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MCAA Long Range Strategic Plan


Masonry is one of the oldest and most respected building materials and was the dominant material chosen by construction customers. For centuries, masonry almost sold itself. Today, masonry is still preferred by construction customers, unfortunately, there are numerous building materials all competing with masonry and many of the materials have taken traditional masonry markets. Many of these materials are less labor intensive and have received considerable consideration by the construction customer who views speed of construction and costs as more critical factors for determining a building material.

Masonry customers' perception regarding the difficulties of specifying masonry and receiving the minimal service levels from the masonry add to our woes in expanding the use of masonry. Another highly critical factor as a road block to gaining a dominant share of construction is the highly splintered nature of the masonry industry. Masonry lacks a single source of information for customers to find the information they need in making their decisions on which building materials to select. There are roughly eight national organizations operating in the masonry industry, each promoting their materials and systems. Add to that the hundreds of local organization and the masonry rapidly becomes a very bureaucratic industry to deal with. Customers find us difficult to deal with.

This bureaucracy has led to a myopic approach to selling masonry with everyone competing with each other almost in a frenzied selling approach. Competitive systems make claims against our systems and no clear voice rises from within the industry to challenge competitive attempt to steal masonry markets. We cannot act quickly and effectively to encroachments by competitors. Even among mason contractors, there is infighting between union and non-union contractors and between the national association and local mason contractor groups who compete rather than compliment the national association. Add to that the fact that the national association is under funded and incapable of mounting a significant campaign to promote masonry across all barriers and it becomes a recipe for disaster.

It was this scenario that caused the Board of Directors of the Mason Contractors Association of America to evaluate how it conducted its business and how association staff, members and especially Board members time was utilized. During Board deliberations, it became clearly apparent that the MCAA was mired down in its own bureaucracy, focusing members time on past activities instead of focusing the talent's of the Board and association staff on identifying future issues and how the MCAA can allocate resources to advance masonry in the future.

The following is the result of numerous Board meetings, hours of discussion on how the MCAA can better operate to achieve a stronger more dominant industry, and periodic updating of this direction. MCAA Board meetings have evolved into virtual long range strategic planning sessions, with members and staff focused on future issues and strategies for affecting the future of construction and specifically masonry. MCAA and its Board are attempting to strategically place the association in a position of leadership to most affect the future. Other well funded and well organized organizations exist in the industry, but none have the unique perspective that MCAA and its members have.

The association is the only national association that represents both union and non-union mason contractors making it the logical chose for leadership. And since it is the mason contractor that is the ultimate responsible party on industry construction projects and the one that is in constant contact with construction customers, it is the MCAA that is the most logical choice to lead the masonry industry. We are the critical component to make the industry work effectively. We need only gain the critical resources to implement our leadership role.

Following is the Mason Contractors Association of America's Long Range Strategic Plan, as updated by Board and Staff in February 2005 under the facilitation of Jean Frankel, Principal Partner, Tecker Consultants, LLC. Jean led us in the development of the plan in 1999-2000, and Tecker Consultants governance philosophies have guided us in the ensuing years. A document that is forever changing to reflect the very nature of construction and the climate that we live in. This Strategic Plan is a road map of the future actions of the MCAA, its leaders and staff. It is a "Pathways to the Future."

The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA)'s strategic long-range plan describes a desired vision and what will be essential to achieving that vision. It is grounded in core ideology and driven by an envisioned future that realizes the full potential of MCAA's ability to support its stakeholders and the industry. MCAA's commitments are articulated in goals that declare the outcomes or attributes the organization intends to achieve. Objectives represent key metrics affecting MCAA's ability to achieve the goal and articulate the direction in which these issues must be moved. Strategies will describe how MCAA plans to commit its limited resources to make its vision a reality.

In the future, MCAA will not be able to be all things to all people, but it must be different things to different people as the plan evolves to meet the needs of a constantly changing professional environment. Therefore, underlying this plan is the adoption of an ongoing process of planning and thinking strategically, designed to ensure relevance of direction and action over time.

In developing this strategic plan, a framework for planning was utilized, based on a model that organizes conversations about the future into four distinct planning "horizons." Tecker Consultants has found the use of this framework to be a powerful tool. It helps organizations in prioritizing and executing outcomes as well as in ensuring relevance of an organization's long-range direction over time.

Envisioned future. The "four planning horizons" framework consists of crafting a comprehensive strategic direction based on the balance between what doesn't change--the timeless principles of the organization's core purpose and core values (core ideology) -- and what the organization seeks to become within a 10- to 30-year horizon--what would be possible beyond the restraints of the current environment. The 10- to 30-year horizon is characterized by the articulation of an envisioned future--a BAG (big audacious goal)--and a vivid description--what it will be like to achieve the goal.

Critical factors. The articulation of the envisioned future guides the organization as it considers the factors that will affect its ability to achieve its goals. Building foresight about the 5- to 10-year horizon--assumptions, opportunities, and critical uncertainties in the likely relevant future as well as emerging strategic mega-issues--suggests critical choices about the potential barriers the organization will face. This foresight also suggests the responses the organization will need to consider in navigating its way toward achievement of its 10- to 30-year goal, or BAG.

Strategic plan and operational planning. The linkage continues into the 3- to 5-year horizon through the development of a formal long-range strategic plan, in which the organization articulates the outcomes it seeks to achieve for its stakeholders. How will the world be different as a result of what the organization does? Who will benefit, and what will the likely results be? Further, the articulation of strategies will bring focus to MCAA's annual operational allocation of discretionary resources. Action plans, checkpoints, and milestones will be developed through a process of operational planning, indicating MCAA's progress toward each goal in every planning year.

A strategic long-range plan is not intended as a substitute for an annual program or operating plan. It does not detail all the initiatives, programs, and activities the organization will undertake in the course of serving its membership and the industry, nor can it foresee changes to the underlying assumptions on which key strategic choices were based. Instead, the strategic plan identifies what MCAA is not doing today, but must be doing in the future to be successful. Consequently, the strategic plan implies change--doing new things or doing more or less of current activities to ensure successful outcomes.

Ongoing Re-evaluation. Strategic planning for MCAA should become the methodology for the organization's operations. If it is successful, this process will not have yielded a plan to be placed on the shelf, but will have served as a catalyst for the "process of planning strategically," at all times and at all levels throughout the organization. In order to achieve its vision, MCAA must not look at strategic long-range planning as a one-time project that produces a milestone document of its best thinking at the moment. Instead, MCAA must adopt strategic planning as an operational philosophy of ongoing re-evaluation of the critical knowledge bases that form the framework of its world, including:

  • Sensitivity to member needs, insight into the future environment of the industry,
  • Understanding of the capacity and strategic position of the organization, and
  • Effective analysis of the ethical implications of policy and program choices.

MCAA's strategic long-range plan represent a compass the organization will use to guide its work over the next five years. Each year of its life, the plan will be updated based on experience or new circumstances or as new opportunities or challenges emerge.

10-30 Year Planning Horizon: Core Ideology & Envisioned Future

Core ideology describes an organization's consistent identity that transcends all changes related to its relevant environment. Core ideology consists of two notions: core purpose - the organization's reason for being - and core values - essential and enduring principles that guide an organization.

Envisioned future conveys a concrete, but yet unrealized vision for the organization. It consists of a big audacious goal - a clear and compelling catalyst that serves as a focal point for effort - and a vivid description - vibrant and engaging descriptions of what it will be like to achieve the big audacious goal.

Core Ideology

Core Purpose: To advance the masonry industry.

Core Values:

  • Belief in the value of masonry as a building system.
  • Belief in masonry as a rewarding career option.
  • Unity in the industry; collaboration and cooperation.
  • Innovation in products, in partnering, in advocacy efforts, in communication.
  • Networking: Sharing ideas, synergy, social camaraderie.
  • Continuous learning, improvement.
  • Professionalism:
    • Integrity (respect, honesty).
    • Responsibility (to our suppliers, employees, industry).
    • Credibility and excellence in all we do.

Envisioned Future

Big Audacious Goal: To make masonry the building system of choice.

Vivid Descriptions:

  • MCAA will be the "go to" organization for the entire industry; MCAA will be the source for technical information on masonry wall systems and quality.
  • MCAA will unify all elements of the masonry industry.
  • Members will find value in MCAA membership.
  • MCAA will be the training and education source for architectural and engineering professionals - on the advantages of masonry.
  • MCAA will aggressively promote masonry as the building material of choice; there will be an increased number of projects using masonry. Increasing masonry market share. There will be an increase in quality masons.
  • Education - educate students and school officials on the advantages of a career in masonry. Masonry curriculums will be offered in every high school. MCAA will be the recruiter and educator for our future labor forces.
  • Legislators and others who influence will routinely consult us on issues affecting the masonry industry.
  • MCAA will be the highly regarded leader in education - design professionals, students / recruiting, our members best practices and tools - how to run their businesses, MCAA will be the leading innovator and educator of new materials, methods and technology.
  • MCAA will be strategically aligned and will be able to influence and be influenced by with relevant organizations (in all our business lines) collaboration, partnership.
  • Construction customers will have a greater understanding of the benefits, design, material, quality, related to masonry because of our communication efforts.
  • Local needs of the industry will be addressed through strong national/chapter relationships.
  • MCAA will sustain an effective working relationship with the union, and we'll be able to more effectively collaborate on advocacy and promotion efforts.
  • MCAA will be an agent for the enhancement of masonry lifestyle for laborers, journeymen, company owners and the families of those in the masonry industry.

5-10 Year Planning Horizon: Building Foresight

Assumption statements developed by the group will help MCAA purposefully update its strategic plan on an annual basis. Since the outcome-oriented goals that will form the basis of the long-range strategic plan will be based on the vision of the future that appears in this section, an annual review of this vision will be an appropriate method of determining and ensuring the ongoing relevance of the goals.

Industry Structure & Competition

There will always be competition. Vertical and horizontal consolidation will continue for the material supply segment. The industry will face continued competition - from more innovative building systems that cost less and are less labor intensive in the short-term. Design build concept as we know and think about it is different - is changing - and the changed concept is increasing- more of a preferred vendor list - concept that is growing. Owners will take a more active part in product selection.

Critical Uncertainties:

  • Consolidation can lead to new investment and capacity but may remove decisions from customers.
  • The industry will remain fragmented, increasing the need for unification.
  • The changing materials for contractors and the potential jurisdictional disputes that come with that - now there's many different materials - changes in materials are uncertainties - now in the building codes= who knows what the new materials are.
  • Availability of pricing and materials - will be an uncertainty - cement shortage, increase in steel, concrete, prices have been change in the past year or two. - We will continue to have to compete with other materials.
  • World demand - with global consolidation for material suppliers - more world supply will affect how we do this in the us.
  • Building codes may limit or increase applications - based on costs.

Global Business Climate

Foreign technology will continue to become available in the U.S. Global technology construction trends will impact U.S. construction methods quicker than ever before. The percentage of foreign-born workers will increase. Foreign competition and opportunity (from Europe and America) will increase. New technology from overseas will often be unrelated to traditional masonry.

Critical Uncertainties:

  • Foreign technology coming into the U.S. could offer new sources of investment as well as potential competing technology.
  • Competition for materials will cause shortages as China increases its consumption.
  • New technologies and workforce changes will necessitate additional education.
  • Modernization in foreign countries may necessitate their importing of our technologies and materials.
  • The industry will need to learn from responses to global events and adapt or reject these technologies.
  • Global changes in immigration may cause workforce shortages.
  • International regulations (Kyoto Treaty) may increase restrictions on production.
  • Alliances and partnerships may be needed for materials and workforce.
  • Modernization may necessitate importing of our technologies and our materials in exchange for workforce.

Government Regulations & Politics

Environmental regulations will increase masonry, construction and all other building costs. Employee safety regulations will force the masonry industry to be more innovative. Government will continue to place social costs directly upon private enterprise. The need for multilingual communication will increase. Stringent performance codes can decrease our market share.

Critical Uncertainties:

  • OSHA regulations will affect labor practices/costs.
  • Political climate will impact long-term construction growth, OSHA, government regulations.
  • Government regulations that affect the "contractor" labor pool (people leaving companies).
  • More specifically homeland security and immigration.
  • Focus more support on pro business candidates.
  • A strong presence in Washington DC will be critical.

Demographic & Social Values

The ability to change/remodel building structures will remain important. An increasing elderly population will create demand for new construction (i.e. assisted-living). Consumers will be able to gather information and comparison shop. Future generations (eco-generation) will put more emphasis on the environmental impact of building materials and their use. The future workforce will be drawn to more high-tech careers. Product knowledge and the ability to review existing conditions will be important. Redefining homes downward and away from masonry will occur on a regional basis. There will be a new generation of younger workers.

Critical Uncertainties:

  • Baby bust could result in a shrinking workforce, or be offset by an increase in immigrant workers.
  • Aging of boomers could lead to higher quality, higher-cost homes.
  • Immigration regulations will affect our workforce.
  • New focus on green buildings may lead to increased market share for masonry because of masonry's ability to support sustainability.
  • Immigrant workforce is increasing; high-tech careers are drawing away workers.
  • Questioning the resistance to institutional construction - school/university projects growing.
  • There is a growing use of comparison-shopping.
  • Immigrant regulations may improve or hurt the workforce.

5-10 Year Planning Horizon: Mega Issues

Mega issues are issues of strategic importance that represent challenges the organization will need to face in defining the ultimate direction of its long-range plan. These issues represent potential impediments to achievement of the envisioned future and form a basis for dialogue about the choices facing the organization. These questions can also serve as an ongoing menu of strategic issues that the Board can use - in a knowledge-based approach to gathering insights relative to MCAA's strategic position and directional choices - to create regular opportunities for strategic dialogue about the issues facing the profession.


  1. How will we aggressively promote masonry?
  2. How will MCAA aggressively promote against competing wall systems?
  3. What is going to be our promotional efforts for the building material of choice?
  4. How will we reach our customers, members and future workers with our message that masonry is the building material of choice?
  5. How do we make masonry the material of choice when we are the most expensive and labor intensive?
  6. How do we change the perception that masonry is too expensive and slow to use as a viable building system?
  7. How do we communicate that masonry is the material of choice to our customers?
  8. How do we deal with the designers and builders?
  9. How will we influence architects to design in masonry"?
  10. How do we rise above all the racket generated by competing systems even if we had the money to throw at it?
  11. How will we get owners to want to use our products?
  12. How are we going to communicate with construction customers?
  13. How do we establish partnerships with our suppliers to truly promote masonry?
  14. How will we combat the perceived benefits of other competitive building materials?
  15. How will we deal with competitor systems?
  16. How will we resolve our conflict with other products that both compete and partner with masonry?
  17. How will MCAA substantiate sustainability and other positive characteristics about masonry?
  18. How will we get all masonry involved?
  19. How do we get our masonry partners to join us in making masonry the material of choice?
  20. How will our allied supplier associations assist or hinder our efforts?


  1. How do we increase funding for educational promotions?
  2. How are we going to develop educational programs, which can be adopted nation wide?
  3. How do we educate the design professionals?
  4. How do educate design professionals to know how to use masonry?
  5. What will we do to become the highly regarded leader in education?
  6. How are we going to provide continuing education to improve the quality of masons?

Advocacy and Industry Influence

  1. How do we work to ensure that new laws do not make masonry more expensive?
  2. What happens if a new and more cost effective product becomes available which is comparable to masonry?
  3. What steps do we take to bring the union and the MCAA together?
  4. How will we fight the union in terms of regulatory and jurisdictional issues?
  5. How will we get the union to buy into a role, which involves non-union contractors?
  6. How will we get legislators and others to consult with MCAA?
  7. How will we influence legislators and others who oppose us and make our members support us?
  8. How can we become more effective in communicating and coordinating (advocating) our positions throughout the industry and raise revenue?
  9. How will we deal with organizations that do not want to unify the industry?
  10. How are we going to unify other entities that have different goals and interests?
  11. How do we deal with the past relationship issues with other associations?
  12. How will we get the other masonry organizations to buy into our leadership role?
  13. How do we unify all the industry segments to pool resources and produce a single message for public consumption?
  14. What do we do if regulations are enacted which make our system cost ineffective?
  15. How can we make other associations in the masonry industry more comfortable working with us?
  16. How are we going to get BSI, MIA, NCMA, and BIA to work with and trust us as the leader?
  17. How will other organizations (NCMA, PCA, BIA, and BAC) deal with us as the leader?
  18. What do we do when other organizations tell us they are not interested in working with us?


  1. How will we fund these great ideas?
  2. How will we obtain the resources to achieve our goals?
  3. How will we obtain financial resources to achieve our goals?
  4. How will we find the money and resources to achieve our goals?
  5. How do we get the rank and file membership to take ownership in all this and help to fund it?
  6. How do we eliminate the perception that the board is an inner circle and make the members feel that they are more a part of this organization?
  7. Can we a national focus and have all the state organizations work under a National umbrella?
  8. Will we need to increase staff?
  9. Will we need to out source any programs to achieve our goals?
  10. Will we need to create new committees or redefine our existing committees to get more volunteers involved?
  11. How can MCAA provide support on the local level?
  12. Do we have enough local chapters to spread our message and be connected?
  13. How will we develop strong relationships locally in areas without chapters?
  14. What value will members find in MCAA?
  15. How will we get smaller members to see value and buy into our goals?
  16. How will members of the MCAA find value in belonging to the association?
  17. How are we going to deal with the attitude of non-members of "Your going to do it anyway so why do I need to join?"
  18. How do we convince our members that membership in the MCAA has value?
  19. How will MCAA discover what are the most important values and benefits of MCAA to the members?


  1. How will we develop a quality workforce to deal with the additional workload?
  2. How can we recruit quality masons to the industry?
  3. How do you determine if someone is a quality mason?
  4. What message will be effective in attracting students to a career in masonry?
  5. How are we going to increase the number of quality masons?
  6. What steps do we take to convince others that they need to have a career in masonry?
  7. How do we develop more quality masons?
  8. How will we get younger generations to want to be masons?
  9. How do we develop training for foreman and superintendents?
  10. How do we make sure that immigration changes do not affect our workforce?
  11. How do we get every high school to offer a curriculum in masonry?

3-5 Year Planning Horizon: Outcome-Oriented Goals

Goals are outcome-oriented statements that represent what will constitute the organization's future success. The achievement of each goal will move MCAA towards the realization of its vision. The goals are not in any order of priority. Every goal will need to be accomplished if the organization is to fully achieve its vision.

Each goal is accompanied by a set of (a) objectives, which represent key issues affecting MCAA's ability to achieve the goal and articulate milestones against which to measure progress; and (b) strategies, which describe how MCAA will commit its resources to make its vision a reality.

Goal 1 - Codes and Standards

MCAA will expand its influence regarding building codes and standards in the best interest of its members.

Goal 2 - Marketing and Expansion

MCAA will maintain, develop and expand the industry's market share.

Goal 3 - Legislative and Regulatory Affairs

MCAA will be an influential force in the development of policies impacting the masonry industry.

Goal 4 - Education

The masonry industry and its stakeholders will benefit from education and training programs that provide knowledge and understanding.

Goal 5 - Workforce

The masonry industry will have an ample workforce through MCAA's efforts in educating the public on the benefits of a career in masonry.

Goal 1: Codes and Standards

MCAA will expand its influence regarding building codes and standards in the best interest of its members.


  1. Increase members understanding of codes and standards issues and processes.
  2. Strengthen the MCAA's influence on major industry committees.
  3. Identify favorable opportunities for codes and standards.
  4. Increase contractor participation.

Goal 2: Marketing and Expansion

MCAA will maintain, develop and expand the industry's market share.


  1. Increase and strengthen strategic alliances.
    1. Increase Masonry Showcase attendance.
    2. Recreate/establish alliances with previous/new industry partners.
    3. Conduct yearly review of the status of MCAA's alliances (stay involved with MIC).
    4. Increase awareness/resources for
  2. Continue the process of exposing architects to the benefits of masonry systems.
    1. Increase awareness of masonry systems.
    2. Develop continuing education courses for certification.
    3. Encourage local chapters to exhibit at shows (CSI, AIA).
  3. Enhance buyer awareness of advantages of masonry.
    1. Work with existing national associations on national accts program.
    2. Distribute information on lifecycle cost analysis between masonry and comp systems (advantages of masonry).
    3. Develop materials on a national level that can be adapted locally for distribution.

Goal 3: Legislative and Regulatory Affairs

MCAA will be an influential force in the development of policies impacting the masonry industry.


  1. Expand influence, knowledge and awareness of legislative and regulatory issues impacting the masonry industry.
  2. Increase presence in Washington, D.C. (both in our perceived strength and in the actual resources we have available).
  3. Encourage and develop relationships in industry i.e. suppliers, trade associations, educators, designers, contractors and engineers.
  4. Increase contractor participation in local and national politics.
  5. Increase contractor participation in educating Congress on legislation impacting the industry.

Goal 4: Education

The masonry industry and its stakeholders will benefit from education and training programs that provide knowledge and understanding.


  1. Increase knowledge about masonry design and construction among design professionals and owners.
  2. Decrease negative perception about masonry vs. other wall systems.
  3. Expand the technical ability of our members to enable them to influence the design and construction techniques.
  4. Increase members' ability to profit and produce positive business results by putting knowledge to use.

Goal 5: Workforce

The masonry industry will have an ample workforce through MCAA's efforts in educating the public on the benefits of a career in masonry.


  1. Increase the number of apprentices being hired and trained.
  2. Increase the number of masonry training programs.
  3. Reduce the stigma associated with a career in masonry.
  4. Increase the number of job fairs and career day presentations featuring masonry.
  5. Increase advertising, promotion and public service activities highlighting masonry apprentices.
  6. Increase awareness of contractors of the benefits of hiring apprentices.

Revised, February 2005

“The MCAA is valuable in every aspect of the masonry industry today.”

John Ambach
Ambach Masonry Construction, Inc.
MCAA member since 1999

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