Residential masonry represents approximately 80% of the industry –about 80% of the brick and mortar sold, 80% of the block, 80% of stone and pavers, and more than 80% of the masons and contractors working in the industry. Because of these numbers, the assumption would be that there is several industry associations representing residential masonry contractors, and that the brick and block manufacturers would focus most of their marketing, training, and engineering efforts on residential masonry.
You would be wrong!
Prior to 2004 when the Residential Masonry Contractors Association (RMCA) was started as a regional group on the West Coast, there was no organization specifically representing this side of the industry. Response to the idea in the region was strong, prompting RMCA's decision to expand into a national organization.
Many industry groups, such as BIA, NCMA, PCA, CFLI, and numerous state and union institutes and associations, represent masonry. But their focus and energy is disproportionately devoted to the commercial side of the industry –(the other 20%).
RMCA is determined to change that emphasis. Organized in Washington state in 2004, RMCA is registered nationally as a non-profit corporation and invites all residential masons and mason contractors across the country to join. Support from the other industry associations, labor unions, and manufacturers are welcomed and encouraged.
Workmanship the key
The association has identified the major issue that residential masons (and by extension) the whole industry needs to address: workmanship. The need for more skilled workers and better workmanship emphasizes the importance of training.
- RMCA will coordinate and assist established local training programs nationwide, but will do more than just train. One problem residential mason contractors often face is that there are no established workmanship standards, and no apprenticeships required. Two weeks on the job and a worker who has just learned how to mix mortar thinks he can compete on his own.
- RMCA will set skill level standards and certify masons who meet those requirements. There are already excellent programs that teach masonry skills, but these tend to be local and are not available everywhere. RMCA has a standardized curriculum that can be adapted to all states.
- RMCA will support local training programs and work with them to set national certification criteria. Mason contractors have to be good business people in addition to their craft skills. RMCA will certify residential contractors that want to sharpen their business skills in such diverse topics as legal issues, workman's compensation insurance, standards of quality assurance, safety, and better business practices. Collectively, RMCA members will determine and establish quality standards for residential masonry work, including brick, block, stone, veneers, structural brick, and fireplaces.
- RMCA will represent residential mason contractors on national issues. The association will work on code development, green home design, and creation of fireplace emission standards.
RMCA is planning its first national meeting during the World of Masonry, January 22-26, in Las Vegas. Details about the gathering are posted on the association's Web site (listed below). A link on the site will take the visitor directly to the registration form for the 2007 World of Concrete/World of Masonry. RMCA members can register at no charge for an Exhibits-Only admission. WOC/WOM attendees will have the opportunity to visit about 1600 exhibitor booths and attend more than 125 educational seminars.
Residential contractors interested in joining RMCA should visit the Web site at www.residentialmasonrycontractors.com or call 206-724-4242. The annual membership fee is $225.
Barbara Headrick has devoted many years to the promotion of masonry. She recently returned from Santiago Chile, where she spearheaded a group of masonry tradeswomen that taught modern technologies and techniques to members of the Chilean workforce. Headrick currently serves as the Executive Director of RMCA and is leading its efforts to become a national organization.
RMCA Mission Statement
To promote the masonry industry through proper training of our work force, and to promote the ethical treatment of both our colleagues and our employees. To educate the design community of not only the beauty of masonry, but also its superiority and versatility over other building products. To carry our industry forward with professionalism and pride.