation and retention, and the VTrans ARRA projects are doing their part to stimulate the local economy. Through the end of August, 3,704 employees have been paid $5.2 million for working over 200,000 job hours on VTrans ARRA projects.
Are DBEs benefiting from all of the additional contracting opportunities and job creation brought about by ARRA? They are in Vermont in a big way. Those DBEs eager to work on VTrans ARRA projects are keeping very busy. DBE participation on ARRA projects to date, as measured by awards and commitments, is running close to 10%, and payments to DBEs on VTrans ARRA projects for the month of August alone exceeded $800,000.
It's not too late to get in on the ARRA opportunities; 2010 promises to be even busier than 2009. There's a wealth of data available if you are hoping to work on some of Vermont's ARRA projects or you just want to track the progress of ARRA projects, locally or nationally. For more information, visit:
|US DOT Bonding Assistant Program Announced|
The US Department of Transportation's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) has announced a new Bonding Assistance Program (BAP) to reimburse small contractors for bonding premiums and fees incurred when competing for, or performing on, transportation infrastructure projects funded by Stimulus Funding (ARRA).
Under this program, DBEs performing on a transportation and infrastructure projects receiving ARRA funding assistance will receive financial bonding fee cost reimbursement. This provision is applicable to a subcontract or prime contract at any tier in the construction project.
|VTrans Staff - David Hoyne|
Q: Tell us about the work of your Section.
A: We are responsible for the oversight of almost all highway, bridge, paving, rail and bike/pedestrian path contracts. Our staff is present fulltime at work sites to continually observe and inspect the work to ensure that projects are built according to specifications. Based on these observations, payments are then made to the contractor.
Q: What advice would you have for contractors to make sure that the projects run smoothly?
A: It is crucial that contractors understand the contract documents. These include special provisions, general provisions, supplemental specifications, plans, and the specification book. The language isn't easy, but in order to bid and successfully complete work, contractors must be well versed in this language.
Q: What makes a successful contractor?
A: We look for companies with a good reputation in the field and the ability to deliver a quality job on time. Contractors must know what is expected of them, do it right the first time, and be prepared for the work.
Q: Are there opportunities for small contractors with the Stimulus Bill?
A: Absolutely. This year we will spend about 25 percent more on construction contracts than last; next year closer to 50 percent more. Prime contractors will be looking for subs that can be on the job sites when and where they are needed. Scheduling is very important for contractors working to progress several projects simultaneously.
Q: Is there help available to contractors?
A: Yes. We have many experienced people who know the process inside and out. We encourage subs to first talk to the prime contractor, then the VTrans Resident Engineers, and lastly our VTrans Regional Engineers or other support staff. Any of these folks can walk someone through the process. It's important to be proactive and understand the process as early in the project as possible.
Q: Is highway construction a dangerous business?
A: Yes, but it doesn't have to be. Compliance with VOSHA regulations is a normal part of running a successful business. Our contractors are required to have a "competent person" in charge of the operation to assure worker safety. The other part of safety that we are very concerned about is the traveling public. It's very important for everyone to pay attention in work zones, read the construction warning signs and give their undivided attention when traveling through a work zone by turning off all electronic devices and following the instructions of the traffic control officers.
|Partner Spotlight: Associated General Contractors of Vermont (AGC/VT)|
Associated General Contractors of Vermont (AGC/VT)
Since 1961, AGC/VT has represented the interests of Vermont's construction industry professionals through advocacy, safety education, workforce and career readiness, and networking. Today AGC/VT has more than 140 active members, including many highway construction contractors and DBEs.
AGC/VT develops and delivers industry specific training in two broad areas: Safety Training, including OSHA compliance, Roadway Safety and First Aid, and Workforce and Career Readiness, from Blueprint Reading to Supervisory Training, and everything in-between, such as Carpentry, Scaffolding Erection, Building Concrete Forms, Surveying, and Site Layout. Although classes are offered statewide, much of the training takes place in Montpelier at AGC/VT's Northeast Regional Training Academy (NERSA), a state of the art facility with more than 10,000 square feet of training space filled with all kinds of safety apparatus and equipment.
Since 2004 the VTrans Office of Civil Rights and Labor Compliance has partnered with AGC-VT on a wide range of outreach, training, and workforce development initiatives designed to meet our common goals of recruiting and training a diverse pool of workers, with particular emphasis on workplace safety, accountability, tolerance and respect.
For the past six years, VTrans and AGC/VT have teamed up to offer a comprehensive two-week Heavy Equipment Training Program. Each class is made up of 20 - 24 participants, about one-half women and minorities, who are given 80 hours of training on 12 pieces of equipment. AGC/VT provides the on-site training and VTrans provides the support services and follow-up with participants, which makes for a very strong collaboration that insures participants' success. This award winning program (see accompanying photo) has been hailed as a national model for its strong curriculum.
In 2008, VTrans partnered with AGC-VT for the second year of the Step Up to Highway Construction Program. VTrans also helps to sponsor AGC-VT's annual Construction Career Days, which introduces 500-600 Tech Center students to the often overlooked, exciting, and lucrative career opportunities in the industry, through hands-on, interactive workshops. This year's event will be held on October 7th from 8:30-1:30 at the AGC/VT NERSA facility in Montpelier. For more information, please visit AGC's website
|Women's Economic Opportunity Conference|
October 17, 2009 at VTC in Randolph, Vermont.
Registration is now open for this year's conference
This free event will have workshops that focus on the many aspects of running a business, like marketing and enhancing a firm's productivity, as well as on sharpening specific personal skills that aid in gaining employment, like resume writing. Some workshops will help you manage stress, while others can help you build personal strategies for financial success. The presenters are an excellent resource in supplementing both your career and your life, and they exemplify the contributions women make to Vermont's business sector.
Include your NAME, BUSINESS NAME, ADDRESS, PHONE NUMBER, WORKSHOP CHOICES and EMAIL ADDRESS (optional).
|Welcome New DBEs|
ACE Computers Center Inc
2160 Kingston Ct Suite A
Marietta, GA 30067
Phone Number: (678) 819-5681 Phone Number: (678) 819-5681
Scope: Sales of computer hardware, Software Development, Software Sales
Phone Number: (301) 683-2112 Fax Number: (240) 465-0653
AED Advanced Engineering Design
Reginald Waters / Terrence Brown
6525 Belcrest Road Suite 526
Hyattsville, MD 21401
E-mail: email@example.com WebSite: www.aedworld.com
Scope: Multi-discipline engineering and information technology
Fletch's Sandblasting & Painting, Inc
52 Shirking Road
Epping, NH 03042
Phone Number: (603) 679-3400 Fax Number: (603) 679-3465
Scope: Commercial & Industrial Sandblasting, Painting, Deleading, Interim Demo, Fleet Maintenance, Heavy Equipment Refinish.
71 Spit Brook Road Suite 410
Nashua, NH 03060-5636
Phone Number: (603) 888-0516 Fax Number: (866) 779-7952
Scope: Consultant Specializing in, Engineering Consulting, Program Management and Acquisition Management.
PO Box 65
White River Jct, VT 05001
Phone Number: (802) 649-2718 Fax Number: (603) 643-9053
Scope: Landscape Architecture, Transportation Design, Community Planning, and Urban & Village Design
R2M Building Products, Inc
Rae Marie Mattis
PO Box 22910
Rochester, NY 14692
Phone Number: (585) 241-3220 Fax Number: (585) 241-3224
Scope: Supplier Paints and Industrial Coatings, Painting Contractor
120 Industrial Park Road
Hingham, MA 02043
Phone Number: (781) 749-6802 Fax Number: (781) 749-2654
Scope:Paving Contractor, Pavement Maintenance Services for Repairing ad Maintaining Roads, Bridges, Airport Surfaces and Parking Facilities
|Computer Training Opportunities for DBEs|
REMINDER . . .DBE firms can now take advantage of computer training opportunities. As part of our continued Supportive Services we are now able to offer free training in Adobe Professional and MS Office products; Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint Levels I, II, and III. Please contact Colleen Montague
for further information.
October 6, 2009
Women in Transportation Seminar Fall Meeting (read more)
2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
US Small Business Administration (SBA)
9AM-10AM OR Noon - 1PM
1:00 p.m.- 3:00 p.m. Agency of Transportation, Montpelier, VT
|October 17, 2009
Women's Economic Opportunity Conference (read more)
8:00 a.m. - 3:15 p.m.
New DBE Goals for FFY 2010
Please be advised that in accordance with 49 CFR Part 26, the Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) has established proposed overall goals on all federal-aid contracts for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Participation for Fiscal Year 2010, as follows:|
Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Goal:
In FY 2010, VTrans intends to expend 4.0% of the Federal financial assistance received from FHWA with small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (DBEs). It is the intent of VTrans that this expenditure be obtained through a race and gender neutral program. On our FHWA-assisted contracts, VTrans estimates that, in meeting our overall goal of 4.0%, we will obtain 3.0% from race-neutral participation and 1% through race-conscious measures.
Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Goal:
In FY 2010, VTrans intends to expend 3.94% of the federal financial assistance received from the Federal Transit Administration with small business concerns owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals (DBEs). It is the intent of VTrans that this expenditure be obtained through a race and gender neutral program. On our FTA-assisted contracts, VTrans estimates that we will meet our entire overall goal of 3.94% through race-neutral participation, and that we will not have to resort to race-conscious measures.
For more detailed description of our goal setting methodology:
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After a small hiatus due to an extremely busy construction season we are back again with this our 5th issue.
The focus of our next issue will be on the importance of communication and PR. Please email
me with suggestions, ideas and any questions for future issues.
"Laughter is an instant vacation" Milton Berle
Colleen Montague ●DBE Program Manager ● Vermont Agency of Transportation
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ● Tel: (802) 828-2715