We have had a very active last couple of months. We hired a new Manager of Professional Development, Joni Mount. Her responsibilities primarily include exhibit sales and educational programming. Colin Faul has been promoted to Director of Marketing and will oversee MCAA's expanding marketing efforts to promote masonry. Melissa Polivka has taken on the responsibility of membership recruitment and retention.
MCAA Staff members have been very active both in the code as well as legislative and regulatory fronts. We have kept you up to date on those activities in previous emails. In addition, our staff has also provided strong support with the development of the masonry systems promotional efforts that you will read about later in this report. I believe that the systems promotional campaign will become a vital tool for promoting masonry and providing masonry users with a dependable source of technical and educational information on building with total masonry systems. The campaign will launch on October 1.
Our relationship with the Construction Specifications Institute continues to develop. We are planning a joint evening event with the CSI and their attendees and next years Masonry Showcase at Construct America. The Welcome Reception will be held at Chicago's Field Museum. This event will be a networking opportunity between MCAA members and construction specifiers. In addition, the MCAA was asked by CSI to develop a "Masonry" education track for CSI attendees at Construct America. Lastly, the MCAA will host a national "Masonry: It Makes A Village" competition which pits mason contractor and architect teams against one another to build a unique masonry project that can be found in a village. These events are all part of MCAA's efforts to expand masonry markets and member opportunities.
Masonry System Promotional Campaign
On July 14th & 15th, 2004 the MCAA hosted a meeting of the Execs Council where 17 local association executive directors spent nearly two days continuing work on the masonrysystems.org campaign. As you are aware, the campaign includes a developing website and a national advertising campaign targeting architects, specifiers, school officials and municipal leaders. We have agreed to revamp the website (masonrysystems.org) and to establish a target completion date of September. Beginning October 1St, we have committed to a phase one ad campaign to include Architecture Magazine, Construction Specifier, School Planning Management and Planning Magazine with a total of 500,000 readers. We have committed to six issues of Architecture and Specifier and three of School Planning Management and Planning Magazine. As funds continue to come in, we will implement two additional phases in five additional magazines.
The mood of the Execs who attended the meeting was extremely upbeat and the cooperation between the national and chapters is strengthening. Since we established the Execs Council just over two years ago, this group has grown to 18 associations.
MCAA Member Profiles on the Web
We have been expanding the MCAA Website to include a greater member profile. The profiles include links to members' websites for those that have them, addresses, phones and faxes, company volumes and a list of company specialties. As the masonrysystems.org campaign develops and industry customers come to the new site, "Find a Contractor" will be an available option for those that need a contractor. They will be able to search by contractor size or capability. They can also be linked to member sites for more detailed company information. This will no doubt become an increasingly important membership benefit.
The MCAA has provided tremendous leadership in the fight for a reasonable Silica Standard. We have been extremely active in lobbying many members of Congress, OSHA and Administration Officials about the impact the proposed standard would have. We have formed a coalition with representatives from Associated Builders and Contractors, Associated General Contractors, Association of Equipment Manufacturers, American Subcontractors Association, Brick Industry Association, Concrete and Masonry Saw Manufacturers Institute, Concrete Sawing and Drilling Association, Mason Contractors Association of America, National Association of Home Builders, National Concrete Masonry Association, National Ready Mix Association and Portland Cement Association. The coalition is working to develop a construction industry silica work practice that would eliminate the need for a new OSHA Standard. Currently, the coalition is collecting a tremendous amount of research and data which will be instrumental in developing our standard. We hope to have a preliminary document to OSHA in October of this year ... an incredibly aggressive timetable. Mark Kemp has agreed to serve as Chairman of the coalition. Technical Committee Chairman, Jerry Painter, Marian Marshall and Rashod Johnson are playing critical roles on the coalition.
Key Masonry Code Changes
The Masonry Standards Joint Committee (better known as MSJC) is at the end of its public comment period right now. The public comment period is a 90 day period that is set aside to allow anyone to comment on the changes to the Masonry Code. Though the MCAA is represented on the MSJC, the small number of contractors does not allow us to always get what we want. Therefore, during the public comment period, MCAA is sponsoring two comments that will affect the 2005 Masonry Code. The first is the design provisions of the lap splice length of steel in masonry walls. The current Code requires that the reinforcement be lapped beyond "constructible" lengths. We are looking to shorten these lengths be about 25% with the proposed solution. We understand that 25% is just a start and will continue to make these provisions better during the 2008 Code cycle. The second comment is one the will allow contractors to wet cut CMU before it's laid in the wall. The current Specification provisions to not allow this, but the impending OSHA Silica Regulation will likely require wet cutting of CMU to limit dust exposure. These two changes will not go through smoothly, as there is opposition to both. The MCAA will fight to ensure these changes are made.
The MCAA has played a strong leadership role in building a strong industry coalition and cooperation. The Masonry Execs Council has strengthened the contractor element of the industry. We have extended invitations to the NCMA and to Stone Council to join us at Construct AmericaTM and the CSI. Both organizations are considering our invite. MCAA has also invited the NCMA to partner with a Legislative Conference next spring. NCMA has accepted and we are identifying dates. The Building Stone Institute is also considering joining the NCMA and us with the Legislative Conference. The Masonry Industry Council has emerged as a real catalyst to stimulate the industry. I serve as Chairman for a two year term. Our Market Development Committee is developing a school market video to address masonry construction in the school market. We are considering the development of a design build program to place masonry into serious consideration by design build.
About the Author
Michael Adelizzi was the Executive Director of the Mason Contractors Association of America.