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Constructions workers, contractors trade talk at showcase

April 20, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - About 150 construction workers were expected to trade their hard hats and hammers for business cards and ties at an annual get-together Thursday of subcontractors and commercial builders.

Despite a slowdown in the housing building market, contractors said they have been busy.

"It's strong, it's still strong and it's getting stronger," said Joan L. Warner, president of the Cumberland Valley chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors Inc., which sponsored the General Contractors Showcase at Four Points Sheraton.

Cumberland Valley chapter chairman M. James Rock said he thinks commercial construction still is feeling the reverberations of the housing boom.

"I think part of that is the housing market did so well the past two or three years, we're still feeling the effects," Rock said. He said he expected the commercial market will remain strong.

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Warner said she expected more than 150 people for Thursday evening's event at Four Points Sheraton. Beside subcontractors looking for jobs, Warner said, architects and suppliers also could be expected to make the rounds of tables featuring information about individual contractors.

"We've been really busy, and the work's just picking up now," said Ryan Beaudry, who works in the marketing department of Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. Inc.

At a booth set up by Safety Environmental Engineering, Inc., or SEE, safety consultant Sam Hatcher told how he ordered a young man out of a ditch just before it collapsed.

"Because I got him out of there, I probably saved his life. Those are the things we see," said Hatcher, who witnessed accidents in his career in construction. Three years ago, he became a safety consultant.

Hatcher said most large contractors hire safety-consulting firms like SEE to spot possible safety violations, so they can be corrected before accidents happen or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issues fines.

Hatcher said the headquarters of SEE, which employs about eight or nine people, recently moved from northern Virginia to Keedysville.

Debra J. Zarfoss, of Debra's Glass Inc. in Dallastown, Pa., said events like Thursday's present important opportunities for meeting new people and finding out about projects, but she expressed some disappointed about the turnout.

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