Mark Engle: Champion of efforts to help metal compete with other building materials

2017 Metal Construction Hall of Fame

Mark Engle

Mark Engle has been an unrelenting advocate for the metal construction industry. His company, Chicago-based Association Management Center Inc., has managed the Metal Construction Association (MCA) since 2001. Engle, who is a principal at Association Management Center, served as executive director of MCA from 2001 to 2014. During his time at MCA, he oversaw cooperative marketing efforts, organization of the board and efforts to promote metal materials through building codes.

Association Background

Engle is well versed in association management. He’s worked at Association Management Center since 1994, a business his parents, Art and Dagny Engle founded in 1974. He works with his brothers, Jeff Engle and Scott Engle, who are also principals. When Engle was first appointed at MCA, step one was relationship building.

“The early days were focused on working together,” Engle says. “A bunch of entrepreneurs and companies were figuring out how to work together to advance the market for metal. And they used to kind of beat each other up in the marketplace. And so the first thing we did was we said, let’s work together to advance the cause of metal. If we can work together, we’ll grow the market for everybody. And that’s not always an easy message to share with people. And you’ve got to have a relationship to be able to do that.”

Industry Marketing

MCA produced marketing campaigns about metal as the material of choice over the other products. “We started talking about the benefits of metal, really promoting that, and it became very effective,” Engle says.

Other marketing campaigns targeted specific metal building product lines including metal composite materials, insulated metal panels and metal wall panels. “We would take those product sectors and advertise the benefits of metal in those different lines,” Engle says. “And then our member companies would also know the themes that we were producing and benefits that we were advocating for, and they would pick up those themes in their own, personal advertising. So it leveraged our campaign that MCA was running for them specifically.”

Karl Hielscher has served as executive director at MCA since June 2016. He says, “One of the biggest pieces of the puzzle for me was [Engle’s] efforts to lead leadership to develop a cohesive, long-standing plan of action to identify what the association was and was not, and how they were going to deliver that service to our members and to our industries that we represent.”

“You work hard for the people you like; and I genuinely liked the leaders I worked alongside with at MCA during my tenure; they were quality, smart people. You also have to believe in the product you are promoting.”

Mark Engle, DM, FASAE, principal at Association Management Center Inc.

Hielscher, who previously served as CEO at Lewisville, Texas-based Metl-Span, says Engle was constant in his effort to convince members the larger, more significant competitors were other building materials, not other metal producers. “And just to get people to remember that, and to keep that in the forefront, I think [Engle] did a nice job of that. He kept us focused on what our association supposed to do, advance the use of metal in construction.”

Another marketing effort Engle was a proponent of was called Heavy Hitters. In it, consultants, on behalf of MCA, gave presentations about the benefits of metal building materials to large architecture firms and property owners in major U.S. cities. “We went to the top 200 companies in real estate in sectors that we were doing, and we visited them with our group to advocate the mission of metal; it was a pretty cool campaign,” Engle says.

It wasn’t always a simple matter to find agreement among MCA members. As companies experienced leadership changes in ownership, divisions and at other levels, Engle had to convince new representatives about association goals. “Yes, we had to change some mindsets,” Engle says. “We had to educate new company leadership on the model we were using to work together, because it’s unusual that you’d have competitors come in together for market development campaigns. So it made the objective much more difficult because we had to go back and restart our sales process internally.”

Jeff Irwin, founder of JH Irwin Consultants LLC in Canal Winchester, Ohio, says Engle’s level-headed management style at MCA led to positive results. Irwin was active at MCA for more than 20 years, beginning in the early 1990s. When he and Engle first started working together, they focused on growing and maintaining membership. Engle also assisted the board’s rotation of members, and helped bring about term limits, Irwin says. “[Engle] continued to keep the board and change of command moving. We got younger people from all the different companies involved, and all the councils got more vibrant. So he was responsible for and a big driver of all those things.”

Technical Representation

Another way Engle sought to advance the metal construction industry was through building codes. Engineers represented, and continue to represent, MCA at code hearings and other venues that affect the selection of metal materials.

“We had to be defensive in working with codes and engineering applications,” Engle says. “We did a lot of testing and code development, and that allowed us to be very aggressive in our marketing, which we were for years.”

By facilitating relationships among competitors and advocating for mutual success, Engle bolstered the metal construction industry.

“You work hard for the people you like; and I genuinely liked the leaders I worked alongside with at MCA during my tenure; they were quality, smart people,” Engle says. “You also have to believe in the product you are promoting.”