November 5, 2003 7:34 AM CST

The Strength of Unity

President’s Message

By

This year has been a tough year for the mason industry. Now, more than ever, is the time for everyone in the industry ? from masons and mason contractors, to associations and suppliers ? to join together in an effort to solve the industry's problems and contribute to the overall success of masonry.

Some of you will read this and say, "But I have been committed to helping the masonry industry!" I understand that masons have gone the extra mile to take classes and further their education on their own. Likewise, mason contractors have trained apprentices and supported local programs, and associations have promoted masonry in their various locations and specialties. Finally, suppliers have advertised their products and sponsored events.

That's all fine and good, but what I'm talking about is a cohesive, collective effort in one direction from an entire, united industry.

The masonry industry, in good times and in bad, is made up of all of these groups. It is up to us, as a whole, to make this industry as strong as the walls we build. It is no longer an option for each of us, individually, to try to further the industry. A collective coalition of mason contractors and their employees, associations and suppliers needs to step up to the plate.

Since its creation in 1950, the Mason Contractors Association of America has set-off on a course to build a stronger industry. With limited resources, we established a quality recruiting effort. We created contests, such as the Masonry Skills Challenge, that highlight the quality skills of our industry's labor force. We have recently begun a high school masonry career initiative to place career information and hands-on vocational training in more than 17,000 high schools throughout the nation. We have played an extensive role in assisting mason contractors in succeeding in their businesses.

Likewise, many other groups have done their part as well ? sometimes not to the extent of the MCAA, but they do try to accomplish their own self-serving goals.

It's time to establish a coalition that will achieve bigger goals for the good of the industry. These goals include: developing and maintaining a quality workforce; creating better and more cost-effective ways of installing masonry; and promoting masonry in a world where alternative methods of construction are threatening our survival.

Can any one group in the industry claim to be able to overcome these obstacles alone? Can any group afford to lose out on any one of these things?

If mason contractors lose market share in small, rural towns, does that not hurt large masonry suppliers in the biggest U.S. cities? Of course it does. Yet every individual group still promotes masonry as if they were trapped in a vacuum, where nothing else affects their own overall outcome. It's time for every group ? masons, mason contractors, associations and suppliers ? to realize that we are connected and our own prosperity relies on the prosperity of other groups in the industry.

Imagine the strength of our unity. Picture all of these groups joining together to sponsor, create and distribute kits throughout U.S. high schools. All of us pulling together to create a well-educated workforce. Everyone working together to educate the public on the advantages of choosing masonry over other forms of construction.

All of us have something to gain by working together as a cohesive, well-organized coalition. On the flip side, we all have a lot to lose if we don't.


About the Author

William McConnell is the owner of Architectural Paving & Stone, Inc. He has served as President of the Mason Contractors Association of America and on the Board of Trustees for the International Masonry Institute. McConnell was a recipient of the 2005 C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award.

 

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