News From the Texas Masonry Council

Words: Dan Kamys

News From the Texas Masonry Council

By Lindsey G. Stringer

“We’ve got spirit; how ‘bout you?” In Texas, the fall season means football, hunting, cooler weather and the start of a new year for the Texas Masonry Council (TMC). As you know, in Texas, football is a sort of culture and club that we all belong to. Most likely, folks from my hometown of Waco can be found at a high school football game on a Friday night or Baylor University games on Saturday.

I am incredibly proud to call Waco my hometown, thanks in part to the redevelopment of the downtown/Brazos River District and a new Baylor Stadium (although I am a proud graduate of Texas State University in San Marcos).

Whether you are driving in to Waco on I-35 or taking a stroll along the redeveloped Brazos River, you are greeted by the beautiful red-brick Baylor stadium. Having been in the masonry industry for almost nine years now, the awe of a beautifully constructed masonry project always captures my heart. In addition, it was built by a member of the TMC. And, many more of our members contributed by supplying quality materials.

That TMC spirit

The TMC is eager about what the future holds for our state and the rest of the nation. We wrapped up another fiscal year with our Annual Convention, and we are now taking a minute to reflect as we begin to embark on a new year. We are thankful to our members for another successful year and hope that sharing our year-end reflection will help you and your masonry association. We are all in this together, right? Just like a football team going out for the big win!

Despite our members still being caught in the tide from the Great Recession and, now, becoming consumed with an overload of work, we had another exceptional Annual Convention. I simply cannot put into words the comrade, friendships, networking and training that took place.

If you have not been to your regional, state or national association meeting lately, make the commitment to go. You will walk away with a feeling of pride for the industry that you helped build. Attend often; it’s contagious, I tell you!

Reflecting on the TMC year, our most important effort is and will continue to be the Masonry Policy Planning program (MPP). Our aggressive, three-man MPP team is a win-win for Texas cities and for the Texas masonry industry. I know you have heard us advocate our program across the nation, but keep in mind that the MPP program has helped us and can help you.

This past year, the TMC government relation specialists passed 19 new ordinances – a record-breaking number, since it can take from three to five years to pass an ordinance. The outlook for our new year appears even stronger for the MPP program as many fast-growing cities are looking to adopt masonry requirements. In addition to masonry ordinances, the government relations team also is developing a new formal presentation for municipal officials regarding the benefits of firewalls for new multifamily construction.

Our firewall initiative for 2014/2015, coupled with the support of The Concrete Masonry Products Research, Education and Promotion Act of 2013, H.R. 1563 and S. 429 is needed to enable our industry to regain and grow market share. A tagline we often use is “Texas is a Masonry State.” It is, and we want to keep it that way.

The environment around us is rapidly changing before our eyes. If we do not put into place the tools to keep us ahead of the game, our industry will suffer. The TMC is a champion of the check-off program, and we hope you are, too.

Future leadership

The TMC is aware that our association needs to become more responsive to the social shift to the Millennial Generation. We encourage our members and industry friends to stay connected with this generation. We will be addressing the following questions this year:

  • What are the biggest barriers for younger members?
  • What do they want out of an association?
  • How can we connect and re-energize young professionals?

On the skilled-labor front, the TMC's Workforce Development committee is committed to creating partnerships with fellow colleagues and construction networks to secure and maintain an effective masonry workforce. The TMC and Workforce Development committee are dedicated to promoting careers in masonry by working in partnerships with community colleges, vocational schools, government and industry friends to advance and support masonry.

The TMC University Masonry Day program is an opportunity for students to have hands-on experience laying masonry products at their schools. Industry experts and university professors work together with students to give them a taste of what they will be working with during their careers.

In 2014, the TMC University Masonry Days reached more than 300 architectural and construction management students. Participating campuses included: The University of Texas at Austin, University of Houston, The University of Texas San Antonio, Texas Tech, and Prairie View A&M. This growing program will continue in 2014/2015, with the addition of two more universities and scholarships for students who commit to designing with masonry.

Small-town Waco and Baylor University dared to dream big with building a $266 million stadium and Brazos River redevelopment. The TMC has a re-charged team spirit, with dedicated and enthusiastic cheerleaders. We hope you do, too!

Lindsey Stringer is association manager for the Texas Masonry Council, 254-300-4544 or lstringer@texasmasonrycouncil.org. Prior to joining the TMC in March 2012, Lindsey was executive marketing manager for Brazos Masonry Inc.

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