The Reason for the Season
By Mike Sutter
A few months ago I announced that I was going to copy the program they use in North Carolina at a local high school. If you remember, the folks there told me they were so successful with their high school masonry programs because local contractors adopted a school near them. So I committed to adopting a high school near me. That school is West-Mec in Buckeye, AZ and the instructor is Doug Markham. It was the perfect situation with the school, the principal and the superintendent all supporting an 8-week masonry program and one of our foremen, Mike Gray, offering to teach the classes.
I know in my previous article I said I would teach the classes but I bit off more than I could chew. I was there as much as possible but it was mostly Mike Gray doing the teaching. I made sure they had all the equipment and materials they needed with local suppliers stepping up to the plate and offering their support. They had a masonry program last year and when they competed at the State Skills Contest against approximately 35 students from across the State, their top finisher was 13th.
I assured them that would not be considered a success this year. We competed a couple of weeks ago at our State contest with 30 students from across the State and I offered the first 4 finishers a trip to Las Vegas to the World of Concrete/World of Masonry to see MASONRY MADNESS on Wednesday. This will certainly open their eyes to the excitement of our industry. We took the first 8 positions and 9 out of the top 10! Now that is a success!
I’m not saying this to brag because we didn’t do anything that any other contractor couldn’t do. I used to say that our apprentices are the future of our industry but now I say it is the high school students that are our future. I have also received applications from about half of the class to join our AMCA apprenticeship program beginning in January. Although most of them won’t graduate until May, we are allowing them to start the program early and get a jump on their 3-year apprenticeship.
What I will be talking about in Arizona is this program can be repeated across our State. All we need is for contractors to get involved by going to their local school and sharing their passion for our industry and they can have the same results, or better than I did. As long as I am talking about repeating this program across our State, there is no reason we can‘t repeat it across the nation. We just need to copy the example from North Carolina!
I know things get crazy busy during this time of year but don’t forget that the MCAA annual convention at World Of Concrete/World of Masonry is right around the corner. Be sure to get your tickets for the closing dinner where we are inducting some very deserving individuals into the Masonry Hall of Fame. This is also the night you will meet your new officers for the next 2 years. If you haven’t registered for events and reserved your room please do so right away. This is going to be a bigger show than we have experienced in quite a few years and tickets to events and rooms are going fast. Just go the MCAA website and you can make all your reservations right there. If you need any help with this just call the MCAA office for additional help. Everyone there will be happy to assist you.
Now let’s not forget the “Reason for the Season” we are celebrating this month. Although it has become way too commercialized every year, Christmas is the celebration of the birth of our Savior. Enjoy as much time as possible with your family. Merry Christmas from Colleen and I!
About the Author
Mike Sutter is the CEO of Sutter Masonry, Inc. He has served as an officer on the Executive Board and the Region G Vice President for the Mason Contractors Association of America.