As the three finalists for ABC’s first-annual Young Professional of the Year award, Chris Beckering, Greg Schniegnenberg and Shon Smith have proven that finding something you’re passionate about, working hard and sharing your knowledge with others can lead you down a path to success both professionally and personally.
Out of 108 nominations from more than 80 different companies, the following three young professionals were chosen by a judging panel to represent the top emerging leaders in the association. On Nov. 11 during ABC’s Leadership Conference, Shon Smith of ACI Mechanical in Ames, Iowa, was selected as the winner of the 2015 Young Professional of the Year Award.
Meet Shon Smith
||Prefabrication Manager, ACI Mechanical
ABC Iowa Chapter
One piece of advice: "The construction industry is full of chances for young go-getters to excel and make a difference. A little effort, hard work and determination will take you far in our field."
After attending college and realizing it wasn’t for him, Shon Smith decided to enter the Navy. Throughout his service, he was a part of very unique experiences including being stationed in Asia and being named Sailor of the Quarter. After returning to the states and getting married, Shon found himself unsure of what to do—until he landed in the construction industry. Shon went on to win the gold medal in ABC’s 2008 National Craft Championship Sheet Metal competition and knew he had to share his passion with others considering the trades as a career.
“Being able to compete against the best apprentices and understanding the high level of quality displayed by my fellow competitors gave me a great feeling of achievement,” said Shon. “It holds a level of prestige that I try to carry out through my involvement with the NCC Committee so all gold medal winners can understand its significance.”
He hopes to change the perception of the industry and does so through speaking to hundreds of high school students each year about the career opportunities in the industry, teaching apprenticeship classes, participating on ABC’s National Craft Championships committee among many other efforts.
"It is an honor and a blessing to be named ABC's Young Professional of the Year," said Shon. "I'm humbled by the accolade but excited to represent ABC as the Young Professional of the Year. To be named the winner out of a field of 100 top young professionals and then recognized with two other deserving finalists is a great feeling."
But Shon doesn’t just stop there—he gives back to his community regularly. He has been a volunteer firefighter, coached little league, is active in his local church, and volunteers to help military veterans and their families through the Folds of Honor Foundation. Shon currently lives in Iowa with his wife and two daughters.
Meet Chris Beckering
||Vice President of Strategic Business Operations, Pioneer Construction
Grand Rapids, Michigan
ABC Western Michigan Chapter
One piece of advice: "Pick the right team. Where you choose to spend your time and the people with whom you are surrounded by can make all the difference in the world. Find an organization that feels like a good fit with great people who will challenge and support you."
Chris Beckering knows from experience the importance of protecting open competition in the construction industry and has believed in the merit shop philosophy his whole life. In fact, his grandfather was a founding member of the Contractors & Suppliers Association, which became ABC Western Michigan.
“I am a freedom fighter and will do whatever I can, wherever I can, to defend the merit shop philosophy and free enterprise,” said Chris.
In his twelve years in the industry, he’s done just that. As past chair of ABC of Michigan, he helped the state accomplish two major goals—Banning Project Labor Agreements and making Michigan a Right-to-Work state. Now as a board member and co-chair of the prevailing wage repeal taskforce, he is well on his way too helping the state reach a third major goal of the merit shop of overriding the pending gubernational veto of the repeal of prevailing wage.
Throughout his career, Chris has led and been a part of major, notable projects in Michigan. In 2001, he helped begin the revitalization of the American Seating Company campus by leading conceptual development, partnership development and holding the project manager role for a 300,000 sq.-ft. renovation of a 100-year-old manufacturing campus. The final project, a mixed-use community, received the Governor’s award for Historic Preservation and an ABC Excellence in Construction Award for Historical Renovation over $10 million.
Chris lives in Michigan with his wife, Ashley, and their four sons - Topher, Maverick, Tucker and Oliver. His hobbies include golf and spending time with his kids.
Meet Greg Schniegenberg
||Vice President, Helix Electric
ABC Northern California
One piece of advice: "Don't spend your career bouncing around searching for the perfect job. Commit to a good company and create it."
Greg Schniegenberg has spent his career at Helix Electric since graduating from University of Cincinnati where he first got engaged with ABC. Now as a vice president of the company, he focuses heavily on recruiting and preparing students for a career in construction, being an advocate for the merit shop in California and helping his company and the industry create a team-oriented and employee-empowered culture.
“I believe that we must work collectively to build our future workforce and demonstrate that there is a true pathway for success in the construction industry,” said Greg.
Throughout his career he has done his part in getting local politicians who support the merit shop elected, developed training programs within his company, served in many ABC leadership roles and led the fastest-growing business group at Helix. He’s also made it a goal of his to bring young leaders into the industry who understand the importance of ABC and its philosophy. The company has recruited more than 40 interns to Helix and requires them to get involved with ABC committees and events, many of whom come directly from his recruitment efforts at his alma mater. His involvement is paying off—The University of Cincinnati Construction Management team recently won the 2015 Construction Management Competition and the Student Chapter of the Year award.
Greg is an avid golfer and basketball player. He has two kids, Morgan and Colton, and co-founded the Morgan Amelia Foundation, a charity that supports families and children dealing with an extremely rare and catastrophic form of epilepsy.
The Young Professional of the Year Award was created in 2015 to honor and acknowledge the next generation of leaders in the construction industry. The award takes into account the nominee’s participation in ABC at a local and national level, their dedication to growing the industry and their achievements in work and in the community.