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Legislative Conference

Side Story:
United We Stand

I have just departed from the 2006 Masonry Industry Legislative Conference. This is the first time that I can remember the mason contractors and brick, block and stone suppliers all gathered to stand-up and defend our industry. It was very encouraging to see each association and their members all roll their sleeves up and walk together through our government's hallways, educating the lawmakers on what is best for us. (My theory has always been: if we don't, then who will?) Of course this should have happened many years ago; but now that it has started, I'm not sure it could have come at a better time.

We are faced with so many issues as an industry today — we must let our positions be known. There is silica, OSHA reform, immigration reform, permanent repeal of the estate tax, Corps of Engineers "Transformation Initiative," wind-resistant construction, energy cost and energy conservation in buildings, fire safety construction, and highly skilled workforce issues. Each one of these issues has as much affect on our bottom line as production in the field. These issues affect safety procedures, workforce, taxes, market share and the overall cost of doing business. In fact, if our lawmakers do not address these issues properly, our market share and profit margins will continue to shrink.

Now, each of our associations spends thousand of dollars each year on promotion of our industry. Why don't we take a sum of that money and spend it in an area that will enable us to regain lost market share, add new market share and increase profits? I believe we will then become a leader of the construction industry once again.

With all that said, I want to say the MCAA executive staff did an outstanding job. On Tuesday, I had six appointments at Capitol Hill and each one allowed me to speak on behalf of our industry. I was listened to and was promised further communication on all of our issues. What made it so easy was the MCAA staff who had each of these appointments set before my plane even landed in Washington, D.C. In addition, MCAA's new Government Affairs Director Jessica Johnson Bennett has hit the ground running and has moved us further than we have ever been before.

I also cannot say enough about the staff of the Brick Industry Association, Building Stone Institute and National Concrete Masonry Association for helping to make this conference such a great success. Our speakers were very informative, the issue briefs were very educating, and this big old boy sure liked the food!

I believe this is only the beginning of greater things to come for our industry. If you are a former member, come back because we need you and you need us! If you are not a member, we need you and you need us! To all my fellow members, I want to encourage us to do all we can for an industry that has been good to us. It is a critical time for our industry, and therefore it is time for all of us to come together and work together, accomplish together and reap the benefits together. Together we will stand, divided we will fall. And, as we all know, falling is never a pleasant experience.



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