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The Power of Local Chapters

Posted 11/2/2016

Mike ReynoldsIt is great that Metal Construction News offers this space every month to the associations that serve our industry. Speaking for the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA), we truly appreciate the opportunity to share our news, thoughts and ideas. I'd like to focus this month on the opportunities for training and networking at the chapter level. My predecessor, Gary Smith, made chapter development and expansion a key goal. He did a great job as we now proudly boast 11 chapters and have development plans for a few more.

The current MBCEA chapters are organized geographically into the following regional chapters: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Carolinas, Texas Southeast, Southeast, Rocky Mountain, Northwest Coastal, Northwest Inland, Greater Ohio and Southern California.

The fabulous thing about meeting at the local level is you address local issues while networking with your peers and friendly competitors. No one is traveling too far. No one is spending too much time or money to attend. The agendas and formats are designed by the local group for the local group. The insight, tips and leads gathered at MBCEA meetings are invaluable and well worth the cost of membership.

The MBCEA chapters continue to amaze with the strength and quality of their programs. The Mid-Atlantic chapter recently hosted a course on successful project management that offered help with essential skills such as planning, starting, scheduling, delivery of project, safety, people, plant/equipment, materials, quality control, subcontracts, financial, contracts and closeout. This was a must-attend event for both field and office personnel that perform or wish to perform supervisory or management work. And it only cost $20 per person.

Several chapters offered AC478 workshops so their members could see first-hand what this new program actually entails. Others offered our trainthe- trainer program, "Bolting and Aligning." This fan favorite has an easy-to-use PowerPoint format complete with teacher's notes, hand-outs and a test. Attendees become empowered to train the course back at their own companies.

The Carolinas chapter has created a series of construction notebook classes. Its most recent offering is titled "How to Inspect Metal Buildings." Earlier classes included "Firewalls in Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings" (an AIA-approved course) presented by general manager Daniel J. Walker, PE, of the Metal Building Manufacturing Association.

We regularly have great speakers on relevant topics such as insulation, energy code compliance, construction law, contract negotiations, etc., and we offer subsidized training for OSHA and numerous equipment- and manufacturer-required certifications.

Of course it is not all work and no play. We also have the occasional golf outing, clay shoot or bowling night. We arrange tours of local museums or industry-related facilities. Several chapters have created scholarship funds; others donate to charity.

You all get the emails for the local golf tourney, clay shoot or bowling night. You see the flyers for these fantastic (and subsidized) training opportunities and workshops. They are all also listed on the event calendar at www.mbcea.org. If you see a program that you would like to attend, don't be shy. Register. You'll be glad you did. If your chapter is not offering something of value, speak up. Send Sasha Graver, executive director, MBCEA, an email and tell her what you would prefer to see. Better yet, get involved in chapter leadership, and help steer the agenda and organize the programs.

It goes without saying that MBCEA is only as strong as the contractors, erectors and industry partners who contribute regularly. I applaud everyone who is an active member. I know you get out of it much more than you put in. I encourage all members to take full advantage of everything MBCEA has to offer. If you are not currently a member, please consider joining. Our association is stronger for your participation and hopefully, so too is your business.

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Mike Reynolds, president of the Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association, is the president and principle owner of Systems Contractor Inc., Thornton, Colo. He also serves on the board of directors for the Steel Erectors Safety Association of Colorado and Metal Building Institute. Recognized for his extensive knowledge and expertise in both structural steel and metal building systems, he also serves on the erection and safety advisory panels for several building system manufacturers. To learn more about the MBCEA, visit www.mbcea.org. 

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