‘The American Dream is still very achievable’

Amos McCoy, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., Cumberland Valley Chapter, enjoys “mushroom coffee” in the morning and a Diet Coke in the afternoon.

Amos McCoy, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., Cumberland Valley Chapter

By Mike Lewis

Coffee Break

Amos McCoy has had a hand in building a lot of things, including himself.

“All of my experience is work experience,” he said.

McCoy is the president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., Cumberland Valley Chapter. The organization represents companies and other organizations related to the construction industry. It also offers training classes in the building trades.

McCoy, a graduate of James Buchanan High School in Mercersburg, Pa., said his training has come while working. He spent some time in college, but he moved on.

“I realized I could gain a lot more from getting out and working,” he said. He also had “learned how I learn.”

“My library at home is filled with ‘The Idiots Guide to …’ and ‘The Dummy’s Guide to …’ and all sorts of things,” he said.

McCoy spent years in various leadership roles in the concrete block manufacturing industry, first with Nitterhouse at Chambersburg, Pa., then with Oldcastle, where he managed a plant in the Chicago area, he then led a group of plants in the Eastern Pennsylvania and the New Jersey area for several years.

McCoy was then operations manager for York Building Products, managing all of the company’s manufacturing plants for the past five years before taking the job with ABC a little more than two years ago.

One of ABC’s critical roles is training people.

“Trade and construction skills are going to be highly sought after,” he said.

When he arrived, he said, 89 students were enrolled in the ABC’s Barr Institute. Now there are 120.

“We probably see an additional 400 students through the year” who take classes to update their skills and stay current with changes in technology.

On a break, do you reach for coffee, tea, soda, water …?

Morning breaks you will find me with a cup of mushroom coffee, and in the afternoons I have Diet Coke.

An average day for you includes …?

My daily routine starts around 5:30 a.m. I start my day with a review of the news headlines and a review of my calendar and to-do list. I normally arrive at the office around 7:30 a.m. and get a status update from staff on upcoming committee meetings, board meetings and events. Because I have responsibilities for an educational facility and also a membership organization, my day can have a large variety of items in it, from meetings with local, state and federal elected officials about legislative and policy issues to meetings with prospective students.

Much has been written about the current and future job vacancies in the building trades. What role does your organization play in recruiting and training more people for those positions?

Across the United States we currently have a 500,000-worker shortage just in the construction industry. We expect this number to grow over the next few years to close to 1.2 million open jobs. This shortage is caused by the increasing number of retirements each year, along with additional jobs being created through new infrastructure spending. For every $1 million of new commercial construction spending, we create about six new jobs.

We believe that growing our ABC Apprenticeship program is the best way to combat this shortage of skilled workers. Through working with other organizations and the public school systems over the past two years, we have experienced a 30 percent increase in enrollments, and we expect to see at least that amount of growth over the next two years. We plan to add a satellite location in Cumberland, Md., later this year with several construction training classes to serve that market.

Along with all of the traditional ways of recruiting people into our training programs, we also do a lot of recruiting through the high school vocational programs. Some of the high school vocational and agriculture classes use our nationally recognized curriculum, which allows those students to earn credits toward our standard adult programs while in high school. We also have articulation agreements with several local colleges, with the newest being a partnership with Hagerstown Community College to allow our apprenticeship students to get some college credits while attending our classes.

What do you wish more people knew about ABC of Cumberland Valley and the Barr Training Institute?

The American Dream is still very achievable for any individual through the ABC Apprenticeship Program. Apprenticeship empowers an individual to continue their education, while earning a family-sustaining wage with endless opportunity for growth within the industry. ABC of Cumberland Valley and the Barr Training Institute have been helping people realize the American Dream through our apprenticeships in construction trades since 1958.

The best way I can sum this message up is that we have a 20-year-old student who just bought his own home this year, while his friends that went to a standard four-year college are accruing student debt.

Outside of your career, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

Outside of ABC, I am a Pennsylvania-licensed auctioneer and conduct on average one auction per month. I am also active with several other local organizations. Currently I am serving as the chair of the Western Maryland Work Force Development Board and also serving on the board of a new Hagerstown nonprofit organization called Rise Up Hagerstown. I also play trombone during the summers with the Mercersburg Area Community Band. In my spare time I like to relax by working on projects around our farm with my 5-year-old daughter.