Big changes are coming for the Mason Contractors Association of America. Just recently, the association reached an agreement to sell its annual Masonry Showcase trade show to Hanley Wood, LLC and help create a single event – World of Masonry – to serve the entire industry. Without the time-consuming, financial burden associated with operating a major trade show, MCAA now will be able to concentrate all its efforts and attention to the very important task of member services, such as education, certification, and legislation.

Leading MCAA's executive team in reaching this important decision was President Frank R. Campitelli, president of Baltimore Masonry. His role in what might become one of the industry's most important decisions in recent years, while operating a very successful contracting business at the same time, were the impetus behind his selection as MASONRY CONSTRUCTION'S Industry Leader of the Year.

Road to change

“Masonry Showcase had been struggling for several years, with a drop in attendance and number of exhibitors,” explained Campitelli. “We tried several approaches, presenting it as a standalone event, as part of the CSI show, and last year at the same time as MCPX, but in a separate convention hall. Nothing seemed to jack up the event, and the problems with presenting the show continued to escalate.”

Looking for guidance, the MCAA executive committee met with exhibitors at the Orlando Showcase last February and asked for their input. The exhibitors overwhelmingly supported the idea of joining with World of Masonry, which would create a single large show representing the industry, rather than two events often less than a month apart. Discussions commenced with Hanley Wood on a sporadic basis over the next few months, “Until MCAA decided to get serious,” remembered Campitelli. The formal agreement regarding the sale was signed on Oct. 19.

“Giving up the Showcase was a huge decision for MCAA,” stated Campitelli. “It was our largest source of income, although a continually declining one. On the other hand, it was our biggest headache because it seemed that we were devoting an ever increasing amount of time and staff effort as we wrapped up one show and got ready for the next one.”

MCAA is looking to recover some of the lost Showcase revenue through a reduction in staff and devoting more time and effort to member programs, which should increase the number of firms joining the organization. Participating in World of Masonry/World of Concrete, with its expected attendance exceeding 90,000, should provide fertile territory in its search for new members.

“MCAA is very excited about its new affiliation with Hanley Wood and World of Masonry,” reported Campitelli. “It frees us up to align with other organizations that serve the industry to proclaim the many benefits of masonry construction to architects, engineers, builders, and consumers. We can work with these groups through political action committees and lobbyists to present our point of view to the nation's legislators.

“We can concentrate more of MCAA's efforts on certification, which I believe is an essential step for all masonry contractors to take. Architects and engineers love the professionalism associated with the title ‘certified' contractor.”

“We want to have a member-driven organization; not a staff-driven association. It has been a long, hard trip to reach this point, but a very rewarding experience,” concluded Campitelli.

Annual meeting

Under terms of the sales agreement, MCAA will hold its annual meeting concurrently with World of Masonry/World of Concrete. The 2008 event is scheduled for Las Vegas, Jan. 22 -25, at Caesars Palace.

The program includes various committee meetings, Masonry Skills Challenge and Fastest Trowel competitions, and foremen development, basic masonry estimating, masonry quality institute, and understanding masonry codes & standards technical programs. Henry Winkler, “The Fonz” from the mid-1970s television show “Happy Days,” will be the keynote speaker.

A new agenda on the 2008 docket is “Masonry Contractor Appreciation Night.” The event will include drinks, food, and a wide array of door prizes. The goal of the event is to reach potential new members.

MCAA, organized in 1950, has about 1000 members, including contractor (union and non-union) and associate (primarily manufacturers).

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