The 2014 Elections are Coming!

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

It’s been a long time since I’ve looked forward to an election. I’m old and have been around for three quarters of a century. I proudly served four years in the Air Force and have worked for more than six decades. I’ve voted in 14 presidential elections, a couple dozen congressional elections and who knows how many local elections.

During this time, I have seen numerous politicians come and go. Most were concerned about the country and its future. Today’s politicians seem to be more concerned about their retirement packages, pay, benefits and getting re-elected than they are about the good of the country.

I remember World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Grenada, the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War and can say in all honesty that since Vietnam, I’ve lacked the confidence in our leadership that I had during WWII and Korea. Today’s America is not the America I wore a uniform to protect and serve.

For all practical purposes, we have spent the last 14 or 15 years politically bickering and pointing fingers of blame at everyone. But immediately following 9/11, we were a united, unified America. We were reminiscent of the America that won WWII, that saw us through Korea, that our founding fathers dreamed of, for whom so many died.

However, we have since returned to disagreement, discord and

We’ve come through a recession that crippled our economy and inflicted economic pain on thousands, many of whom were retired seniors who will never recover. We are still struggling to recover.

We can join those who point fingers of blame or we can accept the responsibility for the part we played in what has led us to these current conditions. You have to start by answering the questions: Did you vote? Did you vote responsibly?

If we aren’t satisfied with the performance of our elected representatives, we need to communicate with them and let them know. If we’re still dissatisfied, then it’s our responsibility to replace them with a better choice.

Elections should not be about party politics but about selecting the best people to represent us in

There is so much that needs to be done and yet so little gets accomplished. How long do we have to wait for a new highway bill? Immigration? Clean water? Fair wage bill? The list is virtually endless. There are thousands of bills waiting and more being introduced daily.Bills qr20140915141335-300

Our representatives in Congress are the people who will promulgate some of these bills into law. The quality of the people in Congress depends on us and how well we have chosen. Do some homework and know something about the people for whom you vote. It’s a good idea to know if you can trust them to voice and express your opinions and concerns when making decisions for you. You are putting your future, the future of your children and the future of your country in their hands.

How important is voting?

“Which constitutional right is the most important? You might answer ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘free exercise’ of religion. Some think it’s ‘the right to keep and bear arms.’ Criminal lawyers think of the guarantee against ‘unreasonable searches and seizures,’ trial lawyers think of jury trial in civil cases. But which right appears most often in the Constitution’s text? It’s ‘the right to vote.’ The Constitution mentions ‘the right to vote’ five times.”(The Atlantic, September 18, 2012)Vote qr20140915143149-300

This year’s elections are only days away. Remember, it is important to vote responsibly and intelligently, not politically. Exercise your right and vote.

This editorial appeared in the October 2014 issues of the ACP magazines.

A Walk on the Great Wall, Watch Fires Part 2

China China 2

Patches Are Not Solutions

Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Patches are not solutions. As I drive from home to anywhere I run over numerous patches. In fact, it’s difficult to find a stretch of road around her that isn’t paved with patches. Don’t get me wrong; there has been a lot of road construction this summer and 3-mile stretch of a heavily traveled road has been, once again, resurfaced hiding, but not fixing the patches. Right now the surface is smooth, relatively speaking, but by next spring it will require new patches.

The pavement patches are one thing; the highway bill patch another. It is in keeping with our political philosophy – why do today what can be put off until tomorrow. When the last highway bill was passed everyone knew it would be up for renewal. Years before it expired industry groups and coalitions started hammering Congress to get busy developing a new long-term bill that would address our transportation infrastructure needs.

The result?

Another patch on top of another patch on top of yet another patch, just like the unsafe roads we’re forced to travel. The bill was pushed back because there’s an election and the politicians, oh yes, I forgot, “our representatives” promulgate a piece of legislation that might raise taxes, create user fees or influence us to not re-elect them.

The attitude seems to be, To hell with the roads, your safety, the damage to your family cars, the increased cost freight transportation…

You will spend more money on car repairs that are a direct result of being forced to drive on patched pavements than you would pay in an increased gas tax!

I apologize for climbing up on my soapbox again; got carried away because after my last editorial I was accused of being a spokesperson for asphalt pavements. I love concert pavements as much as asphalt.

Here are some concrete facts:

Concrete pavements have been a mainstay of America’s transportation infrastructure for more than 50 years. The country’s first concrete street, built in Bellefontaine, Ohio, in 1891, is still in service today. Concrete pavements are not confined to one region of North America, nor to a specific type of environment or climate. Concrete can handle the freezing winters of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the scorching heat of the Southwest.

Regardless of the type of roadway or current pavement conditions, there can be a concrete solution. It can be used for new pavements, reconstruction, resurfacing, restoration or rehabilitation. Concrete pavements generally provide long life, low maintenance and low life-cycle cost.

Concrete pavements Typically remain in service on highways and roadways after 30, 40, or 50 years.

Rigid concrete pavements hold their shape, resist potholes, and offer excellent skid-resistance for vehicles.

Concrete pavements are recyclable. Concrete is one of the most recycled construction material in the world. For example, recycled concrete can be used to create base materials for new roadways or as ‘rip-rap,’ large pieces of concrete used for erosion control and flood prevention.

Asphalt or concrete, concrete or asphalt, it doesn’t matter. There are professional highway engineers who can and do design roads for the geographic regions in which they are laid with the materials that will provide the best service over the longest period of time. But like everything else in life there is a price tag attached. And like everything else in life, there are mitigating factors that influence the longevity of our roads: traffic volume; type of traffic – autos or trucks; climatic conditions; freeze-thaw cycles; temperatures below zero; roadbed base; base materials; pavement thickness; etc. The list is long and detailed. Building a road is not simple. The best roads require constant maintenance, regular repair, scheduled upgrades and a commitment to preserve their integrity and safety for continuous future use.

Our roads are a precious national resource – asphalt or concrete. It is our responsibility to protect the investment in them. Repairing today’s damaged roads tomorrow will be too late, especially for the people who suffer and die because of this neglect.

Greg Sitek

Note: This editorial appeared in the September 2014 issues of the ACP magazines.

A Walk On The Great Wall: China’s Changing Economic Trends By Matt Wisla

China’s Changing Economic Trends China’s Changing Economic Trends2

The Powerful American Brand…Lessons for Branding Your Business

by Brian M. Fraley

The 4th of July holiday is associated with family vacations, parades, barbecues, and fireworks, but the true significance of the holiday is to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the birth of America as a free nation. It is also meant to recognize the men and women of our armed forces that have sacrificed so much to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy today.

10921420So how did the American brand come to be the most revered, timeless, and widely recognized brand in the world and how can you use those lessons to enhance the brand of your business. The American brand evokes strong emotions; no other brand can bring tears to the eyes of its believers. The concept of America is intrinsically wired into the American brand. The loyalty to the brand originated with the immigrants that arrived on our shores and carried though to future generations.

While a country and a business have many differences, they bear many similarities. The core principles defining the formation of a strong brand are consistent and there is much to be learned by trying to emulate the unrivaled American brand.

Consistent Use of a Powerful Symbol

Every strong brand requires a symbol that is used consistently over time. It would be difficult to identify a more globally recognized symbol than the American Flag. It is known in even the most isolated civilizations across the globe. While variations of the flag have been used, the red, white, and blue color scheme is associated with America around the world. In business, we use a logo and a certain color combination that best reflects the firm. In addition to creating a logo that properly reflects your company’s history, culture, and expertise, you must use the logo consistently over time in order to brand yourself in the marketplace. Repetition is key. The way you use your logo in print and digital formats must be sacred. If it will not reproduce properly in a certain application, don’t use it.

Effective Slogans Strengthen the Brand

There have been several slogans associated with America including “America the Beautiful,” “In God We Trust,” “E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One),” and “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.” All of the above define the culture of the country and are used by our citizenry to rally around the American brand. In corporate America, we use a slogan or tagline, which is a brief statement that defines your business, or product or service offering. It should be relevant, brief, and memorable. And it should be one that your employees are proud to represent. While a slogan is not essential, the proper combination of words can bring added strength to a brand.

Who are Your Brand Patriots?

The term “Patriot” originated during the American Revolution and included rebels from a diverse array of social, economic, ethnic and racial backgrounds that were committed to escaping British control. Perhaps the most famous Patriot associated with the American Revolution was Paul Revere who rode across Massachusetts on horseback and literally went door to door to warn his fellow citizens that the British troops were coming. Paul Revere accepted the danger of his mission and was ultimately captured by the British.

Who are your Brand Patriots? They can be employees or satisfied clients. These Brand Patriots build your brand through their actions and positive word of mouth because they believe in your mission. They are the lynchpin that holds your business together. Ask yourself continually whether you are still earning their loyalty. Are they still waving your flag and feeling “Patriotic” about your brand?

Sacred Documents

The Declaration of Independence adds to the mystique and provides a historical link to the value of the American brand. This document commemorated the escape from British rule and the birth of the United States as a free nation. This document was a reflection of the passionate speeches, fierce debates, and bloody battles. Much effort has gone to promote this as a sacred document in museums and historic venues across the U.S. Not to mention, there has been extensive literature published to educate generations of Americans on the significance of the Declaration of Independence and the events surrounding it.

While the story of your company and its history is not as compelling as the freedom of a nation, there is a story that must be told properly to elevate the power of your brand. There are some great legacies behind many firms in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction industry. What makes your firm unique? Now take that aspect and use it to add value to your brand. This aspect should be incorporated into your Marketing materials, your media publicity, and all outgoing materials on your firm. Use it internally as well. Give your employees a concept to rally around. Was your founder an immigrant with an empty wallet and a dream, or a member of a minority group? Was your company founded during a difficult economy? Most people appreciate stories of perseverance in the face of adversity and it has a way of creating unity. In the case of the American Revolution, citizens united against foreign occupation.

Develop Meaningful Traditions and Customs

The American brand is also built on the use of deeply rooted customs and traditions. We wear red, white, and blue, fly the American flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and sing the National Anthem just to name a few. Most of these traditions celebrate historical events and milestones and create unity and pride among the American people.

Strengthening the brand of your business can also be accomplished through customs and traditions. The repetition of traditions can build comradery and morale among your employees, while increasing the standing of your brand in the eyes of your employees. One effective method is to host an off-site team building retreat. You might also consider a strategic planning process that allows your employees to work in teams to address the various aspects of your business. The Strategic Planning process should be employed annually; it’s not necessarily a once and done process. Other ideas include hosting an open house to commemorate a significant anniversary, new location, or new product line. Look for opportunities to bring your team together and they will be converted into Brand Patriots.

Fortify and Understand Your Brand

No business-related brand will ever rival the American brand. The extensive history, passion, and mass appeal of a nation like the United States is impossible to replicate. The core principles described above, however, can build and fortify your brand if properly implemented.

Take advantage of this 4th of July holiday to reflect on the true meaning of the American brand and the men and women that have sacrificed their lives to preserve it. Then take a moment to reflect on the state of your own firm’s brand. How strong is your brand? Who are your Brand Patriots? If you can answer affirmatively to these questions, be thankful, but never grow complacent when it comes to your brand.

Brian Fraley

Fraley AEC Solutions, LLC has been launched to provide Marketing and Public Relations services to the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry in Pennsylvania and the surrounding region. The firm was founded by Brian M. Fraley, who has been providing Marketing and Business Development solutions within the AEC sector for more than 20 years. Starting his career in a construction and industrial advertising firm, he served as editor of a regional Highway/Heavy Construction trade publication, Marketing Director for a statewide transportation construction association, and Director of Marketing and Business Development for a civil engineering firm.

“There are many firms that provide Marketing and Public Relations services, but they lack the in-depth knowledge of the AEC sector,” says Fraley. “This is an industry with a unique language, history, personality, and way of conducting business. Fraley AEC Solutions was formed to cater to this underserved and often misunderstood marketplace.”

No stranger to the start-up environment, Fraley started his career with a small family-owned construction advertising agency in Bucks County, Pa. “One thing that has not changed in 20 years is that firms in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction sector must differentiate themselves with effective Marketing practices,” Fraley explained. “That need has been exacerbated due to a number of paradigm shifts that are currently underway from the technology revolution to the emergence of the next generation of management. Fraley AEC Solutions has the historical knowledge of the industry, which will be necessary to help our clients to adapt to current and future industry shifts.”