A voice in Washington
By Mark Kemp
Last month, I said to “Be a voice, and be heard.” Well, the time is now with our Legislative Conference being held May 12-14. Do not let people in Washington decide what is best for you, your company, and your industry. We are staying at the Capitol Hill Hotel, which is conveniently located for all your meetings and appointments. You might want to consider the South of 40 programs on May 12, featuring a seminar on Financial Management for Construction Managers, lunch at the Capitol Hill Club, and a private tour of the Capitol with a Member of Congress.
Later that evening, there will be a South of 40 Mixer and Fundraising event. The last two days will be filled with meetings with your Senators and Congressman or Congresswoman. We really need your support for the Check-Off Program, opposing the proposed new silica rule by OSHA, and estate tax reform, to name just a few.
We all have the chance to change our industry’s future with the passage of the Check-Off Bill. Although we did not get it done last session, we are confident we will get it done this year. This bill is desperately needed to provide funds for research, education and the promotion of the masonry industry. The bill, when passed, will give us a level playing field with our competitors who already have programs like the one we are trying to push through.
The new proposed silica rule will hurt the masonry industry more than any other industry, so we need to assure our elected officials realize this is an unnecessary hardship for the construction industry. Most of us have family businesses and want to pass on our businesses from generation to generation. But with the present tax laws, it is becoming harder to achieve this goal. We run our businesses to make money, on which we pay taxes. Then, when we die, we are taxed again, causing the estate to sell the assets, rather than pass them along. All of the above are strong reasons why you need to attend the Legislative Conference in May. This is your chance to be a voice and be heard. I look forward to seeing all of you at the conference.
I am sure you have all had a similar situation to this: I was at a contractors’ meeting and became trapped by a negative contractor. I wanted to walk away, but decided instead I would hear what he had to say. After a considerable amount of time, I interrupted him and asked if he was involved in the industry. As you can imagine, he was not, and immediately told me he was too busy.
I immediately replied, “Yes, but aren’t we all busy?” I asked him what his solutions would be to all the complaints I had to listen to. After a long period of silence, meaning he had not thought about solutions, I decided it was time to enlighten him to all the positive things that are going on in our industry. He had no idea about any of the positive things I mentioned, so I then proceeded to tell him how fortunate we are to have contractors step up and donate not just their money, but also their time. I ended the conversation by saying how guilty people must feel who are not helping the industry. His final words to me were, “You know I think you are trying to tell me something.” I replied, “Yes, you have no right to complain if you are not involved.” He lowered his head and walked away sheepishly. I am sure those of you who are involved have been asked why you do it. Simple answer: It’s a love of the industry, and it is the right thing to do.
Are you doing your part to assure you are leaving this industry and the world a better place?
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.