By Mike Sutter
Having just returned from the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association (NCMCA) Convention in Hot Springs, Va., I am excited to share my experience with everyone. First of all, my wife, Colleen, and I, along with MCAA vice-chairman Paul Odom and his wife, Susie, were shown what southern hospitality is all about. From the moment we arrived late Wednesday night until departing very early Sunday morning, we were treated as a part of the group and included in all of their events. The NCMCA is a very tight-knit group of people. Even though they are competitors, they are good friends and treat each other with the utmost respect in their business meetings and social events. This is exactly what all of us should strive for in all of our chapters. I wish everyone could experience both their hospitality and their association structure, led by executive director Lynn Nash. We watched the changing of their officers, with Ashley Moore moving into the chairman position and Bob Gates moving up to the president’s position, along with Kent Huntley becoming secretary/treasurer. Gary Joyner has moved out of the chairman’s position, but I’m sure he will be just as involved in NCMCA business as before, while continuing to be a leader with MCAA.
The MCAA, along with our industry partners, has been focusing its efforts on multi-story framed structures built without masonry firewalls that have caught fire during construction before any fire suppression methods were operational. We had a fire a few weeks ago in Gilbert, Ariz., involving eight three-story apartment buildings with over 500 units. A fire was started after construction crews left the site, and seven of the eight buildings burned to the ground in a matter of minutes. Nearby neighborhoods were evacuated, the street in front of the buildings melted, and cars parked in front of their homes had the bumpers melted. There was damage to nearby homes and apartments. My company was working on the site, performing limited work, and I can say that, except for some discolored block and melted rebar caps, the masonry survived unscathed. Our forklift was saved due to its being parked near a masonry screen wall. However, our mixer and the SPEC MIX silo didn’t fare as well. The heat was so intense that it bowed the 1/4-inch tube steel legs of the silo and completely destroyed our mortar mixer.
The MCAA and our industry partners are doing our best to show what happens when masonry firewalls are not included in the design of multi-story, wood-constructed buildings. There was no loss of life in this fire; however, two firefighters and three police officers were injured in the blaze. We continue to spread awareness of the danger of such construction and are usually reminded that code allows this. We have to remind cities and towns that constructing “to code” is just meeting minimum construction standards. Do they want to be known as doing only the minimum to protect their citizens? I think not.
While it may seem a little early to talk about the MCAA mid-year meeting starting on October 2, I have to let you in on some recent news. We have been planning to hold the meeting in my home state of Arizona for quite some time, but have now selected a resort in Scottsdale. It is the Westin Kierland resort in the center of Scottsdale, with shops, restaurants and a golf course all within walking distance of the resort. The website for the resort is www.kierlandresort.com. Please check it out for all of the amenities offered. MCAA president Jeff Buczkiewicz was here in the beginning of May, and we made plans for some great afternoon activities following our morning meetings. We will bring back the golf outing that was so popular years ago but has been missing as of late. In addition, we will offer UTV riding in the desert and some fun activities right at the resort. I’ll bet you wouldn’t think we would have surfing in the desert, but just wait until you see it. I can see Don and Bev McCauley’s “tribe” spending a lot of time there.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the Scotch Library, which the Westin Kierland is famous for. With over 250 different scotches to choose from, I will be looking for someone to buy me a drink of their best scotch. But at $3,500 per drink, I may have to look pretty hard to find a volunteer! While at the bar, keep your eye out for snakes — in particular, rattlesnakes. I’m not talking stuffed ones, either! I’m talking about real, live rattlesnakes. No matter what, we’ll have an excellent mid-year meeting… and we’ll stay safe from the snakes!
About the Author
Mike Sutter is the CEO of Sutter Masonry, Inc. He has served as an officer on the Executive Board and the Region G Vice President for the Mason Contractors Association of America.