Coming Together As Contractors
I enter as the newly elected president of the Mason Contractors Association of America at a very unique time. My predecessors and especially my immediate past president, did a terrific job of moving the association to an all new level of service to our members and to our industry. Never before has our association had such influence over the leadership of our industry's growth and its future success. What an exciting challenge it is for me as well as our newly elected Board of Directors to elevate our national association into an all new limelight of leadership. Along with the excitement of this all new challenge of yet again expanding our association's influence comes the trepidation of possibly not measuring up as well as my predecessors.
But I begin my two-year term as president with resources that my predecessors did not have readily available to them at the start of their terms, as I now have at the start of mine. I enjoy what I believe is a closer unification of our industry, especially what seems to be the coming together of our industry's contractor groups under one banner. This was witnessed by the many local contractor associations who answered our call to hold formal association meetings in conjunction with our Masonry Showcase. Groups such as the Mason Contractors Association of St. Louis, the Texas Masonry Council, the Michigan Mason Contractors Association, and the California Conference of Mason Contractors all answered our call to meet in Phoenix. Adding to that the conducting of a Masonry Industry Summit meeting where the leadership of our local associations met with the leadership of the MCAA to begin dialogue on how we can work more closely together, to pool resources and ideas so we can act more effectively in not only promoting our industry better, but to answer the inroads of our competitors with a more unified response.
I attended the Summit meeting and I was excited about the spirit of cooperation between the leaders in the room. We left that Summit meeting with a greater desire to share information and resources to benefit everyone in this industry regardless of labor affiliation. And speaking of labor, I was very encouraged about the visit by John Flynn, the President of the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftsworkers, at our annual meeting. It has been nearly two decades since the president of the IU attended one of our events. And after a private meeting with Mr. Flynn, I can safely say that there is a new spirit of cooperation from the union on working to build a stronger industry. In fact, my predecessor, Mike Johnston noted after Mr. Flynn's address at our annual meeting, that virtually all of the BAC's long term goals mirror those of the MCAA. We hope that the enthusiasm from that meeting can carry over to a growing partnership that will benefit the entire industry. And I believe that John Flynn left that meeting with a better understanding of who the MCAA really is. I believe he sees that, although of our membership is both union and non-union, our association is one that they can partner with to conduct research and promotion for the greater good of the masonry industry. And as my predecessor said in his introduction of John Flynn, as an industry, we no longer have the luxury of fight amongst ourselves in light of some very real and very serious competitors that are trying to eliminate the use of masonry altogether.
In addition to our industry's local associations coming together under the banner of "Where the Industry Meets" and hopefully a more cooperative alliance with the BAC, I step into my term as president with what appears to be a more favorable response from our exhibitors of our Masonry Showcase. Unlike last year's show, I heard a resounding "Good Job!" from our exhibitors who where pleased with this year's show, especially in light of September 11th and a less than enthusiastic show experienced by our competitors at the World of Concrete. I hope that this enthusiasm will carry over to higher exhibit sales for next year's show in Tampa - because it's the exhibit sales that drives many of our association's programs. A good show next year will mean a more active MCAA.
Lastly, I enter my term as president with a board more seasoned in looking to the future and carving out strategies to impact that future. For the past several years, our board meetings have been virtual strategic planning sessions, where the majority of our time is devoted to thinking and acting strategically as an association. I believe this new strategic governance style of board meetings has reinvigorated our association and has caused members to get more involved as witnessed by record attendance at this year's annual meeting. As an association, I believe that we are in great shape to have a tremendous impact on our future. I am looking forward to providing the continuing leadership that my predecessors provided and to continue the growth of influence that we have enjoyed in the past.
About the Author
William McConnell is the owner of Architectural Paving & Stone, Inc. He has served as President of the Mason Contractors Association of America and on the Board of Trustees for the International Masonry Institute. McConnell was a recipient of the 2005 C. DeWitt Brown Leadman Award.