Working Together to Grow Together

The Metal Building Contractors & Erectors (MBCEA) annual conference is fast approaching, taking place May 1-3 in Myrtle Beach, S.C. We are looking forward to once again being co-located with the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA). Last year was our 50th anniversary. This year marks our 50th conference. Fifty years of contractors and erectors coming together to share best practices, learn from each other, bond and have fun. Over the years our membership has had peaks and valleys, but I am happy to report we are stronger than ever.

The 50th annual MBCEA Conference provides the perfect opportunity to learn from each other

By Keith Wentworth

Wentworth Keith

This means Conference 2019 will be bigger and better than ever. Our vendor exhibit hall is the perfect opportunity for you to get up close and personal with suppliers and vendors, see what is new and ask questions.

We have a fabulous agenda that includes:

  • •Educational sessions covering topics such as change orders, basic estimating guidelines, building complexities of IMPs, air leakage, structuring your company for effective leadership and succession, and daylighting layout via skylights.
  • •A highly relevant keynote presentation from Gene Marks, founder of the Marks Group and a small business expert, called “The Road the 2020: Your People, Technology and Taxes.”
  • •A three-hour Train the Trainer boot camp led by our very own Gary T. Smith, past MBCEA president and founder of Thomas Phoenix International, Eastampton, N.J.

The conference is also home to our famous—or should I say infamous—“Contractor and Erector Roundtable.” This open-mike format is your opportunity to speak up and be heard. We field a panel of experts and turn the floor over to membership. We ask questions, discuss solutions and solve problems. This practical hands-on advice would cost thousands from a consultant but is freely available to all who attend the conference. New this year is a second roundtable that will be done jointly with the MBMA. To be clear, we have one scheduled for just contractors and erectors, and a second that includes manufacturers and suppliers. It should be great!

I like to think the contractor and erector roundtables are what we do best. They represent our members helping our members. No contractor or erector needs to struggle alone when they can call on the power of the association. You will always find someone a little smarter, a little bigger, a little grayer than you who has been where you are now. The MBCEA collectively has thousands of years of experience and best practices, and we freely share this knowledge with each other. This access to knowledge is perhaps the single most important reason for becoming a member.

As we continue to work and collaborate with the MBMA, and as our conference continues to grow, it is perhaps fitting that this year we will host the Metal Construction Hall of Fame Awards celebration. The Metal Construction Hall of Fame was founded in 2012. The goal was to recognize those individuals who have had a significant impact on the metal construction industry through their innovation, effort and leadership. Membership in the Hall of Fame is reserved for a select few, the best and brightest of us all. Consider these names from the MBCEA: Bob Ketenbrink, Rob Haddock, Mary Farrar, Gary Smith, Earl Raymond, Tom Frahm, Kelly Burk, Thad Strickland. There is no doubt of their impact!

We are thrilled to host the Hall of Fame at our conference. We are humbled by the honorees. We are proud to share in their glory. Events such as this are so important for our industry. The Hall of Fame is a tangible sign to young contractors, erectors and engineers that their efforts are worthwhile; that our industry has merit. The Hall of Fame imposes a gravitas on us all.

There is no doubt the business world is spinning faster and faster. Your success and future depend on your ability to keep up. Participating in events like our conference, attending the Hall of Fame Awards ceremony and taking the time to read this magazine is how we improve ourselves and our businesses. It is how we stay inspired.

James Cash Penney was an American businessman and entrepreneur. He famously said, “Growth is never by chance, it is the result of forces working together.” I look forward to working together with you in Myrtle Beach in May.

Please visit our new and improved website,, for additional information about the conference and the MBCEA.

Keith Wentworth is president of the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association and vice president of Dutton & Garfield Inc., Hampstead, N.H. Wentworth holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Merrimack College, and has more than 20 years of experience in commercial and industrial metal building design-build construction. He is proud to be a third-generation Butler builder. Wentworth also serves on the board of directors of the Metal Building Institute and is a past president of the New England Chapter of the MBCEA. To learn more about the MBCEA, visit