IMPACT Co-Chair Bill Brown has helped the organization make lasting impacts in innovation, strategy and training for thousands of iron workers and contractors. BIC Magazine recently visited with Brown to learn more about what's ahead for IMPACT and how it continues to unite and benefit the industry.
Q: What led to your position at IMPACT?
A: In April 2001, Ironworkers, which today represents 130,000 iron workers in North America, elected Joe Hunt as its general president. Joe and I are both from St. Louis and have known each other for many years. We discussed how we could build and improve the relationships between Ironworkers and its contractors. We knew if our agenda didn't have the support of the major iron worker employers, IMPACT would never work. Thankfully, everyone was on board. But because of 9/11, IMPACT wasn't launched until two years later, in 2003. I've been involved with IMPACT since day one, and I was elected co-chair shortly after it was launched.
Q: What's the most important part of your position?
A: First and foremost, I have to ensure IMPACT maintains its mission. The organization provides a forum for iron workers and their contractors to address mutual concerns. It also encourages reasonable, balanced solutions and helps create job opportunities for participant contractors and iron workers. I also communicate regularly with Ironworkers' leadership, including CEO Kevin Hilton, to map out strategies and navigate current events. I listen to contractors, labor leaders and others, and try to determine everyone's wants and needs. Then, we have to incorporate those wants and needs into IMPACT's agenda.
Q: How do you plan to address changes in the workforce in the coming year?
A: Labor unions are now recognizing that anything IMPACT can do to help contractors benefits them as well. We have launched many programs designed to help contractors start their own businesses. IMPACT helps these individuals by providing classes and a foundation for business development. We give them the tools to help grow their companies and be successful.
The baby boomer generation has also been retiring, so this generation needs to be replaced by a trained, skilled workforce. Approximately three years ago, we put an initiative -- a groundbreaking paid maternity leave program -- in place to boost recruitment and retention and create more diversity in the construction industry. There are so many people out there who could be potential ironworkers.
Q: What is your best management tactic?
A: I have to make sure people involved with IMPACT continue to work together and "stay on the beam." It's been challenging because we weren't able to meet in person for a span of four or five months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We had to cancel some programs and meetings, but we still have plenty of events on the horizon. Iron Workers General President Eric Dean, Kevin and I are working together to help navigate the organization through this "new normal." Our contractors must also continue to work together and help each other out because "a rising tide lifts all boats."
Q: What is a "fun fact" about you people might not know?
A: A lot of people are surprised when they hear I'm a "Harley guy." I had back surgery a couple years ago, so I haven't been able to ride as much as I used to. But for many years, other iron workers and I would go to California, rent bikes in San Francisco and ride across the state. We'd make it a 10-day trip and ride through all the national parks.
See original interview on bicmagazine.com