November 2015: Chairman’s Message

Words: Mark Kemp

A Successful Midyear Meeting in the Florida Keys

Mark KempMark Kemp Chairman Mason Contractors Association of America

So, I am on a plane heading from Key West back to Milwaukee, reflecting on our Midyear Meeting this week. The closing banquet turned out to be a social event and, due to the lay out of the restaurant, I was unable to say a few words at the end. So first, I would like to say thank you for supporting MCAA by attending this Midyear Meeting. Thanks also from my family for the kindness you showed all of them, especially our grandchildren. I believe it is important to mix business with pleasure. So, I hope everyone walked away with a new idea to share with your company, but also had some time to have some fun. It was great to see new friendships begin and old friendships grow. We always talk about how important it is to have a strong family, and I feel that this week, we have witnessed our MCAA family grow stronger. This is what MCAA is all about. It doesn’t matter if your company is big or small, or how deep your pockets are. It is about our commitment to each other, helping each other become stronger. I would also like to thank the MCAA staff for doing another outstanding job in making this event such a huge success. The attendance kept growing everyday and, while this is great, it becomes challenging for the staff to make everything happen. I would like to welcome Fraco, who joined the MCAA family during the Midyear. Highlights of the Midyear include the Masonry Foundation Dinner, which was held on Sunday night. Although a storm tried to discourage the energy of the event, everyone walked away proud of what they have done for the masonry industry and the future of their companies. After announcing our Phase 1 goal sitting at $2,075,000, everyone gave a well-deserved applause. We then gave out awards to all who made pledges. Next, we proceeded to roll out Phase 2, which has an end goal of $5 million for our effort. We also announced that we currently have more than $100,000 in pledges from our supplier community before even rolling it out. Rick Muth from Orco Block presented a $50,000 check, and Charles Newsome presented the first (of five) check of a pledge from the Expanded Shale, Clay, and Slate Institute for $5,000. So if you add the Phase 1 and 2 together we are at $2,176,000! A few days later, Justin Breithaupt with Non-Stop pledged $100,000! So, as I am writing, we are at $2,276,000, with lots of potential donors we are still waiting to hear from. As we concluded our banquet, I tried to sit back and take in what we have accomplished. Never before have contractors united in such a short time for the good of their industry. The next day, we had our Committee Meetings, setting the goals of each committee for the next two years. Mike Sutter, who will be the chairman during this time, did an excellent job running the meeting. Later that night, we had our welcome dinner on the dock and sailed off on our sunset cruise. It was a strong social event with plenty of time for people to meet new friends. We had three of our grandchildren onboard, and I think they wore our shoes out by the end of the night walking in circles around the boat. Tuesday started off with breakfast on the dock and then off to Speed Dating. Both the contractors and suppliers commented on how well this program went. My son, Brian, was in my group, and he walked away with several things we are going to try. Later that night, we had the Pub Crawl and, again, it was a great way to socialize and, at the same time, check out some of the unique saloons and bars in Key West. Wednesday, we held our board meeting and then broke into networking groups. This is always something contractors look forward to. It is a time to share ideas and see how other contractors might handle a similar situation. The executive officers met with NCMA, IMI and PCA to discuss strategies on how to get the message out that “Masonry Doesn’t Burn.” It was a productive meeting with a strategy set on how to move forward. That evening, we had our closing banquet, and we all said our goodbyes and said we all look forward to seeing each other again. I leave you with this thought: “In the end, it is not going to matter how many breaths you took, but how many moments took your breath away.” There were plenty of those moments during this Midyear Meeting.
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