The De La Salle Collegiate Alumni Association has added another professional networking group to the mix: the Pilot Construction Association.
The Pilot Construction Association, which is designed for construction professionals who are alumni of De La Salle and friends of the school, is De La Salle’s fourth professional networking group. It joins the previously formed Pilot Bar, Business, and Medical Associations.
De La Salle’s newest networking group came to be through a happenstance encounter – and on the job – between Pilots alumni Andrew Devich, a class of 2010 graduate, and Jim Muer, a class of 1985 graduate.
Both Devich and Muer have also had relatives that have attended De La Salle.
Devich’s brother, Eric, graduated from the school in 2008. Meanwhile, Muer is part of a long line of family members that have walked the hallways of The Collegiate at one point or another.
Nine total Muers have attended De La Salle over the years, including Jim’s late father, Anthony W. Muer IV. Anthony, a 1939 graduate of De La Salle, was the first Muer to graduate from the school. He was a past president of the DLS Board of Trustees and was the honoree at the 1989 Christian Brothers’ Dinner.
Additionally, Jim’s son, Mason, is a present Pilot student and is set to graduate this spring.
“I vividly remember the camaraderie and the brotherhood during my time as a Pilot,” Muer said. “It stuck out big time, and I see it with my son and his classmates now. In my opinion, you can’t replicate the atmosphere and experience at any other school.”
Devich and Muer met at a meeting between Devich’s employer, Livegistics, and Muer’s employer, Ideal Contracting, in late 2022.
Although from completely different eras in the 97-year history of De La Salle, the two developed an instant connection with one another – originating from their affiliation with the Lasallian, all-boys school. And, all it took was Devich noticing that Muer was wearing a DLS pullover.
“It sparked a conversation after the meeting, and we proceeded to start talking about our experiences at De La Salle,” Devich said. “We then conversed about the different alumni groups and figured there should be one for construction professionals, too, that similarly gives back to the school and the current students.”
And now, there is just that: a professional networking group for those in the construction field, much to the credit of Devich and Muer. However, it wasn’t just Devich and Muer that got the group off the ground running. Brad Benigni, ‘99, of Taylor Door, also contributed to the group’s founding.
Along with the assistance of Alumni Director Dennis Koch, ‘94, these aforementioned “founding fathers” organized the group’s inaugural meeting, which was held on January 10 at De La Salle. The meeting was sponsored by Carter Wilson, ‘14, of Vested Risk Strategies.
At the meeting, Devich and Muer each touched upon a variety of topics, including the purpose of the association.
“It’s about creating sustainability within the industry. It’s about showing our students that there is a future in this industry outside of swinging a hammer,” Devich said. “It's scary to think that in future years, we may not have construction workers to keep the lights on for us, and it’s important to get together as alumni and to network and support De La Salle.”
Muer shares a similar vision for the Pilot Construction Association. He envisions it providing an opportunity to alumni, students, and friends of the school to engage and network with like-minded individuals who share the same passions for construction and De La Salle.
“Our group will give its members an opportunity to mentor both current students and recent graduates who might be considering a career in the industry, and to organize and lead volunteer opportunities for the students,” Muer expressed. “Also, we will be available to assist student groups and facility projects that may be in need of the expertise of our members.”
Additionally, Muer hopes that the Pilot Construction Association – via its variety of well-versed, accomplished members – will be able to offer internships and summer employment for present DLS students, as well as provide a comprehensive database for alumni looking for employment opportunities.
Along with the founding fathers, the group’s list of members includes the following:
- Carter Wilson, ‘14, of Vested Risk Strategies
- Construction attorney Joe DeLave, ‘80, of Dickinson Wright PLLC
- Joe Leone, ‘94, of The Christman Company
- Mike Bucci, ‘91, of Alta eMobility
- Mario Fusciardi, ‘16, of Keller Williams Platinum
- Christopher Klaft of Weiss Construction
- Jimmy Mattina, ‘12, Andrew Palazzolo, ‘12, and Joe Palazzolo, ‘84, of Detroit Spectrum Painters, Inc.,
- Scott Schollenberger, ‘87, of Barton Malow
- Paul Torres, ‘14, of D.V.M. Utilities, Inc.
- Vincent Torres, ‘18, and Robert Turo of Commercial Contracting Corporation
Devich, for one, is excited about the opportunity the Pilot Construction Association has afforded him to give back to his alma mater.
“I wanted an opportunity to give back to the school with my skill set, to help students realize there is a career in the construction industry (outside of hard labor work),” Devich expressed.
“The school itself has helped me take advantage of networking opportunities that I could have never made without my De La Salle education. It is important to me to be a part of something that can help continue that for years to come.”
It doesn’t matter how significant the age gap is between De La Salle graduates. If you’re an alumnus of the school, you have a natural bond with every other alum. Just look at the connection that Devich and Muer have formed with one another, for example.
Their joining of forces is also just the latest example of the strength of De La Salle’s rich alumni base being utilized to make a difference.
Undoubtedly, the Pilot Construction Association wouldn’t exist today without Devich’s and Muer’s chance encounter. And, the De La Salle Alumni Association is that much better because of it.
If you would like to become a member of the Pilot Construction Association, please sign up here.