The Move to Certification
By David Hill
Nothing can hurt our industry more than to have unqualified mason contractors selected by construction customers simply because they are the lowest bidder. The result is often poorly constructed masonry buildings, poor service and an unhappy client who may not select masonry for their next project.
The industry and Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) have dealt with this problem for decades. Quality contractors always have had to deal with low-bidding, less-than-stellar contractors who compete against them for good jobs. How do you deal with this problem? Some members of our industry feel that we should just leave the situation alone and let the economy deal with sub-par contractors; eventually, they will not be able to find work and disappear. Some choose to try and low bid the unqualified contractor in an attempt to "buy" the work. However, these methods have always resulted in high-quality contractors either losing good jobs or having to walk away from a reasonable profit.
As the only national association representing the industry's contractors, the MCAA has studied this national problem for several years. The Association concludes that the only realistic way to stop low-bidding, sub-par contractors from lowering our industry's standards and weakening our future is to raise the level of professionalism and convince our customers that buying quality ultimately will benefit them. Thus, in an effort to curb any further loss to our industry's market share, the MCAA has proposed the idea of certifying the industry's 20,000 contractors.
We have heard some complain that certification will make the industry's contractors go through the steps and the expense of gaining certification with no guarantee of gaining any more work or greater profit. Others complain that their ability to stand out would rest solely on their capacity to pass a certification exam. However, what guarantee does the industry have that our future will improve if we leave things the way they are? Unless we do something different, competing construction products will continue to make inroads into traditional masonry markets because of poor performances from unqualified masonry contractors.
There's a well-known saying that states the definition of insanity is to repeatedly do things exactly the same way, but expect a different result. It's time to do things differently and work for a new result.
The MCAA has developed the National Mason Contractor Certification program and, in the next year, will begin the work of educating our customers and eventually certifying our industry's contractors. We do so with encouragement from our industry's customers who look for objective ways to select good contractors for their future projects.
- 15 Credits — Attendance at the MCAA National Conference (principal must attend at least two conference educational sessions)
- 10 Credits — Completing an eight-hour, full-day educational seminar
- 5 Credits — Completing a four-hour, half-day educational seminar
- 2.5 Credits — Completing a two-hour educational seminar/workshop
- 1 Credit — Completing a one-hour seminar/workshop
- 1 Credit — Attending an approved chapter monthly meeting with an educational speaker
- 10 Credits — Membership in a masonry industry association approved by the MCAA Certification Committee or other approved associations.
- 200 earned credits
- Completion of the MCAA MQI Program
- MSJC 530/ICC Code
- 100 percent of the firm's supervisory employees successfully completing two, half-day educational seminars (or 15 credits) per year.
Certification cannot be effortless, where the majority can pass with ease. It must be something that can be achieved by everyone through hard work and commitment. Therefore, mason contractors must earn a passing score of 80 percent or higher to achieve certification. The exam will be given at least twice per year, once at the MCAA National Conference and once at the national headquarters. It also may be offered at additional times and locations, as demand warrants.
The Association also will implement a national marketing program to promote those contractors that have achieved the status of a Certified Mason Contractor.
For more information on the National Mason Contractor Certification program, call the MCAA at 800-536-2225.
About the Author
David Hill is the President of Pettit Construction Company, Inc. in Roebuck, S.C. David has served several roles in masonry industry including the MCAA Education Committee Chairman, the MCAA Certification Committee Chairman, MCAA South Carolina State Chairman, and the MCAA Region B Vice President.