Advancing Masonry in a Global Economy
2007 Report of the President
Each year, the President of the Mason Contractors Association of America stands before the membership during the Annual Convention and reports on the activities and progress of the association. For the past decade, I have listened to my predecessors and marveled at how much our association has progressed as a force for change in our industry. I have privately wondered how our association could continue to expand our programs and services for our industry’s contractors at such a rapid pace while I was president. Yet, this year I stand before you to present my very first State of the Association address and I am proud to report that our association has continued to grow at a remarkable pace this past year again.
The MCAA is the national association that represents the interests of all of our industry’s contractors. This past year, we looked beyond our boarders to think globally and work with our contractor friends in Canada and Australia. Our mission statement is simply stated: To Advance the Masonry Industry. I believe that as an association, we took some major steps to achieve our mission as we take a broader view of the issues that face us.
During our Midyear Meeting, our board approved two major initiatives that will enable the MCAA to better service our members and the interests of masonry customers. First we approved the establishment of a national fund that will be used to educate the design professionals both at the academic and practitioner levels on the benefits of building with total masonry (systems) on their construction projects. This new national fund will enable the MCAA to achieve one of our major goals of maintaining, developing and expanding the industry’s market share. We believe that the contractors have a unique ability to promote masonry and masonry systems unlike our friends in the supply side of our industry. We believe that the lack of a strong contractor presence in the promotion of masonry has hurt our industry’s ability to grow. Therefore, it is incumbent as the MCAA to ask our members to support this major initiative to expand our markets and the use of masonry materials.
The second major initiative and probably one of the most significant programs our industry has ever engaged in is the certification of our industry’s mason contractors. For the past two years, we have listened to pleas from manufacturers of masonry materials to improve the quality of our workforce. We have listened to complaints from architects, owners, government officials and others about the poor quality of the masonry work. We strongly believe that a certification program will play a major role in our ability to hold on to the markets we still have and is vital to our desire to recapture the markets that we have lost. For too long, good contractors have had to watch as quality projects went to less qualified contractors, because of price. We believe that a comprehensive certification program gives our industry the opportunity to market quality masonry construction by certifying our contractors and promoting those certified contractors to construction customers. We also believe that all of our members have the ability to achieve and earn certification with effort and determination. The program that we have developed and introduced is both achievable and affordable and we look forward to all of the industry’s contractors striving to become certified.
With the push for certification comes the demand for education. The Association has already ramped up our effort to provide educational outlets throughout the country by offering our seminars and workshops nationally. We have offered more Foreman Development Classes, more Estimating Seminars and Wall Bracing Workshops and our members have flocked to these classes like never before. In addition, the MCAA has brought back our Masonry Quality Institute. MQI is a two day class that provides contractors the tools to change the culture of their company from one of mistakes, problems and increasing costs to one of meeting the customer’s requirements with a staff of dedicated and committed employees who work each day to do the job right the first time.
Over the past year I have watched as the Association’s reputation and presence in Washington has increased significantly. Our Washington staff was involved in and played an integral part in negotiations on Pension Reform, Immigration, Death Tax Reform and Small Business Health Plans. I continue to be impressed by the tenacity and enthusiasm our staff portrays when advocating on behalf of our members. I have truly seen our credibility and effectiveness as an association, reach new heights this past year.
It is my feeling that MCAA is THE Association representing Mason Contractors in our Nation’s Capitol. I have witnessed first hand the hard work of our staff in D.C. when I attended a ceremony with our Director of Government Affairs Jessica Johnson Bennett, in which President Bush signed legislation into law which provided an overhaul for the Nation’s Pension system, the largest overhaul since the passage of ERISA in the 1970’s. In addition to this ceremony our staff also attended a signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House at which President Bush signed into law the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, which extends the tax cut package and provides tax relief for Small Businesses.
The Association’s relationship with OSHA was all important during the past year as MCAA worked on a number of regulatory issues facing the masonry industry, such as Silica and DHS No Match Letters. We have continued to work with OSHA and the Department of Labor to undertake greater efforts to enforce the existing exposure standard through outreach, research, education, and compliance assistance. In the spring of 2006 MCAA met with officials at OSHA to deliver the Silica Best Practices Document for review. We received positive feedback from OSHA and will continue to work with OSHA staff to insure that the best interests of our contractors are protected by using sound science and a transparent process.
On August 21st, 2006, I along with our Executive Director Mike Adelizzi and our Director of Government Affairs, met with Occupational Safety and Health Secretary (OSHA) where we extended the OSHA Alliance between our organizations for 2 more years.
In 2006, we very successfully co-hosted the 2nd Masonry Industry Legislative Conference, together with the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), the Brick Industry Association (BIA), and the Building Stone Institute (BSI). The 2006 conference was extremely successful and we will be hosting our 3rd Annual Legislative Conference this year in May.
I am also pleased to report that our Political Action Committee MAC PAC has experienced its most successful year ever. In December MAC PAC unveiled a new MAC PAC brochure which was distributed to our entire membership. The new brochure is a testament to the enthusiasm and aggressiveness of our political and legislative efforts.
In addition in 2006 MAC PAC has become more involved with fundraising efforts by co-hosting several fundraisers for candidates from across the country.
Our ability as an association to communicate to both customers and contractors grew significantly this past year. Our website went through a major revision which resulted in a very professional site that is clean, informative and engaging. New information and features are published daily, drawing the interest of a growing audience. The goal of our web site is to become a focal point for our industry. With 65,000 hits per day from over 2,000 visitors in 75 countries, we believe we are achieving that goal. In addition to our new website, our Masonry magazine continues to progress with its growing professionalism and strength as the premier publication of our industry. Masonry magazine’s website is yet another way for the Association to communicate with the world.
Every president before me has stood before the membership to report on the activities of the association and to challenge the MCAA to achieve new heights of service. I believe that our challenge is most eloquently vocalized by our friend, architect Chris Huckabee, who encourages our contractors to fight for every construction project. Resist every effort by our competitors to discredit masonry materials and to win a greater share of the construction pie. As an association, we have taken that task seriously. Our Board has asked our members to increase their dues to help fund a national program to promote and educate the design community on the benefits of using total masonry construction. Our association will be administering promotional programs targeted to the design community both at the academic level as well as to practitioners.
I believe that the bar has been set for us. I also believe that we have placed in motion, the ability for the MCAA to be a motivating force to achieve just that.
It’s now up to the association to deliver. Thank you for listening.
About the Author
Frank Campitelli is the president and owner of Baltimore Masonry, Inc. Campitelli has volunteered countless hours for the masonry industry and spent eight years on the MCAA Executive Board, including two years as President from 2006-2008. He was presented with the C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award for exemplary leadership in advancing the masonry industry in 2009.