State of the Association
This past year has truly been remarkable for our nation. We experienced yet another example of the awe of nature as we saw record numbers of hurricanes hit our coastlines. The pure power and devastation from those storms was witnessed by the destruction from Katrina, which will go down as one of the most devastating in history. I was awed by the compassion of Americans as we watched hundreds of thousands respond with aid and support for those who were displaced. America opened its heart and homes to take in fellow citizens devastated by Katrina.
While many differ on the war in Iraq, we all continued to stand behind our troops who make us proud and make the sacrifices to protect America and its liberties. We owe a debt of gratitude to those who have fought and died to keep terrorism away from our shores.
Our nation continues to explore the vastness of space and search for the unknown. Television has an amazing influence on our lives as we danced with the stars and tolerated the "Wife Swap." Reality TV, "Law & Order" and "CSI" seemed to take over the airwaves.
We lost some old friends. We said goodbye to Richard Pryor, Mrs. Robinson, Mr. Miyagi and we beamed Scottie up for his last trip. Lou Rawls and Luther Vandross serenaded us for the last time. And the inspirations of Rosa Parks, Pope John Paul II and Coretta Scott King will continue beyond their passing.
Bill and Melinda Gates and U2's Bono were named by TIME magazine as "People of the Year." And People magazine named Matthew McConaughey the "Sexiest Man of the Year." Nick Lachey lost his mind by agreeing to divorce Jessica Simpson and, of course, Tom Cruise has just lost his mind.
The Chicago White Sox won the World Series after 88 years without a championship. The Red Sox in 2004, the White Sox in 2005, maybe this year the Cubs? And hockey finally returned to the ice, but did anyone notice?
The year of 2005 was truly a memorable year for all of us.
Coming Together to Advance Our Industry
Year 2005 was a memorable year for those of us in the masonry industry as well. As an industry, we faced many challenges that tested our ability to work together. At a time when we need to be unified like never before and face the threat from competitive systems, our friends have used valuable resources in advertising against each other, instead of our true competitors.
The MCAA has made it our top priority to come together to advance the masonry industry. Through input from our members, our Long-range Plan calls for the MCAA to provide the leadership to unify the entire industry. We must keep the focus on our true industry threats tilt-up and precast and not allow our industry to turn on one another, which only allows competitors to have an open field in which to compete.
To accomplish this goal, MCAA's senior officers held numerous meetings with our counterparts from the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA), the Brick Industry Association (BIA), the Building Stone Institute (BSI), the International Council of Employers and the trade unions. We have begun to break down the walls that for years have separated and splintered our industry. I am pleased to report that our meetings were successful in reconnecting with our friends. In meeting after meeting, we all agreed that we must set aside those issues that divide us and focus on the issues that unite us. As a result of our meetings with the NCMA, BIA and BSI, we agreed to transform the MCAA Legislative Conference that was successfully re-launched last year into a new, co-sponsored Masonry Industry Legislative Conference this coming April 24-26 in Washington, D.C. Members from all four national associations will travel to our nation's capitol to meet with our elected leaders. We hope to educate our representatives in Congress and the Senate on issues that can impact the ability for our industry to expand.
As national associations, we have only begun to work together. Our associations are also looking into combining our workforce development efforts, to identify how we can increase our labor force and our ability to expand our markets. I am pleased with the progress we have made with this unity, all to advance the interests of the masonry industry.
This past year, we continued to strengthen our ties with many of our chapters. We must look to many of our chapters to help the MCAA obtain the needed resources to expand the effectiveness of the national association. In 2006, we will call on all of our state and local affiliates that do not have 100-percent membership in the national association to bring those non-members into the MCAA fold. I asked the MCAA to identify the top state groups that have not affiliated with the Association and to tell me what the impact is from this lack of membership. I was surprised to learn that if the four largest state groups became affiliated with the MCAA, we would have more than $400,000 in desperately needed resources.
It's not only important for all industry associations to be united to advance masonry, but as contractors, we must also all come together behind the MCAA's efforts, by being active members. After all, how can we ask our supplier friends to come together if we are not united behind that same common purpose?
Building Our Workforce
The future viability of our workforce is one of our top priorities as a national association. For years, our Association has worked to implement programs that would bring attention to all of the career possibilities that exist in our industry. Our High School Career Initiative has placed career information in more than 1,000 of our nation's high schools; today, we continue to receive strong interest from these schools.
Seven years ago, long before other for-profit competitive and divisive competitions were started, the MCAA began our two masonry skills contests: the Masonry Skills Challenge, our national apprenticeship skills competition, and the Fastest Trowel contest. These two contests were started to bring industry attention to the importance of training. These events have been invaluable in getting both contractors and local associations engaged in recruiting and training.
Our website and Masonry magazine have also been useful in bringing information on careers in masonry to a potential labor force.
However, simply getting information out about careers in our industry is not enough. We must ensure that we have the ability to both train these individuals, as well as assist them in finding employment. To help secure the necessary tools, this past year we conducted a two-day session to revise our masonry apprenticeship training series, and we hope to introduce a second edition of our training series later this summer. Also, we have been working with the laborers union to revise our Rough Terrain Forklift Training series.
In addition to having quality training materials, we must make certain that we have a strong core of competent instructors that will be available to teach our future workforce. This will become an increasingly important and logical role for the MCAA into the future.
No other organization is in the unique position to ensure our industry's workforce like the MCAA. And while we are the logical choice to ensure our future, we cannot do this alone. This past year, the MCAA has solicited the involvement of allied groups to assist us in this effort, and we look forward to growing support from the suppliers in our industry.
Advancing Our Association's
Interests in Washington
Few areas can impact our industry faster than the actions of our federal government. Through laws and regulations, Washington can cripple or help enable our ability to survive and thrive as an industry. As an association, our image and influence in our nation's capital have grown over the past couple of years, and we are looking to grow that even further.
Over the past year, we have achieved many successes, most notably with our relationship with OSHA. Through our Alliance, we have established a Best Practices Workshop created for OSHA field personnel. The goal of this new workshop is to make every OSHA compliance officer familiar with our industry's training and work practices. Our pilot workshop, held in St Louis, was a great success, and we look to conduct these training workshops in every OSHA region throughout the nation over the next few years. Imagine what it will be like to have an OSHA compliance officer come to your job site and understand why you are doing certain activities, rather than citing you for them.
Having a positive relationship with key members of Congress is the second of a three-prong approach to our ability to protect our members' abilities to run their companies with a reasonable amount of independence and assurance in the future. This past year, we conducted our Legislative Conference, which proved to be a very exciting and useful conference. Like with anything else, building alliances and coalitions in Washington is a very effective way to get things done. During our meetings with allied associations, we invited others to join our effort to educate Congress and the administration on those key issues that can impact our industry. I urge all MCAA members to attend this year's Masonry Industry Legislative Conference.
The third prong is to develop our ability to assist candidates who support our issues. Therefore, we have established a very aggressive goal of raising more than $100,000 for our political action efforts. MACPAC, our political action committee, will enable our Association to help elect a pro-masonry, pro-business Congress. I encourage our masonry contractors to support our efforts to protect the industry's future by contributing to MACPAC.
Advancing Our Markets
For decades, our suppliers have carried the burden of promoting the use of our products and, since our funding as an Association was limited, we were content to let them lead. However, as we struggle to keep our markets, we can no longer be content with the way things were done in the past.
Today, some of our industry suppliers are working against each other to the determent of the industry. As contractors, we must not sit idly by and allow our industry to implode when we are all so convinced that construction customers prefer masonry products and services. Therefore, like it or not, as contractors, we must step forward to play a major role in promoting masonry systems.
During our annual meeting, we heard a major presentation on how as contractors we can impact the use of masonry systems. The MCAA and every contractor in our industry must step up and provide the funding that will be needed to implement the necessary programs to guarantee that our materials will remain the materials of choice for our customers. As an Association, we have supported many marketing efforts, such as the Federal Officials Seminar, the University Professors Workshop, and the Masonry Designers Guide; we must not be content with thinking small. As contractors, it's time for us to fund a major national campaign that can radically impact the use of our materials and the role of the mason contractor in promoting masonry. We must take a serious look at this new program and come up with the funding to make it work. We have little choice!
As a senior officer on the MCAA board over the last eight years, I have seen this Association grow by leaps and bounds. I have seen us purchase our own headquarters building, hire key staff such as an engineer and lobbyist, and create a strong image within the industry. I have been proud of our many accomplishments. I will be even more proud when we can look back several years from now and see that the hard work that we have been doing, and the work we are about to undertake, has been successful in gaining back many of our rightful markets that we once lost because we didn't come together to advance our industry.
I am honored to have served you as your president for the last two years. I want to express my appreciation to the other senior officers, our board, committee chairs and committee members, and last but not least, the MCAA staff. Thank you for the opportunity and the privilege.
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