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Clayton native leads statewide contractors' association

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

Judy Turpin, president of Turpin Inc., Horizontal Boring in Lake City, has been chosen to lead the Georgia Utility Contractors Association (GUCA).

She was installed as president of the statewide professional organization on June 13, during GUCA's annual conference at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island resort in Florida.

Turpin, Inc., which has been in business in Clayton County for 43 years, is a state leader in utility contracting safety, winning GUCA's coveted Hard Hat Safety Award in 2004, 2006, and 2007.

Vikki McReynolds, executive director of GUCA, said she believes Turpin is well-suited to lead the organization, which works to educate and ensure the safety of utility workers, who spend much of their time working underground.

"In our industry, safety is a big issue," McReynolds said. "We try to strive for integrity and ethical conduct for our members. Not only does she set the example, she has enthusiasm, especially in this tough economy. She says keep moving forward, keep getting bids, keep doing the programs we do ... I think she can help people see the light at the end of the tunnel."

As president of GUCA, Turpin will lead the organization's board of directors, identify statewide goals for the industry, lobby Congress for stimulus funding, and against new laws that negatively impact the industry, and represent the organization in the media in the event of a major accident.

Turpin believes another duty will be to help fellow utility contractors adapt to the sagging economy. "We've been in [the contracting business] for 43 years and this is about the third hard time, but probably the hardest time," she said. "The young people have never seen times like this, and it has gotten to a lot of them. With the finances and the banks not lending money, that has hurt a lot of people.

"We all know that tough times don't last, but tough people do," she continued. "The biggest key in a situation like this is being adaptable. Instead of being 'doom and gloom,' I can see where we can all move together and improve as a team."

McReynolds said that Turpin, a Forest Park native, has held numerous leadership positions at GUCA for the past several years, serving on its legislative, conference, membership, policy planning, and personnel committees. In 2008, she chaired GUCA's annual golf tournament fund-raiser, bringing in more than $40,000 - the most money ever generated by the event.

In addition, McReynolds saluted Turpin, Inc., a relatively small company, for staying buoyant during a rough economy. She said Turpin's business sense can be of help to other GUCA members.

"They have survived this economy ... that alone is kudos to them," McReynolds said. "We've had larger companies fair far worse than she has. In today's economy, you have to be very savvy. When there is no work out there, you have to find other ways to be marketable. I think they have, and that is to be commended."

Turpin said she will focus on helping GUCA members make the most of their resources while looking forward. "It will be a long time before it gets back to where it was," she said. "People are bidding more contracts now, and I think, eventually, it will turn around. I'm a very positive person and I'm not going to fret about yesterday."