Business, Politics, and Engineering at this Year’s ACEC Annual Convention

Posted on Wednesday, May 2nd, 2018 by
In Industry Trends, tagged in
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Two weeks ago, I was at the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) Annual Convention in Washington D.C. During the three days I spent in the capitol, I spoke with business owners and legislators about issues the engineering industry is facing. Below, you’ll find my highlights from the trip, as well as key takeaways on our country’s current climate.

As the ACEC Kansas national director, I attended the leadership breakfast for our region on the first day. At this event, chapters provide membership updates, as well as advocacy successes and rising challenges affecting their members. I also went to the national board meeting where the board receives an update about the national organization and legislative initiatives.

That same day, I participated in the small firm CEO roundtable, which is one of my favorite events at the conference each year. Fellow leaders from A/E companies with less than 50 employees discuss hot topics they are dealing with inside their businesses. We covered company culture, collections, tax changes, federal agencies using their staff to provide engineering services to state and local agencies that have traditionally come out to consultants, IT, ownership transition, and drones and scanning.

For me, the lunch general session on the second day was the highlight of the 2018 convention. Steve Schmidt, a Republican Political Strategist with a moderate leaning and Tucker Carlson, a conservative commentator with FOX News discussed “National Politics in the Age of Trump.” Surprisingly, they both agreed more often than not about why US politics is where it is and the reasons for it.

Here are some interesting facts and comments from their session:

  • The US middle class became the minority in 2015. America is made up of the haves and have nots.
  • For the first time ever, the life expectancy of 40-49-year-old, middle class men has declined this year.
  • “People in power double down when they feel they are losing their power,” said Carlson
  • “Every generation for the last 200-plus years has been entrusted with preserving the Union. Our greatest inheritance is to be an American,” said Schmidt.
  • “The people in charge don’t pay attention to those that elected them,” said Carlson.
  • Change will occur when a leader emerges that can answer this question. “What unites a country of 325 million people?” Division and divisiveness are not unifying.

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On my final day at ACEC, Kansas members took to “The Hill” for meetings with the state delegation. I was able to attend the meeting with Congressman Estes’s staff, Senator Moran and his staff, and Congressman Yoder’s staff. We discussed transportation funding and fixing the Highway Trust Fund, reauthorization of the water resources program, and contracting out engineering services instead of growing government.

Did you attend the ACEC Annual Convention this year? What were your favorite takeaways?

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