Chairman's Message: Masonry’s Back

Words: Paul Oldham

Paul Oldham, MCAA Chairman

  World of Concrete/Masonry 2021 in June– who would have thought this event would be held in Las Vegas during the summer? ‘Never say never’ is something I seem to say a lot in our business. As we prepare to head to Las Vegas later this week (remember I have to write these a month before publication) the Convention announced that the new CDC guidelines would be followed so masks are going to be optional. Thank goodness for that. I just looked at the forecast over the next week in Vegas and they are looking at a cool down from last week, which was in the 105 range. The high is to be right around 98 degrees during the week.    But if we forget about any COVID restrictions, the high temperatures, and the asphalt parking lot where the competitions will be held, it is a great opportunity for our industry. With continued construction at the Convention Center, we have been moved to the lot just below the Monorail Station. After all these years, we have made it to the front of the Convention.   I know Quikete/SPEC MIX and the MCAA are all geared up for MASONRY MADNESS and the four competitions that day. The Executive Board was thanked by Jeff last week for volunteering to be judges at the MCAA events. I’m thinking that Dick somehow signed the four of us up for that, because I know I missed that memo asking for us to volunteer. Kidding aside, it is always an honor to help judge any of the MCAA events or the Bricklayer 500 contest.   Just as the Convention has had many changes this year, we continue to see change in our business. The pandemic seems to be leveling out, but we will deal with remnants of it for a long time, and it will change the norm. For many years, we have talked about our workforce and now more than ever it is a changing environment. I was part of a discussion with other business industry leaders discussing workforce, and an interesting fact came out. 2020-2021 had one of the lowest birth rates in US history. Many were predicting an uptick, if not a new baby boom with so many people at home and focusing on family. According to the report, this wasn’t the case at a time when many of our Baby Boomers were in full swing into retirement. Our company is experiencing retirements of lifelong masons, and seeing more employees experience life-threatening health issues more than ever.   On a positive note regarding the future, our oldest Paige graduated from high school at the end of May. For those that follow me on social media, I definitely share a lot of positive accomplishments of hers (and also the boys). But this year was definitely her year. As Lisa and I went to many awards events for her to recognize her accomplishments, I looked around at how many young adults were achieving so much. It wasn’t all in the classroom, it wasn’t all on the field. It was all around for these young adults. The work ethic that has to exist in these young adults to already accomplish what they have is amazing. I always thought I did a lot when I was at that age, but nothing compared to what I have seen in some of this upcoming generation. I didn’t achieve near the academics these young adults have. Having teenagers within the upcoming generation (Gen Z I believe) give me hope that I’ll see some dedicated hard workers coming up in the future.
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