Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mason Contractors Association of America: 2014 Key Accomplishments

Membership dues paid to the Mason Contractors Association of America (MCAA) is the largest source of funding that we have. Its importance cannot be understated…it's a vital part of the association that enables us to continue to fight for our industry on behalf of all mason contractors. Our involvement on all fronts (from regulatory reform to education and training) continues to ensure the survivability and viability of our industry for generations to come. Below is a list of some of our recent successes supported by MCAA Membership dollars followed by a brief outlook for the year ahead.


Phase II of the BIM Software Development program is moving forward. Phase I gave the industry a roadmap forward to implement a fully operational BIM for Masonry program and Phase II is starting that process. Later this year contractors will begin to see opportunities to educate themselves on computers, what BIM is through an introductory to BIM software and other programs. This is an exciting step forward in the process and will offer huge opportunities for contractors. The entire process is projected to be about a five-year process. When complete masonry will level the playing field with competing systems and will be at the very beginning of the development process in building design. We plan to be incorporated into designer software making the design of masonry in project development a very easy task.


The MCAA was very busy this past year working on developing arguments both as a part of a construction industry coalition and as a representative of our industry. We testified at hearings in March of 2014 on issues we had with the new proposed rule and submitted written testimony on our objections. We are now in an evaluation period where OSHA will determine what they will do with their rule. We expect a final rule to come in the new year. This battle over a fair and reasonable rule will be continued and the MCAA will continue to fight for the interests of our industry on this rule. Watch for this issue in 2014-15. This was an unbudgeted item and the MCAA did not hold back on representing our interests on this issue, as it will be critical to our future. Likely the next stage of the battle will get very expensive (potential lawsuit against the Federal Government by major industry coalitions including MCAA).


The MCAA had an opportunity to begin implementing its workforce development issue it had been working on with the Masonry Association of Florida. This was not a budgeted item, but it was an opportunity to roll-out the program in an area that was ready for this initiative. In October of 2013 we hired Terry Ruppel from Nashville, Tennessee to kick-off our MCAA/NCCER high school sponsor-training program. The MCAA has secured their first schools and plan for a major expansion of the program in the fall of 2014. This program’s goal will be to support and implement new high school construction in particular masonry programs at the high school level. Then use those programs to feed new apprentice programs in the states we are working in. Tennessee is the first model program and once self-supporting, the MCAA will look to branch out into other areas. Look to hear more about this in 2014-15.


In 2013-14 the MCAA continued our popular networking sessions for contactors to share information with one another. Something that has branched out as a result has been the development of on-line networking groups. These are designed to take the valuable networking events we have had at our meetings and make them available all year long. In addition, the MCAA has bulked up the popular Live Webianr Season Pass to the weekly webinars. Now most weeks contractors have multiple webinars they can attend and allow everyone in their company access to the recorded events 24/7. Look for this to be further enhanced in the year ahead. In 2014 the MCAA also released the first three revised programs to what has been known as the MQI. These new programs were created by mason contractors for mason contractors. Look for an additional three to roll out in 2015.


In 2013-14 new member benefits were rolled out. Benefits were added to our traditional programs such as our Grainger discount program, and safety discount program. The MCAA is introducing a company called Sageworks. They offer member firms some of the best financial comparison numbers that can be found in the industry. Look for more on this in 2014-15. It is a new program that will help your firm benchmark it’s expenses and profits to fellow contractors (in a discreet fashion locally, regionally and nationally). It is a very exciting program and those who have seen the demo have been very impressed with its capabilities. Beeline Safety Products has expanded their offerings and now has a web-store for members to get everyday low pricing on safety equipment and needs. Make sure you take advantage of broker buying through Beeline.


In an effort to better identify needs and services of our members and non-members, the MCAA undertook a massive survey effort in 2013-2014 of our members, non-members and past members. It stared out with an intensive interactive survey done on-line for three days and allowed for interaction of those surveyed and the MCAA so additional questions could be posed after responses to the initial questions. Phase II is finishing as we write. That was a much larger survey, but was done traditionally as an on-line question and answer survey. Once the results are compiled, the MCAA will evaluate the responses and begin to implement and make changes to MCAA offerings based on the results. The marketing firm used for the survey process will work with us to implement these in 2014-15.



It is expected that OSHA will release their final rule. The MCAA will be poised with our coalition members to continue our effort for reasonable regulation on this issue. Further action on this initiative will be dictated by the content of the final rule. There is hope that OSHA will spate out construction and establish a different PEL for construction. If very little changes about the rule, the MCAA is prepared to work with coalition members to continue our fight on a multitude of levels including politically and legally.


An area you should expect to see developed in 2014-2015 is a new member only benefit which will be specifically tailored to our member needs and the discount offered in this program will only be available to MCAA members. The MCAA will be working with a consultant on an exclusive program, which will be formulated by finding out the top three controlled expenses our members have. The goal is to take one of your largest expenses that you have control over (taxes, medical etc. would not be included) and get a national provider to offer a savings program that will reward you for being a member and likely cover your membership dues in savings. Look for more details on this in the summer of 2015.


One thing that has come out of our initial membership survey is to bring regional conventions to our members and non-members. These conventions will bring the best of educational and networking opportunities from our national convention to a more local level. The idea is to reach out and engage members who can’t afford to be at our convention for either economic or time issues. The MCAA is planning to initiate three of these in the year ahead.


The MCAA will be introducing something termed speed dating at our mid-year meeting. This concept will bring suppliers who have new products to meet with our members and discuss those products in a half hour program. Suppliers will be selected based on their ability to help contractors with their products to more efficient and productive. This will be a unique opportunity for contractors to engage in a small group discussion with suppliers about how they can utilize them and be more profitable as a result. Look for more details in the coming months.


New at this year’s convention will be an MCAA booth which will be themed to be similar to the Apple Store Genius Bar. We will be scheduling short question and answer sessions with experts from our industry on a wide array of topics and they will be in our booth to answer questions and share knowledge. This will be a unique way to learn not only about industry topics but also other topics to help make you more productive such as tablets and how to utilize them on a job-site. More on this coming soon.
As the year develops there will be undoubtedly more exciting opportunities for our association to participate in. We need your continued support to maximize our opportunities and serve the needs of our industry.

Friday, May 23, 2014

12th North American Masonry Conference in 2015

The University of Colorado at Denver’s Civil Engineering Department will host the 12th North American Masonry Conference (12NAMC) May 17 – 20, 2015, on the downtown Denver Auraria campus. The quadrennial conference features the latest in world-wide masonry research presented in lively educational keynotes and sessions. 

Close to 150 papers from 20 countries are expected for inclusion in the final proceedings for the conference. Topics of the research may include such diverse issues as seismic resistance, case studies of recent events, the sustainability life cycle analysis of masonry materials, and restoration of historic masonry structures. The conference will feature tracks of interest to academics & researchers, designers, and mason contractors.
Authors are invited to submit abstracts describing proposed papers and publications no later than June 1, 2014. Abstracts are to be 100 to 300 words. Format information and requirements for the abstract and final paper are available at www.masonrysociety.org/NAMC.

Date: 05/17/2015 - 05/20/2015
Time: All Day Event
Location: Denver
Cost: Conference fees apply

Name: The Masonry Society
Phone: 303-939-9700
Sponsored by: UCD Department of Civil Engineering

Disability Options:
To request disability accommodations, please contact The Masonry Society at 303-939-9700 or  info@masonrysociety.org.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

New Issue of Masonry Magazine Digital!

Click here to see the new issue of Masonry Magazine!

OSHA Cites Contractor for Wall Collapse, Fall Hazards at Construction Site

A Stamford-based contractor faces $196,000 in fines for two willful and 12 serious violations following an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Cesar Mendoza, d.b.a. KI Management LLC, was cited by the agency following a November 2013 inspection at a Bridgeport worksite, which found that workers demolishing and rehabbing a building were exposed  to potentially fatal crushing injuries and other hazards due to their employer’s failure to brace the building’s walls and adhere to basic, legally required safeguards.

“This employer’s disregard of basic demolition safety fundamentals is unacceptable. The seriousness of this hazard can be seen in the June 5, 2013, building collapse in Philadelphia that killed six people and injured 14,” said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. “While no collapse occurred in Bridgeport, the hazard was real, present and entirely avoidable.”

“The removal of flooring from the second and thirds floors left an empty, unsupported shell that was vulnerable to collapse,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “Employees at this job site were also exposed to falls of up to 36 feet from unguarded wall openings and to health hazards from inadequate measures to protect them from exposure to lead at the worksite. Worker safety and health were blatantly ignored.”

OSHA cited Cesar Mendoza, d.b.a. KI Management, for two willful violations, with maximum allowable fines of $140,000 for the wall collapse and fall hazards. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

A total of 12 serious violations, with $56,000 in fines, were cited for a variety of health and safety hazards. These included having workers dry sweep and shovel lead-containing waste materials and debris, as well as failing to supply workers with proper training, respiratory protection, protective clothing and equipment. In addition, employees were provided inadequate demolition, fall and fire protection, and general safety training.

Other safety hazards included unmarked emergency exits, improper storage of oxygen and fuel gas cylinders, and electrical hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known if an accident were to occur.

Cesar Mendoza, d.b.a. KI Management, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Bridgeport office at 203-579-5581.                 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hilti Canada Recognized as Best Workplace in Canada

Hilti Canada, a supplier of tools and fastening systems for the professional user, is being recognized as one of this year’s Best Workplaces in Canada by the Great Place to Work Institute. Great Place to Work Institute is a research and management consultancy with expertise on workplace transformation and a presence in 46 countries.

Ranking 16 on this year’s list of 50 Best Large and Multinational Workplaces in Canada, Hilti Canada was recognized with the special Credibility Award. This award is given to workplaces with a combined focus on building trust, culture and practices that make the day-to-day relationships with employees a great experience.

“We are excited to once again receive this recognition”, said Avi Kahn, president and general manager. “Being a great place to work is at the heart of our culture, so when we are appreciated by our team members and an organization like Great Place to Work, we appreciate that.”

The award to Hilti Canada is evidence of a strong culture and a reflection of the passion that employees bring to work every day. The commitment to shared values unites Hilti team members and fosters an environment in which innovation and teamwork thrive.

This year’s list received more than 300 nominations and more than 60,000 employees participated in the 2014 Best Workplaces in Canada survey.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Construction Spending Rises in March as Housing, Private Nonresidential Categories Rise

Total construction spending remained in a holding pattern in March as strong gains in apartment construction and modest growth in homebuilding and private nonresidential activity offset falling public outlays, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Association officials noted that the construction spending figures may get dramatically worse unless public officials act urgently to maintain federal highway funding.

“Overall construction spending has increased from a year ago but has stayed in a narrow range since December,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “It is encouraging that spending remained level despite severe winter weather that may have delayed some projects, and the totals are likely to grow moving into spring.”

Construction put in place totaled $943 billion in March, 0.2 percent above the revised February total and matching the latest estimate for January. Spending in March was 8.4 percent higher than a year earlier.

Private residential construction spending increased by 0.5 percent in March to reach the highest rate since November 2008. The latest total topped the year-ago level by 16 percent. Single-family construction rose 0.2 percent in March and 13 percent year-over-year. Multifamily spending leaped 4.4 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

Private nonresidential spending edged up 0.2 percent for the month and 8.6 percent over 12 months. Most major categories increased from year-ago levels. The largest private segment, power construction—comprising work on oil and gas fields and pipelines as well as electricity projects—rose 2.8 percent over the year. The fastest-growing private type was communication construction, with a 34 percent gain since March 2013.

Public construction spending declined 0.6 percent for the month and 0.8 percent year-over-year, sinking to its lowest mark since November 2006. The largest public segment, highway and street construction, increased 8.5 percent from a year before, but the second-biggest category, educational construction, slumped 5.3 percent.

“All of these trends are likely to continue,” Simonson predicted. “There appears to be plenty of demand for more apartments and many categories of private nonresidential construction. Single-family homebuilding should remain above year-ago levels, although growing much more slowly as the year progresses. Public construction is likely to shrink further, based on what has been proposed or enacted in federal and state budgets.”

Association officials cautioned that the recent increase in highway spending will reverse course if the federal Highway Trust Fund runs out of money this summer. The Trust Fund provides funding to every state to match state spending on highway and bridge repair and construction projects. If the Fund runs out of money, billions of dollars worth of construction projects are likely to be stalled.

“Unless Congress and the administration get together in the next few weeks on a funding plan, thousands of construction projects across the country may have to lay off workers in the height of the construction season,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, the association’s chief executive officer. “There is no time left for political posturing; construction workers and companies need immediate assurance that they will be paid on time for their work.”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

MCAA's Online Auction Taking Place Now

Don't miss out on your chance to bid on new, name brand equipment for a fraction of the cost of retail. Save your company thousands of dollars and support the industry at the same time. View products