Chairman's Message: January 2024

Words: Larry Vacala

Ideas, Goals, Plans, Dreams, Opportunities and Teamwork are elements I’ve observed during my 8 years on the Executive Board.

To represent the MCAA and serve as Chairman has truly been an honor.  My goal was to continue down the path of our former Chairmen. To continue growing and strengthening the MCAA for the future of our members and the good of our industry.  

A special thank you to my fellow Executive Board members for their time and commitment to MCAA. Dick Dentinger, Kent Huntly, and Paul Cantarella have always been there when called upon. It’s been tremendous working with this team, and I will honestly miss collaborating and traveling with these guys! 

It’s been a pleasure working with all our Regional VPs, State Chairs and committee members. Thank you for your time, hard work and commitment to our association.  And I can’t thank Jeff Buczkiewicz enough, as he’s been our visionary leader and big idea guy. When you have Jeff on your team, it makes serving on the Board pain-free.  We are also very fortunate to have a great MCAA staff. Todd, Dan, Jason, Jordan, Bruno, Isa, Roger, Justin and Anelise.

Join me in welcoming Melonie Leslie, our newest Executive Board Member! Melanie will be joining the Executive Board as Secretary. She will be a solid addition to this great Executive Board. 

I was excited about becoming Chairman, and now I’m just as excited to complete my term and welcome in our next Chairman, Dick Dentinger.  Our association is on a trajectory heading in a positive direction, and I’m excited about the future. There are many plans, ideas, programs and goals still in the works to benefit our members. It takes teamwork to achieve success in any program, and MCAA has a great team in place!

When I joined the MCAA as a small masonry restoration contractor, becoming Chairman was never imagined in my wildest dream. Since attending my first meeting, I’ve watched this association grow and become stronger. Workforce development and regaining our market share have always been a major focus. Many goals have been accomplished, many plans have been achieved, many ideas have become a reality. The MCAA continues to become stronger because, together, we are stronger. 

I can remember, at one point, a crazy idea of running our own masonry magazine, which is now reality.  The plan to strengthen the future of our industry by forming The Masonry Foundation was achieved. The dream for a Concrete Block Checkoff program for our industry came true. The MCAA continues to work with strategic partners on ideas, plans, and goals to strengthen our industry. Our leadership forum, national workforce development program and high school development programs are starting to take shape. 

Participation from our young members has been fantastic. We love seeing them getting involved. They are the future leaders in our industry, and we’re seeing them develop with our Generation Next group. 

Being on the Board means traveling to different cities throughout the country to attend state association meetings and our industry partners’ meetings. For me, this was enjoyable and educational. There is so much we can learn from each other; that’s why it’s important to work together.  Prior to Covid lockdowns, we traveled to Washington D.C. at least once a year to meet with our legislators. It sometimes feels like our voices fall on deaf ears, but we have seen some good become of it. It is important they hear from contractors and tradesmen about how legislation they are voting for will impact our industry. 

I’ve experienced many amazing moments during my time on the Board, but one trip stood out. While in D.C. for a meeting with the Department of Labor to discuss a youth internship program, I was invited by a friend to tour the White House. During our tour, a Secret Service agent invited our group into The Rose Garden to watch President Trump arrive in his helicopter. We were able to greet the President as he departed the helicopter. If that wasn’t a mind-blowing experience, President Trump invited us into the Oval Office to have a chat. Talking politics, sports and business with the President was incredible.  That was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had. Most definitely a Bucket list item I could not have planned.  

This magazine’s editors like to keep pictures current. So, when they asked me to submit a recent photo for my chairman article, I chose one of my all-time favorites. It was taken with President Trump, and it appeared in the upper corner of all my chairman articles. But it had to be cropped. So, this being my last Chairman article, I requested the full photo be added to this article.

While traveling and conducting MCAA business, it was essential to have a great team back home taking care of company matters. And even more important was my wife Lauren’s support.  She deserves a ton of credit for being understanding and very patient while I spent so much time away on business. Lauren had to be responsible for taking care of our dogs, cats, horses, chickens and farm so I could travel. I could not have done any of this without her support.

The future for our association looks bright. Thank you, MCAA members, for putting your trust in me. Being MCAA Chairman, meeting and getting to know each of you is something I will cherish forever. This experience could not have been more rewarding and amazing! 

Stay Safe, Stay Strong,
Larry Vacala

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