Training News

IMI – Members and Masonry First

Issue: FEBRUARY - MARCH 2005

As a BAC member, have you ever asked, “What does IMI do for me?” The short answer is “a lot!” But it’s an important question, and one that deserves a thoughtful and thorough response because your contributions have helped make IMI a driving force in today’s unionized masonry industry. The following article is the first in a series that will help connect the dots between IMI’s programs and services and you – the BAC member. In these articles, you will learn how IMI develops and delivers its programs at each level: national, regional and local. We’ll begin with the national.

BAC Locals vary both in size and in types of services they provide to members. But what they all have in common is IMI, which offers services that would be out of reach for any one Local. IMI offers apprenticeship and training, market development, and technical services throughout the Union. These services not only show the union masonry advantage to builders, owners and designers, but more important, they translate into more work for BAC members.

Developing Masonry Jobs

One national effort that pays local dividends in the form of jobs is IMI’s national Project Tracking system. Using Dodge reports, IMI identifies major construction projects in their earliest stages and makes contact with the key players – the owners, architects and construction managers – to convince them to use masonry materials installed by BAC members. Local IMI representatives then follow up by offering valuable IMI services, like technical support and custom training, which make masonry materials a more attractive choice for the project.

IMI tested SEALTECH block at the National Training Center to ensure quality construction by IMI-certified BAC installers.

For example, in Massachusetts, when Dodge Reports turned up an office building project slated to be 100 percent metal panel, IMI immediately contacted the architects, and showed them they could get a union masonry building at a competitive price. As a result, the job, now going out to bid, has been turned around to roughly 40 percent masonry, and the work is expected to be done by members of BAC Local 3 Massachusetts. Local 3 President Charles Raso says that while IMI can’t always guarantee a “knockout punch” like this, there are definitely long term benefits of such IMI efforts. “With marketing, like organizing, progress comes slow at times, but you’ve got to play. I think the culmin-ation of programs that IMI puts together has a positive effect on the stability and growth of the masonry industry. In the face of the vast array of substitute materials we compete with on a daily basis, it is amazing that masonry products have remained so viable and cost effective. IMI has been the catalyst in this regard. Without a strong, well-funded IMI, the union masonry industry is not going to grow and prosper.”

Two Indiana hospital projects originally planned for drywall and stud construction switched to CMU when IMI met with the architects in the pre-planning phase and presented compelling information on mold prevention and life cycle costs. As a result, the year-long tandem projects, Clarion North and Clarion West, brought 139,940 work hours for Local 4 Indiana/Kentucky members. “IMI has done so much for us,” says Steve Crafton, the Local 4 Field Representative for Indianapolis, who also appreciates IMI training resources. “They are the biggest help we have.” The Dodge project tracking information also helps BAC Locals identify jobs for organizing.

Similarly, IMI’s Major Accounts program works with large corporations such as Target to provide useful services and information that make masonry an attractive choice for their projects, wherever they are built. The program recognizes that the top five percent of construction owners and developers account for the lion’s share of the construction market, and targets resources strategically at that level. Marsh Supermarkets and Wegmans are just two examples where this approach has translated into increased work opportunities.

For Marsh Supermarkets, Inc., a leading regional food retailer in Indiana and Ohio, BAC signed up the contractor on two mega stores when IMI impressed the owners with IMI certification programs, particularly in Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (AAC). “That was definitely a big plus,” says Local 4 IN/KY President Ted Champ. “The effort resulted in more than 1,000 work hours for BAC members in the Pendleton and Indianapolis chapters. And, because Marsh is using the new stores as trial runs for incorporating AAC construction into their building program, it should give a big boost to AAC, installed by BAC members. We were able to pool our resources, and it worked out great.”

IMI and BAC joined forces with Mapei to develop and field test a new terrazzo product, Terratop™. BAC Local 7 NY/NJ members, pictured above, installing a 5,000-square-foot floor.

In New York state, an IMI design seminar presented for Wegmans, a major regional supermarket chain, left their national design staff impressed with BAC training and IMI technical support, and whetted their appetite for AAC and Terratop™, both of which are certified only when installed by BAC members. IMI and Local 3 New York, whose three training facilities (Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and Rochester) are certified in Terratop™, are demonstrating the product for area contractors and architects. According to Local 3 President Dan Rose, “Our three percent IMI contribution has paid off for our members in terms of improved training and expanded work opportunities over the years, and with innovative materials like Terratop™, even more jobs are being created.”

“IMI has been a great investment on the training and marketing end and helped to get us into Wegmans,” says Local 3 Apprentice Coordinator Dan Palazzo, who participated in the Wegmans presentation. Palazzo adds that it would be a particularly sweet victory, since Wegmans used to build union in the area years ago, until relations broke down. Now, he says, “I am really optimistic that we can get new work, especially as Wegmans broadens their geographic base” into the mid-Atlantic region.

An arsenal of tools helps IMI sell BAC masonry. Products like life-cycle cost studies, project case studies, targeted advertising, and technical materials help to persuade owners and designers that masonry materials installed by BAC members offer the clear advantage for quality, schedule and budget control.

Specialized Training

With new products and installation methods always on the horizon, how do BAC Locals keep up with everything? The answer is IMI, where training experts keep up on market trends and get ahead of the curve with specialized training programs.

A key variable with any new product is proper installation. In recent years, IMI has joined forces with manufacturers of new products to provide craftworker training and certification programs, plus marketing and technical assistance, with promising new products like water-resistant SEALTECH block and Terratop™, a new terrazzo product. In return, the requirement for IMI certified installers ensures new work opportunities for BAC members and contractors.

For products already on the market, like AAC block and coatings, and JAHN stone and terra cotta restoration materials, IMI works with specifiers and builders to “think BAC.” A key selling point is the certified training available only to BAC members.The demand for craftworkers certified in specific products and techniques is a clear trend in today’s specifications. The IMI catalog of certification programs ranges from grouting and reinforced masonry to foremen/supervisors and even contractors.

Resources at the BAC/IMI National Training Center also allow IMI to meet custom BAC needs, like refractory or OSHA training, quickly and cost-efficiently.

Training the Trainers

BAC and IMI training has always had a sterling reputation for quality. What keeps that reputation polished is IMI’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP). See map below. This annual event brings together BAC and IMI instructors from all regions to learn the latest industry practices and products, and to brush up their teaching skills. In 2004, 165 instructors representing 51 Locals attended.

When New York State evaluated Local 2 DE/NJ instructor Bart McClellan, he received an “A+.” That, he says, “would have been impossible without the knowledge I received from ICP.” Local 67 IL instructor Gary Pawlowski couldn’t agree more. “This entire experience has made me a better instructor,” he says.


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