Benjamin Franklin

When I became president of the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA) last year, I inherited an organization in very good shape. My predecessors had left me with a healthy bank account, a solid team and a robust membership. What more could a guy ask for?

Surprise! How about a global pandemic to cut you back to size? If the pandemic has taught us anything, besides how to wash our hands, it has emphasized the importance of documented procedures and plans. Management pundits always say to plan in case one of your key people gets hit by a bus. Perhaps future generations will say plan in case you get quarantined for COVID.

I am happy to report MBCEA had a plan, and now we have even better plans. In fact, we even have a newly refreshed strategic plan. This guide for the future can be summarized as “Do More for More,” while ensuring a solid foundation.

Our mission is to support the professional advancement and development of metal building contractors, erectors and our industry. This plan to do more (provide more services and programs) for more (membership growth remains a key goal) while ensuring a stable and sustainable base of operation, ensures we are able to live up to the ideals of our mission statement.

The phrase “professional advancement and development” is a fancy way of saying MBCEA wants to help our members not only look good but also be the best they can be. The sentence goes on to include not only our contractor and erector members but “our industry.” Our signature quality initiative, AC478 Accreditation, is the most powerful tool we have for the professional advancement and development of our members and our industry. Unfortunately, our industry continues to be judged by stereotypes; we continue to be associated with the lowest common denominator. We know that jobs typically go to lowest bid, which doesn’t always mean the safest, most qualified contractor. When structures fail or people get hurt during assembly, the entire industry suffers.

Accreditation levels the playing field for the good guys and provides a means to differentiate the good from the rascals. Accreditation is good for individual companies, but equally important it is good for our industry. It will improve our reputations as contractors and erectors and improve the reputation of the metal building industry. Accreditation establishes an industry standard to identify those players doing the right thing, and who are committed to safety, training and quality.

The International Accreditation Service (IAS) program for metal building assemblers (AC478) complements an existing IAS accreditation program for manufacturers of metal building systems (AC472) developed by IAS and the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA) in 2008. When our program first launched in 2015, Tom Gilligan, who was president of Butler Manufacturing Co., Kansas City, Mo., and MBMA at that time, famously said in this magazine, “If accredited manufacturers and their builders team up with these two quality assurance programs, it will make our industry more competitive and increase its prominence. This is a commitment to a partnership in quality and a reflection on us all."

IAS-accredited assemblers are required to operate under a documented management system that includes a safety and training program as well as periodic job-site inspections to verify continued compliance with the criteria. It sounds much harder than it is, but it does involve paperwork. Do not be intimidated; MBCEA will help you. Once done, you will have a documented system for managing your business and for that just-in-case situation when a key person gets hit by a proverbial bus or a global pandemic comes knocking on your door.

Which brings me back to planning. The vast majority of metal building contractors and erectors are small businesses. We are strong, independent entrepreneurs who tend to pride ourselves on our ability to do it ourselves and get the job done no matter what it takes. What we are not good at is documentation, paperwork, procedures and delegation. But, as this past year has taught us, these are vital skills. Whether or not you choose to pursue accreditation, I urge you to devote some time to considering your processes. Document your training programs, review your safety program. Take a few moments to chart your key tasks and identify who does what. Lastly, make a note (securely) of all your passwords for your various accounts.

Don’t know where to start with documentation? Consider accreditation. Not only will MBCEA assist you, but the prep work required is designed to guide you through the process of documentation. Please contact executive director Sasha Demyan (sdemyan@mbcea.org) or attend one of our bi-monthly virtual roundtables. You will find more information on our website (www. mbcea.org) and in our monthly newsletters, which you can sign up for on the website.


AC478 Accreditation

The MBCEA encourages all members to consider accreditation, recommends building owners and architects require this accreditation (AC478) in their specifications and suggests building officials look for it before issuing permits.

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 well-respected 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.