May 2008: President's Message

Words: Dan Kamys

May 2008 President's Message

Certification: An Industry Response to a Customer Request

Tom DanielTom Daniel President, Mason Contractors Association of America

The recent rollout of the MCAA national certification program has been successful. We have contractors registering to qualify for the exam, and suppliers registering as approved providers of educational opportunities for the mason contractor. Together, the industry is working to help alleviate one of our customers' greatest concerns: quality of work.

During the initial phase of certification, we have heard from a number of long-time contractors who asked why they would need anyone to say they are qualified or certified to do masonry work when our company has been doing it successfully for more than 70 years? MCAA certainly understands these thoughts. However, you must remember that certification is not being done for us in the industry; it is being done to help give direction to the end user in the selection process. Certification will be a tool that architects and owners can utilize in the bidding process to weed out unqualified contractors.

As a contractor, I share in the frustration of working hard on bids, only to have a contractor (who clearly has no business bidding on the work) bid way under the bids of every other legitimate contractor. We all would see this low bid as a red flag and know the architect and owner should throw out the bid, because it simply can't be done that cheaply. However, all too often, the end user will select the low bid (which is way off the rest of the bids) and encounter significant problems on the job. The contractor will take short cuts or may go out of business before the project is complete, leaving the owner with quite a mess on his hands. These experiences give our entire industry a black eye. Certification gives the end users a tool to eliminate these potential issues.

Certification was developed to help those who are not in the industry make wise choices in selecting a contractor. As a fair and equitable program, certification requires all to complete the basic requirements. This includes those who have served on code and standard committees for 30 years, to those who serve on the certification committee that developed the requirements and helped put together the test.

Ultimately, the goal of certification is to help reclaim lost market share by giving the end users tools they can easily use to select quality contractors. Certification is not about companies within the industry trying to impress one another by who is and is not certified. It is an industry response to a customer request to help define quality.

I would encourage contractors who have not yet registered and suppliers who have not become providers to do so today. You may contact the MCAA office today to register for certification. Certification is open to all mason contractors, not just MCAA members.

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