Veteran utility contractor named ‘Ditchdigger of the Year’

By Paige HaeffeleApril 13, 2022

Fred Chesney receives his honor from Kara Habrock, past NUCA president and 2018 Ditchdigger of the Year award winner

A man who’s said to have “dedicated his life to the underground utility industry” recently received the ‘Ditchdigger of the Year’ award from the National Utility Contractors Association (NUCA).

Fred Chesney, a former NUCA chairman, was honored for his decades of industry experience and years of work supporting the organization’s programs. 

This national award is awarded each year to a NUCA contractor member who has made a significant contribution to the organization and the underground utility construction and excavation industry. The 2021 award was presented to Chairman Chesney at the association’s annual meeting held in March of this year in San Antonio, TX.

“Fred has passionately dedicated his time, talent and treasure to promoting NUCA and the industry for more than 30 years,” said Doug Carlson, NUCA chief executive officer. “With his many years of commitment, it would be next to impossible to list all of Fred’s contributions to advancing the underground utility industry over the years, but Fred has made his mark on this industry and our association.”

Chesney earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida in building construction management before starting his business Centerline Utilities Inc. four years later in 1980. He served as the company’s president until his retirement last year.

Under Chesney’s management, Centerline became a well-respected underground utility contractor located in the South Florida area, according to a release from NUCA. The company joined the local chapter NUCA of South Florida (then known as the Utility Contractors Association of South Florida) in 1986.

Chesney has been long involved in the industry’s associations, including in his local industry chapter. He served on that chapter’s board of directors beginning in 1989, and before assuming the chairman’s title for NUCA he served as the national association’s chairman-elect, vice chairman and secretary, and as a contractor director since the early 2010s.

Chesney’s Centerline Utility was named his local chapter’s Member Company of the Year in 2009 and 2010; Contractor of the Year in 2010, 2012 and 2014; and NUCA of Florida Contractor of the Year in 2016.

He has been a major sponsor of his chapter’s events, actively recruits new members to the association, and has been an ever-present participant to NUCA’s Washington Summit lobbying events, national conventions and industry meetings.

Most recently, Chesney served as the past chairman of NUCA National in 2020-21. He led the organization through the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and through his leadership expanded the ranks of the national association with his NUCA+1 membership growth initiative.

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