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President's Message

William McConnell - President, MCAA

This past year has been a trying one for America and construction in general. For the first time in years, many companies have been forced to seek work, when in the past they had to refuse work. In tough and trying times, the need for all mason contractors to band together behind a strong and aggressive association that represents their interests has never been more important.

The Mason Contractors Association of America is the only association that brings all of the industry's contractors together to represent your interests. While other groups try to divide us between union and non-union, MCAA unites the industry and focuses on our industry's real competitors such as tilt-up, EFIS and gypsum contractors.

The MCAA recently held a Midyear Board meeting in Boston to review some of the recent accomplishments and to strategize over some of the goals that we are focusing our attention on. During the meeting, we heard reports about the success that our new Director of Government Affairs was having in Washington, D.C. In a very short time on the job, the MCAA has had positive meetings with regulatory agencies, such as OSHA, where, in the next month or two, we will be reporting on some favorable news from OSHA that will drastically affect our industry. In addition, we heard the news that the MCAA has been invited to participate on some critical coalitions that are working for some important issues such as silicosis, ergonomics and prompt pay. I was most excited to learn that the MCAA has been working on some key political races, both Democrat and Republican, that if successful, could make the passage of masonry-friendly legislation and regulations easier in Washington.

During our meeting, we heard from Greg Casey, Executive Director from BIPAC, which is one of the largest and oldest business PACs based in Washington. What impressed upon us the most during Greg's presentation was the fact that control over the U.S. Congress is determined by roughly 10,000 total votes. I realize that this number sounds wrong, but just 10,000 votes scattered across key races throughout the country determined who controlled Congress for the next two years.

The masonry industry alone is represented by roughly 17,000 contractors and roughly 270,000 employees. Certainly we could have a major impact over the type of legislation that comes out of Washington if we all act together. We all left Boston eager to get started with our efforts to become more involved in determining who will represent us in future elections.

In addition, our Board focused on how the MCAA can become more effective in increasing our industry's share of the construction market. We talked about the MCAA's effort to unify our industry into a more cohesive industry working collectively on expanding market share. And through our efforts at the Masonry Industry Council, an umbrella organization that the MCAA was a primary catalyst in forming, I believe that we are slowly moving on the right path of working together. I attended the last MIC meeting along with MCAA Vice President Alan Griffin and Secretary Frank Campitelli, and we left that meeting with the commitment of the industry to begin working collectively on selling key national accounts to use masonry. It is our hope that we can work more cooperatively in selling masonry.

In addition, I asked Frank Campitelli to work with MCAA Marketing Chairman John Smith to develop a national cost book for masonry. Obviously there are other sources of information available on construction costs. However, it is felt that a national masonry cost book can become a vital source of information to our customers who seek realistic information on building with masonry in their geographic areas. We also believed that a cost book developed by the MCAA, in cooperation with our local groups, would become a prime promotional tool to get in and talk to architects and end users.

Lastly, the Board spent a great deal of time discussing our efforts to unify the industry's trade shows into one show. We have had discussions with our counterparts at the other industry associations about bringing everyone back together. This effort could take years to realize. While the door remains open for all of our industry trade shows to come back together, no one was rushing through to make it a reality.

However, the MCAA Board heard a presentation from the Construction Specifications Institute regarding their desire for the MCAA to join their efforts to build a mega show called "Construct America." CSI represents architects and specifiers and they conduct a yearly show with over 100,000 square feet of exhibit space, as well as 10,000 attendees. MCAA's Masonry Showcase would become the masonry pavilion and add nearly 30,000 square feet of exhibit space to Construct America. The MCAA Board was extremely interested in the possibility of Showcase joining Construct America because of the benefit to our contractor attendees, meeting with their architect customers, as well as participating in all of the industry education.

In addition probably one of the greatest benefits of partnering with CSI is that our show will become probably one of the largest promotional tools that our industry has — the possibilities become endless.

Needless to say, the MCAA Board is evaluating a possible joint venture as we look to enter into negotiations with the CSI. The first joint effort would take place in 2005.

I am extremely proud of the record of accomplishment that the MCAA has compiled on behalf of our industry's mason contractors. But, our association could accomplish so much more — promoting more work for our industry, fighting effectively for more favorable regulations from our nations Capitol, and seeking favorable code changes.

If you are reading this magazine, you are enjoying a service of the association. And if you are reading this article and you are not a member, you should call us today and join our efforts. Just because you belong to a local mason contractor organization does not mean that your local group is affiliated with the MCAA. Call us today at (800) 536-2225 to support our efforts to make the industry so much more profitable for all of us.



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