Trade Associations What’s Missing?

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So it looks like at the recent Metal Construction Association meeting held in Rosemont, IL June 23-25 there were some preliminary discussions held on regulations and codes in the industry except this time other associations were involved in the panel discussion. Well, isn’t it about time this

happens? I mean there is a huge opportunity here for all associations and organizations that are member companies to make an impact. Panelists included leaders from the Door and Access Systems Manufacturers Association (DASMA), the Metal Building Contractors & Erectors Association (MBCEA), the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), the National Coil Coating Association (NCCA), the National Frame Building Association (NFBA), and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). So from what I am reading from MCA’s blog post is that the discussion focused on regulations, codes, and design trends. It also appears that the discussion always came back to the topic of education and the target audience for that education being architects, specifiers, engineers, and board members of local municipal commissions. It was also clearly stated in the article that education is done on a project by project basis.

Before discussing the solution it is important to understand the word “association” and what it means. In this particular instance “trade association” is defined as  An industry trade association participates in public relations activities such as advertising, education, political donations, lobbying, and publishing, but its main focus is collaboration between companies, or standardization. So we are on the same page that definition had to be included as a necessary evil. The challenge here is that there are not any accessible educational tools available to the industry. Where do we start is the question, and at the very least all of these associations realize it is education. While architects, specifiers and engineers are distinguished professions in the industry why does the focus have to be there? Shouldn’t the people at the job sites have the education as well? After all you may have a laborer who is moving material or a general contractor installing a metal roof. If the associations started focusing on creating memberships for the industry, yes memberships, then there would be more progress.

The idea is that by investing in the GC’s, laborers or whomever is working on those job sites the association wins. Member companies start to profit even more because of the education given to those members in the industry and their products become a mainstay. Here is an example think of Microsoft Windows as an association, and think about the product for a second, you may be saying I use Apple (same idea). The point being made is that most of us use Windows because it’s trusted and we have experience with it. Our education has come to us because of the ease of accessibility in using the program and Microsoft’s tireless ability in testing product. While you might be saying this is not a good example it is. Here is the bottom line most of us buy Windows, have been educated on how to use it, and are all part of a common goal.  If you are having a hard time understanding the example please email or call and we’ll talk about what CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) did. How many associations in the industry have over 3,500 member companies and over 40,000 individual members? That’s what I thought you’d say.

In our industry can come together with the other associations to come up with standardized rules and education behind it then all parties involved win. The associations will garner more members, the member companies of the association will see increased profits, and all the professions whether it be an architect, engineer, general contractor, or even laborer will have the education needed. The solution is the creation of a membership for those professionals that are out in the field funded by the associations and member companies. Does it cost money to do this? Of course it does! The model does work and everyone does benefit in the end. There it is I just gave you the road map to the issue at hand, if you want more information call us.

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