Chairman's Message: Moving Forward Brick By Brick

Words: Paul Oldham

Paul Oldham, MCAA Chairman

We are all in some stage of business and life returning to somewhat normal.  Here in Indiana, as of July 4th,  we are to be “Back on Track.”  As I write this, (it is the last week of May) we don’t know exactly what that means. As Lisa and I sat on our deck the other night we were discussing how this pandemic has affected our personal lives, positively and negatively. But also just as a society in general, and what will be decided to protect the human race. That is a hard subject and there is an argument to be made that there are many other things in this world that do as much or more to our society. As a business owner, I keep struggling with how this will continue to affect our employees and businesses. How long will social distancing and face coverings be a thing? Will wearing a face covering be the new normal...I hope not. How do we price our work with the new demands put on us? I know as I have been selecting projects to bid on as of late, I definitely have been weighing how the client is dealing with the situation.   I have always said, being a mason contractor is a gamble every day, and anyone who is a contractor and says they don’t gamble, well I’m sorry to inform you, but you are. Hopefully, we all approach this gamble in an educated way. That is a huge part of what MCAA is here for,  to educate us on our trade, what it means, and what it takes to run a business. The partnerships that the MCAA has with many organizations have helped all of us to have resources that we need and continue to help us navigate these uncharted territories. Jeff and his team have continued to adjust and provide our members with webinars and sample safety plans dealing with COVID-19, which have been great resources for all of us.  I encourage you if you have not looked at these to please do. Just in the past couple of weeks Jeff and the magazine team demonstrated to the executive board how the magazines will interface digitally in the future. MASONRY DESIGN has already made the digital switch as of June based on its intended audience (designers) wanting a digital format. As for an update on upcoming events, Midyear is moving forward as planned. The final schedule tweaks are in the works and the final adjustments to Speed Dating are coming together nicely. For those of you familiar with the Speed Dating format, this year there will be a more hands-on approach. With all the stay-at-home orders, everyone has cabin fever, and Midyear is a great time to get away for a few days. The Midyear meeting is always a great relaxed atmosphere to network and socialize with fellow mason contractors.   When I mention “networking,” I get funny looks from people at times. So, what does it mean to “network?” When you are a small business wearing multiple hats every day, it is a great asset to have others that wear similar hats, right at your fingertips. We had a client a few years back that called and asked if we could install some nuclear block. I probably looked like a deer in headlights, but I told the client we had not done that before and asked if he could give me a few days to research it.   What was the first thing I did?  I sent out an email to a group of MCAA members that I have gotten to know very well over the years and asked if anyone had experience with these blocks.  In a short while, two fellow members had responded that they had experience with this product and were willing to answer some questions. Long story short, it just so happened that I had an MCAA Foundation Meeting coming up in a few weeks and one of those contractors was doing a project, not five minutes from where that meeting was being held. So I flew in a few hours early to visit the site. We ended up doing the project back home, but in my book, networking is one of the greatest benefits of our organization that we have. We look forward to seeing everyone and some new faces in French Lick, Indiana in September. Please visit our website under News & Events, then Midyear Meeting to register.  We encourage everyone to make it out. 
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