Year in Masonry: 2005
MCAA Marketing Efforts
The association has conducted some very far reaching programs to expose construction customers to the benefits of building with masonry.
Chicago represented a couple of firsts for MCAA in 2005. It was the first time the show had been held in Chicago in 30 years and the first show co-located with CSI,Construction Specification Institute, and the new Construct America? concept, exposing nearly 5,000 specifiers and architects to our industry. Additionally, the association conducted several educational sessions targeted at the CSI attendee during the show. Exhibitors were pleased to welcome many general contractors and specifiers to their booths as well as the mason contractors. The show was a great success and the Windy City was a great locale.
For 2006, we return to a favorite spot of both exhibitors and attendees-Las Vegas. We will again be co-located with CSI and anticipate building on our success from 2005.
Yet another new program, Masonry: It Makes A Village was conducted on the exhibit floor during the three days of Showcase where CSI's attendees watch as five teams of architects and mason contractors built unique masonry projects. The goal of Village is to get construction customers to ask why they don't use more masonry in their projects.
Lastly, the MCAA was a driving force to develop MasonrySystems.org which is a website dedicated to promoting the use of masonry systems. A campaign to expand the success of MasonrySystems.org will be introduced at the MCAA Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.
MCAA Makes An Impact Online
The MCAA website, www.masoncontractors.org, continues to flourish and achieve great success. Throughout 2005, content on the website was greatly expanded and hits increased to 35,000 per day, or approximately 12.75 million hits per year.
The Find a Contractor and Buyer's Guide listings continue to be the top used features of our website. Through these features, a visitor can search for any contractor member by state or company name on each page of the website. Similarly, the Buyer's Guide is a company listing that can be used by visitors to find materials and products. The Buyer's Guide lists both associate members and non-member suppliers (who pay to be listed) across the United States, Canada, and as far away as Denmark.
A new feature added to our website this past May was the Online Equipment Auction. Several generous suppliers donated equipment to the auction for contractors to bid on. The auction was considered a huge success and will continue to be an annual fundraising event for the association.
The MCAA has helped put several contractors and associations online over the past year, including:
- Harold F. Johnson Masonry, Inc. www.hfjmasonry.com - Halloran Masonry, Inc. www.halloranmasonryinc.com - J.J. Braker & Sons, Inc. www.jjbrakerandsons.com - MJM Masonry, Inc. www.mjmmasonry.com - Boyle Construction Company www.boyleconstructionco.com - Steven's Masonry Construction www.stevensmasonry.com
The National Masonry Instructors Association has also gone online with the help of the Mason Contractors Association of America. MCAA Manager of Information Technology, Tim O'Toole, worked with Eugene Johnson, President of the National Masonry Instructors Association, in order to put their website online. The site is now complete and will become one of the top sites in the industry. You can visit the National Masonry Instructors Association's website online at www.masonryinstructors.com.
Several visitors from around the world have seen the benefits of masonry and the Association, thanks to www.masoncontractors.org. Our website has received thousands of hits from citizens on every continent around the globe.
The MCAA website is also helping the Association realize its long term goals. The site is the catalyst to help the Association become the one source for all masonry news and resources, and has propelled the Association into the position to become the leader and advance the masonry industry.
There is a bright future ahead for the MCAA website. Currently, there are several projects in the works, including expanded content, additional features, and a new design. The site has quickly become a daily source of information for mason contractors, and is one of the top websites in the industry.
Great Year for Technical and Safety Activities
2005 has been a great year for MCAA for technical and safety activities.
This past spring, The Masonry Society (TMS) published the latest edition of the Masonry Standards Joint Committee (MSJC) Code and Specification. While there are many changes that were made, there are three major changes that are of particular interest to mason contractors.
Wet cutting CMU - Ever since the first MSJC, there has been a caveat in the Spec that stated "unless otherwise required, do not wet masonry units". This meant that unless you had a progressive architect, engineer or general contractor, chances are every time you wet cut, you were violating the Code. While this is rarely enforced, the MCAA decided to clarify the language for the explicit purpose of allowing contractors to wet masonry units (if they desired) while cutting. This does not mandate wet cutting, just allows the option to wet cut. Our means for changing the Code was a battle cry from Rashod R. Johnson, our Director of Engineering. He asked our members for help and 88 of you responded to TMS to help facilitate this Code change. Kudos to MCAA members for a job well done
Low lift grouting - The Specification provisions for low lift grouting has changed. The grout lift height has been increased from 5'0" lifts to 12'8" lifts. This should increase productivity for grout placement tremendously where low lift grouting is mandated.
Lap Splices - The lap splice lengths for reinforcing steel seems to get larger and larger every Code cycle. This Code cycle should stop that trend. There were changes made to the lap splice equation that should lower steel lap lengths by around 25% for allowable stress design. While we know that is not enough, it is certainly a noble start.
This past fall, the International Code Council (ICC) held their final action hearings to determine what will be included in the 2006 versions of the I-Codes (IBC, IRC, IPC, etc.) The 2005 MSJC Code and Specification were adopted by reference into the 2006 IBC and IRC. There were three major modifications made to the MSJC in its adoption (lap splice requirements, AAC masonry and veneer seismic detailing) that are discussed in the following in more detail.
Our Director of Engineering, Rashod R. Johnson, was one of a few industry professionals who testified against the amendment that would require longer lap splices in masonry construction. The ICC Committee agreed with our argument, and at least for the next 3 years or so, splice lengths should be more manageable. Lap splice lengths are expected to be reviewed in more detail in future standards and code hearings. So the battle is far from over.
ASTM Standards are forever changing. The MCAA ASTM task group was formed in order to discuss as a group the pending ASTM ballot items. This way, MCAA members who belong to ASTM can discuss the particulars of ballot items to decide whether or not this is indeed a change that will "improve" the masonry industry or not. While the group has just recently been formed, its impact is imminent. Contractors and their representatives should take a more active role in ASTM activities.
A year ago, the MCAA signed a national alliance with OSHA. There are for key issues specifically cited in the Alliance: fall protection, forklift safety, scaffold safety and wall bracing. The MCAA is working closely with OSHA to develop training materials for MCAA members as it pertains to the Alliance. Only members of MCAA will be allowed to participate in this Alliance that will give MCAA members some leverage when dealing with OSHA on the regional and local levels. While these are the four issues that we signed the Alliance for, the close relationship with OSHA Staff has proved to be invaluable for other safety and health related issues. OSHA attended the 2005 Masonry Showcase in the MCAA booth and instructed an OSHA 10-hr safety class.
The MCAA has developed a computerized safety program that if followed properly, will aid contractors in implementing an employee health and safety program that will comply with the current OSHA regulations.
This software is fully customizable so that you can input your company's name and logo into all of the preset forms, toolbox talks and recordkeeping forms that will allow you to completely develop and print your comprehensive safety program. There are 18 safety topics ranging from fall protection to ergonomics to substance abuse. Each safety topic has a compliance guide that outlines which OSHA regulations are to be followed, toolbox talks, training, records and reports, and model documents. Whether you have a safety program or not, this software will greatly assist you in making your jobsites safer.
The MCAA is doing more on occupational safety and health topics than ever before. We are meeting with officials from OSHA, NIOSH, CDC and other trade organizations on a variety of health and safety topics and your input is greatly needed. The Safety Committee will be responsible for developing the training materials for our members as it relates to the safety. Members of this committee may be asked to sit on special OSHA Committees, Task Forces and Construction Roundtables that OSHA hosts every year.
Legislative and Regulatory Action
The association has been extremely successful in protecting the interests of our industry and our members in our Nations Capital. The MCAA has been the lead organization in building a coalition to prevent a devastating silica standard from being implemented by OSHA. We have gained some favorable rulings on issues that could have also been detrimental to our industry and workforce.
This past year, we conducted our first Legislative Conference where members met with influenctial members of Congress to educate them on the needs and issues our industry faces. We look forward to this April, where we have agreed to co-sponsor al new Masonry Industry Legislative Conference co-sponsored by the National Concrete Masonry Association, the Brick Industry Association and the Building Stone Industry.
MCAA's Workforce Development Activities
The MCAA's Workforce Development activities in 2005 focused on promoting the outstanding opportunities available through careers in masonry, and improving the training materials we offer to the industry. Our Masonry Showcase contest events, the International Masonry Skills Challenge and the Fastest Trowel on the Block, have established themselves as the "must-see" events highlighting masonry craftsmanship to our customers, contractors, and workforce.
Early in 2005, QUIKRETE became the sole sponsor of the Fastest Trowel contest, contributing generous financial support and supplies, and allowing the MCAA to increase promotion, on-site features and prizes. The Chicago contest was a huge success, and we look forward to a second year with QUIKRETE as our partner in Las Vegas for an even hotter competition.
The Masonry Skills Challenge also benefited from increased sponsorship, with 11 industry suppliers cooperating to support the event. Through their generous contributions, we were able to add many new aspects to the contest- incorporation of stone and cast stone, contestant profile brochures, and impressive uniforms, among others. These changes helped to show the best that our apprentices have to offer, and the Workforce Development Committee's dedication to this goal continues in the planning of the 2006 contest. The contest in Las Vegas is on track to exceed our expectations in promotion, participation and professionalism.
The MCAA's partnership with masonry instructors also grew in 2005. An Instructor Member sub-committee was formed and meets periodically to discuss the current trends in the masonry industry and instruction, and gives advisement regarding our association's activities and initiatives. The National Masonry Instructors Association donated the time and expertise of five of its members to conduct a curriculum review of the MCAA Masonry Training Series manuals. Revisions and additions will soon be incorporated into a revised edition of the training series, and the MCAA and NMIA will be promoting the adoption of the Masonry Training Series to all NMIA instructor members. Additionally, the Spanish translation of the MCAA Masonry Training Series Volume 2 has been completed, and will be available for purchase in early 2006.
The High School Recruitment Campaign continues, and we are communicating quarterly with the counselors and instructors through email newsletters that have prompted a lot of response for materials and information. So far this school year, we have received over 75 requests from schools nationwide for career day visitors. Also, the MCAA was a co-sponsor and participated in the 2005 SkillsUSA Championships in Kansas City in June, where over 50 students competed for top honors.
More on the Horizon
2006 is looking to be another successful year for the Mason Contractors Association of America. Thanks to your support, we continue to grow and make important strides throughout the masonry industry.
About the Author
he Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is the national trade association representing mason contractors. The MCAA is committed to preserving and promoting the masonry industry by providing continuing education, advocating fair codes and standards, fostering a safe work environment, recruiting future manpower, and marketing the benefits of masonry materials. Visit www.masoncontractors.org to learn more.