November 2012: Chairman's Message

Words: John Smith Jr. Chairman's Message Supporting Industry Efforts

I find myself having returned recently from a trip to Denver to visit with the fine folks of the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute (RMMI). As I sat with these folks and had dinner, and then listened to their speaker for the evening, the one thing I realize as I visit folks all around the country is that we are all going through the same thing and all have similar interests.

We discussed economic conditions (not a great dinner discussion as this topic can make your stomach turn), but as with other places I have visited, the conditions are still tentative. There is more work than there was before, but the work that is there is still competitive, and margins have not returned. There is a lot of concern about our future workforce and what we, as an industry, will do when the economy improves and gets back to a normal cycle. This recession has damaged our industry’s workforce, and we have lost a pretty large amount of our future craftsmen to other industries. The chances of those folks returning, once the work is back, is pretty remote.

The main purpose of my trip was to tell RMMI a bit about the MCAA and what we are doing to help build a better future for our industry. We are looking to tie back and have a direct affiliation with the RMMI, so we can work together on tackling this workforce and so many other issues that are critical to our path to recovery, as an industry and as a nation.

As an industry, we need strong and healthy local, state and national associations.?? The only way we can deal with the many issues is to work together to tackle them.?? As a national association, we are working on developing a national apprenticeship program utilizing the NCCER masonry apprenticeship program. This program would standardize training around the country and allow contractors the ability to look up the training that folks who participate in the program have.

The MCAA can’t administer this program without effective and willing state groups. The state groups have to administer the programs within their states and work with their state Departments of Labor to help create successful programs.?? The state that has done this most effectively has been Florida, and they are assisting us in developing a broader national implementation of this program. This is just one of many issues around which our industry needs a strong national, state and local group presence.

I would encourage you, today, to continue to support all three of these groups. If you are a part of a local, state or national group, make sure you renew your support with them. These are trying times for them as well. If we let them fall, we will be in a world of hurt when times rebound. If you are not a part of any of these, or just one or two, I would encourage you to join the others today. Being active with these groups helps not only the group, but also you and your company. It is amazing the time and dollars we commit to this effort, but what is more amazing are the experiences and knowledge I gain from volunteering. My company has been better as a result.

Lastly, I want to take a moment to wish you and yours a wonderful holiday, as we all enjoy our season of thanks.

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