Coronavirus Downtime

Penning this article is always a daunting task. As the date approached for me to take over as president, this responsibility was one of my biggest concerns. How small that fear seems now compared to leading an association through a global pandemic and recession, perhaps even a depression, to be the only president in 51 years to have to cancel our national conference.

A virtual conference and focus on your business can make this quiet period an effective use of your time

By Art Hance

Hance Art

As I struggle to focus my thoughts, I am like many of you, battling to keep my projects and business afloat. My central New Jersey base is just west of the current coronavirus hotspot that is the New York Tristate area. Perhaps, as you read this, it will be in your backyard. Although these are crazy times, the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA) is the one thing keeping me sane right now. It is immensely comforting to know that we have a very competent staff, that we entered this crisis in a strong financial position, that we have friends in our fellow associations, such as the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), and, perhaps most important of all, we have each other.

Membership in the MBCEA is more than just another annual subscription. It is a cohesive team of mentors and like-minded individuals; it is a deep and well-established resource for safety, training and education; it is friends and colleagues you can rely on to have your back; and it is an anchor in the storm.

With the cancellation of our conference, we have had to pivot quickly to a new way of delivering the quality content our attendees have come to expect. We fully intend to bring the conference to you in such a way that you can remain safely hunkered down, or, at least, peruse at your leisure. For some of our presenters—fan favorites Josh Quinter, Offit Kurman, Baltimore, and Bill Beals, Therm-All Inc., North Olmsted, Ohio, to name a few—leading a webinar is no problem: water off a duck’s back. With resources such as them, we will be able to quickly offer high-quality technical presentations. For others, including the peer-led sessions and roundtables, the idea is scary but no less doable.

We are working closely with our exhibitors, sponsors and presenters to ensure our membership does not miss out this year. We are exploring the use of technology in new and different ways. It is our aim to help you through this crisis, and to ensure you have the tools you need in the delivery method you can absorb to come out stronger on the other end. Watch our newsletter for more information.

In the meantime, let’s recap what we can be doing now. How can we use this crisis to our advantage so we all emerge stronger? Use the downtime to incorporate proven strategies into your business.

Crews stuck at home? Assign them a refresher course to keep their skills sharp. All members of the MBCEA have free, unfettered access to the original Metal Building Institute (MBI) Quality and Craftsmanship 11-module series. The MBI Insulated Metal Panel video was launched last year at a reduced cost to MBCEA members. Perhaps you have not yet made time to incorporate it into your training routine. Do it now.

There is no time like the present to review your disaster readiness plans and risk management strategies. If you didn’t have these before, you probably do now. Take a minute to write down what you are doing, and what you are learning as you stumble and get back up. That way if there is a next time, you are ready!

Use the downtime to review your safety plan, company policies and procedures, quality plan and training plan. Update or modify them as necessary. This is the well-established quality program of Plan, Do, Check, Act. There is a reason the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Checking (reviewing and updating) these plans is something we always intend to do but never find the time to do. Coronavirus just provided the time.

A few years ago, we developed a standard to recognize metal building system assemblers that are committed to excellence, a standard to level the playing field and improve the end product. This standard culminated in an accreditation program for metal building assemblers known as AC478. Accreditation is tangible proof that you have the personnel, organization, experience, knowledge, management procedures and commitment to assemble metal building systems. Whether or not you are interested in AC478 at this time, coronavirus downtime can be parlayed into business improvement initiatives that will ultimately support your AC478 application or just improve your business. Either way you win. And guess what, the MBCEA offers free consultative support to members.

Construction workers and ironworkers are typically tough guys, stoic and hard as the iron we erect. But we are also smart, resilient and strong. We will get through this and emerge stronger if we rely on our friends, if we stick together (albeit at a safe distance apart), if we count on trusted sources like the MBCEA and if we use this time wisely. On behalf of your entire MBCEA leadership team, stay safe and be well. We are here when you need us. We will reach new heights together.

Art Hance has been owner and president of Hance Construction, Washington, N.J., since 2000. Hance takes great pride in his work and the numerous awards for the quality and complexity of his design and construction. He has held multiple leadership roles in the MBCEA and actively served on many committees. He is a wellrespected Butler builder, often called to add his voice and expertise to committees and/or subject matter. He is a passionate voice for quality, safety, training and excellence.