Training News

IMI Masonry Expos Broadcast the BAC Message

Journal: Issue 3 - 2008

From left, Local 4 IN/KY members Mark Arms and Nick Rose employed by Rosa Mosaic helped demonstrate BAC craftsmanship in traditional and new materials.

Every day, IMI reaches out to a wide variety of audiences – architects, engineers, construction managers, owners and other decision makers – to spread the word about the advantages of quality Union masonry.

IMI takes it to another level with special Masonry Expos, which reach all of those audiences at once and showcase the complete portfolio of training skills, technical expertise and preferred products. The venues offer a one-stop shop for all masonry needs, and generate leads for future masonry projects.
“When we get a chance to tell our story face to face with industry decision makers, they never fail to be impressed by all that BAC and IMI have to offer,” says IU President and IMI Co-Chair John J. Flynn.

In May, more than 500 architects, contractors, building officials, owners, and developers converged at the Illinois District Council Training Center for the 2008 Chicagoland Masonry Expo. The packed day featured 11 seminars on a wide range of topics including structural masonry and sustainability, vendor exhibits, and of course, plenty of skilled BAC craftworkers.

The Illinois District Council Training Center was filled to capacity at the 2008 IMI Chicagoland Masonry Expo.

This year’s session balanced traditional masonry topics, such as veneers and flashing, with emerging products and technologies. Seminars on self-consolidating grout, ventilated masonry screen walls, pre-blended mortar and masonry design software gave decision-makers a look into masonry’s future, and identified BAC as a key partner in moving the industry forward.

“We accomplished what we set out to do,” said Illinois District Council #1 President Jim Allen. “We reached the people we needed to reach.”

As much as designers appreciated the education, the high point for many was working alongside a BAC/IMI bricklaying instructor, spreading mortar, laying stretchers or soldiers, and even building self-supporting arches.

IMI is a big believer in integrating hands-on exercises into architectural programs, in order to enrich the designer’s understanding of the craft. “It made us appreciate all the more why union masons are so important to our projects, and that the ‘cheap guys working out of the backs of their trucks’ can be disastrous for building construction,” said Diana Melichar, AIA, President of Melichar Architects.

IMI Masonry Expos and similar events are successful in part because there is no one formula. Some programs have broad agendas, while others target a specific market or interest. Regardless of topic, what really seals the deal is the BAC craftsmanship on display.


In Kentucky, the goal was to introduce designers to new materials and applications, and to show how they are backed up by IMI training and technical expertise. At the Trowel Trades Exposition in Louisville in April, members of Local 4 IN/KY built mock-ups and ably demonstrated their skills, while IMI technical staff provided educational seminars and product demonstrations. The debut event “was very successful,” says Local 4 President Ted Champ, “and we continue to grow.”

The Indianapolis Trowel Trades Expo was held during the Local’s statewide Apprentice Contest in June to really show off members’ skills and the training investment behind them, as well as to educate the audience on key masonry topics like sustainability and codes.


In New Berlin, Wisconsin, a special restoration program was tailored to capture that growing market by showing designers and owners how skilled WI ADC members and IMI expertise can make all the difference on their projects. Local 3 WI members Scott VanLieshout, foreground – red hat, and Damon Winrich, far right, demonstrate for attendees.

In Wisconsin, where restoration work is on the rise, IMI identified BAC with that work by bringing scores of architects and building owners to the training center for a special hands-on Masonry Restoration Workshop. The program combined technical seminars on condition assessment and brick restoration with the opportunity to interact with knowledgeable contractors and craftworkers. Designers also got to try their hands at terra cotta patching and installation, concrete patching, flashing and lintel repair, movement joint sealants, and tuckpointing.


When Union contractors in Cincinnati wanted to raise their profile in the market, the solution was IMI Masonry Day. Held at the University of Cincinnati in February, it drew a wide audience – architects, engineers, construction managers, building code officials and professors. Topics were tailored to market needs, and included seminars on single wythe CMU walls, brick selection, and ceramic tile installation planning, along with hands-on demonstrations of brick, block and ceramic tile. “It’s so important to get the people designing the buildings to think masonry early on,” says Ohio Administrative District Council Field Representative Ted Linscott. For contractor Drew Hauer from Jim Hauer Masonry, it was a rare opportunity for contractors and designers to interact in a non-adversarial setting. “It was a win-win for everyone,” he says.

Local 18 OH, OADC tile finisher Scott Ervin, center – behind wall, OADC Field Representative Ted Linscott, center – in front of wall, and Local 18 member and Tile/Marble/Terrazzo Instructor Tim McGrath, far right, prepared attendees for their hands-on tile session.

For a virtual visit to the Chicagoland Masonry Expo, go to



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