Breaking News from NSSGA’s Annual Convention

Michael W. Johnson, IOM, NSSGA president and CEO, welcomed NSSGA members to the 2018 Annual Convention on Sunday, March 4. During the Opening General Session, Johnson challenged attendees to take lessons learned from the convention to improve their own skills and businesses, and become advocates for Infrastructure for America.

NSSGA unveiled a new website,, that helps people communicate directly with their representatives on Capitol Hill and advocate for a long-term, sustainably-funded infrastructure bill.

“We are going to be out in force as an industry as never before, and we want to equip you to do the job back home. In between here and the Legislative & Policy Forum, we have to make sure we’re engaging with our members of Congress; from the C-Suite, to staff at all levels of a company and their family and communities. We want Congress to hear, loud and clear, about the importance of investing in infrastructure,” said Johnson.

“We have a President in the White House who understands that the way to get this economy going again is to build. When we’re building, as a country, those are our best times,” said Johnson.

‘Are you the captain your crew would choose to lead?’

Captain Michael Abrashoff, former Naval Commander & Author of It’s Your Ship, gave the opening keynote of the 2018 NSSGA Convention. He talked about what it took to turn around the performance of the U.S.S. Benfold, one of the lowest performing ships in the U.S. Navy when he took command.. By the time he left his command, the ship had won multiple awards, including the Spokane Trophy as the highest performing ship in the Pacific Fleet. The crew set a record that still stands today for the highest gunnery score in the Navy, scoring 104.4 points out of a possible 105.

To change the culture, Captain Abrashoff met with each crew member, 310 in all, individually. He turned the military hierarchy upside down. “I don’t care what your age is or what your rank is. You can come into work every day and challenge 240 years of rules and regulations, and if you have an idea that can improve something even 1 percent, I want to hear from you. I want to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we were today,” he said.

Retention rate on the ship was 8 percent before Abrashoff took the helm. He set a goal to retain one extra sailor each month by meeting with sailors nine months out from the day they could reassign or leave the Navy. “If you’re ever surprised is a person leaves, ask yourself if I was as engaged with them as I could have been,” he said. Soon, the ship’s retention rate was almost 100 percent and the ship was awarded the Navy’s Golden Anchor for highest retention rate in the Navy.

Advocating together for the industry

Leaders from NSSGA, the National Ready Mix Concrete Association and Portland Cement Association discussed legislative and regulatory matters that affect the many aspects of the construction materials industries.

Jeff Davis, editor of Transportation Weekly and a senior fellow at the Eno Center for Transportation, highlighted the challenges involved with tackling infrastructure on the heels of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. “We had hoped that infrastructure would be one of the very first legislative items in the Trump Administration,” Davis said. “However, Congress decided to attempt healthcare reform, followed by tax cuts. The tax cuts added $1.5 trillion to the deficit, which makes proposing another $1.5 trillion outlay for infrastructure difficult to pass.”

Laura O’Neill-Kaumo, NSSGA senior vice president of government and regulatory affairs, was optimistic about Congress passing an infrastructure bill in the lame duck session. She stressed that members of Congress need to hear from constituents that infrastructure investment is important to creating jobs back home.

Up next for NSSGA members

NSSSGA’s Country Concert, tours of CEMEX and Vulcan operations and a bi-annual Board of Directors meeting highlight the many activities ahead for the second day of NSSGA’s 2018 Annual Convention. For a full list of committee meetings and other Annual Convention activities, visit

Get the app!

Schedule meetings, get real-time updates and find exhibitors on the AGG1 Academy & Expo floor with the NSSGA Connect app. It is available on the App Store and Google Play. Enter the code rock18 to access this year’s schedule and content once the app is downloaded.

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