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From the Editor

In this issue, we have a re-cap from the 2006 MCAA Masonry Showcase (see page 18). And what a show it was! Attendees got the best of both worlds — Las Vegas attractions and MCAA events. It was great to get a chance to see everyone again and take part in the Association's activities.

A few things really struck me this year. First of all, the new and improved MasonrySystems.org website, which was introduced at the Annual Meeting, finally gives the industry the opportunity for a major masonry presence (see page 26). The Masonry Executives Council — along with Ann Wolter, past executive director of the Rocky Mountain Masonry Institute, and Whole Wheat Creative, a full-service advertising and marketing firm — has worked very diligently on creating a next-generation marketing campaign to put the masonry industry at the forefront. However, this worthy effort needs the support of everyone in the industry — contractors, vendors and manufacturers alike. Lend your support today!

Secondly, in my humble opinion, the competitors in the International Masonry Skills Challenge went above and beyond expectations. The skills and capabilities of these talented students were really superb. Both the participants and their instructors are to be commended for raising the bar and laying the groundwork for the highest quality masons for tomorrow's workforce.

Next, the opportunities for networking among the MCAA members were amazing. MCAA events have always been highly praised by participants as great opportunities to get together with other mason contractors, talk about the industry, and discuss everything under the sun that affects each and every mason contractor and their business. The 2006 Masonry Showcase was certainly no exception. Unlike other national masonry events, networking opportunities abounded, and the participants were pleased with the ability to connect with one another.

Which leads me to my final observation about this year's Masonry Showcase. Not only do MCAA's gatherings afford the opportunity to network with your peers, but it's also a wealth of opportunities to meet and greet with the best in the business. There is much concern in the industry about wanting new masons to gain experience on the wall, side by side, with the master masons before many of them retire from the profession. The same could be said for mason contractors as well.

These MCAA events are the only opportunity for new mason contractors to learn, side by side, with the masters in the business. For instance, when Dick Felice, owner of Forrest & Associate Inc. and MCAA past president, speaks, you can hear a pin drop. It doesn't matter if there are five people or 250 people in the room — everyone strains to hear every bit of wisdom that he imparts. Outside of the MCAA events, you will be hard pressed to get that same experience — the chance to learn from the greatest in the business. And, just as we need the master masons to pass their knowledge on to the next generation of brick and blocklayers, new mason contractors can only benefit from the experiences and knowledge of the experienced mason contractors, like Felice.

So I expect to see you all at the Midyear convention, held in Maui, Hawaii, Nov. 8-12, and at MCAA's 2007 Masonry Showcase in Orlando, Feb. 22-24.



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