As I begin my term as president, I would like to start by thanking all of you for the trust you have placed in me to lead this great organization. There have been so many respected individuals who have done a superb job in this position. I will endeavor to work hard and maintain the integrity and leadership that MCAA has built over the years.
There are many things to accomplish in the next two years. The first probably is one of the hardest: Assure MCAA is a great value to its members. Too often, we, as executive officers, get hung up in the operations of the association, and we do not stop and look into it from the outside. With these economic times, our time and money need to be spent on things that will improve and grow our businesses. As executive officers working together, we must be reminded that this organization is not a social club; there are plenty of those for people to join. We need to lead the industry and show value to its members.
Growing membership probably is one of the easiest things to accomplish, if we can show value and help us all make money. The greatest assets I have are the four executive officers who will assist me to accomplish these tasks. We have the best executive director in Jeff Buczkiewicz, with many years of masonry knowledge. Jeff has assembled a staff that is willing and able to assist us with our committees. We have, in the past four months, empowered 26 people to run 13 existing committees. These committee chairs are crucial to the needs of our members.
I read an article in Newsweek that some of the country’s problems stem from our being governed by committees with a lack of direction and leadership. Our schools, our businesses and our government are being led by committees. The question is, where are all the leaders? I am here to empower these committee chairpersons to lead this industry into the future. There are many changes to come in masonry, and our future as an industry depends on you.
Membership and the South of 40 committees need to be aggressive in involving more mason contractors. Both existing contractors and young contractors need help in shaping the future. Encouraging this group to grow will open more doors, along with opening our minds to the endless possibilities. The South of 40 group has progressed beyond all expectations. There is excitement in our industry, and these young leaders are willing to step forward. If you know of some young candidates, encourage them to engage immediately. Other industry groups are in the process of empowering their young people to mirror our program.
As a Certified Mason Contractor, I would like to see this program grow. I believe the certification should be achievable but needs to be challenging. Continued education is key to understanding and installing our products. As old as the industry is, it is ever-changing. There is a demand for a quality, dependable and certified contractor. We need to expand this certification to other parts of our businesses as well. Why not certify caulkers and waterproofers, air and vapor barriers? These are only a few areas in which we have the opportunity to expand our businesses. We need to encourage our customers to select a certified mason contractor.
This leads me to the Technical Committee. These individuals sit in countless educational sessions, trying to place common sense into our product. Were it not for this committee, educators and professionals would have our industry tied up with work at unreasonable costs and impossible conditions. We must continue to accommodate new technology and products. We need to make masonry construction easier to build and easier to design. Thin wall technology has been here and will continue to grow.
Another committee of great benefit for our members is Legislative. We will continue to have a presence in Washington, D.C., to insure we have a voice in protecting our businesses, employees and families from legislation adverse to our needs. This will be a busy year with the possibility of changing presidents. As a Union contractor, there are many issues that need to be corrected in Washington, D.C. Pension reform is just a start. Too often, we have been known as a group of Non Union Contractors. We are an association of both, and both have some of the same needs and desires, one of which is cost-efficient masonry construction.
The last committee I want to mention is our Marketing Committee. As a member of the Executive Committee, my passion has been marketing. We need to find ways, through the Vision 2020 program and the TEAM Awards Program, to showcase our work. We construct some of the finest buildings in this country. How many tilt up or metal buildings have you seen that are award-winning projects? Masonry needs to be user friendly, not only for our installation, but also for architects and engineers. The development of language for BIM software is instrumental to our customers using our product. Masonry should not be the wall system that is budgeted out.
These committees and others not mentioned are so important to our association. A milestone to strive for in the next two years is to reestablish strong ties with our industry partners. I also would like to empower our regional VPs to be more active with the chairpersons in each state. The more unified we are as a group, the stronger we become.
I look forward to the next two years, and I am excited to work with the MCAA staff and board members. I would like to ask for your support in the hope of leading the entire industry into a profitable environment. Feel free to contact me with any suggestions or comments through the MCAA office.
About the Author
John J. Smith Jr. is the President of John J. Smith Masonry Company. He has served as an officer on the Executive Board, the Region E Vice President, and the Marketing Committee Chairman for the Mason Contractors Association of America.