|IMI and BAC joined forces with Mapei to develop and field test a new, flowable terrazzo technology, Terratop, that can only be installed by BAC/IMI-certified mechanics. Here, BAC Local 7 NY/NJ members install the product at a school in Pelham, NY.|
Editor’s Note: In the May/June issue of the Journal you learned about some of the ways that IMI’s advanced training programs are giving BAC members the competitive edge. The following is a continuation of that article.
IMI’s flexible training approach offers several benefits by staying ahead of product trends, and helps to ensure that BAC members are the first to receive the training and skills to capture new products and work opportunities.
In February 2004, US Technology unveiled a promising new water-resistant block called SEALTECH, which IMI helped test at the National Training Center. In return, the “green” water-resistant product is guaranteed only when installed by BAC/IMI-trained craftworkers.
IMI joined forces in a similar venture with Mapei, makers of a new, flowable terrazzo technology, Terratop, that is now hitting the market place. IMI, working closely with BAC’s TMT Craft Division, helped with product development and created a customized training program. Mapei’s specifications and distributor agreement require that only BAC/IMI certified mechanics
and finishers be allowed to install the product.
|Kevin Hare of Local 15 WV helps teach a National Training Center class on AAC coatings for BAC instructors. Here he trowels an acrylic finish onto AAC block.|
“We brought an installer’s viewpoint about how the product would work in the real world,” says TMT Craft Director John Mason. “The product is friendlier to the craftworker, and this gets us in on the ground floor. It’s also going to attract other manufacturers
to think about us that way.”
BAC Local 7 New York/New Jersey and IMI performed critical field tests for Terratop, and have conducted sessions in BAC/IMI training centers in New York and New Jersey and at the National Training Center to familiarize apprentices and mechanics on its use. IMI marketing staff are complementing that effort with a series of TMT Expos to introduce Terratop to designers that started this fall in Chicago, New York, New Jersey, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.
“I think it’s going to be a great future for BAC and the industry,” says Local 7 NY/NJ President Charlie Hill. “John Flynn always says, ‘If you see a great product, grab it.’ So we did.”
“This agreement should generate additional hours for members,” says BAC President and IMI Co-Chair John J. Flynn. “It also shows that BAC and IMI are the industry leaders of today and tomorrow.”
IMI is also aggressively working to make BAC synonymous with AAC, Autoclaved Aerated Concrete, in the minds of specifiers and builders. Early on, IMI started hosting conferences and offering AAC training assistance. Last fall, for example, IMI training and technical staff set up shop at a Long Island college project, training BAC members in everything from a special notched trowel (developed by IMI) to efficient cuts. As a result, 50 Local 1 NY members were quickly certified and production was doubled.
In Ohio, more than 100 signatory contractors showed up for a round of IMI AAC certification classes in April. “It’s working well as contractors get more involved with it and are bidding it more because of that,” says Northern Ohio Administrative District Council Director Bob Fozio. “It’s translating into manhours.” In Chicago, AAC and grout certification are now part of the curriculum for 2nd year apprentices.
Throughout the year, BAC bricklayers and plasterers from all over come to the National Training Center for classes in AAC block and coatings.
Another recent IMI advanced training initiative that is generating a lot of interest is the Supervisor Certification Program (SCP), launched last year to fill the gap between craft training and IMI Contractor College.
During contract negotiations, Local 4 Indiana/Kentucky President Joe Bramlett kept hearing from contractors that they needed help getting good supervisors. So he turned to IMI Indiana Area Market Development Director Dave Collins, who swung into action, delivering SCP all over the two states. “BAC members are chomping at the bit to get this training,” says Collins. “It helps
them further their careers.”
“The people we sent loved it,” says Bramlett. “They learned things that they didn’t even know about.” By identifying good supervisory candidates, it will save time and money and serve
as a recruiting tool for BAC.
An important vehicle for launching new initiatives like SCP is IMI’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP), an annual event that draws BAC and IMI instructors from all over the country to learn about the latest products and industry trends, and how to be more effective teachers. The forum continues to add post graduate courses. “We are always looking for new courses to keep instructors ahead of the game,” says IMI Director of Apprenticeship and Training Steve Martini.
The IMI training portfolio gets results, says Illinois District Council Training Center Director Bob Arnold, whose center handles as many as 100 BAC members on weekends. “We do a lot of these programs hand-in-hand with the contractors. It works out well as an organizing tool.” NOADC Director Bob Fozio agrees. “We are not just a dues collection agency. You have to offer members all the education possible.”
Having the best-trained members is the point, says President Flynn. “It provides a brighter future for BAC members and for the unionized masonry industry.”