When I sacrificed some my hard-earned frequent flyer miles enabling my daughter to visit Las Vegas last month, I had one main request. I made her promise that she wouldn't succumb to the famous marketing slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”

She attended the Spice Girls' reunion concert with a group of her college friends. The experience was a rite of passage for my daughter. As a preteen, she idolized the pop group, dreaming of the day when she could be a part of one their live performances. Her trip was a realization that she was no longer an observer, but a participant in the “what's cool” society.

In many ways, many of you will be a participant in an event that could be described as a rite of passage. For the first time in history, the World of Masonry will be the true gathering point of our industry. All of the leading industry-related groups and their members will be on hand to share thoughts, ideas, and goals that will shape our future. By joining the industry's largest exhibition of products and services, we will experience the pop culture of masonry.

When I saw John Smith Jr., Smith Masonry Inc., St. Louis, at the MSJC meeting in Pittsburg last November, he was a little anxious about the event. On that day, MCAA had just posted the sign-up information for the convention. Smith was part of a leadership team who negotiated the arrangement with the Hanley Wood LLC exhibition group to make this happen.

He wanted this event to meet all the expectations that new galas suggest. “We have worked hard to deliver an educational event that's more than a social,” said Smith.

He is not alone in this hope. Hanley Wood's educational staff has added several masonry-related seminars. Classroom attendance will now qualify attendees for learning credits that can be used as CEUs in many contractor certification programs.

Hanley Wood has branched out to our industry's supporting organizations to provide educational information. PCA, The Masonry Society, Masonry Institute of America, ACI, Residential Masonry Contractors Association, and Women in Masonry have all accepted our welcome to the event. Hopefully, others will recognize the importance of a shared learning experience and join in future shows.

While I realize that Las Vegas is an exotic allure, I urge you to ignore the advertising slogan when it comes to what happens at World of Masonry. If we are going to expand our industry, we must share what we learn with our employees, customers, and specifiers.

We have now created an opportunity to focus on what's needed in our industry. We have a forum to discuss a collective approach to manufacturing, installing, and maintaining a highly durable, energy-efficient, safe, and sustainable assemblage process known to our audience as masonry construction.

For those of you who make the trip to Las Vegas, let me offer my own welcome for your attendance at our show. Bring this magazine to any bookstore location, and let us give you a free World of Concrete 2008 commemorative pin. (I admit it's a marketing gimmick. I'm hoping you will purchase a World of Masonry hat or shirt to show your pride in what we have accomplished together.)

Rick Yelton
Editor in Chief