AWI e-briefs
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Architectural Woodwork Institute
August 22, 2019
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Invitation to Attend AWI Technical Committee Meeting

The Architectural Woodwork Institute Standards Development Team is excited to announce the next 2019 Technical Committee face-to-face meeting.

The meeting will be held Sept. 12-13, 6:30 am-6:30 pm at the AWI National Testing Center, 1310 Southerfield Road, Americus, GA 31719.

Individuals interested in the development process of the upcoming AWI 1236 Countertops and the AWI 1235 Specialty Casework Standards are invited to join the AWI Technical Committee during their work session.

For more information, please contact Cheri Dermyre at If you plan on attending, you must RSVP at least fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting you wish to attend. Any proposed agenda items and accompanying materials must also be submitted fourteen (14) days in advance of the meeting date.

Attendees are responsible for arranging their own transportation, lodging, and meals.

The Standards Development Team will make another announcement soon with the fourth quarter meeting details.

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TFL Stakeholder Survey Seeks Industry Feedback

The Composite Panel Association (CPA) recently formed a joint task group of the Production-Technical Committee and Decorative Surfaces Council to discuss the possible development of a voluntary ANSI product standard for North American thermally fused laminate (TFL). The task group, consisting of 18 companies, is in the process of collecting North American TFL performance data and reviewing international TFL standards to inform the standards development process. The final voluntary ANSI consensus standard would provide objective performance criteria for end-use applications to assist with the specification and use of TFL.

CPA is asking all interested parties to participate in a short survey designed to help prioritize product properties and end use applications to assist with development of the TFL standard. Please download and complete the survey and return to Gary Heroux, VP of Product Acceptance at by Aug. 31, 2019.

The Composite Panel Association (CPA), founded in 1960, represents the North American composite panel industry on technical, regulatory, quality assurance and product acceptance issues.  CPA General Members include 30 of the leading manufacturers of particleboard, medium density fiberboard and hardboard.  Together they represent more than 92% of the total manufacturing capacity in US, Canada and Mexico.

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Business Management

Small Business Funding Programs

Looking for funding options for your small business?

Lender Match is a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating Small Business Administration-approved lenders.

How does it work?

1. Describe your needs.
2. Get matched in 2 days.
3. Talk to lenders.
4. Apply for a loan.

Get matched!

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It‘s Your Life: Using Annuities to Fund the Gap before Claiming Social Security

From Federated Insurance

Planning for retirement can be a complex web, with a dauntingly large number of variables that affect your income. What’s the best age to retire? How much should I save? When should I file for Social Security?

No one has all the answers, but a little understanding about Social Security can go a long way toward helping you answer some of those questions.

For people born in 1960 or later, the full retirement age for Social Security benefits is age 67. If you elect to file for Social   Security at that age, you will receive your full benefit, which is based on your highest 35 years of earnings. If you file early (as early as age 62), your monthly benefit will be reduced, but if you delay filing, your benefit will be increased by 8 percent per year up to age 70. So, if your full benefit at age 67 will be $2,000 per month, at age 62, it would be reduced to $1,400 (a 30% reduction). And if you wait until age 70, would be increased to $2,480 (a 24% increase).

Social Security provides a benefit not provided by most retirement plans: the cost-of-living increase. Each year, a retiree’s benefit is increased to reflect an increased cost of living. By delaying filing, your larger monthly benefit translates to a larger cost of living increase each year to better help you keep up with inflation.

You can set up an online account with the Social Security Administration and get a projection of what your benefit will be at your normal retirement age, and ages 62 and 70. You can also review your earnings history to make sure it is correct.

If you choose to retire before your full retirement age, but want to delay filing for social security, how do you bridge the income gap? One very effective technique is to purchase a fixed immediate annuity that will provide guaranteed monthly payments up to the time you file for social security. The difference between age 62 and age 70 is eight years. You can purchase an annuity that will make 96 monthly payments of an amount you select. At the end of eight years, the annuity ends, but you begin to collect social security. With an immediate annuity, if you die before the end of the payment period, beneficiaries you name will receive the remaining monthly payments.

Assuming a 3.5% guaranteed return, the upfront cost of an annuity that would generate $1,400 per month for eight years would be slightly over $117,000. This money could come from savings you have earmarked for retirement, a qualified retirement plan or IRA, or proceeds for the sale of a home or business. If you think an immediate annuity might be a viable option for your overall retirement plan, be sure to do your research and consider the following:

  • The financial security of the carrier
  • Fees and other costs associated with the annuity contract
  • Suitability
  • Liquidity needs

This article is for general information and risk prevention recommendations only and should not be considered legal coverage, financial, tax, or medical advice.  The information may be subject to regulations and restrictions in your state.  There is no guarantee following these recommendations will help reduce or eliminate losses.  The information is accurate as of its publication date and is subject to change.  Qualified counsel should be sought regarding questions specific to your circumstances. All rights reserved.

Federated Mutual Insurance Company / Federated Service Insurance Company (not licensed in the states of NH, NJ and VT) / Federated Life Insurance Company –

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Maximizing Your Marketing Efforts

The human attention span is evolving and that has important implications for marketers. What type of marketing content gets and holds people’s attention—and how can you create it? Here’s what you need to know.

Read more on the Small Business Administration website.

Are you getting good results from your small business marketing? If your results are falling short of your expectations, perhaps it’s because you’re not investing enough money in your marketing campaigns. How much money should a small business spend on marketing annually, and how can you make the most of your precious marketing budget?  Here’s what you need to know.

Read more on the Small Business Administration website.

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Risk Management Corner: Fire Prevention Not a Once-a-Year Responsibility

From Federated Insurance

How often do you think about fire prevention? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly? On the off chance you come across an article on the subject?

Unless your answer to that question is “daily,” you have some work to do.

That might sound dramatic, but the U.S. Fire Administration received more than 100,000 reports of nonresidential building fires each year from 2014–20161. In those incidents, about 90 deaths, 1,350 injuries, and $2.4 billion in property damage costs were reported. That last figure is about 20% of the total dollar loss from all fires.

Some fires have common causes—cooking, faulty electrical wiring, or smoking, for example. But others come from less obvious sources. Here are just a few:

  • Dust and debris piles near heat sources or electrical outlets
  • Oily rags stored in the open or in a container that isn’t sealed
  • Overheated electrical equipment or appliances

While you should review your overall fire safety plan a couple times a year, you should constantly be on the lookout for fire risks. This sounds like a big task, but if you integrate it into your business’s everyday procedures, the time commitment will be minimal. Update your cleaning checklists to include inspection of any new potential hazards you’ve identified. You and your employees will barely notice a change in routine, but your fire risk management strategy will be much more effective.

Also, remind your employees and managers to constantly be on the lookout for anything unusual. Are there any strange noises coming from machines? Any flickering lights? Do vehicles appear to be operating properly?

While it’s true that no matter how diligent you are, a fire is still possible. But if you take proper steps and keep fire prevention at the top of your priority list, you have a better chance of avoiding a catastrophe.

Fire Prevention Week runs from Oct. 6–12. It’s a great opportunity to remind yourself and your employees of the importance of fire prevention, but it shouldn’t be the only time of year you think about it.

1FEMA Topical Fire Report Series: Nonresidential Building Fires (2014-2016), July 2018,  Accessed August 2019.

This article is for general information and risk prevention recommendations only and should not be considered legal, coverage, financial, tax, or medical advice. The information may be subject regulations and restrictions in your state.  There is no guarantee following these recommendations will help reduce or eliminate losses.  The information is accurate as of its publication date and is subject to change.  Qualified counsel should be sought regarding questions specific to your circumstances. © Federated Mutual Insurance Company.  All rights reserved.

Federated Mutual Insurance Company / Federated Service Insurance Company (not licensed in the states of NH, NJ and VT) / Federated Life Insurance Company –

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Safety Matters

OSHA Launches Web Page about Leading Indicators for Driving Changes in Safety

Leading indicators can play a vital role in preventing worker fatalities, injuries, and illnesses and strengthening other safety and health outcomes in the workplace, according to OSHA.

Leading indicators are proactive and preventive measures that can shed light about the effectiveness of safety and health activities and reveal potential problems in a safety and health program.

Many employers are familiar with lagging indicators. Lagging indicators measure the occurrence and frequency of events that occurred in the past, such as the number or rate of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities. While lagging indicators can alert you to a failure in an area of your safety and health program or to the existence of a hazard, leading indicators are important because they can tell you whether your safety and health activities are effective at preventing incidents. A good safety and health program uses leading indicators to drive change and lagging indicators to measure effectiveness.

Leading indicators are a valuable tool regardless of whether you have a safety or health program, what you have included in your program, or what stage you may be at in your program. OSHA encourages employers to get started today.

Leading indicators can improve organizational performance in a variety of ways. Visit the new OSHA web page to learn more and access available tools, including leading indicator guidance and other resources.

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Tap into Safety Training Courses Offered by OSHA

OSHA Training Institute Education Centers offer training courses designed for workers, employers, and managers on safety and health hazard recognition and abatement at convenient locations nationwide.

Check out the training courses offered.  Find a location here.

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Construction News

Architecture Billings Index Continues Its Streak of Soft Readings

Demand for design services in July remained essentially flat in comparison to the previous month, according to a new report released today from The American Institute of Architects (AIA).

AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) score of 50.1 in July showed a small increase in design services since June, which was a score of 49.1. Any score above 50 indicates an increase in billings. In July, the design contracts score dipped into negative territory for the first time in almost a year. Additionally, July billings softened in all regions except the West, and at firms of all specializations except multifamily residential.

“The data is not the same as what we saw leading up to the last economic downturn but the continued, slowing across the board will undoubtedly impact architecture firms and the broader construction industry in the coming months,” said AIA Chief Economist Kermit Baker, PhD, Hon. AIA. “A growing number of architecture firms are reporting that the ongoing volatility in the trade situation, the stock market, and interest rates are causing some of their clients to proceed more cautiously on current projects.”

Key ABI highlights for July include the following:

  • Regional averages: West (51.2); Midwest (48.9); South (48.3); Northeast (48.3)
  • Sector index breakdown: multi-family residential (50.6); institutional (49.8); commercial/industrial (49.2); mixed practice (48.9)
  • Project inquiries index: 54.9
  • Design contracts index: 49.0

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ABC’s Construction Backlog Indicator Inches Lower in June

On Aug. 20, Associated Builders and Contractors reported that its Construction Backlog Indicator fell to 8.8 months in June 2019, down 0.1 months or 1.3% from May 2019, when CBI stood at 8.9 months.

“Though still elevated by historical standards, nonresidential construction backlog has generally been trending lower in recent months,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “In June, backlog fell significantly in the Middle States, perhaps a reflection of a weakening industrial sector impacted by ongoing trade disputes, a strong U.S. dollar, and a weakening global economy. Industrial contractors reported especially large declines in backlog.

“However, construction backlog continued to rise in the South, home to many of the nation’s most rapidly growing populations and employment bases, including burgeoning metropolitan areas like Atlanta; Dallas; Nashville, Tennessee; and Orlando, Florida,” said Basu. “Contractor backlog in that region averages more than 10 months, easily the highest level of any major region. Backlog also expanded in the Northeast, largely due to ongoing construction cycles in New York and Boston.  Despite that, overall backlog in the nation’s commercial/institutional segment declined modestly in June.

“At the heart of the ongoing nonresidential construction cycle is spending on infrastructure,” said Basu. “While many stakeholders continue to wait for a full-fledged national infrastructure plan or at least a plan to address the Highway Trust Fund’s pending insolvency, state and local governments continue to collectively expend more on public works. Correspondingly, backlog in the infrastructure category expanded by more than 4% in June, according to ABC’s survey, and now stands at more than 9 months.”

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Nonresidential Construction Spending Slows in June, Remains Elevated

National nonresidential construction spending declined 1.8% in June, totaling $773.8 billion on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis—a 2.3% increase compared to the same time a year ago, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data published on Aug. 1.  Public nonresidential spending fell 3.7% in June, but is up 6.4% year over year, while private nonresidential spending fell 0.3% on a monthly basis and is down 0.4% from June 2018.

Among the 16 nonresidential construction spending categories tracked by the Census Bureau, seven experienced increases in monthly spending, although only the conservation and development (+3.8%) and commercial (+1.3%) categories increased by more than 1%. While spending in several categories fell for the month, significant decreases in the publicly driven educational (-6.5%) and highway and street (-6.3%) categories accounted for nearly all of the monthly decline.

“Like the balance of the U.S. economy, nonresidential construction spending appears to be softening, albeit gradually,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “Private nonresidential construction spending has been trending lower for several months, and segments like office and lodging are no longer the drivers of construction spending growth that they had been, likely due to growing concerns about market saturation.

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Sponsor News

Federated Mutual, Life Company Named 2019 Ward Group® Top Performers

From Federated Insurance

ederated Mutual Group was recently named to the top 50 U.S.-based property and casualty companies and Federated Life Company was named to the top 50 U.S.-based life insurance companies.

Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, insurance industry analyst Ward Group annually recognizes 50 companies that have excelled at balancing financial safety, consistency, and performance during the past five years. They conducted separate analyses on nearly 3,000 property and casualty companies and 700 life-health companies.

“Our continued commitment to financial strength has once again resulted in this acknowledgement from Ward Group,” Chairman and CEO Jeff Fetters said. “Their industry benchmarking reaffirms Federated’s ability to fulfill its responsibilities to policyholders and association partners.”

Founded in 1904, Federated Insurance is a national insurance and risk management organization that serves the property, casualty, and life insurance needs of clients in select industries. The organization has more than 500 recommendations from state, regional, and national associations and buying groups and is rated A+ (Superior) by industry analyst A.M. Best®.

Federated Insurance is AWI’s insurance partner and an AWI Sustaining Sponsor.

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The 2019 Federated Challenge® Raises More than $3 Million for Big Brothers Big Sisters

From Federated Insurance

Fifty-nine prominent businesses and more than 500 private citizens gathered at The Saint Paul RiverCentre in St. Paul, MN, on Sunday, July 28, 2019, for the fifteenth annual Federated Challenge supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters. Awe-inspiring generosity on the part of corporate sponsors and attendees generated more than $3 million during this charitable event. One hundred percent of the money raised will be donated to the three Minnesota Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies and Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. These monies support one-to-one mentoring that change the lives of Littles for the better, forever, and the Federated Challenge Scholarship Fund. The scholarship fund provides up to $5,000 per year to qualified Littles and high school-aged Bigs enrolled in a non-four-year program at a trade or technical school or community college that focuses on career-ready skills training.

Federated Challenge Co-Chairs Jeff and Marty Fetters present Minnesota Big Brothers Big Sisters CEOs and the National BBBS Board Chairman with a check totaling $3,035,000. From left to right: Marty Fetters, Michelle Redman, Jackie Scholl Johnson, Michael Goar, Ken Burdick, and Jeff Fetters.

The 2019 Federated Challenge, emceed by Dave Lee from WCCO Radio, featured a Together We Shine-themed gala and auction. America’s Got Talent winner Darci Lynne, a 14-year-old ventriloquist and singer from Oklahoma City, OK, was the featured performer. The Minnesota United, along with its CEO Chris Wright, were honored during the evening for their support and commitment to youth mentoring. On Monday, July 29, Federated Challenge attendees reconvened for a round of golf at Interlachen Country Club in Edina, MN.

“The Federated Challenge continues to garner an exceptional amount of funds, which directly supports young people facing adversity,” Federated Challenge Co-Chair Jeff Fetters said. “Numerous children have a brighter future thanks to the leadership and generosity of our corporate sponsors. We are proud to join these valued organizations in support of youth mentoring through Big Brothers Big Sisters.”

The Federated Challenge was founded in 2004 as a two-day fund-raising event hosted by Federated Insurance, a commercial insurance company headquartered in Owatonna, Minnesota. Now in its fifteenth year, this event has raised nearly $38 million for youth mentoring programs.

Federated Insurance is AWI’s insurance partner and an AWI Sustaining Sponsor.

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Economic Indicators

Mid-year Economic Outlook for Nonresidential Construction: Expansion Continues, But Vulnerabilities Pile Up

More than 10 years after the end of the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression, the U.S. economy is again making history by continuing its longest-ever expansion. Nevertheless, emerging weakness in business investment has been hinting at softening outlays, giving commercial and industrial construction contractors cause for concern, according to a mid-year economic outlook by Anirban Basu, chief economist of Associated Builders and Contractors.

“Given that every expansion in U.S. history has ended in recession, leaders of construction firms are rightly wondering when the record-setting expansion will end,” said Basu. “Looking at conditions on the ground, it likely won’t be in 2019, but 2020 could be problematic for the broader economy and 2021 for a significant number of contractors.”

Basu cites numerous vulnerabilities that could trigger a recession in 2020, including:

  • Trade wars
  • Softening corporate earnings
  • Slowing job growth
  • Elevated levels of household, corporate and government debt
  • Election 2020

But there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic. “For the most part, the economy has held up better than anticipated,” said Basu. “During the first quarter of 2019, gross domestic product expanded at a smart 3.1% annualized rate. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis’ initial estimate suggests that the economy slowed to 2.1% growth during the second quarter, but that neatly beat economists’ expectation that that growth had fallen below 2%.”

“The economy could continue to prove resilient,” says Basu. “To date, the economy has navigated ongoing trade disputes and associated tariffs with aplomb. It has also withstood serial interest rate hikes, the longest federal government shutdown in history, extreme weather, shifting immigration policy, ongoing labor market shortages and a lengthy investigation regarding foreign influence in U.S. elections.”

To read the full economic outlook story, visit

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Green Scene

ASI Accredits New Certification Body to FSC Standards

Effective June 27, 2019, Assurance Services International (ASI) has accredited Extensive Standard Technical Services Co. Ltd. (ESTS) to audit and issue Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Chain of Custody certificates.

Learn more here.

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Federal Scene

SBA Adjusts Size Standards to Expand Lending & Contracting Opportunities

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently issued an interim final rule that will adjust monetary-based small business size standards for inflation to allow more small businesses to become eligible for the SBA’s loan and contracting programs. The interim final rule was published in the Federal Register on July 18, 2019.

The SBA is adjusting its industry-specific monetary-based size standards by nearly 8.4% to reflect the inflation that has occurred since the last adjustment for inflation in 2014. This time, the SBA is also adjusting the revenues-based size standards for agricultural industries, which were previously set by statute. These adjusted size standards will become effective on Aug. 19, 2019 and will be reviewed again as part of the second five-year review of size standards mandated by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.

Additionally, the SBA is adjusting program-specific monetary-based size standards by the same amount for sales or leases of government property and stockpile purchases. The SBA is not adjusting the tangible net worth and net income based interim alternative size standards that apply to the SBA-guaranteed 7(a) and 504 Certified Development Company loan programs, which were established under the Small Business Jobs Act.

The interim alternative size standards for the 7(a) and 504 loan programs will remain in effect until the SBA establishes a permanent alternative size standard for these programs. The SBA is also not adjusting the tangible net worth and net income based alternative size standard for the Small Business Investment Company program.

The SBA estimates that nearly 90,000 additional businesses will gain small business status under the adjusted size standards, becoming eligible for SBA loan and contracting programs. This could possibly lead to as much as $750 million in additional federal contracts awarded to small businesses and up to 120 additional small business loans totaling nearly $65 million.

Comments can be submitted on this interim final rule by Sept. 16, 2019, at, identified with the following RIN number: RIN 3245-AH17. Interested parties may also mail comments to Khem R. Sharma, Chief, Office of Size Standards, 409 Third St., SW, Mail Code 6530, Washington, DC 20416.

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ConsensusDocs Contract Language Inspires Congressional Legislation

“Congressmen Pete Stauber (MN-08) and Marc Veasey (TX-33) introduced a bipartisan bill, H.R. 2344, that will require federal agencies to pay at least 50 percent of the actual (incurred or committed) cost percent of the cost of the unilateral change order, which would lessen the negative impacts from unilateral contract changes directed by the government,” according to Jordan Howard of AGC for CnsensusDocs recent newsletter.

The measure was promoted by the Associated General Contractors of America and other construction associations.  AWI is a member of the ConsensusDocs Coalition.

See Construction Legislative Week in Review for more information.

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U.S. DOC Issues Affirmative Preliminary Determination in the Countervailing Duty Investigation of Imports of Wooden Cabinets & Vanities from China

During the first week of August, the U.S. Department of Commerce issued the affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of imports of wooden cabinets and vanities and components thereof from China, finding that exporters received countervailable subsidies ranging from 10.97 to 229.24%.

Based on these preliminary rates, the Department of Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of wooden cabinets and vanities from China.

In 2018, imports of wooden cabinets and vanities from China were valued at an estimated $4.4 billion.

The petitioner is the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance.

Commerce is currently scheduled to announce its final CVD determination on or about Dec. 17, 2019.

If Commerce makes an affirmative final determination, the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) will be scheduled to make its final injury determination on or about Jan. 30, 2020. If Commerce makes an affirmative final determination in this investigation, and the ITC makes an affirmative final injury determination, Commerce will issue a CVD order. If Commerce makes a negative final determination, or the ITC makes a negative final determination of injury, the investigation will be terminated and no order will be issued.

Click here for a fact sheet on the decision.

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AWI e-briefs

Upcoming Editions

Watch for e-briefs on:

  • Sept. 5—News Edition of AWI & Affiliated Organizations (WCA, QCP, Speakers Bureau, AWIEF)

  • Sept. 19—Business & Industry News Edition (standards, industry, safety, construction, selected government legislation/regulations, and other news)

Depend on e-briefs to bring you news of AWI publications and programs and other pertinent information that impacts your architectural woodwork business.

For prior issues of AWI e-briefs, click here.

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Upcoming Education

Sept. 5-6

Project Management Seminar

Grand Rapids, MI
Host: AWI Great Lakes Chapter

Sept. 20
Financial Management Seminar
El Paso, TX
Host: AWI West Texas Chapter
Information / Registration

Sept. 26-27
Advanced Estimating Seminar
Host: AWI Texas Chapter
Information / Registration 




Aug. 23
AWI Ohio Valley Chapter
Annual Golf Outing

Sept. 5-6
AWI Great Lakes Chapter
Project Management Seminar

Sept. 19
AWI Heart of America Chapter
Golf Outing
Information: Gene Twomey,

Sept. 19
AWI New England Chapter
Workshop - “Workers Comp-Managing Your Risk” &
Plant Tour - UTEC, Lowell, MA

Sept. 20
AWI New Jersey Chapter
“Securing Your Tomorrow:
Understanding the Basics of
Mechanic’s Lien”

Sept. 20
AWI West Texas Chapter
Financial Management Seminar

Sept. 20
AWI Carolinas Chapter
Membership Meeting & 50th Anniversary Gala
Information: Lee Stephenson,

Sept. 26-27
AWI Texas Chapter
Advanced Estimating Seminar



Before Prices Increase

Oct. 6-8, 2019
67th AWI Annual Convention
Omni Providence Hotel
Providence, RI


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