Last week our industry lost a great and active proponent. John (Jay) Jacob, died on Jan. 30. I had a chance to learn a lot from him at several meetings of The Masonry Society (TMS). Jay was the owner of J. Construction, a mason contracting company based in Cincinnati. His firm has an excellent reputation and a portfolio of very successful projects.

Jay was passionate about our industry. And his passion was reflected in his efforts in helping TMS develop the technical standards that are now a part of our industry. He provided necessary insights on how proposed changes could and would affect the profitability of a contractor's business.

Jay's passing comes at a time when we are just beginning to recognize the important role contractors make in building our industry. And it's impressive that we are recognizing key individuals' contributions.

At last month's World of Concrete, the Mason Contractors Association of America announced the first inductees into their Masonry Hall of Fame. MCAA created the honor to recognize and award individuals who have dedicated their lives (a minimum of 25 years of service) to the masonry industry.

This year's inductees included C. DeWitt, founder of Dee Brown Masonry Inc., Garland, Texas; Richard Felice, Forrest & Associate Inc., Des Moines, Iowa; Jerry Painter, Painter Masonry, Gainesville, Fla.; and Glenn Sipe, Glenn W. Sipe & Sons, Ashville, N.C.

All of these inductees share something with Jay Jacob. The all believe that an educated contractor was the key to a successful industry.

Unfortunately, contractor involvement in our industry's technical, marketing, and business associations is at an all-time low. If we want our industry to have a say in how our structures are built, we need passionate involvement of the kind that Jay Jacob and others have provided.

According to many economic indicators, better times are just ahead for the masonry industry. Commercial work is slowly coming back, and there's even a hint that residential construction may be on the rise. So I urge you to set aside some time, talent, and funding to help carry on the work of these industry leaders.