History of ABC

Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) is a national construction industry trade association representing more than 23,000 members including general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, and construction-related professionals in 68 chapters across the United States. Founded on the merit shop philosophy, ABC and its 68 Chapters help members develop people, win work and deliver that work safely, ethically and profitably for the betterment of the communities in which ABC and its members work. ABC’s membership represents all specialties within the U.S. construction industry and is comprised primarily of firms that perform work in the industrial and commercial sectors. 

ABC is the merit shop construction industry’s voice with the legislative, executive and judicial branches of the federal government and with state and local governments, as well as with the news media.

ABC’s activities include government representation, legal advocacy, education, workforce development, communications, technology, recognition through national and chapter awards programs, employee benefits, information on best practices, and business development through an online contractor search directory.

ABC was founded in 1950 when seven contractors gathered in Baltimore, Md., to create an association based on the shared belief that construction projects should be awarded on merit to the most qualified and responsible low bidders. The courage and dedication of those seven contractors helped to quickly spread the merit shop. Today, ABC is recognized as one of the leading organizations representing America’s business community and the merit shop construction industry. Their courage and dedication to the merit shop industry spread rapidly, and within time, ABC became the fastest growing association in the United States. 

History of ABCSD

California’s Secretary of State accepted, endorsed and filed incorporation papers for Associated Builders and Contractors of San Diego, Inc. (ABC San Diego or ABCSD). On September 13, 1976, ABC’s national board of directors granted the growing construction group formal chapter status.  

Another turning point came when ABCSD created a formal training trust in 1986. One year later it asked for state recognition of its first apprenticeship training program.  It first started with just one training program in a small shop on 30th Street for 20 electricians. Then 20 carpenters were added, followed by plumbers and sheet metal workers.  

The first courses took place at Mesa College, sharing space with a pottery lab. It wasn’t too much longer before ABCSD decided it needed a dedicated facility and found a building in the Kearny Mesa area. ABCSD was one of the first in the construction industry to bring its training in-house, a major step at the time.  

The Apprenticeship training program hired its first full time Executive Director, Sherry Yarbrough, in 1999.  

In 2004, ABCSD moved to its current location in Poway, California, with a state of the training facility including 16 classrooms, computer lab, online training capability, and an 11,000 square foot hands-on working lab. Offices and meeting spaces allow ABCSD flexibility to meet the needs of its members in a changing business environment.  

In 1970, 30 percent of the nation’s construction was performed merit shop and six of the top 400 construction firms were ABC members. Today, the merit shop accounts for more than 85 percent of all construction across the country, and ABC’s membership has grown to include more than half of the top 400 construction companies in the United States.