Chairman’s Message: Masonry’s Future

Paul Odom, MCAA Chairman

As I sit down to write this today, the message that Jeff stepped in to write for me last month came up, along with the picture of me with my father. I’m reminded how fortunate I was to have had him for as long as I did. One thing I’ve heard people say about him numerous times over the past few weeks is that “they just don’t make them like they used to.” You see, my Dad was a hard worker and an honest, trustworthy guy. I was fortunate that my parents raised me to strive to be like that every day.

Although he was cream of the crop, I must disagree about the saying itself. Here’s why:

I don’t think any of us are naturally “made” to be hard working good people. Genetics only gets us so far, in my opinion. We’re molded and raised to be that way- whether through our families, school, or experiences. There is one thing in common for all of us though.

We all have the potential to be great, despite our situations in life, with the right help and encouragement.

I see this in the young people I talk to out on projects. I see this in competitions like I attended at Skills USA. The desire is there but are we, as leaders in the industry, harnessing it?

I learned this trade from men who took an interest in my learning and success- both in the classroom and on the jobsite. My generation was fortunate, forty years ago vocational programs were common in most schools. Although masonry wasn’t one that was offered to me, I still learned responsibility and hard work through the classes I took. On the weekends and after school as kids, we were able to work on farms and on construction sites. There wasn’t all the red tape we have now employing teens on our jobsites. Because of this, many kids coming out of either high school or college haven’t ever really had to physically work.

Masonry is hard. It’s a physically demanding, yet also a physically rewarding trade. For “green” employees, it can take a while for them to become accustomed to this challenge. After all, here in Texas, it was 94 degrees by 9:00 AM and it’s September. We must embrace our new employees and help them to get conditioned to it… just like practicing for sporting events. That’s why I’m so excited about XYZ University, who is developing a class for us at the World of Concrete. You hopefully read about it in the last issue This course is meant to help us bridge the gap that most of us know is there between our supervisors and teams. I’m excited to see the research and programs they’ll be putting together so I can use it within our company’s teams.

Speaking of teams, training and onboarding new employees has long been a challenge for our industry. However, by the time you’re reading this, you should already have received notice that some of our new on-boarding videos have now been deployed. If you’re an MCAA member, be sure you are taking advantage of these FREE videos. Available in both English and Spanish, they’ll be a key part of the puzzle in helping your company make new employees feel safe and secure as they start their new career.

Since I’m writing this issue just weeks before the Mid Year meeting, I’ll be covering all the great events from that in the next issue. Stay tuned for those highlights, along with more great things coming from your MCAA!

And, thanks again, to all of you who reached out to our family with the loss of my Dad. It meant so much to us all.

Until next month…