Hitting the road and making a difference
By Mark Kemp
July brought a lot of exciting things for the MCAA as well as a lot of air miles. Let’s start with the trip to Dallas for The Masonry Foundation. It was a pleasure working with a group so dedicated to turning The Masonry Foundation from an idea into reality. We mapped out our strategic plan to raise the money needed to ensure a bright and prosperous future for the masonry industry.
Our consultant, Ed Brandt, will be giving membership an update at the Midyear Meeting on Sept. 12 in Milwaukee. This has to be the most exciting thing the MCAA has ever done to give our industry the tools to invest in our own future. There will be much more on the Foundation in the near future but for now, talk it up!
Jeff and I were in D.C. July 21 and 22 to meet with the BAC and the Laborers Union, and to give some extra push for the Check-Off Program. The BAC has, again, agreed to sponsor the Skills Challenge. In addition to the BAC, we have a tentative agreement with the Laborers to sponsor the forklift training program, which also will be held at the convention. We also talked with the unions about workforce development and the need to get construction programs back into the high schools.
We had discussions with the Laborers Union about financially supporting the BIM-M project. It is always a good feeling walking away from these meetings knowing we have common goals in the masonry industry, which we can work together on and support each other. While in D.C., we met with several Representatives on the Check-Off Program. I believe we have picked up several more sponsors. Hats off to the Keelen Group for setting all the appointments and helping turn this Check-Off Program into a reality.
Speaking of the Check-Off Program, we have 230 co-sponsors in the House and 22 co-sponsors in the Senate. We are hopeful the bill will reach the floor after recess. Once this bill is passed, it will be a real game changer for the masonry industry.
During the last week in July, Jeff and I flew to Salt Lake City and had lunch with Alan Johnson and a few contractors from his area. It was great to meet more members, and we picked up a new member who decided it was time to rejoin. Thanks, Alan, for making this happen. From there, Jeff and I drove to Park City to meet with your other executive officers, Mike and Paul, at the NCMA convention. It was great to attend some of their meetings and to sit down with their executive officers to discuss key industry issues.
MCAA has requested a grant to accomplish two very important programs. The first program will help us expand our workforce development to other states. The second program will provide education to contractors, so they can be certified to build storm shelters for future school projects (storm shelters in schools will be required in the code in the near future). A special thanks to Mike Sutter and Paul Odom, who stayed at the convention while Jeff and I headed to the Masonry Association of Florida’s (MAF) convention.
The MAF recently had its state Check-Off Program approved. I see many exciting things happening in the State of Florida regarding masonry. They have positioned themselves to expand their workforce, marketing, promotion and research to ensure masonry is the system of choice. Thank you, Pat and Danielle, for your hospitality and your commitment to not only MCAA, but also the masonry industry.
Our next trip was down to Texas for the TMC convention. Again, it was great to see and meet new contractors. We will be talking to them soon about bringing MCAA’s workforce development program to Texas. This is a great opportunity for them to increase their workforce with skilled labor. Thank you, Lindsey, for giving me the opportunity to speak to your members. We look forward to working with you and your board on workforce development to ensure you have the skilled workforce you need to keep up with your demand for quality masonry buildings.
I close by saying, reach out to give someone a helping hand. You never know; it might be you needing that helping hand next time!
About the Author
Mark Kemp is the President and CEO of Superior Masonry Builders, Inc. in Butler, Wisc. He has served as an officer on the Executive Board and Region D Vice President for the Mason Contractors Association of America.