One important aspect of becoming a member of the Residential Masonry Contractors Association (RMCA) is the ability to start a chapter in your local area. Here are several ideas/suggestions for ensuring quality workmanship, standardization of residential masonry commitments, and increasing networking capabilities within your local region.

1. Commitment — Joining the national RMCA is a great first step, but it doesn't end there. Start a chapter in your area by first talking with other residential masons in the region. Set a date, time, and place for a “get acquainted” meeting. Listen to the ideas of others, and find out what their needs are. Look for ways to fulfill those needs.

Elect officers — Elect a president, vice-president, secretary, and treasurer. Set a dues structure. These funds will be used for the association's operating expenses. Officers receive no pay. National membership in the RMCA is required, and a small percentage of all membership or yearly dues will go to support national organization programs.

Bylaws — The national association can provide a template for bylaws which have been approved by our state government (Washington). They can be adapted to your local or state requirements.

2. Worker Training — Initially, our worker training program was conducted “in house.” RMCA has an excellent program and will provide both the textbook and hands-on sessions' curriculum. The information can be revised to meet local rules and regulations. The basic template is masonry-specific and can be used anywhere in the U.S.

3. Certification — Certification is a critical step in our continuing education series. Contractors learn how to work “on” their business, not “in” it. We set aside a weekend in the late fall and reserve rooms at a resort or business center for this very important event.

A committee decides upon topics of relevance, selects a chairperson to spearhead the program, and finds guest speakers/experts in those fields. At the conclusion of this intensive weekend, we issue certificates to attendees. Certification is something we can all be proud of — it is a title of achievement. Obviously we're all proud of being masons — some of you are second- or third-generation. This program allows you to take pride in a new level of achievement: Certified Residential Mason.

Once your chapter is established, immediately plan the certification weekend. Get ideas for topics, line up speakers, and use this vehicle as a way to recruit members.

4. Meetings — We hold monthly board meetings where current issues and topics of importance/interest are discussed. Hold quarterly “general member” meetings.

5. Members — We have two levels of membership: 1) Residential masonry contracting firms – with no requirements or restrictions for either union or non-union, and 2) Associate members, who are local suppliers and/or manufacturers. They pay a flat fee for an annual membership, and affiliation offers them exposure to their customer base at meetings and seminars.

6. Communication — Set up a Web site. This communication tool is essential for recruitment and announcements. In addition, consider a newsletter. The national organization sends one out each quarter, and can provide a good template, or even publish the newsletter for you.

7. What Else? Let us know what the national can do to help you start a local RMCA chapter. We all benefit from this exchange of ideas. Let us know if you can think of something else that the national association can add to our program.

These chapters offer the advantage of sitting down in a non-threatening venue to discuss local masonry matters, being able to build a stronger working relationship with suppliers, and establishing an excellent resource base for questions and answers. RMCA becomes a valued tool each and every day.

Join us at our Annual Meeting, Jan. 23, 2008, at the World of Masonry/World of Concrete in Las Vegas. Our template and your ideas for starting local chapters will be an important agenda item.

Contact us any time. You can find our information at . Get involved!

Barbara Headrick is the Executive Director of RMCA and has been actively involved in the promotion of masonry as a building system for many years. For more information regarding starting a local RMCA chapter, contact her via the Web site.