In order to increase work opportunities for BAC members and contractors, today’s market demands that we become more creative about interpreting masonry’s role in the building envelope,” IMI President Joan Calambokidis told the 2010 BAC Convention, as an IMI panel of experts detailed programs in industry development and training designed to do just that.
Despite the severe economic downturn, BAC members are benefitting from IMI programs such as the National Structural Masonry Seminar Series, the Sustainable Building Envelope, the New Products Initiative and the Restoration and Green Retrofit Initiative. These programs have been added to the strong portfolio of masonry educational seminars for architects and engineers that IMI has been known for. They hold the potential to dramatically increase BAC work opportunities.
“First of all, we want to make sure masonry is seen as more than skin,” said IMI National Director of Industry Development David Sovinski. “And we have done that by working with our industry partners to develop masonry software that dramatically shortens design times. We can actually show engineers and owners how a structural masonry solution can give them a better building and save them money.”
“Along with this structural masonry push is the additional benefit of IMI’s Grout Certification training that architects are writing into their specifications to promote quality assurance, adding hundreds of thousands of work hours to BAC during this recession by giving an added boost to Union masonry,” Sovinski added.
Sovinski also noted IMI’s building code success in the tile industry. With larger units becoming popular, IMI led the way in standards calling for grout joint width proportional to the unit size and new lippage requirements, and defeating a proposal to allow gypsum wall board in wet areas.
IMI Director of Engineering Diane Throop, PE, told the delegates, “The new software tools put masonry at a competitive advantage versus steel and concrete frames. And another benefit is the ability to design a hybrid solution, where masonry works together with steel or concrete to give the building the lowest cost solution, while employing a maximum number of bricklayers.”
Throop continued by relating how IMI’s work in building codes and standards provides benefits to BAC members. Self-consolidating grout, advances in reinforcement provisions and greater acceptance of structural processes all contribute to making structural masonry more efficient and affordable.
IMI Director of Program Development and Sustainability Maria Viteri outlined the growth of green construction practices, and how IMI, through its Sustainable Masonry Certification Program, provides education for BAC signatory contractors, so they can be more competitive in green practices and feel confident in bidding this work. IMI also prepares the workforce through its Green Craftworker Training. These programs utilize IMI tools, including our LEED Checklist for Masonry, demonstrating how BAC-installed products and systems can satisfy requirements for energy-efficient buildings and sustainable solutions. IMI has also developed green/sustainable educational programs for architects and engineers, educating them about how masonry material choices, like brick, stone, tile, terrazzo, marble, plaster and cement, can contribute to a building’s overall environmental impact.
IMI also continues to identify new products, systems and technologies, educating members about these new opportunities with its Masonry Adhered Veneer Craftworker, Masonry Rain Screen Wall and Air Barrier trainings. In partnering with manufacturers, IMI educates contractors on new products and created training programs for members on how to properly install them.
The common thread that ties all of this together – IMI training – provides the competitive edge BAC members and contractors need.
“BAC members and contractors need to expand their horizons and learn whatever skills it takes to get the jobs that the industry currently has available as well as to take advantage of new product job opportunities,” said IMI National Director of Apprenticeship and Training Steve Martini.
IMI was the first to establish and standardize BAC Pre-Apprenticeship Training, and has continually upgraded and modernized the process that enables apprenticeship candidates to become productive, participating members of onsite crews from day one of their apprenticeship. IMI’s National Apprenticeship Standards, developed for all BAC crafts, act as guidelines for local JATCs in order to meet the federal and state agency requirements for Registered Apprenticeship Training.
Chief Operating Officer of the John J. Flynn BAC/IMI International Training Center Greg Stinner noted that the Flynn Center’s training schedule will continue to support more new product, cross-craft, upgrade and specialty training and certifications. Over the years, IMI has developed many new products and customized job installation and training programs at the request of Locals/ADCs, contractors and JATCs to support specific job requirements. IMI’s unique capability to react to changing market and training requirements makes it possible to develop programs at the national level that can then be delivered at the local level, creating a standardized curriculum, saving time and money. Examples include AAC installation and coatings, epoxy injection, rain screen walls and anchoring systems.
IMI’s Instructor Certification Program (ICP) and train-the-trainer programs are unique to the Flynn Center and are a key component of the training activities available to local trainers there. Train-the-trainer courses serve all Locals/ADCs by providing local trainers with the skills necessary to quickly deliver training when and where it is needed.
“The basics are great… IMI educates over 10,000 architects a year on our basic materials and systems, and why the perfect wall system is a brick and block cavity wall… and the perfect floor is our hard surface flooring of tile or terrazzo. But – in fairness to the membership, it is a changing world with a lot of opportunities. We owe it to the hard-working members of BAC to provide research, education and training to give them the opportunity to work with the products, systems and environment of the coming job market where they can maximize work hours on skilled construction jobs,” said Sovinski.