Chairman’s Message: More Than a Little Luck

Paul Odom, MCAA Chairman

Here it is March again. March is a big month for our household. It’s my daughter’s and my first granddaughter’s birthdays. Anna, one of my little princesses, has her birthday on Saint Patty’s Day, and she says she’s the luckiest. When she told me that the other day, it got me thinking about luck. I often say the phrase, “I’m a lucky man.” It’s the truth in many ways. In other ways, I feel like it’s not so much luck as it is choices. We all have choices in life.  

In my 20s, I made the choice to drop out of college. You might remember the message I wrote a while back about my father. He told me that I was crazy and going to “ruin my life” after I decided to drop out of college and change my career path to masonry. While those around me may have thought I was crazy, I knew what I was doing. I made that choice and I chose to start my career. As a laborer, I rode to work with my foreman Robert DeLaughter. Besides being the world’s fastest eater, that man sure knew how to run a job. I chose to listen and learn from him.  

When I was given the opportunity to become an apprentice and advance my career, I chose to take that path. When I was given the opportunity advance to foreman and later move into the office, I chose to do so and learn from those before me. These choices led me to learn what I needed to open my own company with my lovely bride, Susie. We started a company and made some hard choices over the years and even quite a few that may not have been the right ones as well. But overall, our choices have landed us in a good position in life. 

Why am I talking about choices? I must sound egotistical right now, but that’s not my intention. I’m trying to say luck doesn’t get you all that far in life. Many times, the choices you make are what get you to where you are.  

At the World of Concrete, one of the highlights for me was workforce development. The young adults that were out there for the Skills competition have made choices that will help them for the rest of their lives. As an industry, we need to help provide more opportunities for young people today to choose masonry as their career path. I know from talking to contractors from around the nation that the labor shortage isn’t coming, it’s already here.  

That’s why MCAA has made workforce development a priority. We provide members with great resources to help recruit new talent to your companies and your program. We know kids today must make choices early. In many cases, students start choosing their path to college, or to go into the workforce, or trade school during or right after middle school. The good thing is more and more schools are starting to bring back trades into their curriculums rather than making college the predominate choice.  

Take these things into consideration. Check out what MCAA is doing to promote workforce development for your industry. Two powerful tools to use are the Top 10 Reasons to be a Mason pamphlet and the corresponding video. After watching and/or reading these, the masonry industry looks like a pretty great career choice. As members, these are free to you. Just go to: www.masoncontractors.org and look under the bookstore and then under workforce development.  

Our industry has a choice right now. We can jump on board and start getting more serious about workforce development and what we can do to start training the future of our industry. Or we can depend on luck to ensure we have the workforce we need for our future. I encourage each of you to get with your state and local associations to see what you can be doing collaboratively to promote workforce development for the masonry industry in your areas. You may able to help a young person to make some great choices early on in life. As I said before, I truly feel like choosing masonry as my career path has been a good one for me and my family. 

Until next time….