Q/A with Joe Sostaric, 2022 UCON Board of Directors President
LEADERSHIP PROFILE: Welcome UCON's 2022 President, Joe Sostaric of The Conco Companies
Joe Sostaric is a corporate Vice President for The Conco Companies and Reliable Trucking, overseeing the company’s trucking and pumping operations. Before working for Conco, he spent more than 20 years in the ready-mix concrete industry with his final position as Vice Preside t and General Manager for CEMEX’s Northern California ready-mix division. Joe served United Contractors as Vice President and was elected President for 2022.
UCON: What are the most significant issues facing the industry?
There are always short-term issues that we need to address. Some that come to mind lately are the vaccination requirements, COVID-19 related issues, and the next round of labor negotiations. Long term, though, one of the most pressing issues we have is the development of people. In construction, we have an aging workforce, and we are not attracting the next generation of talent as we should. A key phrase you hear a lot now is Work/Life Balance. If you search on the internet for jobs that give you Work/Life balance, you will not find construction jobs among them. We must find ways to bring the next level of talent into our industry. We offer excellent, fulfilling jobs that pay well. As all of us that are in this business can attest to, it can also be personally rewarding. We have to get the message out better about this great industry and all it has to offer.
UCON: What do you hope to accomplish in 2022 as the President of UCON?
My simple goal is to continue the path that was blazed by my predecessors and UCON staff building the best statewide organization that provides value to its union members. This can only be achieved by forging strong collaborations with our union partners, and being attentive to the needs of our members, and constantly challenging ourselves to find ways to improve.
UCON: What can the UCON membership do to make the most significant difference for all members and the industry?
The biggest thing the membership can do is participate within the organization where they feel that they have something to offer. When you look at the companies and individuals that make up UCON, there are some incredible people with amazing skill sets. I’ve found that when you share what you have to offer, you not only build the skills of others, but you benefit in the long term as others are more willing to help you.
UCON: What do you like most about being a member of UCON?
The best thing about UCON is the interactions you have with some of the best and smartest people in the industry. Listening to other peoples’ perspectives has allowed me to improve my own decision-making. I find that with UCON, the more you put into the organization, the more you will get out of it. At first, I participated in only the social events. This provided a great opportunity to interact with many people in a casual environment but when I started participating on a committee level and then the board level, what I personally got out of UCON increased exponentially. The relationships I have built at UCON have also given me personal and business relationships that generously share their experiences and opinions when asked.
UCON: What keeps you up at night?
There are constant threats to our industry. From a legislative perspective, there are bills that are being introduced that have the potential to impede our ability to perform our work. These types of threats to the business can make you feel helpless because once enacted, you have no choice but to comply. Luckily, UCON has been successful at remaining vigilant and helping to navigate through these issues. We aren’t always successful, but having people advocate on your behalf has certainly helped.
UCON: What is your favorite thing about working in this industry?
What I love about this industry is that we build tangible things that benefit society. When we finish with a project, we leave a mark. Years later, we can show our grandkids structures that we had a hand in building. Not many other industries allow you to leave a mark for other generations to enjoy.
UCON: What was your first job?
My first job was being a paperboy delivering the Youngstown Vindicator in Youngstown, OH. I would load up my bike and deliver papers in all kinds of weather including rainstorms and snowstorms. For those Californians that never lived anywhere else, bikes are not the best form of transportation when the roads are snowy and icy as I had my share of mishaps. There were many on my route that treated me very well and a few that made it difficult for me to collect payment. At an early age I learned that cash flow for a business meant collecting what is owed!
UCON: What is your hobby/escape?
Lately, I have been playing a fair amount of golf. I enjoy the social aspect of the game—spending time with friends, sharing stories, and making each other laugh. I have also learned humility through the game. Any time that I think I am getting good, the game of golf seems to bring me back to reality. If you are a perfectionist in life, I would suggest you stay away from golf!
UCON: Who was your greatest mentor/why?
I would say it was Matt Gonsalves, the founder of Conco.
Even when faced with significant problems, Matt was unflappable. When Matt was confronted with a situation, his typical response would be to say, “Not a problem.”
He would then calmly work on a solution to whatever dilemma he faced. Matt treated everyone with the same level of respect. For all his success, he was always the same unassuming person. He had an active mind up until his passing as he constantly challenged traditional ways of doing things as he searched for better solutions.