Chairman's Message: Supporting The CMU Check-Off Program

Words: Paul Oldham

Paul Oldham, MCAA Chairman

As I’m writing this, we are a week away from heading to the 2020 MCAA Midyear Meeting in French Lick, Indiana. There have been many times over the last few months that it didn’t seem like we would get to have our fall gathering, but as of today, we are a go. The staff has been working diligently at keeping up with current safety protocols so we can have an enjoyable, productive, and safe event. It sounds like we have quite a few new faces attending this year, along with many of our long-time attendees. The CMU Check-Off Program, which we as contractors have supported, is moving forward and is in its next-to-last crucial phase at this time. As of Monday, August 24th, the Concrete Masonry Products Research Education Promotion draft order was published with the Federal Register.  What does this mean? The Program is in its public comment period, which means anyone can comment, question, or ask for more information on this program until October 8th.  What is the purpose of this program? The purpose of the proposed order is to strengthen the position of the concrete masonry products industry in the domestic marketplace, maintain, develop, and promote the use of concrete masonry products in construction and building.  Why would our industry need such a program? Our industry is made up of many small tightly-held businesses, and I will admit over the past decade some larger industry partners have consolidated certain industrial products. But, in general, many of our products are produced, sold, and installed by small businesses. In that environment, it is very hard to have the funds to do what this program does on much of a scale. I will use our company as an example, along with the ongoing debate as to why so many combustible building materials are being used today instead of concrete products. Our company can offer Lunch and Learns with architects and owners on the common sense benefits of concrete products to only so many groups with our limited resources and time.  We also know that for some of our audience, our words on subjects like this don’t hold a lot of weight. However, if as an industry, we had a unified campaign with people dedicated to such a subject, we could make progress even on the common sense subjects that we have struggled on for many years now to accomplish. What we have been doing as an industry hasn’t been working, and we are competing against some very large manufacturers of products. In this case, a certain portion of every dollar of that product is pooled into a common source of funds to perform such activities. So why would someone not support this program? The reasons I have heard include, ‘I don’t want the government involved in my business.’ The government's role in such a program is very minimal, and the oversight role to review the program is conducting its business as outlined and legally after its up and going. Also as business owners, we have to realize the government does this to all our small businesses, so why can’t we support a common cause? I encourage anyone that has questions or comments to please reach out to get the answers you are looking for so this program can be understood and successful. This would be an industry program and common ground on subjects that can be found to support the greater good of having such a program. After this public comment period, the Order will go to referendum to all producers of Concrete Masonry Units. I hope that everyone's families are staying safe, businesses are doing well and you are finding time to enjoy life. 
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