ICPI-NCMA: A New Era as a Unified Association

ICPI-NCMA: A New Era as a Unified Association

Words and Photos: Nick Lang, VP Engineering & Advocacy, Masonry and Kristen Garman, Director, Marketing

Around this time every year, an update is provided to Masonry Magazine readers on activities and initiatives for the National Concrete Masonry Association (NCMA). This year, the association has gone through some significant changes, and this article introduces our new association–ICPI-NCMA. This new association is the result of a vote by members in 2021 of both the Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute (ICPI) and NCMA to unify. The new association brings together two historic industry organizations as one, providing a unified voice for a significant segment of the manufactured concrete products industry.

Beginning on July 1, ICPI-NCMA now represents the producers of concrete masonry, segmental concrete pavement, segmental retaining walls, manufactured stone veneer, and more, as well as contractors that install a wide variety of hardscape products. Members of the unified association can expect expanded services, programs, and opportunities, not just for ICPI-NCMA members but allied organizations and everyone involved in the industry.

Previously, NCMA represented the producers of concrete masonry units, segmental retaining wall units, articulating concrete block, and manufactured stone veneer. Over the years, NCMA and MCAA have worked together in many areas, including providing support to mason workforce development initiatives, collaboration on technical projects, and as partners in the Building Information Modeling for Masonry Initiative. 

ICPI was established in 1994 to represent the producers of segmental concrete pavement products and the contractors that install those systems. Since then, the association has worked to grow the concrete paver industry through technical leadership, education, certification, and more. Additionally, ICPI produces the successful Hardscape North America (HNA) tradeshow. 

ICPI and NCMA share many common producer and associate members and, over the years, collaborated on many joint initiatives. In early 2020, members from both organizations began to explore more ways to collaborate, and they eventually decided that it was in the best interest of both organizations to unify.  

Staff appointments for the new association were approved in early 2022. Bob Thomas was named ICPI-NCMA President/CEO, and Merry Beth Hall was named Chief Operating Officer. Thomas was previously the NCMA President, and Hall previously led ICPI’s education programs.

What does this unification mean?

The good news is successful programs from both organizations will continue. Readers can expect collaboration on workforce development and market growth between MCAA and ICPI-NCMA to continue. “We now have a stronger voice advocating for members and the industry,” said Bob Thomas, ICPI-NCMA CEO. “Whether that be in codes and standards, government affairs, or in other areas. The unification helped to streamline operations and will provide new opportunities for networking and collaboration. It also positions ICPI-NCMA for long-term growth,” Thomas added. 

Soon, new and expanded offerings, especially in relation to hardscape systems, will be available. There are also tremendous opportunities for mason contractors in hardscape installation. ICPI-NCMA is well positioned to provide those resources. 

A Closer Look at the Paver Market

The segmental pavement market is one that has seen significant growth and is expected to continue.  

In 2019, the segmental pavement industry was close to its highest record sales levels. In 2020 sales records were smashed when the industry saw a huge surge in demand, which continued into 2021 and 2022. The industry is cautiously optimistic that the sales levels achieved to date will hold for the foreseeable future. 

As North America tries to return to a level of normalcy, it is expected the design trends seen over the last few years will continue. Creating residential outdoor living spaces will be the primary focus. Interest in permeable pavements will increase as government agencies and property owners try to address stormwater management issues. The trend to also utilize large concrete slabs and plank shapes to create unique environments is also expected to continue.

The most significant benefit that the unified association will provide contractors is the ability to access most of the hardscape technical resources needed in one location.  This includes segmental pavement systems like interlocking concrete pavement, permeable interlocking concrete pavement, concrete slab pavement, and segmental retaining walls. Resources for concrete masonry and manufactured stone veneers will continue to be available as well. These resources can be found on the ICPI-NCMA website: http://www.icpi-ncma.org

Upcoming Events and Education Opportunities 

ICPI-NCMA staff are busy preparing for the association’s Midyear Meeting in San Diego, CA, August 15-18. This will be the first gathering for members as a unified association. Attendees can expect a general session, town hall, networking opportunities and more.  

Looking ahead to the fall, momentum is building for Hardscape North America (HNA), the hardscape industry’s premier tradeshow and education event. HNA will take place October 19-21 in Louisville, KY. Co-located with Equip Exposition, HNA is a can’t-miss event for hardscape contractors, dealers, and landscape professionals. The education lineup is shaping up with pre-show courses featuring SRW installation, advanced SRW installation and a commercial hardscape sales course.

For those looking to renew or add certifications or looking to invest in professional development opportunities, you can expect to see more hands-on and in-person sessions. The education team is also getting set to release an updated Concrete Paver Installer Course manual. Education planning for the Precast Show February 23-25, 2023, in Columbus, OH, is also underway.

CMU Checkoff Program

The other big news in the concrete masonry industry is the CMU Checkoff program. The referendum on establishing this program was successful. As of the writing of this article, the Department of Commerce is nearing the announcement of the first CMU Checkoff Board. This group will be independent from ICPI-NCMA, and both groups will work collaboratively to grow the concrete masonry industry. The Checkoff program recently announced Ray McVeigh as interim CEO of this program, and he is leading efforts to get this program up and running, collecting funds, and distributing resources. You can learn more about this at www.cmucheckoff.com.

The Best is Yet to Come

As you can see, 2022 is a pivotal year for ICPI-NCMA, with significant opportunities for growth and advancement. The unified association looks forward to continued partnership and success with MCAA and mason contractors. We are very optimistic for the future.

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