Industry Leaders Focus on Alliances, Marketing and Advocacy
By Nancy Snyder
Alliances, marketing, and advocacy are the key elements to market retention and market expansion for the masonry industry. That's the message that Colorado-based contractors, brick producers, block producers and cement manufacturers heard at the August 2006 annual meeting of the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute (RMMI).
Mark Hogan, President of the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), Michael Adelizzi, Executive Director of the Mason Contractors of America Association were on hand to present their views and engage in discussions with the audience. Both association leaders began their presentations focusing on the value of industry alliances and what they mean for the members of key industry organizations. Underscoring this, Mike Adelizzi said, "Everything we do together is to advance the industry."
Hogan and Adelizzi's presentations also addressed initiatives being undertaken at the national level to protect the industry and advance local market share. Hogan presented supporting statistics from several respected industry sources reporting similar construction growth figures and added, "While producers of concrete masonry and segmental retaining wall units are continuing to see greater sales, we would also note that there are segments of the market that have remained constant." Adelizzi's agreed that the total construction market is expanding but did not see similar expansion in market share for the concrete masonry industry.
A perfect Colorado summer morning was the scene for the meeting, which was held in one of the state's most beautiful resorts. Contractors, brick producers, block producers and cement manufacturers demonstrated their intense interest in what's happening at the national level and the future of the industry with questions that lasted more than an hour.
Adelizzi told the group that while the industry spends three years training masons in the installation of brick and block, no time is spent on education about adhered masonry. To demonstrate his point, Adelizzi asked a contractor in the crowd how he had learned to install adhered stone. The reply was, "I researched it online and taught myself."
Adelizzi said MCAA is working on a national certification program for all masons, which would incorporate some of the regional certification programs such as those offered by RMMI. Adelizzi said, "As a national association in the past, we fought certification because good masonry contractors do a good job, but as long as companies pick the lowest bidder, why make masons get certified?" He added, "MCAA is meeting with AIA in an attempt to have certified masons specified in their programs."
Referring to the growing popularity of design-build projects, Hogan noted that general contractors are beginning to look at more than lowest bid. He said, "They are looking at quality products and quality installation." Adelizzi added, "There are 20,000 masonry companies out there and we need to make sure the difference between quality and non-quality is so wide that a certified member is first-choice." According to Adelizzi, "National certification would let chain stores like Wal-Mart know that a certified mason in one part of the country is just like a certified mason in another part of the country." Adelizzi reported that details of the certification program will be available at the national convention in Orlando in February, 2007.
Addressing the need to increase masonry market share, Hogan said he would like to see an increase in efforts to get the message across that masonry is faster and less expensive than tilt-up. Hogan said, "The public, general contractors and architects need to be presented with facts and statistics to battle the efforts of the tilt-up industry, which has been redesigning projects in order to increase its market share."
Focusing on marketing, Hogan said, "The lion's share of responsibility rests at the local level. Your marketing messages should be seen in the home section of local newspapers." Hogan continued, "Where we have an important role to play at the national level is on marketing research efforts such as NCMA's popular strategic market mapping which clearly established the difference between how various audiences view concrete masonry products and charted a clear road-map that serves the interests of both local and national marketing efforts." Hogan added, "There are many other areas where national associations are working to assist the regional associations to protect or increase their market share including providing marketing tools such as promotional magazines for architects, specifiers, builders, and end-users as well as providing technical support and working to develop codes and standards."
However, Hogan pointed out, "The regional masonry industry needs to continue to present itself as part of an over-arching unified industry voice to increase its own market share." To make his point, Hogan added, "It was difficult for code makers, consumers and architects to decide on masonry systems when individual masonry companies were speaking only for themselves and trying to make sales. Consistent and persistent advocacy is the key to success."
About the Author
Nancy Snyder is the Communications Manager for the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute.