April 2016: Chairman’s Message: MCAA: Looking Out for Your Interests

Words: Michael SutterApril 2016

Michael SutterMichael Sutter Chairman Mason Contractors Association of America mike.sutter@suttermasonry.com

As I write, I am on my way back to Phoenix from Orlando, Fla., after attending the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA) convention. Although we had just visited with the NCMA officers during the MCAA convention in Las Vegas in February, it is always good to get together and update each other on our initiatives and planned events. While in Orlando, we received very optimistic reports on the Check-Off Program. While I don’t want to jinx it, it appears we may be getting close to the finish line. Many people from both NCMA and MCAA have put a lot of work into this effort for the past five years, but it will be very rewarding once complete and we are able to fund our industry initiatives. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, but also keep up the hard work until we are assured of a victory. It’s not time to let up now! A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to judge a regional Masonry Skills contest for about eight high schools. I have done this before many times, but this time was a little different. An instructor came up to me and asked for help obtaining materials, and for someone to stop by his class occasionally to provide instruction. I said, “Of course, I can arrange that.” Isn’t that exactly what we want to happen — to get into the schools and give them what they need in order to teach masonry in their classes, and then to recruit from those schools? I must have been an easy touch because very soon afterward, the word was out to the other instructors, and nearly all of them asked for the same thing. I have been assured by our suppliers that they will get the schools everything they need. In addition, one of the instructors told me he had two students interested in masonry jobs when they graduate. That is what we really want. On Feb. 29 in Washington, D.C., Jeff Buczkiewicz, Mark Kemp, Rashod Johnson and Joe Bonifate testified in front of the Office of Management and Budget to try to halt the new, reckless OSHA rule regarding silica exposure in the workplace. If the rule goes into effect, it will have a devastating effect on mason contractors across the country. The MCAA is always on the lookout for needless rules and regulations that will hurt our businesses now or in the future. Speaking of Washington, you should have received emails notifying you of our DC Fly-In on May 18–20. If you haven’t seen the emails, go to our website (www.masoncontractors.org) for all the information regarding this event. For those who have attended in the past, you know how important this trip is, and I hope you are able to return this year. For those who have not been able to attend, I invite you to come along this year. While you may be a little unsure of yourself at first, after a couple of office visits you will find it extremely easy. On your first visits, a member of the Keelen Group or an MCAA officer will help out until you decide you are willing to go it alone. It is very exciting to meet your member of Congress or senior staff person and tell them what is helping or hurting you in running your business back home. You will have their undivided attention, and they appreciate that the issue is so important to you that you traveled to D.C. to talk to them about it in person. You will receive talking points for the important issues for MCAA members, or you can discuss any other issues that are important to you. It won’t be all work while you are there, either. We will have plenty of time to network with other members or see some sites. This year we are adding an optional extra day to visit Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington, on May 17. We will spend the day visiting the site and enjoying a scenic lunch along the banks of the Potomac. All travel arrangements will be provided by MCAA for this trip, and I will guarantee you a fun time. While the Orlando trip was my first official trip as MCAA chairman, I am looking forward to much more travel and meeting members and their state chapters or local associations in the coming months. Let me know what the MCAA can help you with, and I will bring that back to our board for discussion. In my travels over the next couple years, MCAA’s vice chairman (and my wing man), Paul Odom, will be joining me whenever possible, as will the treasurer, Paul Oldham, and secretary, Larry Vacala. My wife, Colleen, and Paul Odom’s wife, Susie, will be making many of the trips along with us. You will soon see that they have never met a stranger, and they are looking forward to visiting you in your home cities. The ladies were just discussing how much we will enjoy traveling together and meeting new friends. Please follow me on Twitter @AZMason1, and connect with me on LinkedIn to join me during my travels.
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