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Cover Story

The Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) Annual Conference and the Masonry Showcase Exhibition were held in Phoenix, Arizona, February 6-9. Once again the Masonry Showcase placed a national spotlight on masonry as thousands of professionals united in support of the masonry industry.

While the MCAA was preparing for the 2002 Masonry Showcase, every effort was made to provide value for the individual attendee as well as the industry. The focus was shifted from the traditional goal of bringing customers and suppliers together for business transactions, to a more specific goal of addressing industry issues and creating opportunities for all participants. Bill McConnell, who then was MCAA's Convention Chairman and Vice President, stated, "The Masonry Showcase's steadfast reputation for quality attendance was apparent in Phoenix. To have such a showing in light of the overall economy is testament to the support behind the Showcase."

One of the more visible changes was the addition of many local & state masonry associations from around the country. Nearly 50 individual groups held official meetings at the Masonry Showcase. Additionally, association Presidents and Directors from 30 organizations met to identify and address industry issues at the first Annual Masonry Summit Meeting. Plans are already underway to expand participation for next year.

The Showcase is composed of three main areas: Education, Exhibits and Networking. Pettit Construction's David Hill describes his experience at the Masonry Showcase, "I use the Showcase as a tool for my business. Education is essential. Each year I learn something new at one of the educational seminars. I also like to touch base with suppliers and find out what new products are on the market. Additionally, the networking is unbelievable. I have literally saved months of time by utilizing the contacts I have made when dealing with new or difficult contracts."

Education
This year the educational program was expanded to go more in depth with a deeper focus on the essentials. Over thirty seminars were offered in six concentrated tracks to educate all masonry professionals - including dealers and distributors. Ed Boettcher of Edgar Boettcher Mason Contractor, Inc. stated, "I've learned a few valuable tips I can implement as soon as I get back. I'm impressed."

Fastest Trowel
Once again the Fastest Trowel on the Block Competition, Sponsored by Spec Mix, was an amazing display of craftsmanship and skill. Sixteen contestants from around the country, including many past national award winners and seven regional competition winners, competed for a cash award of $5,000 and an array of prizes. The crowds were deafening as the contestants ran on adrenaline alone at the end of the twenty-minute heat.

This contest continues to showcase the skill of a journeyman mason and how important teamwork is in accomplishing a final product. The twenty-four foot walls are judged objectively in six categories, and technique is solely the journeymen's preference.

Nine contestants returned from the 2001 competition ready to compete. Contestant Mike Magee's comment covered everyone's anticipation, "I have been thinking about this all year, I know what I have to do today." With the winning scores only 0.56 of a point apart, the competition was close all around!

The MCAA would like to thank the following contributing sponsors: Sterling Handling Equipment, MK Diamond, Partner Industrial, Marshalltown Trowel, National Lime Institute, Tovel, Crick Tools, Multiquip, Bon Tool and Superlite Block.

Masonry Showcase exhibits offered a wide range of products and services for the masonry industry, with many new companies for 2002. Michael Winge of Sika Corporation, a newcomer to the Masonry Showcase, commented, "I was impressed with the scope of the Showcase. We will be returning in Tampa." The 2-day exhibition is a centralized marketplace to compare, shop and save on products for the entire masonry industry. Attendee John Spencer of Spencer Brickwork, St. Louis, MO, noted on the opening day of the exhibition, "I placed orders today — in fact everyone I know from my area bought something today on the exhibit floor." Exhibitors were sharing their satisfaction as well, "The Masonry Showcase provides the quality attendee; this is where we sell. We have had a great show," commented Rosalie Donatelli from Eastern Marble and Granite.

Fraco Products, Ltd, a long-standing MCAA Member, chose the Showcase to announce their being awarded the contract to rebuild the Pentagon from the September 11 attacks. Fraco worked with Masonry Arts, also a MCAA Member, to find a winning resolution to a complex problem. "We were proud to help fellow MCAA Member Masonry Arts find a solution to use Fraco machines on the reconstruction of the Pentagon. It was not easy - there were highly technical obstacles, like not being able to anchor to the walls," explained Louis-Marie Garant, Fraco Ltd. Vice President. "The MCAA Masonry Showcase was the perfect forum to announce the news of two members working together on the Pentagon."

OmniQuip Textron, who delayed their decision to participate in the 2002 Showcase for economic reasons, is already planning their 2003 appearance. "This is the show where quality decision makers are, we can't afford to miss this!" Many exhibiting companies were hesitant to participate in trade shows in light of the wavering economy after September. The Masonry Showcase proved to be a winning decision for everyone involved. "We were very impressed with Masonry Showcase 2002 in Phoenix. The attention to detail and service allowed us to generate quality sales. Thank you for making our presence known to the masonry market. The Masonry Showcase is the "BEST" trade show that PolyMaster has participated in during 2002. We base that victory on exposure, eye to eye proposals and follow-up sales. We know that MCAA cares. You cannot hide the facts, and our proof is our commitment to show in Tampa in 2003!" raved Charlie Lenox, CMS of PolyMaster Foam.

Many opportunities are given for socializing and networking. Attendees, exhibitors, suppliers, dealers, architects and special guests of the Masonry Showcase all gather to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere with their peers. "This industry is based on relationships. I make business decisions every day based on my relationships with architects, suppliers and dealers," offers Richard Felice of Forrest & Associates.


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