The Strong Spirit of our Industry
I am writing this article while on a flight to Indianapolis. One thing that comes with this job is travel. And with travel comes meeting great folks and learning from others. My wife and I had a great time in Minnesota, and I enjoyed one of the best steaks I have ever eaten. The other amazing thing was seeing snow in late-April! The following week, I went to the beautiful city of Seattle and enjoyed the meetings we had there. Work is tough, but our spirit is not broken, and we are determined as contractors that we are prepared and ready to reclaim our market share.
This was the spirit shown last month, when many of us flew into Washington, D.C., for our legislative conference. It was great to have seven South of 40 members there! I believe that was a strong statement to the elected officials: Our future is bright, and we are not going away. We will not stop until our mission is accomplished. I am sure there will be many more missions that we will have to achieve as we promote and protect our industry.
As I visited the congressmen and senators, the message was plain and simple: Do not continue to waste tax dollars building structures that will last only 15 to 20 years, followed by maintenance costs that will go through the roof. We can build a 60-year structure for less money, more energy-efficiently and in a greener manner. When you add the long-lasting beauty to it, the decision to use masonry becomes a no-brainer. That is, everywhere except at the city that sits upon a hill.
Then there is the 3 percent tax on all federal projects. The government calls it a 3-percent withholding, but nowhere in the bill does it specify when we would get it back. This old cowboy believes in calling it what it is: just another tax. While we were in D.C., we were told that the enforcement of the bill has been moved back to 2012. Sound good? Not really, since we are beginning to bid work that will begin in 2012. With that said, we are working hard to get this bill permanently repealed. Otherwise, I would encourage you to add 3 percent to your bids that have Federal money involved.
We were looking to address other issues, such as misclassification of employees and pension liability for union contractors. Some of us had personal requests, such as trying to do something to help drop fuel prices. Things such as lifting regulations on refineries and opening up drilling will not only lower fuel prices, but also will add jobs. I could say more, but I will stop before I tell you what I really think. Thanks again for everyone, for coming and participating.
I am looking forward to my visit with our friends from the stone industry in Bloomington, Ind. This is special to me, since I lived there for 10 years! This is the place that I received my first test in the masonry industry. Until next time, this old cowboy says, “Shoot for the moon and, even if you miss, you will land among the stars.”