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MY YOUNG CAREER: A Professional Development Story

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By: Anthony Cavossa

From birth I was destined to pursue a career in concrete construction. I guess it all starts with my biggest role model and the man I’ve looked up to my entire life, my grandfather. Anthony A. Cavossa Sr. started A.C. Cement in 1969. He grew what started as a small family business into one of the largest concrete contractors in New England back in the 70s and 80s. Running 30-50 men, two pumps and more equipment than any of his competitors, he was building Boston cubic yard by cubic yard. His name was synonymous withconcrete.

The relationships he built were the foundation for his company, so, from a very young age, I understood the importance and power of a good network. That lesson is at the core of my relationship with the Tilt-Up Concrete Association (TCA) and though my career has relatively just begun, I feel like I already have fantastic groups of friends and colleagues.

I have the fortunate opportunity here to share my story, and I would like to begin by thanking my family. What my grandfather, and later on my father, had accomplished in our area in their day has opened up so many doors for me and I will be forever grateful. My dad still runs his own concrete flatwork company, Concrete Contractors Corp. Since the passing of my mother he has downsized the company to doing mostly residential flatwork. My dad has shown me how to do all the right things in life and in business. Not only did he set up a fantastic name for me, he also taught me how to be a man at a very young age. Overcoming adversity was unfortunately something I had to learn young. With my mother getting diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma and eventually losing her valiantly fought battle, I was forced to grow up quick. My dad did such an amazing job raising my two sisters and me all while running a very successful concrete contracting company. I’m not telling you anything you don’t know about how difficult this industry can be, but that man is a remarkable example of how to do things the right way and I know for sure he has passed that on to me.

It is really rewarding hearing stories from colleagues I meet that know my dad or grandfather and hearing how they started in concrete because of them. Some of the biggest names in the New England concrete industry got their start with A.C. Cement, and for that, I am very thankful.

I began working in the family business at a young age. To this day I remember the numerous times I was taken out of middle school to go and help finish a parking deck or a big slab. I know that education was just as valuable, if not more valuable, than what I was missing in the classroom.

Other than my family’s business, the Lampasona’s have played an instrumental role in my career. Tony and PJ Lampasona (who got their start through my grandfather’s company) hired me while I was still in college pursuing my bachelor’s degree in construction management. Hired as an estimator, they quickly moved me to project manager where I really got a chance to learn the business side of things.

Lampasona Concrete Corp. was bought out by Lindsay Construction, and that is when I really got introduced to tilt-up. From the first time I saw panels fly, I was hooked. Pouring slabs and building foundations was what I grew up on. Seeing things go vertical was a thrill. Once I got a chance to learn the ins and outs of the tilt world I just couldn’t get enough. It was everything I loved about concrete and more. Now we weren’t just pouring concrete, we were building buildings. I was able to drive by projects and say, “I built that, the whole thing!” The rush of panel erection is a high that I don’t ever see myself getting sick of.

My first tilt project was a small Lexus Dealership in Bedford, NH: insulated non-composite panels through the middle of winter. Needless to say, I learned a lot on that job. I’ll never forget showing up on the second day of erection to 18 inches of snow, having to blow off panels to get to the lifting inserts, and digging out the footing to find the panel layout. We got eight panels up that day and I swear it felt like 30!

I was introduced to TCA through a project in Devens, MA. It was a film studio that is currently in use making movies like TED 2 and other Sony Pictures productions. There were some incredibly cool and unique things going on with the project as well as some odd things. I had some questions and that is when I first met Mitch Bloomquist, TCA’s executive director. We spoke on the phone numerous times leading up to his first site visit. Here I was thinking, “Why the hell does someone from Iowa want to come all the way to Massachusetts to look at a concrete building?!” Boy was I missing something… The visit was transforming in some ways. We worked together on an article for TCA’s magazine and began discussing our roles in growing the tilt-up market in the northeast. We met with other tilt-up professionals in the area as we planned for education events, and my eyes were opened to the potential of active involvement in the organization. What Mitch has done with TCA since the time I met him has been incredible. I understand it had always been a strong organization but watching him and the association grow since my film studio project has been mind blowing! I’ve come to strongly value Mitch as a colleague and friend.

While at Rykor, my TCA relationships landed me on the cover of Tilt-Up Today magazine and gave me the chance to present workshops and lunch-and-learns in Boston with some of the industry’s biggest architects and engineers. I was able to utilize my TCA relationships to build a broad and deep network of connections, including architects, contractors, suppliers, developers and owners, many of whom I still have regular contact with today. Later on, when things got tough in MA and I was looking for opportunities outside the area, the TCA and those contacts played a major role in my job searching.

My TCA connection was instrumental in making my move to Pennsylvania with Lithko Contracting, Inc. possible. Kim Corwin, past president of TCA and CEO of AH Harris, introduced me to the guys at Lithko and gave me a stellar recommendation that ultimately lead me to the most tilt-up experience I could have ever imagined.

With Lithko, an already established Sustaining Member of the TCA, my commitments and ties to the organization were strongly supported. We played a major role in the TCA’s International Convention in New Jersey in 2015, making good on a promise (to support a convention in the northeast) I made to Mitch while in Boston. In addition to sponsoring the event and building the outdoor demonstration panels, we teamed up with another Sustaining TCA member, Alston Construction, to give back to the local community through a pro bono, all volunteer project, where we broke a record for the world’s heaviest panel. The heartbreaking political fiasco that ruined that project is another story for another day.

My role at Lithko gave me the opportunity to build relationships on a national scale. I wasn’t just making waves in MA and New England anymore; I was meeting people from Oklahoma, Ohio, and all up and down the East coast. These colleagues played a major role in my networking, ultimately giving me a chance to get back home to MA and really start making tilt-up a common building practice in an area that has wanted it for some time now.

When I took the job at Turner Brothers, tilt-up was very new to my team. They had two tilt jobs on the books when I got hired so I again hit the ground running. We built one of the biggest insulated tilt buildings in MA and another small freezer project within the first five months of my hiring. I insisted they join TCA and the idea was welcomed with open arms from day one. They were familiar with and active in similar associations, such as ACI, ASCC, and PCI. Once I starting asking about sponsorships and memberships, I never had to ask twice. While still in my infancy with Turner Brothers, they were quick to become members of TCA and to send me with one of our other project managers to the Denver convention, where they sponsored us to get certified as tilt-up supervisors. If that doesn’t show their commitment from an early stage, then I don’t know what does!

Since my first day at Turner Brothers, the Turner family has treated me like a son. They have been positive role models and business professionals I will look up to forever. They have set the foundation for a company that is ready to take on the tilt market in the northeast, and with that foundation comes support for and participation in industry-wide efforts led by TCA.

They feel the same way I do; they know that the TCA offers the greatest way to grow as individuals and build our brand. They know what’s good for the industry is good for us. We want to put out the best product possible, and through my active involvement and convention attendance, I have been able to grow our tilt division to one of the best known in the northeast. I am pumped about my future and the future of tilt in the northeast and look forward to taking further advantage of all the TCA has to offer.

To be honest, one day I want to be president of the TCA. It’s a goal I set for myself in my early days as TCA Meetings and Education Committee Chair. I see the caliber of people who have held that position and they are an inspiration and example for us all. I know that becoming a member of the board of directors is my next step and look to run for that position at the next opportunity. From there I hope to build even more relationships that can take me to that next level. I also want to get certified as a company. We are making strides to get all our ducks in a row to go after that certification now. All the major players are getting certified and we want to be the lead of that in our area!

I have to again thank Mitch for the opportunity to share part of my story. It truly means the world to me to be considered for something like this. I cannot tell you enough what he personally and the TCA as a whole has done for me professionally. I will pay it back and forward with steadfast dedication to this industry and association for the rest of my career.

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TILT-UP TODAY, a publication of the Tilt-Up Concrete Association, is THE source for Tilt-Up industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the Tilt-Up industry. A subscription to TILT-UP TODAY is included in a TCA membership. Subscriptions for potential TCA members are also available. If you would like to receive a complimentary subscription to the publication, please contact the TCA.