As we look back on the growth of AGC of Ohio, it becomes very clear:
In the 1960s, Ohio’s commercial building contractors faced challenging political and labor issues across the state – but companies were organized in regional chapters and tried to fight their battles separately. A statewide Associated General Contractors of America chapter, The Ohio Contractors Association, was in existence, but represented only heavy and highway contractors.
As conflicts continued, it became evident that each division of contractors would be far more successful in achieving their goals if they implemented their initiatives collectively. Initially, a group called the Ohio Council of AGC Chapters formed to address labor concerns and to coordinate legislative efforts across the state. But it would become clear that a stronger, more organized group was needed.
E. Grant Hesser, 91, and one of AGC of Ohio’s founding fathers, when interviewed in 2010 reflected on the sentiment at the time. “There was lots of talk about getting a much better position in the legislation in Ohio,” Hesser said. “Our group of separate folks was having difficulty.” Hesser, a Lifetime Director of AGC of America and one of the founders of the American Council on Construction Education, was a strong advocate of companies working together. “You have a much better opportunity of getting together with your peers,” he said. “And I never went to an AGC convention where I didn’t get one or two thoughts about running my company better.”
Hesser, a Lifetime Director of AGC of America and one of the founders of the American Council on Construction Education, was a strong advocate of companies working together.
Hesser, who at the time was employed by the Charles V. Maescher and Co., founded in 1893, was actively involved with Allied Construction Industries in Cincinnati (the first AGC chapter in Ohio). When he teamed up with Central Ohio AGC President T.C. Fitzpatrick of Elford, Inc., founded in 1910 in Columbus, the Associated General Contractors of Ohio was underway.
T. C. Fitzpatrick, who served as AGC of Ohio’s first President, echoed Hesser’s comments. “We would go to annual (AGC of America) conventions and meet each other there,” Fitzpatrick said. “We knew that if we wanted to be a force politically, we needed to get together.”
When asked why he was selected as the first AGC of Ohio President, he chuckled. “These fellows (throughout the divisions) were all prominent in their own cities,” Fitzpatrick said. “To tell you the truth, I don’t know why they picked me.”
He did note that the new association wanted easy access for all the chapters to the state legislature. Selecting a leader from a company in Columbus was an obvious choice. Others who worked very closely with Hesser and Fitzpatrick to establish the new trade association included A. J. P. “Rig” Martini from Martini Construction Co. in Cleveland; William A. Ferris of Ferris Construction Co. in Cleveland and Parker Garwick, owner of Garwick and Ross General Contractors in Columbus.
AGC of Ohio would formally receive its charter from AGC of America in 1971. Frank Aquilina was appointed AGC of Ohio’s first Executive Director. He would serve in the association until 1974. Edwin Freeman would follow in 1975, and helped to guide the organization until his retirement in 1991. Rich Hobbs took the helm in 1991, and continues today as Executive Vice President of the association.