MCAA Regional Report, Region F
Presented at the 2018 MCAA Convention
Arkansas - Rob Barnes
Louisiana - No State Chair
Oklahoma - Al Slattery
Texas - Rob Barnes
Arkansas – No report
LouisianaEveryone complains about the shortage of good bricklayers. The masonry trade has come to depend on the steady flow of Mexican bricklayers, but they are getting harder to come by given the "border wall" and immigration uncertainties. A couple of contractors have mentioned to me that an aggressive, widespread, training program of some sort is critical to the masonry trade now.
OklahomaWorkforce development is a buzzword with all subcontractors across all trades. We as masonry contractors are grappling with how to get enough participation to commit to filling slots in a program located in central Oklahoma. The willing contractors will need to put skin in the game by committing apprentices to the program in addition to supporting the program financially. Career Techs in the area are willing to make space for the programs if there are students to fill them. We are still fighting the idea that college is the only path you should take with local high school counselors and most contractors are working on growing their own programs because of this. We are on a mission to gather information and sift through the things that are working nationwide and build a program from it. We are planning to organize a meeting of willing contractors to find out if there is enough commitment to start a meaningful commitment.
TexasThere is a general sense of frustration for the Masonry Contractors in Texas due to the lack of skilled and qualified personnel. While this issue is not unique to the masonry trades, it is by far our biggest challenge. A select few of our state members have started “in house” training to help supplement our current apprenticeship programs throughout the state. Several contractors are attending career days that the associations are sponsoring as well as visiting high schools and talking to students about careers in masonry.
LouisianaWe just finished the second strong year of a construction boom. All contractors, from the smallest residential to the largest commercial, have plenty of work in progress and plenty on the books. After many tight years, they are finally able to raise unit prices.
OklahomaThe market in Oklahoma has a good outlook for 2018. With institutional and multi-family housing projects continuing to fill the pipeline. A new optimism seems to be fueling the prospects of growth emphasizing the need for masonry contractors to expand. The contractors that are competing are being constantly pushed to study and learn new systems that are changing quickly to insure the project stays on schedule and within budget.
TexasThe Texas construction economy is holding steady from last year, excluding the slowdown in the construction of high end multifamily condos. Residential sector is doing quite well with the demand for new homes continuing to increase. No real change in the Commercial, Healthcare, and Industrial sectors from last year.
OklahomaMarketing is being done by each individual contractor with one all of them pushing each other to set themselves apart from the other which is the least costly. MCAA seems to be the best resource for information and marketing. Most suppliers are not active in masonry specifically which keeps them from being much of a resource. The best marketing individually can be through doing charity and civil work to showcase your company.
OklahomaWall systems are continuing to come on the market at a very rapid pace. A constant study of the systems are necessity to stay competitive to keep a contractor’s log full. It is a risky proposition at times to take on systems that you will be responsible for years into the future that are so new it’s not yet known in some instances how they will perform in the long run. Anything that enhances performance is welcome to keep us in the game. The key is to make wise choices on selection of the multiple types of products for each application. This can often bring up conflicts in design delegation which is a tricky contract term to deal with.
TexasCompetition remains very high. We are starting to see the waterproofing contractors get in to the adhered thin masonry products as well as the EFIS contractors. Because of their lower wages this is causing our members to lose some of this work. The willingness of the Federal Government to solve the immigration issue is hurting our ability to hire and compete to get back some of the market share lost due to our shortage of workers.
Keeping OSHA paperwork current is still a costly headache. Silica standards compliance is a costly, frustrating, moving target. Too many "authorities" with conflicting information.
A somewhat new and growing concern is working with the GC's safety consultants. They often do not have a construction background and cause costly delays due to misapplication of safety standards intended for other situations.
OklahomaSilica and the new standard is still very much unsettled. Compliant contractors, depending on size and diligence, have spent thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in training and equipment. Generally, we see masonry contractors as the most compliant operation when compared to other trades due to our commitment to safety and high visibility.
TexasThe General Contractor base is extremely focused on safety in Texas. Most all of the reputable contractors’ orientations are 4-6 hours long for all employees that will work on the project. This is above the certification you must get from the building association that is a full day. Most projects are requiring a current background check as well.
About the Author
Robert V. "Buddie" Barnes, Jr. is the Chairman of the Board and CEO of Dee Brown, Inc. He has served the masonry industry for several years in a number of different roles including Region F Vice President for the Mason Contractors Association of America, President of the Associated Masonry Contractors of Texas, and President of the United Masonry Contractors Association of Dallas.