Year in Review
Year 2006 was once again a very successful and memorable year for the masonry industry. The Mason Contractors Association of America's (MCAA) staff and board have continued to provide strong leadership for the industry and achieved many accomplishments in several key areas.
Marketing Gains Momentum
Marketing is a very important issue for the industry today, as we are at a turning point in our battle against competitive systems, such as tilt-up. At the Midyear Meeting, MCAA members devoted an entire day to discussing the next steps for the Association's marketing direction. The end result was increased funding and new initiatives that are certain to make the industry and its competitors take notice.
In 2006, the Marketing Committee continued to support and produce many successful programs. The Excellence in Masonry awards at the Masonry Showcase in Las Vegas featured 40 projects from across the country. The MCAA also continued to work with the Masonry Industry Executives' Council on the MasonrySystems.org campaign to promote masonry systems to architects and specifiers. The MCAA fully supports the efforts of the Executives' Council, providing the hosting for the website and often acting as a facilitator for meetings. Also, MCAA's Masonry magazine continues to thrive, and is now considered the premier publication of our industry.
The Association website, www.masoncontractors.org, is also an industry leader, with more than 24 million hits each year from across the globe. After several months of planning, designing and coding, a new design for the Association's website was launched Aug. 15, 2006. The new site is crisper, cleaner and more informative than ever, acting as a strong method of communication between the Association and our members, their customers and the masonry industry as a whole. Several new features have been added to the website, including a Premier Supplier listing, a blog and RSS feeds, as well as an expansion on member profiles.
Membership Stronger than Ever
MCAA is using new methods for recruiting new members, and seeing great results! In total for 2006, the Association added more than 100 new companies to its membership roster. These new contractors and suppliers are important to help maintain the Association's perspective in the industry, and to further its efforts in marketing, legislation, technical arenas, education and workforce development. Many of these new members plan to attend this month's Masonry Showcase, and we look forward to their participation in the Association events.
MCAA is continuing its Premier Suppliers program to recognize our industry's best suppliers. This program is now in its second year, and industry suppliers have had a great response to its results. In this program, we reward suppliers for advertising, sponsoring, exhibiting and being members of the MCAA. At the 2006 annual convention, we presented our first Supplier of the Year award to the Quikrete Companies for their leading contributions to the MCAA.
Workforce Development Impacting the Industry
Workforce Development has been very busy with its annual programs and new initiatives to help recruit and educate the future of the industry. The Association's efforts continue to make an impact within our nation's high schools.
Every quarter, more than 1,200 high school guidance counselors and educators receive the "Masonry Careers" newsletter. This quarterly communication serves to keep our industry in their minds as an option for their students' career paths. The newsletters often address the opportunities for the schools to participate in career days and establishing vo-tech programs locally. It also reminds the counselors to replenish their career kits if they have run out of brochures. Most importantly, the newsletters further inform them of the benefits that masonry careers provide, and suggest that they and their students visit our website for more information. The career day effort of the Workforce Development committee is one of the Association's most successful ventures MCAA received more than 90 requests for career days.
The Masonry International Skills Challenge and the Fastest Trowel on the Block contests are the highlighted competitions at the Masonry Showcase, and these contests work to encourage contractors to hire and train quality masons. The 2006 events were as exciting as ever, as both contests reached a record number of participants. The industry also understands the effectiveness of these contests: Quikrete sponsored the Fastest Trowel for a second year in a row, and we had 10 co-sponsors for the Skills Challenge.
Also, the MCAA's three-year Masonry Training Series is consistently one of the Association's best-selling resources, and sales keep increasing year after year. This past summer, we also introduced the second-year volume of the series in Spanish, thanks the translation provided by our affiliate groups in Arizona and California.
Education Thrives and Expands
For the first time, the MCAA has launched a year-around educational lineup of its most successful seminars. Beginning in November 2006, the Foreman Development, Basic Masonry Estimating, Wall Bracing Design and Masonry Quality Institute seminars were conducted throughout the country, continuing into the New Year. Now, the annual convention will not be the only time contractors and employees can continue their education. We have arranged these seminars in various locations, so that contractors in every area of the country have easy access to attend at least one.
At the 2006 Midyear Meeting, MCAA Board discussed a proposed outline of the National Mason Contractor Certification program. It is MCAA's goal to make this program the standard that all mason contractors strive to achieve and the measure that all customers apply. The program will be formally introduced to the Association's members at the 2007 Masonry Showcase.
With several critical issues facing the masonry industry, MCAA's Legislative department was incredibly busy advocating on your behalf in our nation's capital. The Association played an integral part in negotiations on immigration, death tax reform and small business health plans, significantly increasing MCAA's reputation and presence in Washington.
On May 17, MCAA President, Frank Campitelli, and MCAA's Director of Government Affairs, Jessica Johnson Bennett, attended a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House as President Bush signed the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (H.R. 4297), which extends the tax cut package and provides tax relief for small businesses.
Also in 2006, MCAA co-hosted the second Masonry Industry Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., with the National Concrete Masonry Association, the Brick Industry Association, and the Building Stone Institute.
During 2006, MCAA worked on a number of regulatory issues facing the masonry industry. Issues such as silica, DHS No Match Letters, and the Association's relationship with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) were all important during the past year.
MCAA continued to work with OSHA and the Department of Labor to increase outreach, research, education and compliance assistance for the existing silica exposure standard. During the spring, MCAA met with officials at OSHA to deliver the "Silica Best Practices" document for review. We received positive feedback from OSHA and will continue to work with OSHA's staff to ensure that the best interests of our contractors are protected through the use of sound science and a transparent process.
In June 2006, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposed two federal regulations to improve work site enforcement, prevent the use of fraudulent Social Security numbers by illegal aliens, and assist employers in verifying workers' employment eligibility. These proposed regulations are part of a larger DHS initiative intended to strengthen the border and enhance interior enforcement, and are only the first steps in what will likely prove to be a series of changes.
MCAA, together with the Associated General Contractors, the Associated Builders and Contractors, the National Roofing Contractors Association and the Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors Association, submitted comments stating our concerns with the proposed rules. In addition, the Association met with administration officials to further discuss the impact of these regulations and the potential effects on the masonry and construction industries.
On Aug. 21, 2006, MCAA President, Frank Campitelli, and OSHA Assistant Secretary, Edwin Foulke Jr., extended the OSHA Alliance between the organizations for another two years. The Alliance continues to play an integral role in strengthening the image of the masonry industry in the eyes of OSHA staff and personnel.
The Mason Contractors Association Political Action Committee (MAC PAC) continued to work hard on behalf of MCAA members to support members of Congress and candidates who have the best interests of our industry at heart. MAC PAC hosted a very successful fundraiser during the 2006 annual convention in Las Vegas. In the fall, MAC PAC launched a direct-mail campaign to all MCAA members, which also has proven to be very successful. In addition, MAC PAC has become more involved with fundraising efforts by co-hosting several fundraisers for candidates from across the country.
Codes and Standards
The Reinforced Masonry Design Code Group (RMDCG), affectionately known as the "Seattle 9," met numerous times during the past year. The first goal was to run a suite of trial designs on the current masonry design provisions to "flush out" the items that designers find difficult to understand. These difficulties fell into two groups: technical items and clarification items.
With the help of many local and national masonry trade organizations, more than 50 designers were paid to complete five structural masonry design problems. These trial designs resulted in more than 30 suggested code changes that should be implemented to either fix code problems or make portions easier for designers to understand. The RMDCG is forwarding this list to the Masonry Alliance for Codes and Standards (MACS) Structural task group so they can develop strategies to incorporate these changes into the appropriate design codes.
Also, the MCAA, along with the Laborers-AGC Training Fund and the Laborers Health & Safety Fund of North America, conducted two, full-day training seminars for OSHA compliance officers in Regions V and VII. The morning portion of these sessions featured occupational safety presentations on topics such as silica protection, ergonomics, fall protection, wall bracing and overhand bricklaying; the afternoon portion consisted of hands-on demonstrations on masonry basics, rough terrain forklift safety, masonry wall bracing and scaffold safety. Assisting with the afternoon sessions were David Gillick, executive director of the MCA of St. Louis; Jim O'Connor, executive director of the MCA of Greater Chicago; and Rolly Cox of EZ Grout. More than 60 OSHA field personnel from Regions V and VII, which include the states of Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin, attended the training programs.
Outlook for 2007
The coming year will be a critical time for the masonry industry. There are many issues that face the 110th Congress in 2007, many of which will have a direct impact on mason contractors and the construction industry as a whole. MCAA will continue to work directly with members of Congress, the Department of Labor and other regulatory agencies to insure that our members receive the best representation possible, and we will work hard to promote the best building system in existence: masonry.
Thanks to your support, MCAA continues to grow and make important strides for the masonry industry.
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