IRTBA Thanks Julie Wrightsman for Outstanding Service

In January, Julie Wrightsman, President of Maintenance Coatings Company and Chairperson of the Board with the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders Association, will step down from her post with IRTBA and pass the gavel to Mike Paine, who will serve as Chair until 2026.

Julie had nothing but praise for Mike as he prepares to take on the role she has held for the past two years. “Mike has a really deep knowledge of the industry as a whole. He's a great leader. He came up through the Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) here at the Illinois Road and Transportation Builders and that gave him a solid foundation to lead in this industry. In addition, he's extremely diplomatic and he's a great communicator.”

Julie took on the role of Board Chair two years ago and served as Chair-Elect for two years prior to that. When approached about undertaking the trajectory to the Chair, “I said ‘no’ about ten times first, but I really wanted to give back to the industry.” She says she is most proud of her work to preserve the Safe Roads Amendment Act, which she and the IRTBA have been heavily involved in supporting through legal action and advocacy. In addition, under her leadership, IRTBA once again began holding strategic planning sessions, which had been on hiatus for five years.

Known by those who have worked with her for her fair-mindedness and her infectious spirit of joy, Julie will continue to be heavily involved in IRTBA Committees and will remain on the Board of Directors as Immediate Past Chair for two years.

Julie came to her career in construction in a unique way. “Maintenance Coatings was my father’s business and my brother and I stepped in when he retired in 2005. Working in the construction industry was decided for me, but I love working with the people. The people are the best part of this industry.”

“It was about 2012 when I started attending IRTBA events and I quickly saw how the Association would benefit my company. I started getting involved at the committee level. The Golf Committee and the Equal Opportunity (EO) Committee were the first ones I got involved with and I eventually became Chair of the EO Committee. I served a partial year on the Board of Directors in 2016 and, in 2019, I was asked to accept the position of Chair Elect, to become Chairperson of the Board in 2022.”

“The Board of Directors are the decision makers for the for the Association. We determine the direction that the IRTBA will go and we make key decisions for the Association. We also guide the committees in terms of how we’re going to interact with different agencies and things like that.”

Among the many industry issues Julie has been involved with as leader of IRTBA’s Board of Directors is the rise of EV’s and the resulting impacts. “One of the key issues for the future of this industry is going to be looking for funding sources to maintain our roads, as we have been so dependent on the motor fuel tax. As electric vehicles and fuel efficiency are on the rise, we need to adapt.”

That’s one of the many reasons IRTBA is so vital to the Illinois transportation construction and design field. “We advocate legislatively, so we not only sometimes propose legislation, but we will try and defeat legislation that may be detrimental to our organization. We fight for funding for our organization.”

“We also have great networking events, opportunities to network and develop your business. We provide Friday Facts, one of the leading transportation publications for the entire state. Also, we are an excellent resource to our agency partners and government partners when they're developing their policies; we act as a sounding board and we can provide information as to why maybe something will or won't work, so IRTBA is just are a great partnership for our government agency partners.”

“If you want to support our industry and support our efforts in both Springfield and Washington, D.C., which will ultimately benefit your business, you need to become an IRTBA member. There are also great networking opportunities to further develop your business and relationships within the industry. If you want to really drive and develop policy, you can participate on committees. Instead of being one voice in an industry, IRTBA allows you to unite with other companies and advocate for your business and the industry from a place of strength and unity.”

IRTBA’s united voice earned many gains during Julie’s time as Chair. IRTBA fought for the Lockbox case, offered Covid guidance to the industry, lobbied for increased funding, navigated the Davis Bacon Act changes for member agencies, and more. IRTBA’s Board, Committees, and members all share our thanks to Julie for her service.