GUCA ANNOUNCES THE 2017-2018 GUCA LIFETIME INDUSTRY ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Claudette was raised in Tupelo, Mississippi and continued her education by attending Bauder College in Atlanta, Georgia. Since joining Georgia 811, Claudette has held the positions of Executive Director and most recently President/C.E.O. The origins of the Georgia Call Center date back to a tragic accident in May 1968 involving a natural gas explosion that took the lives of seven children and two adults at a daycare facility in Hapeville, Georgia. In 1974 Atlanta Gas Light, Georgia Power, and Bellsouth formed Utilities Protection Center, Inc. Georgia was among the first ten states in the nation to form a statewide one-call system. The “Call Before You Dig” law was enacted on July 1, 1986. The Center became known as Georgia 811 in 2010 following the FCC mandate that 811 become the national “Call Before You Dig” number.
Working with like-minded individuals, Georgia 811 is a 75 employee company specializing in training, education and the processing of locate requests to keep Georgia safe and connected. This is done in conjunction with their liaison staff, call center, IT, customer connections and accounting functions, all working together to make for a successful business.
Claudette states that the first key to a successful business is to follow her personal motto, “Always surround yourself with people smarter than yourself.” She goes on to say, “You can’t run a successful business unless you care about your employees and your clients and you always need to treat them fairly and with deep respect. Treat others the way you wish to be treated. Also, you need to keep your eye on the business of the business to ensure that operations run smoothly and in full compliance with all governing laws and regulations.”
Claudette has faced many of the typical day to day challenges that the leader of an organization is presented with and she has gone on to lead the company through these challenges. As a prime example, when the Olympics came to Atlanta in 1996, in order to ensure that locate requests were processed in the event that traffic would prohibit employees from getting to work, Claudette inaugurated the telecommuter program. It started with just 4 employees and today every employee has the opportunity to work from home. Once the telecommuting program took root, the next challenge was what to do with the open office space. Georgia 811 now offers two training/meeting spaces to stakeholders. This in turn has put the company in the Platinum category of the Georgia Clean Air Campaign and is looked upon as one of the top benefits the company has to offer.
Claudette says that when the company was first started they had to persuade people to call before digging. Through organizational efforts and educating the public about the benefits of calling first and the need to dig safely, millions of locate requests are processed annually and underground utility damages are being prevented. Currently, the company processes approximately 1.2 million locate requests transmitting some 15.8 million notices to our member utilities.
Claudette has been an industrial trailblazer. She was a member of the original One Call Systems International (OCSI) and then became chair of the Georgia Utilities Coordinating Council (GUCC). She was also a national board member of the American Public Works Association (APWA). She joined this association early in her career to learn more about roads and street construction as well as water and sewer systems. After serving as the OCSI chair, Claudette was appointed by Elizabeth Dole and Samuel Skinner to serve as a public member of the Technical Pipeline Safety Standards Committee which led to her appointment to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) task force. One of her tasks on this task force was to come up with a national slogan to encourage safe digging, which ultimately became “Dig Safely”. After serving in various capacities, that committee evolved to become the Common Ground Alliance (CGA). At the same time, Claudette formed the Southeastern One Call System (SOCS) in the early 1990s and that served as the model for CGA. On a more local level, she was instrumental in GUCC’s transformation into a statewide organization of over 300 members and over 40 local committees across the state. Additionally, she led the formation of the International Locate Rodeo which recognizes the work and dedication of the locating community.
Claudette also has been a member of GUCA since 1980. GUCA was the first organization that Claudette joined when she was appointed to her position as Executive Director at Georgia 811. Claudette has been an active member of GUCA since joining the organization. She has served on numerous committees, functions, and meetings, always bringing her knowledge and expertise, along with a willingness to learn to help foster solutions to outstanding issues. “GUCA has been instrumental in making an opportunity for me to learn about the utility construction industry. The organization and its leadership has been a tremendous asset to all our stakeholders inthe safe digging industry for its ability to recognize what their members need and to respond to those needs with quality education on the latest laws and regulations.”
GUCA Executive Director Vikki Consiglio states, “Claudette was my mentor when I was hired as Executive Director of GUCA. I knew Claudette through another association and I called her immediately to help me through the One Call Process! Claudette and I have worked on Georgia’s One Call Law and she has always been a go to person when excavators need help. I call her first a professional, a leader, a mentor and a visionary. I hope I made her as proud of me as I am of her.”
Georgia Utility Contractors Association, Inc. is a non-profit state trade association located in metro Atlanta representing more than 370 contractors and affiliated firms statewide. GUCA represents the workforce who supplies, installs and rehabilitates the infrastructure of water, sewer, gas, electrical, telecommunications and other underground utility systems for the public and private sector including pipe and plant installation. For more information about GUCA, please visit www.guca.com.