As is often the case, positive relationships and associations arise as a response to individual situations with mutual concerns. Such was the case in regard to the birth of the "Utica Builders Exchange." A lengthy and costly strike against the American Hardwall Plaster Company in 1937 prompted the President of that company, Thomas Proctor Eldred, to suggest the need for builders, and others involved in the industry, to form an association.
Following up on his thoughts and concerns for the building industry in Utica. Thomas Eldred and American Hardwall Plaster Company hosted a dinner meeting at the Hotel Utica in January of 1938. A representative of the Building Industry Employers of New York State, which association had previously been founded in 1895, was invited to attend the gathering and was requested to provide input and direction in regard to the formation of a builders association.
Among those attending the first meeting were Thomas Eldred, American Hardwall Plaster Company; Jack Wilkinson, Ruddy Corporation; Joseph Metzger, Metzger & Sons; George Williams, George Williams & Sons; Rod Hamlin, Hamlin-Harvey Company; and Warren Engles, Bedford Company.
The Utica Builders Exchange became officially organized in the Spring of 1938 and officers were elected. Edward Ullrich was the first President of the Exchange with Tom Eldred serving as Treasurer. The only paid position in the Exchange was that of Executive Secretary, which was filled at that time by Mr. Charles Miller. It is interesting to note that Mr. Miller was an insurance and real estate businessman and served as the paid Secretary of the Utica Rotary Club at that time. Therefore, he was available on a part-time basis to serve in the capacity as Executive Secretary of the Utica Builders Exchange. History reflects that he performed very ably in that position and provided outstanding direction and continuity to the organization through the formative years.
The first office of the Exchange was on Genesee Street in Utica. In addition to a small office for the Executive Secretary, a plan room was maintained with a small additional room for meetings. However, most of the meetings of the Exchange were held at the Hotel Utica. From that initial small location on Genesee Street, the Utica Builders Exchange has undertaken many moves. Each one, however, was to accommodate the expanding membership and needs of the association. The offices now utilized by the Exchange are located on Main Street in Whitesboro.
As in all active organizations, growing pains were a common occurrence. This growth entailed a broadened scope of the geographical area encompassed by the Exchange, increasing numbers of members to be serviced, and the ability to respond to the ever-expanding and changing needs of its members.
It was in recognition of this larger scope of area and services that in 1968 the organization was incorporated and its name changed to the Mohawk Valley Builders Exchange, Inc. The services expected by its membership required the employment of a full-time Executive Director to oversee its operations on a day-to-day basis.
While the core of the member of the Exchange remains that of the general contractor and subcontractor, the addition of materialmen, suppliers, accounting firms, legal firms, insurance and bonding firms, have all added diversity and strength to the fabric and interaction of the association. The scope of services has also grown from labor relations and general construction concerns to encompass architect's relations, legislative analysis, safety management, construction education scholarships and community relations, as well as the identification and analysis of developing trends within the construction industry.
As in any group of individuals and firms who deal on a daily basis within business and time constraints, a great deal can be derived from providing a relaxed social atmosphere from time to time. The Exchange has been extremely successful in this regard, providing its members with general membership meetings, golf outings, clambakes, and other social affairs.
The Exchange has been able to blend the stability of experience with the enthusiasm of newer member firms. Periodic self-evaluation of its goals, abilities, and direction have awarded it with satisfied members and recognition within the construction community of New York State as being a leader in serving the industry.
Inaugurated out of mutual concern, nurtured by commitment and volunteerism, and built upon a foundation of service to the expanding need of its membership and the construction industry, this is the Mohawk Valley Builders Exchange. Proud of our past and committed to meet the challenges of the future.