“Certified Residential Mason?” What does that designation mean, and why on earth would I want, or need, to be certified?

I already know I am a good mason. I can build almost anything someone can dream up. I can build Rumford fireplaces, Russian fireplaces, spiral chimneys, herringbone fireboxes, and pizza ovens.

If you ask me, I'll say, “If it's held together by mortar, I can build it.” I install stone flooring, and mortar set pavers. I can build brick staircases, and spiral precast balustrades. I know what I am doing. I don't need anyone to certify me or my company, right?

The Residential Masonry Contractors Association (RMCA) wants to help people like the mason described above, as well as those with a pick-up truck, wheelbarrow, brick saw, and lots of determination. The association's Contractor Certification Program can help even the most experienced mason improve his long-range business planning. The program explains how to work “on” the company, while moving away from working “in” the company.

Seminars specifically suited to residential masonry contractors deal with such issues as contracts, insurance needs and coverages, and how to get and stay profitable. Sessions explain how to get started, stay strong, grow, and create a stand-alone company. The programs provide the means; you provide the sweat.

RMCA also has established a school specifically for training the workforce. It focuses on the needs of residential builders to mold and train workers to be knowledgeable about everyday work requirements, such as rain screen systems, flashing, roof and wall penetrations, and anchoring systems on homes.

The students learn how to do the job correctly in a controlled, no-pressure situation, where time does not equal money. The rule of the day is quality, consistency, and confidence. It is up to the foremen and employers to teach the students to increase speed. We are teaching them how to do it right. Once someone has gone through the RMCA Worker Training School, he/she is a “certified graduate.”

So to answer the earlier question, “Why do I need to be certified?” the answer is that you don't. Workers don't need to be certified either. However, the real question is: “If I have an opportunity to better my company, strengthen the residential masonry industry, and continue the traditions of our wonderful trade, why wouldn't I?”

The Residential Masonry Contractors Association is a group of independent, motivated, skilled people with an identity, educational programs for its contractor members, and schools to educate current and future employees. It's happening now. We invite you to join and support all of our futures.

To join the national organization, call Barbara Headrick at 206-724-4242 or e-mail barb@residentialmasonrycontractors.com. Check out the association at www.residentialmasonrycontractors.com where you will find a link that directs you to free registration for the World of Masonry/World of Concrete. RMCA will be located in Booth C3508. Stop by and meet us.

To find out about starting a local chapter, school, or Contractor Certification Program, e-mail Jamie@residential masonrycontractorsassociation.com.

RMCA is a non-profit, class “C” organization promoting, educating, and training in the field of residential masonry.

Jamie Holliday has owned and operated a masonry company in Washington State for 26 years. He is the vice president of The Residential Masonry Contractors Association and vice president of the Seattle chapter.