The Associated General Contractors of Ohio is a commercial construction trade association governed and directed by building contractors. Established in 1970, it is a full service AGC Chapter chartered by the Associated General Contractors of America, the oldest and largest national commercial construction trade association in the United States.
AGC of Ohio’s structure includes seven self-funded, self-governed organizations located in the major metropolitan construction markets throughout the state. Over the years, AGC of Ohio has become a potent force in the Ohio Statehouse, responsible for hundreds of pieces of legislation and achieving a record of excellence representing the construction industry.
AGC of Ohio’s membership consists of general contractors, as well as quality subcontractors and service providers and suppliers. The association is involved in a wide spectrum of construction-related activities: government affairs, economic development, labor relations (servicing collective bargaining and open shop employers), building code, construction safety, group workers’ compensation, EEO and human resources, education, protecting the integrity of the marketplace, workforce development, and more. Providing a unified voice, AGC pulls contractors—large and small, open shop and union—from all regions of the state together for one common goal: to improve the commercial construction industry. AGC members have the opportunity to “rub shoulders” with the best in the construction industry, opening up new horizons and business opportunities. AGC provides a forum to exchange information, helping members raise the bar and obtain unique perspectives that can be applied to their business.
AGC of Ohio membership includes the added value of belonging to AGC of America. Members are encouraged to take advantage of services provided at the state national levels. In addition, we have branched out from our primary purpose of improving labor relations and ensuring our voice is heard politically.
AGC of Ohio has established our successful Education Foundation, which annually awards scholarships to students pursuing degrees in construction. In the interests of our founders, we place safety practices at the forefront of our educational efforts and provide a wealth of information for our members, ranging from regulatory activity, legislation and market information, to EEO and contract documents. And to recognize excellence in commercial building in Ohio, we annually present the Build Ohio awards, to showcase the very best projects of our industry. Established in 1992, our Build Ohio awards program has gained national significance and is a testament to the outstanding work of Ohio’s construction industry.
AGC of Ohio and its members strive to improve the industry by promoting fair practices, working with public and private owners to stimulate construction markets, and providing education and training services undefined all while upholding the core AGC principles of skill, responsibility and integrity.
AGC of Ohio History
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.