By Jeff Buczkiewicz
Membership dues paid to the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is the largest source of funding that we have. Its importance cannot be understated…it's a vital part of the association that enables us to continue to fight for our industry on behalf of all mason contractors. Our involvement on all fronts (from regulatory reform to education and training) continues to ensure the survivability and viability of our industry for generations to come. Below is a list of some our recent successes supported by MCAA Membership dollars followed by a brief outlook for the year ahead.
BIM software development
Phase One of the BIM Software Development program is complete. Phase one has given the industry a roadmap forward to implement a fully operational BIM for Masonry program. Phase Two of the process is formally going to be kicked off June 1, 2013. Phase two will see contractor education and input is a major emphasis. Phase two will have contractor education initiatives rolled out and will take up to 18 months to complete. It is during this time that the vast majority of "what contractors need from BIM" will be developed, then the tools for contractors to access those wants will begin in the form of education. This is an exciting step forward in the process and will offer huge opportunities for contractors. The entire process is projected to be about a five-year process. When complete masonry will level the playing field with competing systems and will be at the very beginning of the development process in building design.
Single wythe wall study
The MCAA has partnered with the IMI and the Canadian mason contractors to engage the University of Louisville to conduct a study, which will help make it possible to design single wythe masonry walls in climate zones 3-6 in spite of the new IECC code. We expect to receive results of this study this summer June/July and expect to begin to promote those results soon thereafter. A large component of this study will deal with thermal mass and it's impact on R-values. The results of the study are showing that thermal walls with lower R-values perform better than walls without thermal mass at higher R-values. This research will be invaluable in fighting for changes to energy codes that impacted single wythe walls and getting better designs, that are more energy efficient with thermal mass walls and lower R-values.
Learning experiences for contractors
The MCAA introduced new "Networking Sessions" at our two face-to-face meetings. These new sessions replaced our old educational programs. At our mid-year meeting we broke into five breakout sessions by employment classification. Participants discussed some pre-developed questions about best practices within their company and then had an open forum on topics the participants wanted to learn more about. It was so popular it was carried over to our convention and these sessions were conducted in a mobile classroom on the show floor. In addition to this experience, the MCAA introduced the "webinar season pass". This concept offer's programs and educational opportunities for your entire company all year long. We are looking to reach beyond a key contact and give benefits to your entire firm. New programs are offered weekly and are recorded for on demand viewing. This brings the educational experience to your doors and gives great opportunities to everyone within your company.
MasonrySystems.org was re-launched Feb. 7, 2013, during the MCAA Convention at the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas. The site allows visitors to determine which masonry wall system is right for their next building, learn why masonry structures outlast and outperform every other building system, and discover the beauty and versatility of brick, block and stone. The goal for the redesign was to create a user-friendly, aesthetically pleasing, and informative website that would be used as a masonry resource for architects, owners, contractors, masonry suppliers, and other decision makers. Masonry wall systems along with an updated and easily visible Details, Benefits, Gallery, Knowledge, Communication, and Resources sections are highlighted on the website. Each section includes updated graphics, links to other resources, and cross-references to other sections on the site. Since re-launching, over 400,000 visitors have viewed the new MasonrySystems.org and the site has received over 1,000,000 hits.
A Look to the Year Ahead
It is expected that OSHA will finally release a new silica rule this year. In preparation for this rule, the MCAA has reconvened and been active in the silica coalition made up of over 20 construction associations including the Home Builders, AGC, ABC, ASA, Roofers and many more. This coalition will shortly hire a law firm to develop an independent economic impact study of construction, as well as develop a response and questions about the new required PEL level. This level is believed to be half of the current PEL, which would be 50 (from the current 100) with an action level of 25. This would be economically devastating to the construction industry and very harmful to our industry in particular. In addition to the economical issues, there are great concerns about the technological feasibility of our industry to be able to meet these new PEL levels. Those arguments will be discussed in detail in the industries response to the new rule.
Another very exciting program happening in 2013-14 is the re-development of our Masonry Quality Institute program. This program will be redeveloped and designed in consultation with eight different contractors from around the country. Their knowledge and experience will be the basis of the course. In addition to a great program, attendees will also take away from the program an outline of a company quality assurance program. As they work through the program, they will fill in the outline to make it company specific. We have had numerous requests for Quality Assurance programs and this class will now offer that opportunity. In addition the class will be more economical for attendees and will likely see webinar based learning opportunities.
The MCAA is committed to bringing more educational opportunities to contractors which give them real life experience and learning opportunities from one another. The MCAA is in the process of developing a new opportunity for contractor-to-contractor learning by visiting each other's job sites, facilities, yards, etc. Look for the first opportunity late this winter (of course in a warm climate), sometime soon after the convention. It will be a unique experience for all to enjoy.
As the year develops there will be undoubtedly more exciting opportunities for our association to participate in. We need your continued support to maximize our opportunities and serve the needs of our industry.
About the Author
Jeff Buczkiewicz is the President and CEO of the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has worked in the masonry industry for several years as the Executive Vice President of the Building Stone Institute and the Director of Marketing and Membership for the Mason Contractors Association of America. Jeff has also served as Secretary on the Board of the Natural Stone Council and is a former Board Member of the StonExpo Federation.