Meeting the Challenges Ahead
Report of the President
1992… Known as the year of the woman. It was a good year for some, but not very good for most. There were some people who became famous. Some people got foolish. People died. Things changed. It seemed like a long year, that’s because it was. February 29 gave us 366 days in 1992.
This past year has got to rank very high as one of the worst years economically that we have encountered in the past ten years. Not in recent memory have things been as tough (in an ever changing construction market) as they were in 1992, and continue to be in many areas of the country. But one thing we can say…. so long status quo.
Rarely can the essence of an entire year be captured in a single word, but 1992 was one of those years, and the word was “change”.
That alone is remarkable. As much as we Americans like to think of their nation as the world capital of the pioneer spirit, the reality is – that our society fosters a deep and abiding comfort with the status quo.
We like grandfatherly incumbent leaders, steady as she goes… that’s the ticket, at least that was the ticket. This past year though, a call for change erupted like a volcano from the American subconscious. And president Bill Clinton, the politician who did the best job recognizing the eruption and sticking the one word label “change” on it, was rewarded with the presidency.
And what’s even more remarkable is, no one seems to know just what shape all this change is going to take. For all the papers, summit conferences, and policy speeches that have abounded, a foggy air of vagueness still seems to cling to the whole process.
During these tough times, many associations scale back and wait for the storm to blow over. But MCAA refused… instead the association, its officers and staff acted aggressively on behalf of its members to meet the challenges that lie ahead for our industry.
In my address in Orlando, I noted that along with our country’s call for change in 1992, this was echoed elsewhere in the world – the Soviet Empire, Europe and again now – in the Middle East. Even MCAA had to change, if it expected to meet the challenges ahead. I outlined several areas that we would have to commit ourselves. MCAA should work closely with allied associations to better coordinate all our efforts to expanding our market share. We must work to expand our membership base, which would result in a stronger more effective association. MCAA should work to improve the industries image, the quality of our projects, and look beyond our own pocketbooks. We should be conscious of the industries future as well. MCAA should revive and expand its educational efforts to keep our members leaders in the masonry industry. Finally, we should become more involved with government relations which dramatically affect our industry. This was an undertaking that raised some questions.
But on behalf of my fellow officers, I can report that the state of Mason Contractors Association of America is sound.
As we prepare for our summer board meeting, it was agreed the association needed a long-range plan if we were to achieve a greater goal. It was clear that as we launch this new plan, we needed to state our philosophy of action and effect. It is appropriate to talk about what we will do and what we hope to accomplish.
Long Range PlanDuring this past year, each MCAA committee chairman and their committee members, approved the committee’s goals and have been active in achieving them. This long range plan was put together by our staff with very little input by me. Notably, Michael Adelizzi’s plan strives to make MCAA the sole perceived leader for the mason contractors – in the masonry industry. Representing just 20% of the mason contractors, MCAA would become the sole voice for contractors in the legislative process, education, research, industry promotion, training and safety by the end of 1995.
MCAA CommitteesLets take a look at these committees.
Apprentice Committee, co-chaired by Jerry Vernon and Charles Seedorff, will be developing a training needs survey to determine future workforce and training needs. This committee is also looking at developing a training program for supervisory personnel.
Education Committee, co-chaired by Harold Kochan and John Smith, has surveyed the membership and has begun developing new education programs and expanding the very successful “Masonry Quality Institute.”
Finance Committee, chaired by our treasurer Don Larsen, has dramatically improved the associations financial reporting system.
Insurance Committee, chaired by Edgar Boettcher, has prepared an insurance program for MCAA, and has already begun offering this new program to our members. The committee is looking toward being able to offer a complete insurance program – including a workers compensation plan yet this year.
Legislative Committee, co-chaired by Mike Johnston and Alan Griffin, has begun monitoring federal legislation (with the democratic party in control, this could become a very busy committee). The association has been advising members with the use of our new monthly “Legislative Updates”. The committee and the officers are preparing to participate in a legislative conference in Washington, D.C. in conjunction with the associated specialty contractors, where attendees will meet with legislators and the Clinton Administration to discuss issues affecting construction.
Marketing Committee, co-chaired by Robert Schuerman and James Cope, has developed the MCAA membership referral program. This program could become a cornerstone activity in recruiting new members. The program is designed to better understand the capabilities of the membership and then effectively refer members to masonry customers.
Masonry Magazine Review Committee, co-chaired by Donald Larsen and Richard Felice, was given the goal to improve the content of the magazine. Under the guidance of our editor, Mr. Gene Adams, I think you will agree this program has already begun with good success. Other goals are to improve the subscription and advertising base as well as the magazines influence in the industry.
Material Handling Committee, chaired by Ed Smith, has been active in redesigning the showcase, conducted each year at the Masonry Expo. The new showcase includes demonstrations on material handling in addition to the forklift demonstration.
Membership Committee, co-chaired by Anthony Zotollo and Richard Felice, has developed a new MCAA promotional video and a membership services catalog. This committee also plans an extensive mail campaign to expand the MCAA membership base and has refocused their efforts to bring all associate companies into the MCAA family.
Masonry Panels Committee, co-chaired by John Smith and Dee Brown, will begin publishing articles on the greater use and benefits of panels.
Safety Committee, chaired by Donald Grant, has begun publishing a safety feature in Masonry Magazine, and they are developing an up-to-date safety program for MCAA members.
ResearchMCAA continues to be a full member and sponsor of the Council for Masonry Research (CMR). This organization is dedicated to conducting research for the advancement of the masonry industry. CMR has been involved with development of a masonry handbook, a masonry inspection guide, offers technical seminars, support of the National Concrete and Masonry Engineering Conference and the establishment of a disaster reconnaissance team to research the performance of masonry structures after extreme events occur. CMR is sponsored by MCAA along with National Concrete Masonry Association, Brick Institute of America, The Masonry Society, The Portland Cement Association and The National Lime Association.
PromotionDuring the past year, we have been active in promoting greater co-operation with allied associations. Our officer have met with officers of other industry associations to discuss issues affecting this industry’s future growth.
Masonry Expo continues to be a significant trade show, promoting the benefits of masonry as well as a prime source for gaining information on new products, trends and innovations. We are proud to be one of the sponsors of the Masonry Expo which continues to be a unifying event focusing the industries efforts toward competing more effectively against other competitive construction industries, such as wood, dryvit, steel, and glass.
MCAA also helps in promoting such programs as the Professors Workshop which is an event dedicated toward educating college and university professors on the use of masonry, so the masonry’s importance in the academic curriculum is expanded. This is highly important because we need more young architects and engineers to gain awareness and to appreciate the versatility of masonry.
Looking AheadMuch has been accomplished during the past year. A solid foundation has been laid to accomplish greater goals for the future. Relationships have been forged which hopefully will result in a more effective profitable industry.
Looking back, its clear that we have made little progress on some of our goals and yet others have moved forward at a rapid pace. We have sought to protect ourselves from frightening new rules OSHA has handed down to us. And though we speak forcefully and with conviction, we will do so without the illusion that we have all the answers or that we are always right.
When we err, we will correct our mistakes. Those who disagree with us will find an open door and an open mind. We want to speak with an authoritative and respected voice, but I want to encourage other voices too.
If I have one regret, it is that we haven’t expressed gratitude often enough for all who take part in our association. Let me correct that now: The real strength of MCAA lies in the willingness of its members to give their time and energies to a common task, particularly our officers. These officers give of their time to deal with a seemingly endless array of difficult problems. Our staff, all of which are important to the everyday operation of the association. Finally, of course – the guidance and leadership of George Miller, who has led the association for 43 years. To all these people, I want to thank them – for jobs well done.
My hope for the future is that through MCAA, we find ways to apply the ingenuity to the new opportunities that will present themselves. These opportunities will exist, it is up to us to seize them.
I must also thank you for the many letters I received, your calls, your attention, your support. And thanks for making this endeavor as your president so interesting… a year can fly by so quickly.
About the Author
Richard Matthews served as President of the Mason Contractors Association of America.