Chairman’s Message: Thankful for The Little Things

Paul Odom, MCAA Chairman

Here we are in November already.  Time surely flies when you are having fun.  November always has me thinking about the many things I have to be thankful for.  I have a great family, friends, and have had a good career in the masonry industry that has provided a great life for us.  I attribute a lot of my success to the wisdom and guidance I have gained from fellow contractors over the years.  To each of you (I hope I have told you before), thanks.   

We have a lot to be thankful for in the masonry industry.  As you saw in last month’s article about the first grants that were distributed by The Masonry Foundation, masonry associations around the nation are doing great things to gain wall share and push workforce development.  Through the Foundation, we are able to capture and share programs that are working regionally and share throughout the nation.  A few of the ones that I am most excited to see include: 

  • AZ Masonry Council’s 2019 Direct Design Software Campaign 

Although the Direct Design Software is already available through the NCMA, the grant approved for Arizona’s Masonry Council is to provide the software and training to engineers.  This will increase the awareness in the structural engineering community when designing masonry projects.  Training and support will help to increase utilization of the software.  The easier we make designing with masonry, the more likely we will continue to see it in structural wall systems.  

  • Masonry Craft Training- NCCER connect system  

The Florida Concrete Masonry Education Council, Inc. (FCMEC) is working with NCCER to expand the existing connect system to include masonry craft training.  This program will extend that availability to the masonry industry by adapting the NCCER masonry craft curriculum to a digital, Internet-based format that can be used by individuals.  The program will adapt three levels of masonry training, including safety and Level 1 basic training.  Once developed, the program can be used by masonry training programs throughout the nation. It will help guide instructors that may not have a background in masonry for the safety and classroom portion of the Level 1 training.  I am excited to see that our industry is stepping up to the table to compete in the digital world for education. 

  • North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association Workforce Development Initiative 

You have heard me brag multiple times on the success of the North Carolina Mason Contractors Association (NCMCA) with their workforce development initiative.  They have worked with the North Carolina Community College system’s Apprenticeship North Carolina division to create the state’s first association-sponsored pre-apprentice program.  Allowing high school students 16 or older to work for mason contractors for a guaranteed hourly wage of at least $12.00 per hour and earn high school credit toward graduation is a win-win.  It has been such a success that approximately 100 students participated as masonry pre-apprentices during the summer of 2019.   They are sharing their “best practices” and templates for recruitment programs with sister masonry promotional groups. Our own Texas Masonry Council is sending members from the Workforce Development committee to visit North Carolina’s program this month and I look forward to getting some systems in place to help our state.  

Of course, these were only a few of the grants that were approved.  Check out the full list for more information about our great progress as an industry.   

As I said, I am thankful for this industry and the opportunities it has provided us over the years.  I pray that during this month of gratitude you are able to take time to enjoy with your loved ones.  Don’t forget to thank those that make it possible for you to enjoy this great life we have here in the United States, and for the men and women that put brick and block into the wall to build the beautiful masonry buildings we all love!