Building Communities of Collaboration for the Benefit of Metal

You may know I returned last year to the Metal Construction Association’s (MCA) executive director position after several years away from the industry. My time away from the helm has given me a great perspective because I can see how much MCA and the industry have grown and changed in a short time.

When collaborators share their knowledge, everyone wins

By Jeff Henry, MBA, CAE

Henry Jeff

While a lot has changed in the time I was away, one of my most stark observations is the increase in collaboration across all sectors of the industry. I have been impressed and frankly somewhat surprised at the total volume of collaboration between trade groups, quasi-government organizations, standards organizations and a host of companies and individuals interested in advancing the metal construction industry. It stands in contrast to the past environment and other construction industries I have served.

This change is most certainly welcome.

Why? The more we get together, the happier we’ll be. That’s a lyric from an old kids’ song that is absolutely maddening, but the words hold true—even during the pandemic.

MCA has always emphasized and helped to forge crucial connections between members and member companies. The association has a long history of members partnering to solve common problems. However, outside MCA, while we frequently communicated with other organizations, true collaborative efforts were rare. That is no longer true today. Today, a significant percentage of our technical and codes and standards initiatives are executed in collaboration with another organization or industry coalition.

Greater Accomplishments

Why are these partnerships so important? Every time we work with another organization, we extend our reach and influence. Just like networking within MCA helps individual members and their companies—connecting them with key individuals and companies—MCA’s partnerships benefit the metal building industry as a whole.

Here are some recent examples of groups we’re working with to benefit our members and the industry as a whole:

  • Aluminum Association: Developing product category rules necessary for life cycle assessments and LEED certification.
  • National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA): Working to support the development of a skills-based certification program for the installation of metal roofing.
  • North American Modern Building Alliance (NAMBA): Partnering to address proposed changes in the New York City building codes and to submit IBC proposals.
  • Rainscreen Association in North America (RAiNA): Advancing code proposals to facilitate the use of metal in the building envelope.
  • Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA): Sharing product and design testing for the development of standards and testing protocols.
  • American Chemistry Council: Advocating for a science-based approached to adopting regulatory actions that impact the construction industry.
  • Metal Building Contractors and Erectors Association (MBCEA) and the Metal Buildings Institute (MBI): Participating in an industry coalition to address workforce development, build awareness of the trades as a viable career.
  • E-Quip Coalition: Signing on to support the adoption of legislation providing tax credits for building retrofits. In these and the multitude of additional ongoing collaborative efforts, the collective expertise and resources ensure we deliver more for the industry than if we acted individually.

More Knowledge

In addition to our accomplishments when we work together, our collaborations create opportunities for our members to learn even more. Through partnerships with other organizations, our members expand their network and gain key insights from people who hold specialized information.

Our recent Winter Meeting in February is a good example of this. One group we work with, RAiNA, presented an educational session on rainscreen design. Representatives from organizations we collaborate with joined us for a state of the industry roundtable discussion. They included:

Experts in their specialties, these speakers offered our members important information including insights about the current state of metal in construction and their professional opinions about factors that will affect the industry’s immediate future. Together, they offered an inclusive look at what metal construction professionals should prepare for. Their combined thoughts were incredibly valuable and not something a single entity could offer.

When our collaborators share their knowledge with our members, everyone wins. The organizations spread their reach while our members learn more about the environment affecting their businesses and careers.

I’m excited about the opportunities these collaborations create.

There is another new opportunity I’m hopeful about, too: a chance to return to in-person collaboration among MCA members. Don’t get me wrong. We made a seamless transition to the virtual environment the pandemic required. Networking, collaborating and forging key connections are things that our members do really well, in person and virtually. The work being done within our committees and councils continues to advance the entire metal construction industry. But I’ll admit that we miss being together in person.

I can’t predict whether our Summer Meeting June 14-16 can be held in person in Chicago, though I know we’re going to have great content and collaboration regardless of the format. I will say I’m very optimistic about seeing you all live at METALCON Oct. 6-8 in Tampa, Fla., and at MCA’s 2022 Winter Meeting, slated for Jan. 24-26 in Scottsdale, Ariz.

It has often been said that when we join together, we can accomplish much more than when we stand alone. The diversity of thought and collective contribution of resources almost universally results in better, more impactful outcomes.

I am happy to say that the metal building industry is making that happen.

Jeff Henry, MBA, CAE, is the executive director of the Metal Construction Association. He leads MCA’s staff in supporting industry members and elevating the use of metal in construction. For more information, go to