A Half Century of Service...A Half Century of Leadership
2000 Report of the President
I am sure that many of you remember the year 1950. A year that the Republicans nominated Dwight Eisenhower for President, the "H" bomb was Detonated, George Reeves debuted as Superman, the George Burns and Grace Allen Show, the Jack Benny Show and What's My Line debuted on television, North Korean troops invaded South Korea and the United Nations sent forces to repel the invasion under Gen. Douglas MacArthur. American cartoonist Charles Schultz creates the comic strip "Peanuts" and the New York Yankees beat the Phillies in the World Series. The average price of an automobile in 1950 was $1,900, women's shoes cost $8.99, and the average price of a 3-bedroom home cost $8,990. But most importantly, the mason contractors association of America was formed. In 1950 mason contractors lacked the unity to face tough issues, but thanks to the leadership of pioneers such as John Taheny from Chicago; Marshall Harrison from Kansas City; John Hawkes from Dayton, OH and Walter Kirk from St. Louis that unity was realized with the formation of the only association to represent mason contractors nationally. Today, the Mason Contractors Association of America remains the only national association to represent the interests of all mason contractors.
This year, the MCAA is celebrating its fiftieth year of leading mason contractors, and that milestone is unequaled in our industry. No other organization has compiled such a record of leadership for all mason contractors like the MCAA has achieved. No other organization has faced the tough decisions the MCAA has faced. While other organizations seek to only pacify, the MCAA refuses to abandon the best interests of all mason contractors simply to make friends. This past year, as we have done all along, the MCAA has continued its legacy of facing the tough decisions and providing leadership for all mason contractors.
This past year, the MCAA again established high goals for our association to accomplish. Goals that few felt could be achieved. But I am proud to report to you that your association has once again exceeded all expectations and has delivered a very profitable and successful year. Our goals contained six basic areas which I would like to address.
First is membership growth. The backbone of any association is its members. This past year, just as we have for the past ten years in a row, we have experienced net growth in our membership. This growth in membership has been the primary reason that our influence as an association has grown as well. Through the expanded circulation of your association's magazine, MASONRY, and through the expanded circulation of our Resource Catalog, mailed to every mason contractor in the country, our membership growth will continue to set new heights as more mason contractors affiliate their companies with the MCAA and its influence. I am happy to report that today we have more members active on committees than ever before. We have new chapters of mason contractors affiliating with us. In fact, we are lucky to include the newly formed MCA of Southern Nevada who has already made a mark for themselves by sponsoring the Blockbuster fastest trowel competition at this show and giving crucial support for the building of an all masonry Habitat for Humanity Home while we are here in Las Vegas. If each one of us takes an active role in recruiting new members, I can look forward to the day when almost every mason contractor in the country affiliates with the MCAA.
Last year the MCAA experienced unbelievable growth in publication sales, tripling our budgeted figures. Little did we expect to top last year's growth in sales. However, I can now report that in just six months, the MCAA has already reached last year's record sales of nearly $120,000. This growth in sales is a tribute to our staff and the Education Committee's goal of providing quality education for the nation's mason contractors. One of the key elements of achieving this rapid growth in book sales has been the expansion of our Resource Catalog, which this year includes a new section on residential masonry and an expanded section on personal growth. The MCAA Marketing Committee is to be commended for expanding the services offered through our Resource Catalog.
Your association's magazine, MASONRY, enjoyed one of its best years in its thirty year history. This past year, the circulation of our magazine tripled along with its influence. Buoyed by a drastically expanded advertising base, the magazine has a readership of nearly 9,000 mason contractors. We now can boast a reach that can rival our magazine's competitor. According to a recent association survey, MASONRY magazine is a prime source of information for our readers. With the success that the magazine has enjoyed and with the improvement in MASONRY's features, we look forward to adding an additional 6,000 mason contracting firms to our readership, bringing our readership to over 15,000. This growth in circulation is extremely important to continue the growth in MCAA's membership, publication sales and the expansion of our trade show. More importantly, this expanded circulation in MASONRY allows the MCAA to communicate key industry issues and MCAA's position on those issues to every mason contractor in the nation. Equally important, this expanded circulation allows us to galvanize mason contractors to respond to the issues of the day. We look forward to even greater growth and influence in MASONRY Magazine.
TRAINING & RECRUITING
One of the prime directives for the association is to challenge the entire masonry industry to expand our workforce. Working together, our industry has the capability to solve our workforce shortages. Working individually, we will continue to face substantial shortages for years to come. Regardless of how much we must work together, no one has a greater responsibility to lead in this area than the Mason contractors association of America. Developing our workforce, regardless of whether our workforce is union or open shop, is the job of the mason contractor and the MCAA. I must add that most mason contractors historically receive low grades in this area. As contractors we spend most of our time overseeing projects, collecting money, making payroll and trying to get the next job. Yet one of our greatest needs as contractors is a well-skilled workforce. However, we virtually spend no time or effort recruiting our future workforce.
The MCAA hopefully took a large step forward this year toward solving future workforce needs. The Masonry Skills Challenge, which will take place Thursday in the exhibit hall, an event you should all attend, has already become a national spotlight for our industry's training. The best apprentices our industry has to offer, as determined by regional competitions, will compete against each other to find the best of the best. The Masonry Skills Challenge already has ignited excitement in training in each of our nine regions as well as in Canada. I applaud the efforts of our Training Committee whose foresight in establishing the Masonry Skills Challenge will pay dividends for years to come.
The MCAA has become increasingly more active in the area of promoting masonry. Our industry suppliers traditionally spend millions of dollars each year promoting their specific masonry product, but only the mason contractor and the Mason contractors association of America can promote the entire industry. As masons we do not care if our customers use concrete block, brick, or stone. As masons we only care that our customers use masonry in some fashion and that they receive a quality project. It is for that reason that your Board of Directors has approved increasingly larger budgets toward programs that promote masonry. Just this past year, the MCAA participated along with several other masonry groups in exhibiting at the Construction Specifications Institute's show in Los Angeles. I am pleased to report that your association's booth was well attended by the architects and engineers who attended this show. In fact, our booth was so successful that we won an award from the CSI. The MCAA was one of only a select few out of more than 400 exhibitors which were singled out for having one of the more exciting booths. A photo of our booth was even listed on CSI's website, obviously good publicity for masonry. Another new program that the MCAA participated with was the Federal Officials Masonry Seminar sponsored by the Masonry Industry Council. The Federal Officials Seminar was a day-long program where federal officials, responsible for constructing federal buildings, were briefed on the many benefits and strengths of using masonry. Over fifty officials attended this very successful event, which was held in Washington D.C. in 1999.
There are two events taking place while we are here in Las Vegas that will undoubtedly create a great deal of promotion for masonry. The first is the Architects' Masonry Symposium, a three day program designed to immerse our industry's designers in the benefits of building with masonry. Last year in Orlando, we introduced this program which enjoyed a modest success. here in Las Vegas, we have increased our attendance to over thirty architects from around the country who will be participating in this three day program. The second major event that the MCAA is conducting here in Las Vegas is the construction of an all masonry Habitat for Humanity home. Obviously a worthwhile cause helping to provide a quality home for a deserving disadvantaged family. The Habitat Home is already creating a great deal of promotion for the masonry industry as well. In addition to the promotional benefits, the architects that are participating in the Symposium will be spending tomorrow morning helping to build the Habitat home. What greater benefit to our industry than to have the architectural community helping to build a worthwhile project with our product. I believe this program will have deep promotional benefits for years to come.
MASONRY magazine has also been developing a strong promotional benefit to our industry through increased subscriptions with our industry's customers. More and more, architects are receiving your association's magazine and learning through its features the benefits of constructing with masonry.
Although the MCAA has become more involved than ever before in the promotional field, we must continue to invest our association's resources to expand the use of masonry. After all, the MCAA is best suited to promote the use of masonry. We are the ones who have continual contact with our industry's customer, we do not have any parochial interest in one product over another. We simply want our customer to build with masonry. The MCAA, and each of us as contractors, must step forward and lead in the promotional field.
Arguably, the greatest challenge the Mason Contractors Association of America has ever faced was the launching of our own exhibition, THE MASONRY SHOW. No other decision has drawn such ridicule and skepticism from the industry. No other decision has drawn such doubt about MCAA's ability to actually pull off our own trade show without the help of our suppliers. While many felt the MCAA's move to leave Expo and form our own show would cause the demise of the masonry industry's fragile unity, we felt the need for us to move forward with our own show was critical to not only continuing key association programs but also to ensuring the future vitality of the MCAA. It is no secret that revenues from our trade show are one of MCAA's top sources of funding. It is little secret that the old Expo had grown tired and lackluster. It is little secret that our rivals at Aberdeen's World of Concrete which produces Masonry Construction magazine covet the revenues from our show to line the pockets of the investment group that bought Aberdeen. And it is little secret that Aberdeen has announced a full scale attempt to steal our show's revenues by launching the World of Masonry, which will compete head on with our show. Something had to be done.
I am extremely pleased to announce to you today that your new show, THE MASONRY SHOW, has far exceeded our expectations. In fact, it has far surpassed the record success we had last year, in the final Masonry Expo. The SHOW that you are here to enjoy, beginning today, is by far the largest and most active program ever. New industry events such as the Masonry Skills Challenge, the Foreman Development Course, Blockbuster and the Masonry Habitat for Humanity home have been added to successful industry events such as the Excellence in Masonry Awards Program, the Architects' Masonry Symposium and the Keynote Speaker Luncheon. Never before has such an exciting program been offered. While our competitors are attempting to take valuable resources out of the masonry industry, it's comforting to know the MCAA has strengthened our resolve to prevent this from happening by conducting an exciting MASONRY SHOW. When you walk the show floor, please thank the exhibitors for being in your show, the mason contractors show. Ask them to continue that support and to resist efforts to lure them to other shows, such as the World of Masonry, which can only take valuable resources out of our industry.
MASONRY INDUSTRY COUNCIL
For decades, the masonry industry has been splintered with numerous organizations vying for the attention of our customers. Union versus non-union, block versus brick, each bombarding our customers with conflicting messages. I can now report that through the leadership of the MCAA, the masonry industry has finally come together under the banner of the Masonry Industry Council which was formed in 1999. Acting much like an industry board of directors, the council will seek to unify industry promotion, research, training, legislative action and, more importantly, to challenge the industry to combat competitive systems before they take our markets. Although the Masonry Industry Council is in its infancy, I am pleased by the unity and determination of each of the industry associations that have formed the council. I would like to thank our friends at the Brick Industry Association, the Portland Cement Association, the National Concrete Masonry Association and the Expanded Shale, Clay, Slate Institute for joining us to unite the masonry industry under the banner of the Masonry Industry Council. I am equally pleased that an MCAA member and past president Richard Felice has been selected as Chairman of the Masonry industry council.
THE NEXT FIFTY YEARS
Leading is never easy. Leadership requires facing tough issues and never shying away from fighting the good and right fight. Leadership requires having principles and keeping to those principles when others would have you abandon them for the sake of a hollow peace or shallow unity. The MCAA has stood for principles for decades. At times, we placed our principles on the back shelf for what we believed was for the "good of the cause". But the only basic thing that came from the MCAA not following our guiding principles of fighting for the rights of all mason contractors, was an industry that remained splintered and aimless. Without a strong mason contractor organization acting as the conscience and leader of the masonry industry, other competing construction methods captured our once dominant masonry markets. Thankfully today, lead by a principled group of a strong officer core and motivated by our guiding principles, the Mason Contractors Association of America has stepped forward again to regain masonry's dominance in the construction industry. Our fight will not be easy. Many in our industry do not believe that it is the contractors place to lead. Many doubt the ability of the MCAA, its elected Board, and staff to offer the vision to lead. Still many do not believe the MCAA has the will to sustain a fight to once again make masonry the dominant construction material in America today. While many doubted our ability to put together a winning trade show, like the one you will experience here in Las Vegas, I believe they are as misguided about your association's ability to bring success to the masonry industry.
While other organizations attempt to start new mason contractor groups which purport to represent splintered mason contractors, the MCAA seeks to unify the industry by leading all mason contractors. While corporations whose sole motives are to turn profits for their investors attempt to take masonry dollars out of the industry by starting a competing trade show, the MCAA seeks to expand our show which creates tremendous revenues that are reinvested back into the industry to make it a stronger industry for you to earn a living. While many in our industry sit by and wait to see if we as mason contractors fail the test of leadership, I believe we will succeed, because we have conviction in our belief.
It's time that as mason contractors we band together and put aside our petty differences of union versus non-union. It's time we challenge our friends to stand with us and to fight for the masonry industry. Because if we don't fight, who will? After all, it is our industry. I am proud of our fifty year history of accomplishment. I know that if we all rise to the occasion, we will all be proud of the next fifty years.
About the Author
Donald Larsen is a past president of the Mason Contractors Association of America.