Construction ethics award celebrates 10th anniversary

The construction business is no longer perceived as a commodity industry, but rather as a service industry, according to one longtime construction writer and newsletter publisher who took it upon himself nearly a decade ago to begin acknowledging those who have nurtured this evolution through their own dedication to providing a high quality product in an ethical manner.

The 10th recipient of the New Hampshire Construction Industry Ethics Award will be named in March, marking a milestone in the Granite State’s construction industry. Introduced in 1997 by David W. “Woody” Wood of Deering, the award has been given each year to an industry member – an individual or business – who has demonstrated high values in the delivery of product and service.

“What’s important is that this entity has taken an action or pattern of actions that exemplify the highest level of integrity and adherence to ethical behavior involving construction,” said Wood, who now publishes newsletters for over 100 construction-related companies throughout the United States and Canada. “I knew the majority of contractors were good people and I thought something needed to be done to counter all the bad publicity the industry was receiving. Giving out an award seemed like a good idea.”

And so far, the impact of the award on the recipient has been just what Wood had hoped for.

“This Ethics Award has acquired a good deal of prestige, and that pleases me — that’s what I hoped would happen,” said Wood. “The people that have received it got some good PR, they deserve it.”

Bill Clark, vice president of Turnstone Corp., a general contracting company owned by his daughter, Stacy Clark, found the recognition humbling, but encouraging.

“This award has done a lot to boost the desire of contractors to do a good job and increase their ethics,” said Clark, who was the first to be recognized with the award. “I believe there are a lot of good people out there that do a good job, and it’s good that they’re being recognized. They deserve it.”

As far as the industry goes, Wood likes to think the award has done its small part in nurturing the changes he believes are currently taking place.

“The business community has a better image of construction today than it did 10 years ago, and maybe part of it is that we’ve had some impact just by talking about it and getting it out there.”

Once victim to a “low-bid” mentality, Wood sees New Hampshire’s construction industry as having evolved into a service industry in which the public and government officials are more willing to pay for a job well done and less likely to offer jobs to the least expensive contractor.

“We now have contractors and owners working together, we’re seeing more of a partnership mentality. We’re seeing more negotiated work now,” Wood said. “We’re moving back to a quality-based method where people and businesses would rather pay more knowing they will receive a better product delivered with better service. In response we’re seeing better behavior on the part of the industry.”

Wood cited a decrease in the practice of “bid-shopping” – taking a job quote from one person or company and presenting it to another with an invitation to beat the price – as an example of improvements he’s seeing in industry practices.

Besides the changing industry, “one of the most satisfying things about giving this award is knowing that the $9,000 that we’ve given out so far has really done some good,” said Wood who has long-since excused himself from the selection process to avoid any conflicts of interest.

To date, annual donations have been made to fund vocational scholarships, support area YMCAs, Boys and Girls Clubs and youth camps and to help one local fire department purchase thermal imaging equipment.

“Knowing that the money did something good for someone in my name was nice,” said Clark, who used his donation to fund a technical scholarship. “It’s good that someone else can benefit.”

To date, award recipients have included Leighton White of Leighton A. White Inc., Milford; Mark and Rick Charbonneau of Continental Paving, Londonderry; Jim Morrill of Morrill Construction, North Haverhill; Tom Avallone of Cobb Hill Construction, Concord; Jack McDevitt Jr. of McDevitt Trucks, Manchester; Levi Ladd of L.K. Ladd, Concord; Samuel Audley of R.S. Audley Inc., Bow; William Walker of The MacMillin Company, Keene; and Bill Clark of Clark Masonry (now with Turnstone Corporation), Milford.

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