In this issue of Masonry magazine, you will read an article from Chris Huckabee, CEO of Huckabee Inc., a nationally recognized architectural firm based in Texas. Most of you have probably heard of Chris, or even had the unique opportunity to hear him lecture about his passion for masonry and why he works so hard to convince owners to use total masonry construction on their projects. Chris is arguably our industry's greatest promoter, because he knows better than anyone else the long-term benefits of our system.
We've talked for decades about the need to educate our customers on the benefits of using masonry over other systems. And, in Chris, we have a customer who not only understands the benefits of masonry over other systems, he openly advocates our system, even if it means that he raises the ire of the tilt-up industry.
In fact, in the January/February 2006 issue of School Construction News, the staff engineer for the national Tilt-up Concrete Association openly attacks Chris for an article he wrote that proves that masonry in the school market is not only a far superior system, but far cheaper than tilt-up. Chris has long put his reputation on the line by publicly speaking about the benefits of our industry and its finished products. And he has become a lightening rod by promoting the use of masonry above all other systems. It's time that we rally around his enthusiasm and his willingness to be a spokesperson for our industry by heeding what Chris says in his article (see page 14).
If you haven't had the chance to read his article yet, he calls for us to throw out the "special interest" nature of our industry, where we have for decades protected our special interest in a particular segment of the industry, even to the detriment to the whole. The union versus non-union special interest, brick versus block special interest, or even Portland cement thwarting an aggressive marketing attack on another cementatious system has all prevented our industry from what Chris calls for in a "unified message" with "one voice" to educate customers about masonry.
Chris is right! We have all acted to the benefit of our own special interests over the years. It's time to stop. No segment of our industry is without fault. Our Association acted in the past to end the old joint tradeshow, Masonry Expo, when it was the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) and National Concrete Masonry Association supporting the old show with exhibits and national conventions. Instead of working to get the brick and stone segments into the old industry show, we chose to go our own way for the benefit of our own associations. Instead of working harder to expand the benefits of working jointly on a tradeshow into a stronger more unified promotional program, we let allied industry associations drift apart further, exasperating the situation that Chris cites in his article.
We need to think differently and act in a new way.
Over the past year, officers of the MCAA have been quietly meeting with counterparts at other allied associations to break down the old barriers that have divided us. We have been discussing the possibilities of bringing a joint industry tradeshow back together. And we are hopeful that we will be able to do this. However, after reading Chris's article, we cannot be complacent with bringing the contractor and block producers together like we had during the old Masonry Expo days, with brick and stone doing their own thing separately from us. Instead we must all come together ... at least all of those who are interested in promoting masonry versus all other systems in a joint show of unity. An industry show is only one small step in beginning to speak with one voice and one message. We must set aside our personal interests and agree to meet once a year where members of the contractor, brick, block and stone segments of our industry can meet face to face to break down the divide that separates our ability to restore masonry to its former glory. If we can agree to meet together, would it be that difficult then to agree to act and speak together with one voice? If we can achieve the simple task of meeting together, how powerful would our industry be in beating back tilt-up and EIFS?
If we can somehow agree to come together taking the first step of a long journey to jointly speak with one voice, promoting one message to construction customers, we can succeed in developing more customers who are as committed as Chris Huckabee is in our system.
Then we win!
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