Words: Jeff Buczkiewicz, MCAA President

The 2017 MCAA Convention at World of Concrete/Masonry will be exciting, with several new components added to the program. As we begin the New Year and kick it off with the convention, our industry will be in store for new challenges ahead and will have some unknown variables with a new Administration and Congress. We expect those (political) changes to be good for our industry, however, we can never be certain.

That is why we will be kicking off our convention with a new Top Golf event. The event at Top Golf will take place on Monday, January 16 at 5:30 pm. The event will start off with open play for 2 hours, and all proceeds raised then will benefit the MCAA political education fund. Those are dollars we use to educate members of Congress on issues impacting our industry. These funds are critical to our political outreach and help us fund, among other things, our lobbyist in DC. These funds can be supplied with corporate dollars or personal dollars as they are unregulated.

The second event that evening kicks off at 7:30 and will be our PAC fundraiser. It is our only PAC fundraiser of the year, and it is critical to our ability to support candidates who are friendly to our industry’s issues. These funds are regulated, and can only be personal dollars, not company money.

Tuesday we will start off with our committee meetings, where we discuss issues impacting our industry and how we are dealing with them as an Association. Everyone is welcome to attend and provide input. This is a great opportunity to get more involved with the planning and development of the MCAA. We will also be launching the first “Train The Trainer” program for silica compliance. This education series will train someone from your company to go home and be able to train people on your staff to be considered “competent” (one of the new requirements of the silica rule being implemented June 23, 2017).

The program will be training people on how to identify silica issues on a job site and to implement the written program. The MCAA is also developing the written program for masons that they will be able to use on all jobs. Members will have access to the program online and will be able to slide that will be present on job-sites in and out. The written program content will meet the requirements of the new rule’s written program criteria.

Both of these programs will be critical components of the new silica rule, and you can get them by attending the course in Vegas. When the convention ends, the MCAA will be taking this “Train The Trainer” on the road. It will be in 15 different cities before the end of June, so you will have several other opportunities to send your people to a local program. That being said, the program in Vegas will be taught by the law firm developing the program and should be an excellent option.

Later that night, we will host our South of 40 event at Señor Frogs, an event you will not want to miss.

Wednesday is Masonry Madness Day. I really not need to say more, it is the biggest masonry event of the year and truly is the biggest day of pride for our industry. We will have four competitions take place this day. The day will begin with the MCAA’s Masonry Skills Challenge, our apprentice competition. It is sponsored again this year by our friends at the BAC, IMI and LIUNA. We have competitors from all over the country competing for the top spot at the one, two and three year levels.

Next is the MCAA’s Fastest Trowel on the Block competition, a very fast paced block laying competition sponsored by NCMA and Spec Mix. The second arena will also kick off with the Toughest Tender and the Spec Mix Bricklayer 500 competitions. If you have not experienced these events, they are truly a must for anyone in our industry. You will walk away with a new found love of the skill involved in masonry.

An added event in the area this year which will run Tuesday through Thursday is the Workforce Development and Innovation Zone positioned between the two arenas. There will be a dustless zone as a part of it, where you will see the latest technology to address the silica issue. IQ Power Tools, Pullman Ermator and the new Spec Mix Silo featuring an enhanced dust collection system will all be there. There will be other innovations in that area, including but not limited to BIM for Masonry doing demos, thin stone veneer installations, cast stone installation using new ASTM standards, a paver feature, and SAM the robot demos. Don’t miss this area, as it will feature the latest and greatest technology in our industry.

Thursday will round out our week with our annual meeting, featuring more association business and important operational information. You will leave with a newfound understanding of the industry around you. All are welcome to attend this as well.

Another new program that will be presented is a credentialing program on storm shelters. It is a five-part series, and when completed it will make attendees Credentialed Storm Shelter Installers (CSSI). This is a program that was developed to assure designers that they would have quality installations when designing their storm shelters with masonry. The new building code will be requiring storm shelters in many public buildings, which has created the need for this program.

Later that morning, there will be our contractor round table discussion group. All are welcome to attend and provide input as we discuss issues of the daily life of the mason contractors and how people from around the country address them. Later Thursday night, we will have our closing banquet and will honor our new class Hall of Fame inductees.

There will be five people inducted this year: George Miller, Rennie Tejeda, Robert Baum, Richard Lauber, and our first masonry instructor Milton Young. Be a part of this wonderful ceremony, you will enjoy hearing the journey these inductees took to get where they ended up. We hope to see you in Vegas, it will undoubtedly be a very exciting time for everyone!