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The Power In Digitally Connecting Construction Executives – Interview With Jeremy Owens

Jeremy Owens - US construction zone

US Construction Zone (USCZ) is a digital networking platform that is designed for business management, entrepreneurs, decision-makers, executives, leaders in the industry, and all those who aim to improve the field of construction. By offering a platform where pertinent information is carefully curated and available, expert knowledge and innovative ideas are shared, and networking with those in specific and broad areas of the construction industry offers value, USCZ aims to greatly enhance the construction industry. USCZ is ideal for opening doors for larger industry growth, collective humanitarian efforts, and utilizing technology in a way that moves the industry into the future where organizations are more closely connected by common works, in spite of distance.

Thank you so much for joining us!  Can you share with us a little bit about What US Construction Zone is and Why you started it?

Thank you for having me! US Construction Zone is a digital networking platform that is designed for business management, entrepreneurs, decision-makers, executives, leaders in the industry, and all those who aim to improve the field of construction. We offer a platform where pertinent information is carefully curated and available, expert knowledge and innovative ideas are shared and educational opportunities are readily at your fingertips.  USCZ is ideal for opening doors for larger industry growth, collective humanitarian efforts, and utilizing technology in a way that moves the industry into the future where organizations are more closely connected by common works, in spite of the distance.

The idea for US Construction Zone began 3-4 years ago at a trade conference where a group of my peers and I shared our experiences, success stories, and failures.  It was a very positive experience, whereupon leaving the event, we exchanged numbers, but as happens with many after-conference plans, we all knew we would likely not stay in touch. A business owner from Tennessee said he wished there was an easier way to stay connected as a peer group, and we all just nodded our heads in agreement.  Fast forward a year, and that experience kept bouncing around in my mind, and I started writing down my thoughts and ideas for a useful way that peers could stay in touch and learn from each other long after a conference ends. 

 

Your business seems to span across all of the construction ecosystem, can you share with us the mission of US Construction Zone and how it serves the broader community? 

The goal with USCZ always has been to create the vehicle where powerful networking can occur, but the secret ingredient is to find the correct user. We have been very deliberate in our messaging and mindful of who we are after because we want our users to have a positive, productive, and inspiring experience – from self-employed to those working at large corporations. We seek executives, management, and decision-makers in the construction industry who have something to say, share, or give back to the industry.  We are finding that many times, the greatest minds in the construction industry also have the biggest and most generous hearts.  I can’t wait to meet more of these professionals and once they are connected together, witness what they can fix and construct in our industry! 

To see where my heart is, I encourage you to read my Open Letter to the Industry on our About Us Page.

I noticed on your website that there are different “Zones” can you discuss with our readers what these zones are?  

As we expand USCZ, we want to bring our members valuable information, educational opportunities, resources on how to get involved in the industry and ways to partner with us in this mission. We currently have a Partner Zone, which will list all of the ways that you can partner with USCZ, including forming private communities for your own members or organization. Our Impact Zone page will have resources on how we all can get involved in the industry – either by participating with charity organizations or communities that are in crisis. We also have a podcast titled In the Zone along with Construction Executives Live, which is a monthly live show that we are starting April 6th. 

I understand that industry education from a peer level is lacking in many areas of the construction industry –  How is US Construction Zone approaching this industry issue?

I think a bigger problem than the lack of educational opportunities is the difficulty in finding them and the fractured nature of our industry. Most opportunities are only available if you are a member of a trade association, purchase a type of software, fit a certain financial parameter or belong to a certain group and most are very costly to the average owner in construction. 

At USCZ, we want to be inclusive to all aspects and all professional people in the construction industry. Not just one sector, one type of contractor or a particular size, we needed a community for all executives to connect, collaborate and construct a better, more sustainable industry! 

The construction industry has been known to have significant gender and diversity deltas compared to other industries can you discuss ways organizations have been making strides in the last few years to close these gaps? 

We have let the “old school” ways of being a construction business rule for entirely too long and these methods have prevented and detracted women and most minority groups from entering the industry. The good news is, I am meeting some dynamic and powerful new leaders that are shifting this narrative in very positive and impactful ways. Most of these leaders come from diverse backgrounds and many of them are women. They are forming trade organizations, holding conferences and celebrating the positive trends that we are seeing instead of dwelling on why we were stuck in the mud for so long as an industry.

At USCZ, we want to find these people and highlight them by being on our podcast, interview them as a “member spotlight,” or ask them to be a presenter on Construction Executives Live. These will be the people that lead the next generation of the construction industry and it is time to give them the reins, especially when it comes to how we are messaging and portraying our industry to prospective new personnel to the workforce. 

I recently saw that construction had one of the highest addiction and suicide rates across industries – this was a bit shocking to me – can you add any insights into this and what can be done to support owners and workers in need? 

 Just like anything, it starts with understanding the data that is in front of us and starting the conversation, even if it is one business at a time. For most, the incredibly high suicide rate in construction is surprising or new to them, mainly because this information has been suppressed and not communicated effectively to the industry. Well, that is changing, under great leadership from friends of USCZ like Dr. Sally Spencer-Thomas, Brent Darnell and Cal Beyer, they are starting the conversation with the entire industry and my only hope is that more listen. This initiative is deeply important to our entire team at USCZ and we will do our best to keep the conversation going on our platform, even if it is one person at a time.

Matthew Loughran is a columnist at Disrupt Magazine, he specializes in Tech, Finance, Wellness, and Startups. He has been featured in Forbes, INC, Entrepreneur, Today Show, BuzzFeed, and several other news outlets.

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