The Steel Erectors Association of America (SEAA) kicked off its 50th Anniversary on April 8, 2022, at the conclusion of its 2022 Convention & Trade Show in Charleston, S.C., with a celebration on the USS Yorktown aircraft carrier.
In the beginning, the association was a regional group known as the Steel Erectors Association of the Carolinas. It was founded in 1972 by 11 companies shortly after the formation of OSHA for the purpose of giving a voice to the small erector at a time when the regulatory landscape was dramatically changing. In 1992, as membership began to spread westward, the association changed its name to the Steel Erectors Association of America.
Eddie Williams, who was with C.P. Buckner Steel Erection in 1972, served as SEAA’s founding president, spent many years on the board of directors, and is a lifetime member of the organization.
“SEAA was and is about doing good for all of us. The association provides tools that help contractors achieve the highest level of education, safety, business practices, and competition in the market,” Williams said.
Bob Beckner, who is retired from Peterson Beckner Industries, served as president of the association in 1999 and 2000. Beckner said Eddie Williams opened the door for what SEAA has become.
"In the 1970s, there wasn’t a lot of concern about safety. His vision, and the example the founding companies set, established the tone and goal of the organization from that day forward…Competitors are able to come together for a common cause,” Beckner said.
Leading up to the anniversary, SEAA interviewed 15 of the 29 past presidents or executive directors who provided insight into the hot topics facing the industry over the last 50 years.
Establishing best practices for contract language that dealt with change orders and back charges was an early task for the organization. Later the focus shifted to providing input on safety standards, including Subpart R (Steel Erection) and Subpart CC (Cranes & Derricks in Construction). Workforce development has been a critical issue in more recent years.
Geoff Kress of Gardner Watson Decking, who served as SEAA president in 2020 and 2021, said that during his first year in office, nearly everything the organization did was virtual.
“We were forced to find new ways to work, which ultimately has made the organization stronger than ever, with projects moving forward rather than getting tabled,” Kress said.
“Today, the association is experiencing record growth as it works to add new benefits for members,” said Pete Gum, Executive Director. “An online applicant tracking system and job board, 50+ safety videos that complement specific NCCER ironworker training modules, and recent DOL approval of an ironworker apprenticeship standard that provides for structural and reinforcing ironworkers are just a few of the newest tools,” he said.
The association released a video presentation and historical timeline documenting the last 50 years. Find both items at https://www.seaa.net/history.html.