Monthly Archive for July, 2009

Former Owner of Construction Digest Passes Away

Johnston, Fred G. Jr.

Fred Gordon Johnston, Jr. age 85, passed away on July 16, 2009, from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was born on August 16, 1923, to Fred and Anna Shea Johnston. Many knew him as Gordon. Fred was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Juanita Jane Nichols of 60 years, his parents, brother, Jerry Johnston, and brother-in-law, William Howard. Fred is survived by his two daughters, Susan Barber (Mark) and Sally White; and son, Fred Johnston III (Monica).

He will be forever loved and missed by his grandchildren, Ashley and Scott, Joseph, Mathew and John Michael and David. His sister, Mary Anne Howard also survives him. He has two surviving brother-in-laws, Donald and Jerry Nichols, as well as many nieces and nephews.

Fred attended Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Michael Church, and St. Luke Catholic Church. Fred was one of the founders of “Jolly 22 Club” which consisted of 22 male friends from Our Lady of Lourdes Grade School. The husbands and wives still get together. His class of 1944 from Cathedral High School has luncheons frequently. He was former secretary of Cathedral High School Alumni Association.

He enrolled in the Navy V-12 program at Notre Dame to receive his officer’s commission in the United States Navy during World War II and served on the USS Oklahoma. After serving over 3 ½ years, he returned to Butler University for his Bachelor of Science Degree.

Fred had an outstanding and distinguished career both in business and in politics. After entering his father’s publishing business, “Construction Digest”, he became president. He started Allied Publications in 1975 and expanded his publishing firm to include trucking and mining across the country. He served for 20 years as President of Associated Construction Publications and was a member of that organization for 50 years.

He served on the City-County Board of Ethics since the start of the board. Fred was also a board member of Greater Indianapolis Republican Finance Committee. Fred served as coach throughout his son’s entire length of playing baseball at Ransburg. He was also his football coach. His greatest enjoyment was spending time with family and friends at endless get-togethers. He was most fulfilled when he was helping people and everyone was having a good time. Fred loved to spend time with his grandchildren. His favorite hobbies were fishing and playing bridge with friends.

On behalf of our dad and grandpa, we cannot express in words how much we all appreciated the outstanding care and compassion he received from everyone at Sunrise in Carmel. He truly loved each and every one of you. You always made him feel very special since the day he arrived at Sunrise. You put a smile on his face especially when you announced it was time for his meals. Also, a very special thank you goes out to the wonderful nurses at St. Vincent Hospital and St. Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital. You made his last days very comfortable and for that, we will always be grateful.

You may be gone, Dad, but you will always remain in our memories and in our hearts forever. We love you, and you will be deeply missed by everyone. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Riley Children’s Foundation, 30 S. Meridian St., Suite 200, Indianapolis, IN 46204-4474.

Fred made and left his mark on the construction industry. Construction Digest and the ACPs continue to publish magazines serving the industry. Many of the contractors who read these publications will remember Fred and want to include him in their thoughts and prayers.

Fred you will be missed and you will remembered by your many industry friends.

Greg Sitek

Associated Construction Publications Return Better Than Ever

The Associated Construction Publications had been covering the domestic construction industry for more that a century when they were put into retirement earlier this year. Fortunately, John White, president and owner of Building Excellence in Design and Construction, acquired thirteen of the magazines and is in the process of putting them back the readers’ hands. The following is the press release announcing the return of the ACPs as they are called:

INDIANAPOLIS – The Associated Construction Publications (ACP), is under new management. John White, former owner of several of the ACP regional magazines, has assembled a strong team to reestablish ACP’s as the voice for local and regional construction communities. In late July, Construction Digest and New England Construction made their debut in the new tabloid sized format. The other magazines will follow in the next two months. In addition to the new size and updated graphics, the ACP magazines will be in full color. Advertisers will no be charged extra to run color ads.

White announced that the number of local sales people and writers has tripled. “This increase in staff was needed to identify and cover the people, projects and events that make our industry so interesting to our readers. For more than 10

0 years, the ACP magazines have served our local construction markets, celebrating the successes that have resulted in a more productive, healthier and safer built environment. As we move forward we will focus on the rebuilding of our highway

s and bridges, the development of new infrastructure that will serve our communities with clean energy and clean water, and the expansion of alternative transportation initiatives such as light rail and high-speed rail. As w

e strive to improve our environment, the contractors who make it happen will be the subject of many interesting stories that we will tell.”

The editorial content consists of local news and information about the people and projects located in each region coupled with national features on topics of interest and legislation effecting heavy construction.

“We are excited that Greg Sitek will be joining us as national editor and a key part of our executive management team,” White announced. “Greg not only provides great insight to our readers but to ACP as well. We are also pleased that so many former local writers and sales people have joined our new group. It provides us with roots in our history and the enthusiasm to move forward.”

I’m proud to once again be associated with ACP because I believe that they are taking the right approach to providing important construction information to the contractors, who are the heart and soul of the industry. For more than a century these magazines have covered the growth, development and expansion of this country. They witnessed the creation of such wonders as Boulder Dam, The Empire State Building, The Sears Tower, The Interstate highway system and all the other marvels that have been put in place. It’s good to know that they will be around to see what we do over the next century.

Site-K Construction Zone will continue to provide you with construction information but in a new and improved format.

Greg Sitek

ICUEE 2009 Update

New “Smart Grid” education program highlights potential and challenges of cutting-edge energy technology

The Smart Grid is one of the latest buzzwords in energy and environmental circles. It aims to streamline America’s energy distribution systems for greater – and greener – efficiencies. What is this smart grid and how will it work its magic? And, how much will it cost?

The 2009 ICUEE, International Construction and Utility Equipment Exposition education program will feature a just-announced “Getting Smart about the Smart Grid” panel. Seasoned energy industry professionals from leading companies and industry groups will share the latest smart-grid developments. (See details below.)

Smart-grid development is accelerating, explained ICUEE Show Director Melissa Magestro, with $11 billion in economic stimulus funding set aside for electricity-grid modernization, and a recent federal government go-ahead for work on smart-grid standards.

Our electric power infrastructure will be transformed by smart-grid systems, and ICUEE wanted to be sure that industry professionals are aware of what’s happening with this cutting-edge technology – the claims and the costs – and the effect on their businesses and customers,” noted Magestro.

Magestro pointed out that the ICUEE 2009 exposition will have more than 100 education sessions geared to utility and construction topics, all designed to boost the value of attendees’ trade show experience.

“Smart-grid is just one example of the technological, safety and management advances affecting exhibitors and attendees, and ICUEE is a cost-effective way to meet and network with the experts to keep up to speed,” she said.

ICUEE 2009 will be held October 6-8, 2009 at the Kentucky Exposition Center in Louisville, Kentucky.

Attendee and exhibitor interest remain strong for ICUEE 2009 – advance registration is on track and consistent with trend lines of past shows, and exhibitors continue to sign on. “This is where the utility-focused construction industry gathers, knowing it’s the only place to operate equipment in the working conditions they might encounter on the job. You can’t beat that hands-on type of product comparisons,” Magestro said.

We know this is a very difficult economic environment, and we have increased the education and added co-located industry events to make this the most comprehensive ICUEE ever, so show participants get the maximum return on their trade show investment,” she a

ICUEE 2009 will cover 1 million-plus net square feet of exhibits displaying the latest technologies for the electric, phone and cable, sewer and water, gas, general construction, landscaping and public works sectors.

New for 2009 is the co-location of the inaugural H2O-EXPO of the National Rural Water Association, and the NRWA annual conference, as well as co-location of the iP Safety Conference and Expo and the IUV Technical Conference.

Details on the Smart-Grid Panel Presentation

The special Smart Grid session will be held the afternoon of October 6 (3:30 PM – 5:00 PM). Participants include Cisco Systems, Duke Energy, GE Energy, GridWise Alliance and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The show website has details on all ICUEE 2009 education

The ICUEE 2009 “Getting Smart about the Smart Grid” interactive presentation will cover objectives and technologies of the smart grid; what’s available now and a look at the future; utility, business and consumer benefits and costs; and what utility companies are doing to implement smart-grid systems.

The session will be of particular interest to professionals in the electric and telecom sectors and municipalities and other government entities, but the information will be useful for all attendees, Magestro stated.

“It’s been more than 100 years since the first successful incandescent light bulb from Thomas Edison, and ICUEE 2009 attendees will have access to the latest thinking on smart-grid technology, expected to revolutionize electric power again,” Magestro stated.

Panelists for the Smart Grid presentation:

· Cisco Systems – Mark Miller, Solutions Operations Director North America

· Duke Energy – Todd Arnold, Senior Vice President – Smart Grid and Customer Systems

· GE Energy (representative TBA)

·< span class="Apple-style-span" style="font-family:verdana;"> GridWise Alliance – Katherine Hamilton, President

· National Rural Electric Cooperative Association – David Mohre, Executive Director, Energy & Environmental Division

About the presenter companies:

· Cisco Systems ( is a worldwide leader in networking for the Internet, providing productivity improvements through Internet business solutions. A key area is developing and delivering networking technology related to energy creation, distribution and consumption across North America.

. Duke Energy ( is a leading energy company focused on electric power and gas distribution operations, and other energy services in the Americas, including a growing portfolio of renewable energy assets. It supplies and delivers energy to approximately 4 million U.S. customers, across the Midwest, the Carolinas, Ohio and Kentucky.

· GE Energy ( is one of the world’s leading suppliers of power generation and energy delivery technologies in all areas of the energy industry including coal, oil, natural gas and nuclear energy as well as renewable resources such as water, wind, solar and alternative fuels.

· GridWise Alliance ( advocates for a smarter grid for the public good so that energy can be generated, distributed and consumed more efficiently and cost effectively. Alliance members include utilities, IT companies, equipment vendors, new-technology providers and educational institutions.

· National Rural Electric Cooperative Association ( has more than 900 member cooperatives serving 42 million people in 47 states; its members are primarily consumer-owned cooperative electric utilities, with some public power districts and allied industry organizations.

For more information about attending or exhibiting at ICUEE 2009, go online at

Greg Sitek

To Hell In A Hand Basket, Or Are We Already There

This is the Fourth of July weekend and it does make me think about our country; why and how it was founded; its dreams and aspirations; its hopes, not only for us, but for the world; all the people who have given their lives to accomplish these things.
I look around, read and hear the news, and am sickened when I read things like:

“…the unexpectedly grim unemployment numbers released yesterday. While the rate only increased slightly to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent, from 9.4 percent, the raw numbers led many to warn that economic recovery isn’t on the horizon. The U.S. economy lost 467,000 jobs in June, marking the first time the monthly losses increased after they had been steadily shrinking from the January peak of 741,000. ‘There’s nothing in here to show that the economy and the market are pulling out of the grip of recession,’ an economist tells the NYT. Stock markets around the world decreased, with the Dow Jones industrial average dropping 2.6 percent.
The Los Angeles Times off-leads the unemployment numbers and leads with news that California’s controller began printing IOUs. It marked the second time since the Great Depression that the state had to resort to such an unusual action to meet its obligations. The controller decided to state the obvious and said the IOUs ‘are a sign that the state is being fiscally mismanaged.’ Most of the IOUs are going to go taxpayers who are still owed income tax refunds, but many others, including businesses and pensioners, will also be getting the check-like pieces of paper that have the words ‘registered warrant’ emblazoned on them. Some banks say they will accept the IOUs, at least for the next few days. The NYT off-leads the move and says it ‘was seen as a warning flag to other states.’”

There are numerous reasons why we are in this condition. A TV commercial recently coined the phrase, “blame-storming” as corporate executives try to understand why their business is left behind while others soar ahead. Blame-storming is an easy way to point the fault at others without accepting any.

How did we get here?

What I’m about to say will make a number of people angry; generate a lot of negative vibes coming in my direction; and might even get me some serious hate mail. But…

Our downward spiral started when we abolished the draft. I know. It sounds crazy but it is in fact a major contributing factor in our economic decline.

I recently posted an article, Marine Veterans Train For New Careers In Construction, that stimulated memory cells which took me back a half a century.

There was a time when our construction jobsites were filled with skilled workers, many were excellent craftsmen; there was no shortage of carpenters, plumbers, welders, mechanics, masons or any other tradesmen. Then the pool started to dry up, and we became short of people in all these and other trades. It didn’t take long before immigrants, both legal and illegal, filled these jobs.
Why did this happen?
Years back we had a draft that pulled young men into military service. In addition to basic training and learning how to handle weapons, we also learned how to respect authority; respond to orders; organize our possessions and care for them; how to get along with others; how to value free time; how to pay attention when spoken to; how take care of ourselves; how to help and take care of others; how to survive; how to be safe and cautious; how to keep order; and dozens of other things that I call “living skills.”
We were also given aptitude tests to determine what natural skills and talents we had. In many cases, guys going into the service discovered that they had potential they never knew existed. People were actually trained in fields, professions or skills for which they had the ability to excel.
Back then, military personnel did more than “soldier,” they built barracks, bases, airfields, marine terminals. They fixed tanks, trucks, air conditioners, sewer systems, engines and everything else that was needed to keep the military effort going. The military was pretty much self-sufficient. It had carpenters, plumbers, electricians, diesel and gasoline mechanics, nurses, paramedics, clerks, supply managers, motor pool supervisors, project managers and all other personnel necessary to independent existence.

A couple of unfortunate wars soured citizens and before long there were mass demonstrations against the military and draft. Suddenly we were a country that no longer supported either. It wasn’t until the horror of 9-11 permeated our lives that we once again consciously became aware of the fact that our military was indeed important.

For more than 50 years, Selective Service and the registration requirement for America’s young men have served as a backup system to provide manpower to the U.S. Armed Forces.
President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940, which created the country’s first peacetime, draft and formally established the Selective Service System as an independent Federal agency.
From 1948 until 1973, during both peacetime and periods of conflict, men were drafted to fill vacancies in the armed forces, which could not be filled through voluntary means.

A lottery drawing – the first since 1942 – was held on December 1, 1969, at Selective Service National Headquarters in Washington, D.C. This event determined the order of call for induction during calendar year 1970 that is, for registrants born between January 1, 1944 and December 31, 1950. Reinstitution of the lottery was a change from the oldest first method, which had been the determining method for deciding order of call.

366 blue plastic capsules containing birth dates were placed in a large glass jar and drawn by hand to assign order-of-call numbers to all men within the 18-26 age range specified in Selective Service law.

With radio, film and TV coverage, the capsules were drawn from the jar, opened, and the dates inside posted in order. The first capsule – drawn by Congressman Alexander Pirine (R-NY) of the House Armed Services Committee – contained the date September 14; so all men born on September 14 in any year between 1944 and 1950 were assigned lottery number 1. The drawing continued until all days of the year had been matched to lottery numbers.

In 1973, the draft ended and the U.S. converted to an All-Volunteer military.

Since then a number of things happened to our country. Our skilled and unskilled labor force diminished radically and rapidly. When our willing work force dissipated so did the jobs.

We became a less disciplined and respectful society and became less likely to follow rules. We went from being proud of our independence to demanding that someone take care of us and expecting that someone to be the government.

Many of the jobs that military personnel performed were turned over to civilian contractors and are costing the country a lot more and perpetuate the need to use a non-U.S. labor forc
e, especially on military installations outside the country.

This seemingly insignificant change has in effect contributed to a vast majority of the changes that are negatively affecting us today.

How often to you hear people say, “yes sir, no sir” or “yes ma’am, no ma’am?” This is only a single, simple example. Do you hear high school students talk about becoming welders, carpenters, masons, diesel mechanics? Not likely.

A critical aspect of having been in the service is that the training, the acquired skills didn’t evaporate when we mustered out. Everything we learned, our people skills, respect for authority, the importance of following a chain of command, learning to evaluate a situation and make a decision and then accept the responsibility for having made that decision, had been forged into the people we became as a result of our military training.

Many of the old “captains of industry” learned their management techniques on a battle field, a field office, a post, a base; dealing with real situations and real people, in many instances, making life and death decisions based on hard choices.

I think we were a better country that functioned with a greater sense of national harmony. It was a much less cutthroat world. We were more concerned about others than about ourselves. Ideals and principles were based on real beliefs not on corporate mission statements or lists of “Our Core Values” all of which were manufactured in a marketing agency’s office.

Discharge papers were more like a diploma that indicated that an individual had the skills, knowledge and experience to enter society as a valuable contributing citizen. The pride you had in wearing a uniform translated into hard-earned self-respect. It’s too bad we’ve lost all this and more.

We need to ask ourselves some tough questions and refuse to stop asking until we have answers, real answers and not empty promises.

How long will it take the 9.5 percent unemployed to find jobs? Maybe the tougher questions are: what kinds of jobs are available or will become available? What percentage of this 9.5 percent has the necessary skills to find jobs as welders, plumbers, or whatever? How many paralegals do we need? As the economy begins to grow again, where will the job growth be – entertainment, governmental agencies, and health care?

Usually when things start falling apart, the best way to fix them is by going back to core competencies. In our case this would be agriculture and manufacturing. At one time we were the world leader in these areas. We need to get back to these core competencies to stimulate economic growth…

Greg Sitek

New Products

New Atlas Copco MB 750 Hydraulic Breaker

The MB 750 is Atlas Copco’s newest addition to its line of versatile medium-duty hydraulic breakers. The MB 750 features a new double retainer bar system and DustProtector II to maximize the service life of the tool. The results are greater productivity and reduced operating and maintenance costs.

The MB 750 has the highest operational efficiency in its weight class. Powered by a combination of oil and gas, the MB 750 recovers energy by maximizing the recoil effect. This boosts the output power of the breaker without increasing the hydraulic input power of the carrier, which results in less fuel consumption during operation.

With the highest output-to-weight ratio in its class, the MB 750 also achieves performance and productivity without adding weight to the carrier or requiring the use of a larger carrier to handle the load. In addition, the MB 750’s general versatility and compatibility with a broad spectrum of excavators means more options on the job site.

The MB 750 at 118 dB (A) is one of the quietest hydraulic breaker in its weight class. Atlas Copco’s VibroSilenced system isolates the percussion mechanism acoustically from the external guide system. Moreover, the VibroSilenced system prevents damaging vibrations that could be detrimental to both the carrier and the operator.

A new feature on the MB 750 is the double retainer bar system, which maximizes the service of the tool and retainer system. Extra long retainer bars provide a maximum contact surface to the tool and the lower hammer, and they can be used on both sides for extended service life. Double retainer bars offer higher wear resistance than a retainer pin and are a reliable and proven locking system for the locking pins.

The MB 750 is also available with the patented DustProtector II, a two-stage sealing system with coarse and fine strippers that prevents the penetration of abrasive dust into the lower section of the breaker. DustProtector II also keeps the lubricant around the wear bushing for a longer period of time, lowering grease consumption. The system reduces wear on the bushings and the hammer and protects against damage.

The MB 750 is ideal for secondary breaking, demolition, excavation and trenching, tunneling, and special applications such as underwater – or any job that calls for a hydraulic breaker with a powerful, efficient and reliable design.

Greg Sitek