My trip to the Rockies
I find myself having returned not too long ago from a trip to Denver to visit with the fine folks of the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute (RMMI). As I sat with these folks and had dinner and then listened to their speaker for the evening, the one thing I realize the more I visit folks all around the country is that we are all going through the same thing and all have similar interests.
We discussed economic conditions (not a great dinner discussion as this topic can make your stomach turn), but as with other places I have visited the conditions are still very tentative. There is some more work than there was before, but the work that is there is still very competitive and margins have not returned. There is a lot of concern about our future workforce and what we as an industry will do when the economy improves and gets back to a normal cycle. This recession has damaged our industry’s workforce and we have lost a pretty large amount of our future craftsmen to other industries. The chances of those folks returning once the work is back is pretty remote.
The main purpose of my trip was to tell them a bit about the MCAA and what we are doing to help build a better future for our industry. We are looking to tie back and have a direct affiliation with the RMMI so we can work together on tackling this (workforce) and so many other issues that are critical to our path to recovery as an industry and as a nation. As an industry we need strong and healthy local, state and national associations. The only way we can deal with these many issues is to all work together to tackle them. As a national association we are working on developing a national apprenticeship program utilizing the NCCER masonry apprenticeship program. This program would standardize training around the country and allow contractors the ability to look up the training that folks who participate in the program have.
The MCAA can’t administer this program without effective and willing state groups. The state groups have to administer the programs within their states and work with their state Department of Labors to help create a successful program. The state that has done this most effectively has been Florida and they are assisting us in developing a broader national implementation of this program. This is just one of many issues our industry needs a strong national, state and local group presence. As an industry we have to make a commitment to have all these groups work together to help us achieve the many goals we want to achieve. Our legislative and technical challenges are also very dependent upon having these groups work together to make the biggest impact we can.
I would encourage you today to continue to support all three of these groups. If you are a part of a local, state or national group, make sure you renew your support with them. These are trying times for them as well. If we let them fall, we will be in a world of hurt when times rebound. If you are not a part of any of these or just one or two, I would encourage you to join the others today. Being active with these groups also helps not only the group, but also you and your company. It is amazing the time and dollars we commit to this effort, but what is more amazing are the experiences and knowledge I gain from volunteering. My company has been better off a result. Lastly, I want to take a moment to wish you an yours a wonderful holiday as we all enjoy our season of thanks.
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.