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Incoming NSSGA chair aims to forge an industry path forward

By |  February 23, 2022

Karen Hubacz, president and CEO of Bond Construction Corp., will become chair of the National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association (NSSGA) during the organization’s March 27-30 Annual Convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Hubacz will succeed Darin Matson, Rogers Group president and CEO, as NSSGA chair.

Ahead of the convention, Pit & Quarry connected with Hubacz to learn about her industry outlook, as well as her goals and priorities for NSSGA in the year ahead.


Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Hubacz

How would you characterize the state of the aggregate industry at this moment as you prepare to become NSSGA chair?

There is no doubt it’s an exciting time for the aggregates industry. As an aggregates producer, I know the industry is gearing up for spring and getting ready to meet the increased demands that are occurring. These increased demands are due to the historic Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law. The IIJA has some important provisions within it, and these wins will make our industry stronger.

It includes strategic industry exemptions, the ROCKS Act, enhanced permit streamlining and the REGROW Act. These successes are a testament to the NSSGA team and its members, and I look forward to leading the association to many more successful wins on behalf of the aggregates industry in this next year.

An infrastructure bill was long a goal of NSSGA and past chairs, and we finally saw that come to fruition with IIJA. With funds expected to roll out beginning this year, what are NSSGA’s next steps regarding highway funding?

The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act was a huge success for the industry. But just because we did get that touchdown doesn’t mean the game is over. We are simply moving to a new stage, and I know it will be critical to continue to advocate and stay on top of IIJA being implemented.

Each step in the process can be just as important as the bill writing itself. We want to ensure to help the administration and their staff so they correctly implement the legislation. For example, the ROCKS Act, which was included in the legislation, will establish a working group at the DOT (U.S. Department of Transportation) to study and enact policies that seek to improve local access to aggregate resources. This is a really big win for our industry, and we will continue to engage to ensure that it’s enacted successfully.

What issues do you expect to be a primary area of focus for you as NSSGA chair?

Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Karen Hubacz will be the first woman to hold the position of National Stone, Sand & Gravel Association chair. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

It’ll be nice to have the hard work of lobbying for the multi-year infrastructure bill completed and have that achievement checked off. However, NSSGA is not a one-issue association, and everyone in the aggregates industry knows there is no shortage of issues that we face every single day, from health and safety to environmental regulations like WOTUS (Waters of the United States) to workforce development and the ongoing issues of NIMBY (Not in My Backyard).

I think we’ll definitely have to see how everything plays out. I have a lot of personal experience with WOTUS. Being a small producer, I know something like that has the ability to be exceptionally harmful to small producers in particular. We do not have the money to battle against this ourselves, and that’s why it’s so vitally important to give to ROCKPAC and support NSSGA.

With the important challenges facing the aggregates industry, I still believe individual engagement in Washington is key. Building up those personal relationships with members of Congress is critical, and, as chair, this is where I can lead by example. We must engage and share with lawmakers how current policies and regulations can affect our businesses. This communication does make a difference, as every voice amplifies our industry’s message.

What other goals do you have for the association as chair?

I would really like to see a large growth in membership, specifically from small producers. There are so many out there who don’t even realize what they’re missing by not being a member of NSSGA. I really hope that they see, through me also being a small producer, the benefits you can get from NSSGA, and that we will see an increase in that small producer membership.

I really would like to emphasize that member engagement with NSSGA is critical. The success of the past year should be evident that we are stronger together. I encourage all members to be active on committees, support ROCKPAC, read weekly emails, attend monthly webinars and, of course, participate in the different yearly events.

With the COVID environment over the past few years, NSSGA has adapted and updated its member benefits to be convenient. These updates to member services are showcased with the 2022 Annual Convention and AGG1 Academy & Expo, and this will be the first in-person, large-scale meeting in a few years.

NSSGA is providing a hybrid meeting environment for those who want to participate in person or virtually to ensure that all members’ needs are met. This approach to meetings and events convenience has translated to all of NSSGA’s events. I hope our members find this helpful, and I certainly encourage everyone to get involved with NSSGA.

Uniquely, you are the first woman to hold the chair position at NSSGA. What does that distinction mean to you?

It’s truly an honor to become NSSGA board chair. It’s not lost on me that I will be the first woman to become the board chair. I’m also the first woman to lead Bond Construction, and I’m often the only woman in the room in a male-dominated field. I am a woman, but that is not all I am. My experiences and my life have shaped who I am today and what I do. While I am the first female board chair, I hope and trust that I certainly will not be the last. And I look forward to the day when I see the second and third females take on the board chair position.


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