July 2016: 2016 NCMCA Convention Review

Words: Dan Kamys

By Karen D. Hickey

[caption id="attachment_13191" align="alignright" width="600"]The Omni Homestead Resort provided a beautiful backdrop to NCMCA’s 2016 Convention. The Omni Homestead Resort provided a beautiful backdrop to NCMCA’s 2016 Convention.[/caption] The North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association’s (NCMCA’s) 2016 Annual Convention and Business Meeting took place at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs, Va., from April 28 to May 1. [caption id="attachment_13194" align="alignright" width="300"]NCMCA members and guests enjoyed the Thursday evening reception. NCMCA members and guests enjoyed the Thursday evening reception.[/caption] The event kicked off Thursday evening, April 28, with registration and a welcome reception. Friday morning featured a panel discussion entitled “The State of Masonry: A National Perspective.” Representatives from four major organizations made up the panel: Jeff Buczkiewicz, president and CEO of the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA); Raymond Leonhard, president and CEO of the Brick Industry Association (BIA); Robert Thomas, president of the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA); and James Toscas, president and CEO of the Portland Cement Association (PCA). The discussion was moderated by NCMCA chairman and past president Gary Joyner of Joyner Masonry Works.

Panel Discussion: The State of Masonry

Each representative began by explaining the nature of his organization before Joyner asked, “What needs to be fixed with your association or our industry?” [caption id="attachment_13192" align="alignleft" width="300"]Panel discussion participants (left to right): Jeff Buczkiewicz, MCAA; Raymond Leonhard, BIA; Bob Thomas, NCMA; and Jim Toscas, PCA. Panel discussion participants (left to right): Jeff Buczkiewicz, MCAA; Raymond Leonhard, BIA; Bob Thomas, NCMA; and Jim Toscas, PCA.[/caption] Leonhard (BIA) was the first to respond. “We are not even halfway back to shipment levels where we were before the recession,” he said. “But because of budget amendments, things are getting better.” Leonhard also discussed how the costs of complying with OSHA’s new silica rule are hurting the smaller shops. NCMA’s Thomas noted that associations look a lot different than they did 10 years ago. Membership is a key element of survival, and many producers still are not members and contributing to solutions. “You need strong companies, regional and national associations to grow the industry,” noted Thomas. Market share is also still a problem, he said. “You can’t mistake increased revenue for increased share of the market,” Thomas said. He noted that the need for innovation is another big factor. “We look too much like we did 50–60 years ago in terms of products,” he said. Jim Toscas of PCA first chose to focus on what is right with his association. “The fact that we have an association as a platform is a good thing,” he said. But as far as what is wrong, he noted that the institutional structure of our national economy needs to be fixed, especially since the failures of so many of our institutions led to the Great Recession. Toscas also discussed market share, regulations that impede survival, and the huge strides the wood industry has been making in changing building codes. “With the association,” he stated, “we have a voice to talk to legislators, to fight for resilience and sustainability in building.” MCAA’s Buczkiewicz said that good things have been happening with MCAA since the recession. “Survivors are stronger now, more efficient,” he said. “There have been some changes and innovation. We’re close to seeing BIM come to fruition. Silica is an issue, but if there is a BIM model, you should not have to be cutting on the jobsite.” Buczkiewicz also spoke of swarm bots, a new technology which can be programmed to deliver a stack of brick to a mason, and can even climb scaffolding. [caption id="attachment_13190" align="alignright" width="300"]Damian Lang of Lang Masonry Contractors and EZ Grout Corp. asks a question of the panelists. Damian Lang of Lang Masonry Contractors and EZ Grout Corp. asks a question of the panelists.[/caption] Also a topic of discussion was the Masonry Foundation, spearheaded by the MCAA. The Foundation currently has just over $3 million in pledges, and Buczkiewicz said he is confident the fund will surpass $5 million. NCMCA has already raised about $500,000 of those pledges. In about four years, said Buczkiewicz, the fund will be ready to accept grant requests. In the meantime, the dollars that have been spent toward BIM-M development will be replaced. Kent Huntley, who recently served as NCMCA’s secretary and is now president-elect, asked about MCAA’s efforts to develop the masonry workforce across the U.S. Buczkiewicz’s reply covered several efforts across the country, highlighting programs in the state of Tennessee and the city of Chicago. He also mentioned that advocates are working with lawmakers to change how Perkins funding is used in schools, so that more of it will be used for vocational training. “We want to make sure students are career ready,” he said. Further topics covered during the panel discussion included:
  • Mergers and consolidation within the industry, e.g., LafargeHolcim. The current lack of funding for groups like the Masonry Alliance for Codes and
  • Standards (MACS) and Alliance for Concrete Codes and Standards (ACCS), and the sea change necessary both in how the industry raises funds and invests, and in working smarter.
  • Education on code changes.
A long discussion took place regarding the wood industry and its recent successes, and how the concrete and masonry industries are fighting back. The masonry industry is currently lobbying Congress for a “check-off” program for block. According to Buczkiewicz, there are currently 262 cosponsors of the bill. “The hurdle we have to overcome,” he said, “is what one agency believes is the cost to the federal government.” [caption id="attachment_13193" align="alignleft" width="300"]NCMCA 2015 president Ashlee Moore passes the gavel, and thus the presidency, to Bob Gates. NCMCA 2015 president Ashlee Moore passes the gavel, and thus the presidency, to Bob Gates.[/caption] The final question of the panel discussion was whether the concrete and masonry industries are more or less fractured than they were several years ago. Buczkiewicz replied, “There has been a lot more unity. Recessions force you to work together, and we have had to be more efficient as an industry. There is a level where associations share interest, though there is competition in other areas. There is still some fragmentation, but leaders are more open to working together now.” Toscas added, “The only way we have a chance is to associate on all levels — local, regional and national — and stand up to the institutions that are so big they have failed us.” A golf event on the nearby Cascades Course followed the panel discussion. That evening, Ashlee and Brent Moore hosted a President’s Reception on the Casino Lawn.

NCMCA Annual Convention and Business Meeting

[caption id="attachment_13189" align="alignright" width="300"]New Association officers for the 2016–2018 term. Left to right: Kent Huntley, Huntley Brothers Co., President-Elect; Bob Gates, Gates Construction Co., President; Ashlee K. Moore, Koontz Masonry, Chairman; and Danks Burton, Pinnacle Masonry, Secretary-Treasurer. Not pictured: Eastern Region Vice President Doug Burton, Whitman Masonry; Central Region Vice President Brandon Hartsell, Gates Construction Co.; and Don Caldwell, C & R Masonry. New Association officers for the 2016–2018 term. Left to right: Kent Huntley, Huntley Brothers Co., President-Elect; Bob Gates, Gates Construction Co., President; Ashlee K. Moore, Koontz Masonry, Chairman; and Danks Burton, Pinnacle Masonry, Secretary-Treasurer. Not pictured: Eastern Region Vice President Doug Burton, Whitman Masonry; Central Region Vice President Brandon Hartsell, Gates Construction Co.; and Don Caldwell, C & R Masonry.[/caption] The NCMCA Annual Meeting was held on Saturday morning, April 30. President Ashlee Moore led the meeting. Approximately 40 companies were represented. The meeting included the election and installment of new officers for the 2016–2018 term. Two companies were recognized with 2015 NCMCA Safety Awards: Gates Construction Co. and LPS Enterprises. Both firms have won the recognition three years in a row — every year since the safety award program began. The nine local chapters of NCMCA were each given an opportunity to add comments about chapter activities and concerns, in addition to their written reports provided to meeting attendees earlier. An open discussion period allowed representatives from various associations to provide updates to the group. Those associations were the Southeast Concrete Masonry Association (SCMA), Anderson Jones Attorneys at Law, Masonry Magazine and the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA). Other topics of discussion included:
  • The 2016 Masonry Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., which was only a few weeks away at this time.
  • NCMCA’s certification program, which began in 2006 and now has 177 certified masonry professionals.
  • Student/apprentice masonry skills competitions in North Carolina.
  • The possibilities of 50–100% increase in membership dues and rebranding the association with a new logo.
The Convention Golf Tournament, sponsored by EZG Manufacturing, was held at the Homestead’s Old Course that afternoon, while a spouse luncheon took place inside the hotel. Later that evening, attendees and their guests enjoyed dinner while various association awards were presented, and the gavel was passed from Moore to Bob Gates of Gates Construction, who will serve as the next president of the NCMCA. Gates gave an inspiring speech about getting MAD, or Making A Difference. NCMCA would like to thank all of the sponsors of the 2016 event. The next NCMCA Annual Convention will be in Charleston, S.C., on March 16–19, 2017. For more information about the NCMCA, visit www.ncmca.com.
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