What is the DBE Master Class?

The Master Class is the vehicle in which CBG will provide strategic resources for DBEs who are eager to either enter the road-paving industry or build capacity in the existing business. CBG will be using their established internal expertise and external partnerships to develop an industry-specific training that will be targeted to the DBE’s capacity.

Some of the subjects that will be explored include:

  • WisDOT Certification Process
  • Establishing a Strategic Vision
  • Employment & Labor Law/Labor Management Agreements
  • Aligning Strategy with Business Development
  • Performance Awareness Workshop
  • Cash Flow Strategies & Income Statements/Balance Sheets
  • Practical Problem Solving & the Art of Communication
  • Business Law & Contracts for Contractors
  • Organizational Effectiveness
  • Project Planning and Scheduling
  • Change Order Management & Supply Chain Management
  • Risk Management and Crisis Control
  • Bidding & Quoting the Accurate Project for Your Company
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  • A 9-unit curriculum designed and delivered by industry Subject Matter Experts
  • Industry perspectives, advice and practical application of the topics shared by industry professionals
  • On-demand viewing via Online LMS System
  • Subject competency verification and participation tracking
  • Completion certificate per unit


Unit 1: WisDOT Certification Process

WisDOT’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program exists to remove barriers and provide opportunities for business owners who have historically had limited access to engagement in the transportation industry.  This unit will provide an overview of DBE qualifiers, the certification process and support services available through WisDOT DBE.

Presenter:  Natalia Vega, WisDOT Office of Business Opportunity & Equity

Unit 2: Employment / Labor Law & Labor Management Agreements

Understanding the challenges of hiring, firing, and keeping employees is crucial  This unit will address Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) provisions, performance reviews, and the fundamentals of an effective employee handbook.  Dealing with labor relations requires an understanding of state and federal employment regulations, contract provisions and wage negotiations. 

Presenter:  Heath Straka, Axley Attorneys

Unit 3: Income Statements & Balance Sheets

Understanding financial statements is a critical skill for business owners as these statements present the financial position of the company to creditors, general contractors and project owners. In this unit, we will review basic financial documents including the balance sheet, income statement, statement of cash flows and examine their interrelationship.  We will also review financial ratios that help you gauge your company’s financial health and guide business decisions.

Presenter:  Ben Beardsley, Baker Tilly

Unit 4: Cash Flow Strategies

Cash flow is one of the most important issues facing contractors today.   More companies go bankrupt due to cash flow issues than due to profitability.  We will explore a range of tools and techniques, from simple to complex, that allow you to manage and control cash flow.  Examples include contractual negotiation strategies, pricing and bidding practices, development of cost and resource-loaded schedules that tie to billing activities in the schedule of values, use of 13-week cash flow forecasts, project closeout procedures, and managing the billings and collection cycle. 

Presenter: Tom Sheahan, Baker Tilly

Unit 5: Fundamentals of Insurance & Bonding

This unit addresses the fundamentals of insurance and bonding and their importance to the business management of a construction company.  An insurance/bonding professional will address the three major types of insurance required by contractors (G&L, Auto and Workers Compensation) the types of surety bonds and the underwriting process and related roles of safety and risk management.

Presenter: James VanBuskirk & Travis Schreiber, M3 Insurance

Unit 6: Business Law & Contracts for Contractors

Conducting business as a construction contractor is close to impossible if you don’t have a basic understanding of the legal issues common in our industry.  An attorney will cover basic legal issues such as indemnification, lien laws, and general guidelines that will help you avoid expensive lawsuits. One of the most important aspect of a company leader’s role is mitigating risk and protecting the company. We will review the pitfalls and lessons that everyone should be watching on their contract and tell a few stories to illustrate the importance of thorough contract administration.

Presenter:  Jaya Sharma, Sharma Mediation & Arbitration & Brian Mitchell, Michels Corporation

Unit 7: Safety, Risk & Crisis Management

Protecting the health and safety of your employees, customers and other contractors is a very important responsibility. Safety and risk professionals will review the necessary safety and risk management guidelines that every contractor should follow. By nature, the construction industry is faced with the potential for danger every day.  When a crisis occurs, a company must be prepared to act quickly.  This unit identifies the critical steps of preparing a crisis plan.

Presenters:  Nora Vrakas, Chris Urech & Summer Strand, Walbec Group

Unit 8: Quantity Take-offs & Estimating for Transportation

Accurate estimating is critical to the financial success of a contractor firm.  This unit shares recommended estimating practices for the transportation industry such as:

  • Material and labor takeoff
  • Effective markup strategies
  • Assembling bids and meeting deadlines
  • The DOT letting process
  • Tracking and utilizing historical information
  • Effective bid follow up procedures

Presenters: Tom Burch, Mathy Construction

Unit 9: The Benefits of Being a Signatory Certified DBE

The International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139 has agreements in place with the majority of contractors in the State of Wisconsin that complete roadwork. This session outlines the structure of the labor union, benefits for signatory subcontractors, and the Operating Engineers collective bargaining process.

  • Advantages of entering into a partnership with Local 139
  • History and structure of Local 139
  • Skilled training through registered apprenticeship
  • Process to becoming signatory

Presenter: Shane Griesbach, IUOE Local 139