The Strength of the MBCEA is in the Chapters
This will be my first industry perspective written from the
grand position of newly elected president of the Metal Buildings
Contractor and Erectors Association (MBCEA). Frankly I think my
fellow board members got tired of me talking all the time and
decided I needed to put up or shut up. Well, I have never been one
to back down so I am laying my cards on the proverbial table.
The mission of the MBCEA is to "support the professional
advancement of metal building contractors, erectors and our
industry." That sounds pretty good, but what does that really mean
to a local erector struggling to survive the continued down economy
or a contractor still waiting for public projects to get
Sure the economy is tough, but survival goes to the fittest!
What makes a company fit today? Education, training, knowledge and
networking, which is exactly where the MBCEA and its sister
organization, the Metal Buildings Institute (MBI) come in.
I have always believed the strength of the MBCEA was in the
chapters. Each MBCEA chapter brings together contractors, erectors
and industry representatives at the local level. At this
friendlier, more accessible level, networks are strengthened and
needs better addressed. For instance, everyone on the job needs at
least their OSHA-10 certification. Most also need rigging and fall
protection training. It is so much more efficient to organize
training and certification for a group of companies than for each
company to orchestrate on its own. This past year, my local
chapter, the Mid-Atlantic Division (MAD) offered training on
Rigging 1, Rigging 11, 30 hour OSHA requirements and several
others. These classes were offered at a very low cost to members,
thanks to subsidies from the MBCEA.
The MAD members had access to all these vital, subsidized
sessions, plus legal seminars and quite a few socials and golf
games, as well. I believe the companies that participated are
stronger and fitter as a result. They have forged business
relationships; they have educated their team; they have socialized
with the competition and they have rubbed elbows with perhaps a
decision maker for their next contract. This is the power of the
I want to do a lot of things in my new role. My enthusiasm is
endless, but I firmly believe it all starts at the local level. My
commitment to you is to aggressively assist in the formation of new
chapters and to put all the power behind my position to ensure the
chapters have the tools and funds they need to address the local
needs of contractors, erectors and industry.
I view my job as a facilitator. I will help organize and promote
at the grass roots level. I will beat the bushes and help get
chapters up and running. If we know something is working in one
place, I will make sure we share it with the other chapters. I know
there are tons of good ideas out there-ideas for recruiting and
training, ideas for working smarter and working safer-and I view it
as my job to seek out these ideas and share what's working with the
rest of membership.
Later this year, I hope to survey the industry. It is time to
take the pulse of contractors, erectors and industry and find out
what is important to you. Obviously, we cannot turn around the
economy or free up public funding but there are things we can do.
We can work more closely with the Metal Building Manufacturers
Association (MBMA), the insulated panel manufacturers, etc. We can
expand our Craftsmen series, and standardize our training and
education modules. In short, we can continue to offer more services
and more benefits to members.
I am honored and humbled to be chosen to lead this fine
organization that has been serving the industry since 1968. I
salute the many fine men who came before me. I am committed to the
mission of the MBCEA and I look forward to serving. Also, I can
promise you I ain't shy or quiet.
Gary T. Smith is president of Thomas Phoenix
International Inc., Eastampton, N.J., and an outspoken supporter of
apprenticeship, training, safety and education for the Metal
Buildings Institute. He is one of the original founders of the
MBCEA-MAD and trustee of the MBI. He can be reached at