WHO IS

BUILDING ADVANTAGE?

Building Advantage promotes union commercial construction as the first choice on behalf of union members and the contractors who employ them. Our Member Stakeholders deliver safe, quality construction projects, on time and on budget. They do this through investment in their people, their companies and their industry.

We were created by the Construction Labor Management Council of Southeast Wisconsin to promote the benefits of hiring union construction contractors and tradespeople. Building Advantage is comprised of thousands of tradespeople, hundreds of contractors, and five management associations.

Directors

Chris Mambu Rasch

Executive Director

Chris advances the interests of union contractors and tradespeople in the Greater Milwaukee Area. By partnering with industry stakeholders and community leaders, Chris ensures that Building Advantage is at the forefront of crucial construction industry initiatives including workforce, business and economic development.

Katie Connell

Communications Director

Katie promotes and supports the work being done by union contractors and tradespeople through various marketing, communications and public relations efforts.

Executive Board

The Building Advantage Executive Board is made up of six labor and six management representatives, along with six industry advisors from across southeastern Wisconsin. Together, we work to solve issues of mutual concern, like recruiting our future workforce and getting our current members back to work.

Co-Chairs

Dan Bukiewicz

President

Dan was elected to President of the Milwaukee Building & Construction Trades Council in January of 2014. Before being elected to serve the Council, Dan had been a Business Representative of IBEW Local 494 since 2012 where he provided representation for all contracts, apprenticeships, pensions, grievances, and communications with various industry and businesses affiliated with Local 494. Prior to becoming a Business Representative, he spent 19 years at a large electrical contractor where he worked his way from an Account Representative to Service Department Manager.

He also is serving his third term as Oak Creek’s Second District Alderman where he represents the interests of 3,500-4,000 residents. He serves on various committees, including:

  • Planning Committee
  • Finance Committee
  • Personnel Committee
  • Park and Recreation Board Member

Christopher Martinez

Founder & President

Chris Martinez is the founder and president of Dairyland Energy Solutions. For more than 20 years, the company has worked on notable Milwaukee projects such as; Johnson Controls HQ, Northwestern Mutual, Miller Park among others. Chris has remained an active member of the building trades and currently serves on the Milwaukee Electrical Apprenticeship Board as well as current board president of the Plumbing Mechanical Contractors.

Education:

  • Wisconsin State Indentured Apprenticeship – Milwaukee J.A.T.C.
  • Cardinal Stritch University – Business Administration
  • Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business – Executive Management

Additional information:

  • Wisconsin State Certified Master Electrician
  • Member of The Joint Apprenticeship Committee
  • Member of Butler Chamber of Commerce
  • Member of National Electrical Contractors Association
  • Member of The Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce
  • President of Plumbing & Mechanical Contractors
  • Past board member of Milwaukee Achiever Literacy Services
  • Past School Board President, St. Anthony Parish School
  • Past Director of Associated General Contractors
  • Past labor member of the Negotiating Committee

Labor Representatives

Tony Mayrhofer

Business Manager & Financial Secretary

Tony Mayrhofer is the Business Manager/Financial Secretary of Ironworkers Local 8. He was sworn into Ironworkers Local 8 on March 24, 1999. During his career as an ironworker, he has proudly served Local 8 as an Instructor, Vice President, and Business Agent and served as Business Manager for the past four years. He is one of the first Business Managers within the International Association to develop a comprehensive three-year business plan and has recently secured a $600,000 Supplemental Grant to expand training within Local 8. Under his leadership, Local 8 has been awarded the 2016 George E. Kratzer Award of Excellence from the International Association and has received the 2017 Lyle A. Balistreri Outstanding Recognition Awards for Local of the year, Business Manager of the year and Business Agent of the year.

He served in the United States Army Reserve for 18 years and participated in three combat tours to Iraq and Afghanistan. In his spare time he enjoys cooking, canoeing and hiking with his girlfriend, Kathryn.

Bart Swearingen

Business Agent

Bart Swearingen serves as a Business Agent for the Milwaukee area 558, focusing on Milwaukee and Ozaukee counties.

Scott Knocke

President & Business Manager

Scott Knocke has been a proud member of SMART for 34 years.  He started his Sheet Metal career in 1989 and finished his 5-year apprenticeship in 1995.  After his apprenticeship, he worked as a Field Superintendent until 2017.  In 2008 he was elected to the Executive Board for Local 18 and continued to hold that position until 2017.  In 2017, Scott was elected as the Local 18 Business Representative/Apprenticeship Coordinator and also to the Sheboygan Labor Council as financial Secretary/ Treasurer.  In 2018, Scott was elected President of the Sheboygan Trade and labor Hall Association, which he still holds. In 2020, the Local 18 membership elected him as their Financial/Secretary Treasurer Business Representative, where he continued to hold that position until 2022.  Scott was elected to the International Production and Sign Council of SMART as Vice President, and he continues to hold that position.  In 2022, Scott was elected as the President/Business Manager for Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 18 and he continues in that capacity today.

Scott and his wife Kelly have been married for 27 years and they have two children. His daughter, Kaitlin, will graduate from UW Madison in 2023 with degrees in Political Science and Legal Studies. His son, Mason, is currently at Western Michigan University studying Sports Management.  In his free time, Scott likes to go fishing on Lake Michigan and hunting.

Doug Volland

Business Representative

Doug Volland has served as a Business Representative for the Carpenters’ Union since 2017.

Management Representatives

Frank Grotkiewicz

President

Frank Grotkiewicz became President of New Berlin based Preferred Electrical Contractors, Inc. in 2022. Frank provides innovative design services and manages numerous healthcare projects in the Milwaukee area. Frank began his apprenticeship in 1993 with Local 494 and is now a certified master electrician. He serves on the Electrical Construction Industry Annuity Board and has been a member of NECA since 2014.

Nick Wellenstein

President

Nick Wellenstein serves as President of Wellenstein and Sons, Inc. a Pewaukee based carpentry subcontractor.  Wellenstein and Sons specializes in wood framing and finish carpentry on commercial and high-end residential projects.  With a field staff averaging over 40 union carpenters we are proud to have worked on many of Southeastern Wisconsin’s most high-profile projects over the past 60 plus years.  Nick has worked for the company since 2009 with roles ranging from project manager to estimator.

Nick holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire and lives in Pewaukee with wife and two daughters.

Mike Stern

Senior Project Manager

Mike Stern is a Senior Project Manager at J.H. Findorff and Son, Inc., one of the Midwest’s leading builders with offices in Madison, Milwaukee, and Wausau. He began working at Findorff after graduating from Marquette University in 2010 with a degree in Civil Engineering.

Stern has managed a number of prominent Milwaukee projects including The Moderne and The Commons at Marquette University. He has been on the AGC-GM Board of Directors since 2018 and currently serves as AGC-GM Past President.

Dan Rogers

President

Dan Rogers has served as BREDAN Mechanical System, Inc’s President since 1992.

Dan holds a Mechanical Engineering degree from Southern Illinois University – Carbondale.

Rupert Kotze

President
Since 1983, Rupert has been delivering the kind of work his family’s company has hung their hard hats on for decades. Being a third-generation owner of a construction company gives Rupert a unique perspective on the industry. By watching the company grow and pass hands, Rupert has the special advantage of applying proven experience with contemporary expertise to create a construction company like non-other. Over the years Rupert has found out the key to success: A can-do work ethic, out of the box thinking and Integrity at every stage of the project.

Advisors

Mark Kessenich

CEO

Mark Kessenich became CEO of the Associated General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee in June 2020. As CEO, Kessenich partners with and represents 40 general contractors, over 400 subcontractors and suppliers on issues affecting their businesses. Previously, Mark served as President and CEO of WRTP/BIG STEP. Kessenich holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Jonathan Kowalski

Executive Director

Jonathan Kowalski is the Executive Director of the Plumbing Mechanical and Sheet Metal Contractors’ Alliance (The “Alliance”). He joined the Alliance in 2019 where he is responsible for all the administrative operations of the Alliance and the execution of the policies, programs, and activities of the Alliance organizations. Under the direction of the Executive Committee of PMSMCA, under the authority of the Boards of Directors of the PMC and SMACCA Milwaukee Kowalski works with the Alliance to direct all labor relations activities and he serves as the spokesperson for the Alliance entities in dealing with the labor unions associated with the Alliance entities.

Kowalski’s previous career stops include over 15 years in higher education external relations at the Milwaukee School of Engineering (“MSOE”), the Medical College of Wisconsin and Marquette University.

Kowalski holds a B.A. in Journalism (Print) from the University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN) and a J.D. from DePaul University (Chicago, IL). He and his wife Maggie have two sons and live in Shorewood.

Matt Marcellis

Executive Director

Matt Marcellis became Executive Director of the ACEA in February 2021. Matt is a member of the Wisconsin State Bar and a proud Air Force veteran. His background in construction and business law will give him an edge with the competing interests of business reality and legal risk.

Bob Rayburn

Executive Vice President

Bob Rayburn is the Executive Vice President of National Electrical Contractors Association – Milwaukee. He has been with NECA for 34 years, and has been in his current role for the last 11 years. Rayburn serves on the WRTP and BIG STEP Boards, and is the Secretary of various Electrical Construction Industry Trust Funds.

Lindsay Blumer

President & CEO

Lindsay Blumer is a respected nonprofit organization professional with almost 20 years of experience in executive leadership, strategic planning, entrepreneurship, social enterprise and innovation.  Blumer has worked as a community fellow with United Way of America designing community impact solutions, advising and developing state government advocacy and policy work in various appointed roles, advancing curricular and program design as Assistant Dean at Ripon College, creating collaborative community-based solutions as the executive director of a domestic violence and sexual assault prevention organization and developing entrepreneurial pathways at Marquette University.  Her dedication to mission-based and community-focused work continues to drive her personally and professionally as the newly appointed CEO and President at WRTP|BIG STEP based in Milwaukee, WI.

Industry Partners

Building Advantage was created by The Construction Labor Management Council of Southeast Wisconsin to actively promote the benefits of hiring union construction contractors and trades people. We are comprised of nearly 20,000 trades people, 600 contractors and six management associations throughout Wisconsin.

News

The latest news and communications from Building Advantage and our industry partners.

  • Valuating Risk Management

Valuating Risk Management

For the unwary owner who chooses to build without taking into account aspects such as technical expertise, safety programs, [...]

Industry Resources

We provide a variety of resources for union commercial construction related topics and events.

November 2022 Newsletter
October 2022 Newsletter
September 2022 Newsletter

Contact Us

Interested in learning more about Building Advantage or joining the union construction industry? You’re in the right place! Give us a shout via phone or email — we’re happy to help!

Building Advantage
250 E Wisconsin Ave, Suite 100
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Chris Mambu Rasch, Executive Director
Email: crasch@buildingadvantage.org
Phone: (414) 469-5333

Katie Connell, Communications Director
Email: kconnell@buildingadvantage.org
Phone: (262) 719-6964