Increase your knowledge
Why continuing education matters, and how it can benefit your company
By Tim O’Toole
Our world is constantly changing, and at a greater speed than we’ve ever seen before. We are inundated with news and information on Facebook and Twitter, and new methods of completing old tasks are released daily.
It can seem like a daunting task to stay abreast of new trends, but it’s actually easier than you think. That’s where the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) comes in.
“The MCAA has provided us a wonderful avenue to continue our training, so that we can deliver quality services to an ever increasingly demanding clientele,” says Brian Procter, a project manager at Wasco Inc. in Nashville, Tenn. “We support the efforts of the MCAA to continually educate and improve the masonry industry.”
Benefits of continuing educationThe masonry industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and mason contractors are facing new challenges. By investing in continuing education, contractors not only can strengthen their business and employees, but also can strengthen the entire masonry industry.
Strengthen your businessOwners and presidents of masonry firms can reap financial benefits by keeping themselves and their employees abreast of the most recent trends in the industry. Staying well informed of the latest codes and standards, safety regulations and newest equipment innovations will provide your company with the means necessary to save time and money, while positively impacting your bottom line. Customers will notice that you have spent the time and effort to better your company.
Strengthen your employeesOffering employees continuing education opportunities has many benefits for companies. Employees will be better trained, better educated, and in a superior position to make quick, important decisions that affect a project and can help a company become more successful. An employee with greater skills, knowledge and abilities can be more productive and profitable.
Strengthen the industryEducation can increase the quality of your company. When the quality of work increases, the entire industry benefits. More customers are likely to see the beauty and benefits of building with masonry.
“We have a responsibility within the industry to become more educated,” says Rob Barnes, president and COO of Dee Brown Inc. in Garland, Texas, and one of the first mason contractors in the country to become certified through the MCAA. “By becoming more educated, we will strengthen the industry and the level of competition. Competition is positive, if it is competent competition.”
Masonry CertificationThe MCAA has developed the national Masonry Certification program. Becoming a certified mason contractor demonstrates a company’s commitment to quality, reliability and the highest professional standards.
“Genco Masonry Inc. has been a leader in the masonry industry in the Washington/Baltimore areas for over 80 years, so when the idea of contractor certification came up it was a ‘no-brainer’ to be the first in our area to become certified,” says Steve Sullivan, president of Genco Masonry Inc. in Bethesda, Md.
Nothing can hurt our industry more than unqualified mason contractors being awarded bids, simply because they submitted the lowest cost. These projects often can result in poorly constructed buildings, unhappy customers, and negative marks against the masonry industry.
Michael Radosa, VP of Edgar Boettcher Masonry in Bay City, Mich., believes “quality is too often disregarded in favor of the low price. It has always been assumed that quality is equal among all bidders, and only after it is too late is it realized that quality should be the most important element on selecting a contractor."
The Masonry Certification program aims to change this and revolutionize the bidding process. Masonry Certification is a mark of excellence in our industry. Certification is an investment in your company and your future. It demonstrates your commitment to quality and will help your company stand out from the crowd.
“When the bids on a job are close, the general contractor and/or owner will often pick the mason contractor who is the most qualified to do the work,” says Dennis Knowlton, president of Knowlton & Sons Masonry Construction in Clifford, Pa. “Being a certified mason contractor helps to verify that we are qualified and gives us an edge to get the job.”
Masonry Certification provides masonry customers with a tool to select and measure the quality of mason contractors. Architects across the country are hoping to begin specifying the use of certified mason contractors on their projects. As a certified mason contractor, your company is in an advantageous position to win close bids and become more profitable.
How to become certifiedTo become a certified mason contractor, the primary individual who is responsible for day-to-day operations must earn 100 continuing education credits in the following six disciplines:
- Masonry Quality Institute (16)
- Codes and Standards (10)
- Ethics and Business Practice (10)
- Safety (10)
- Bidding Practices (5)
- Masonry Products (5)
Once these requirements are met, the primary will be eligible to take the certification exam. In order to pass the exam, the primary needs a score of 80 percent or better.
“This program offers us another tool to further separate ourselves from the competition and meet the needs of our increasingly knowledgeable and demanding clientele,” says Tom Weaver, president and founder of Advanced Masonry Systems Inc. in Hunt Valley, Md. “We applaud and will continue to support MCAA's efforts to ensure quality masonry construction.”
Continuing education opportunitiesThe MCAA offers nearly 200 educational sessions each year, with topics ranging from building information modeling and masonry estimating to masonry wall bracing and jobsite scheduling. Each course is focused on making you a better contractor and improving your bottom line.
Traditional educationThe MCAA conducts various classes targeted toward your operations throughout the year at the MCAA Convention, held during the World of Concrete/World of Masonry in Las Vegas, and the MCAA Midyear Meeting. Each program has been designed to help your company increase productivity levels and the bottom line.
Live webinarsWith dozens of live webinars offered each year, mason contractors can enjoy top-quality education from the MCAA, without the hassle and expense of travel.
Webinars allow attendees to earn Masonry Certification credits from the comfort of their homes or offices, while attending masonry seminars that will improve productivity and profitability. Attendees are able to interact with the instructor and each other, and have access to handouts just as they would in a classroom setting.
MCAA Virtual UniversityThe MCAA Virtual University offers convenient online courses that are available on demand. Self-paced online courses for OSHA 10- and 30-hour Outreach training, fall protection, scaffold safety and much more can be accessed by you or your employees, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Approved Provider NetworkAn integral component of the certification program is the Approved Provider Network. The Approved Provider Network pre-approves and designates course work for certification credit. Mason contractors have the opportunity to meet education requirements for certification by completing these courses.
More than 30 companies and associations have partnered with the MCAA to provide more than 500 education opportunities to mason contractors throughout the country. All approved courses offered by providers have been reviewed by the MCAA Certification Committee and have been accepted as quality education.
The next stepMason contractors searching for continuing education opportunities are encouraged to visit the MCAA online at www.masoncontractors.org to view a full list of upcoming education in their areas and courses available online.
Increase your knowledge, and become a more profitable company through education aimed at making you a better contractor.
About the Author
Tim O’Toole is the Director of Marketing, Education, and Information Technology for the MCAA. He has a Masters in Business Administration from Webster University and has worked in the masonry industry since 2003.
Photos by Jenkins Custom Photography, Ltd.