We are certain that every contractor operating in today’s abnormal and risky environment has service technicians who have gone above and beyond to satisfy customer requests, assist in community efforts or unselfishly support their company.
We want to recognize those techs that are the heroes of your organization and distinguish them as an MSCA Extraordinary Everyday Hero. All of our heroes this year will be recognized on our website and awarded a special gift. There is no limit to the number of heroes we will recognize because we know there are hundreds of heroes out there quietly going that extra mile without fanfare or seeking recognition.
MSCA members are continually implementing novel ideas and new innovations, many of which have resulted from the current pandemic. It’s no secret that our members are some of the brightest and willing to share their ideas for the betterment of our industry. We are launching a new series of educational videos called the Best From MSCA. These short interviews are certain to inspire you and impact the way you conduct your business.
The conversations are moderated by David Geith, Vice President of Service at EMCOR Services Mesa Energy Systems in Irvine, California. Topics highlight current issues and trends in our industry, including; Touchless Technology, Healthy Spaces, Remote Services, UVGI and the UA Water Quality Program.
We’ll continue to add more videos each month so make sure to check back frequently!
Join us for a candid conversation with facility managers who will share insights and recommendations for developing and maintaining important and productive partnerships with service providers. Hear directly from these representatives what they specifically look for when selecting a service provider for their buildings’ systems and how you can become a valuable asset and advisor to them. You will also hear about their recent experiences during the pandemic and their concerns for their tenants’ safety and health when reopening their buildings. Gain a better understanding of their current challenges and priorities and how this can impact your service offerings.
When: Tuesday, September 1 at 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. EDT
For the past ten years, MSCA has partnered with Convoy of Hope during the annual MSCA educational conferences to support a local organization, in the community where the conference is being held, with needed supplies and hands-on assistance. These organizations have included food banks, homeless shelters, rescue missions and women’s shelters. Due to the generosity of our members and local associations, we have been able to provide over a half million dollars in products and services to these organizations.
With the cancellation of this year’s MSCA conference in Scottsdale, we are unable to undertake a hands-on event. However, since the outbreak of the pandemic, our friends at Convoy of Hope have stepped up to the plate and worked tirelessly to assist those in need. Their original goal was to supply 10 million meals to families around the country that were struggling. They quickly exceeded that goal and have, to date, provided more than 40 million meals…and are still going strong. We hope you will join us in supporting Convoy of Hope’s efforts by making a donation at www.convoyofhope.org/msca. We hope next year we will again be able to join Convoy of Hope to assist the needy in Austin, TX during our conference. But, until that time, we applaud their efforts in assisting those in need worldwide.
Join us for this informative webinar for the most up-to-date information on managing your business and customer expectations in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Learn about the latest research on the airborne transmission of COVID-19 through air conditioning systems and prioritization of different strategies as explained by ASHRAE Distinguished Lecturer Luke Leung, LEED Fellow, Team leader of “Commercial Building” for ASHRAE COVID19 task force and upcoming Vice Chair of the Environmental Health Committee. Luke is joined by MSCA member, Steve Horwood, VP of Business Development for GDI/Ainsworth, author of the comprehensive publication, “Building Systems: Workplace Re-Occupancy Planning,” which will be provided to all webinar attendees. Steve will help you understand how this new research can help you advise and guide customers as they continue to reopen their facilities and strive to maintain a safe and productive environment.
Episode 12: Labor Relations – Myths, Facts, and Bridging the Gaps Friday, August 21 at 2:00 p.m. EDT
When you hear the story of Ed Kommers’ youth, you find yourself wondering if there’s something in the water in Butte, Montana. Among the kids on his block alone, three grew up to have careers in labor relations. As Executive Director of the MCA of Western Washington and Chair of the national Association Executives Council (AEC), Ed is certainly one of those three.
Local Affiliate MCA chapters across America serve many functions and provide many services to their members but, as Ed will tell you, labor relations is truly at the core of an AEC Affiliate’s purpose. Although they differ widely, all Affiliates were created to be multi-employer bargaining units. From his beginnings as a plumber’s apprentice, Ed has built his career upon the many moving parts of labor relations; from history to law, from culture to relationships.
Construction is a unique industry when it comes to labor relations, and differs greatly from much of what you may read about unions in the newspaper. Ed’s mission is to sort out the myths from the facts when it comes to construction labor relations, and to help develop understanding of how to navigate these critical relationships. Because if labor relations fall apart… everything falls apart. Join John and Ed as they explore the unique, critical, and fascinating connection between labor and mechanical contractors.
Registration for MCAA’s GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program will open on Friday, August 21 and it’s free! The program will begin September 15 and continue through November 16. MCAA will be hosting live sessions each week, available to all students, faculty advisors and MCAA members.
The program is aimed to help give the next generation of mechanical contracting leaders a deeper understanding of the industry and the ins and outs of creating a construction bid. Each session will be taught by MCAA industry leaders and navigate students through the competition project with online instructional sessions focused on components of a real-world contracting bid.
Included in this program will be the annual MCAA Student Chapter Competition, which will be released virtually to student chapters through Procore. The competition gives students the opportunity to apply what they’ve learned in the classroom by creating a bid for a real-life mechanical construction project.
The fall schedule includes:
Tuesday, September 15, 3:00 p.m. Eastern – GreatFutures Virtual Fall Program Introduction
Episode 11: Spotlight on Service – Changing Perspectives on Essential Work Friday, August 14 at 2:00 p.m. EDT
‘I didn’t start out in construction. I went to college.’ How many times have you heard that from someone in the mechanical industry? Whether it’s pressure from parents or an uncertainty about what to do after high school, college often seems to be the default option.
Kip Bagley (Senior VP of Service, EMCOR Services – Mesa Energy Systems; Co-Chair, MSCA Board of Managers) had himself graduated with a degree in Physical Education and was on his way towards a Master’s degree, when one of his professors wrote down on the chalkboard what a PE teacher with a Master’s could earn. Well, Kip’s dad was earning twice that as an air conditioning tech, and the phone call home that took place shortly after basically went “I changed my mind. I want to do what you do.”
When COVID-19 hit and the world was divided up into essential and non-essential workers, it shone a new light on the mechanical industry, and specifically the service sector. These folks were keeping hospitals running and grocery stores functioning. Mechanical techs were going to work, bringing home a paycheck, and serving the nation. As Kip observes, if anything good has come out of the pandemic – besides there being less traffic in LA – it may be that more people are realizing that the trades are a viable alternative to college: one where they can succeed, make money, and have stability. Join John and Kip as they discuss how the circumstances of 2020 have impacted recruitment, perception of the industry, and what it means to be of service.
Final PPP Statistics: As many of you know the PPP loan program is officially closed, it is certainly possible that it can be extended via the next stimulus bill, however that has been delayed and it is unclear what changes to the PPP (if any) will come as a result of the bill and when. The SBA has been consistently publishing PPP loan statistics, and this link provides what is effectively the “final” results as we know them. Some general observations:
$133 billion of funds allocated to the program went unused.
NY, CA and TX were the largest recipients of loans.
Over 87% of the total loans issued were below $150k.
Chase, BOA and PNC were the top three lenders (by dollars).
Healthcare, professional services and tech were the top three beneficiaries (by dollars).
New Clarifications/FAQs on How to Calculate Forgiveness: The SBA released new FAQs recently, Withum has written an in-depth analysis on each one within this article. The FAQs do not present major shifts in how we view the mechanics of forgiveness but do help provide further detail and clarity on topics such as how to calculate the maximum forgivable salary for owner/employees based on entity type (LLC, S-Corp, C-Corp and how to account for benefits paid within and outside of the covered period among other topics. As borrowers begin working on their applications, understanding these nuances is important.
PPP and M&A: Withum often gets questions regarding how the sale or a business or the acquisition of another entity may impact a borrowers PPP loan and ability to obtain forgiveness. Withum has put together an article addressing some of the complexity that may arise from these transactions, as well as how they impact the employee retention tax credit.
Reminder Section: (what should I be doing):
Talk to your payroll company about claiming the employer payroll tax deferral and employee retention credits (ERC) that were made available in the CARES Act.
Talk to your payroll company about claiming the qualified sick/family leave refundable tax credits (from FFCRA, passed prior to the CARES Act).
Consider speaking with your lender to discuss changes to terms of existing debt facilities.
If you have already received a PPP loan, start forecasting how you intend to spend the funds and how you can qualify for the highest amount of loan forgiveness possible. If you are not forecasting 100% loan forgiveness, then most likely you should seek assistance regarding your particular situation. Withum believes the vast majority of borrowers should expect and plan to receive 100% loan forgiveness.
Leading construction contract experts from the national law firm of Peckar & Abramson, Adrian Bastianelli, III, Esq. and Mark R. Berry, will analyze the key private and public construction contract terms and conditions that govern contractor entitlement to COVID-19 project delay and impact. They will discuss the added cost requests for equitable adjustment and claim for time and money. When registering, please submit any particular questions or concerns that need to be addressed in this expert analysis and presentation.
When: Tuesday, August 25 at 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. EDT
MCAA’s Virtual Trade Show connects our contractor members with the members of MCAA’s Manufacturer/Supplier Council.
Participating companies highlight and link to new products, product lines, services, solutions or web pages of particular interest. Here are just a few of the recent additions:
LAARS, a Bradford White Company Laars Heating Systems is headquartered in Rochester NH, USA where all design, testing and manufacturing of Laars products occurs. We take pride in our US manufacturing facility and have invested in our manufacturing infrastructure and processes to make sure the highest quality products are shipped to you.
Harris Products Group The 240 and 240HP Manifolds prevent downtime by auto switching-over when the primary cylinder bank is depleted. Indicator lights show status of tank pressure. Available up to 350 PSIG maximum inlet pressure.
Visit the Smart Solutions Case Studies area of our website to learn how other mechanical contractors found their win-win with cost-saving and productivity-enhancing applications from members of MCAA’s Manufacturer/Supplier Council.
This section of our website also includes tips and ideas to help your company save money and enhance your productivity. Don’t miss it!
The FAQs, released approximately one week ahead of the SBA’s opening its loan forgiveness application portal, covers general questions surrounding the process and the type and amount of costs that can be included in the loan forgiveness application. Some of the FAQs confirm previously-stated positions and represent logical extensions of prior guidance, and others contradict prior guidance.
This article focuses on the most salient points of the FAQs and highlights the departures from prior SBA guidance or prevailing interpretations.
General Loan Forgiveness FAQs
Sole proprietors, independent contractors and self-employed individuals with no employees can use the EZ loan application.
Borrowers are not required to make loan payments prior to their receipt of a decision on their loan forgiveness application, provided they the application is filed within 10 months of receipt of the loan. Interest accrues from the date of receipt of the loan, but only on the part of the loan that is not forgiven.
Payroll Cost FAQs
There is no change to the paid or incurred rule as applied to payroll costs.
Paid – payroll costs that are incurred prior to a borrower’s covered period (CP) but paid during the CP are includable.
Incurred – payroll costs that are incurred during the CP but paid on or before the next regular payroll date after the end of the CP are includable.
Cash compensation is determined using gross payroll amounts. For purposes of the $100,000 annualized limitation on cash compensation, all forms of cash compensation should be considered, including wages, tips, commissions, bonuses and hazard pay.
Employee group health care costs are includible to the extent paid by the employer during the CP for coverage during the CP, but not for coverage outside the CP. This narrowing of the “paid” rule contradicts prior SBA guidance and creates a difference in the treatment between cash compensation and employee group health care costs.
No forgiveness will be provided for retirement benefits accelerated from periods outside the CP. This too represents a narrowing of the “paid” rule and contradicts prior SBA guidance.
The FAQs confirmed prior guidance that the maximum owner compensation amount for a 24-week CP is $20,833 in total across all businesses, but it added that borrowers are free to choose how to allocate such amount among their businesses.
Changes were made to the calculation of the owner compensation limits by business type. Below are the new rules.
C Corporations: cash compensation relating to a C corporation’s shareholder/employees is limited to 2.5 months of their 2019 cash compensation (for a 24-week CP), subject to a cap of $20,833. The corporation also is eligible for forgiveness on its group health care costs, state/local employment taxes, and retirement contributions capped at 2.5 months of the 2019 retirement contribution amounts.
S Corporations: cash compensation relating to an S corporation’s shareholders/employees is limited to 2.5 months of their 2019 cash compensation (for a 24-week CP), subject to a cap of $20,833. The corporation also is eligible for forgiveness on its state/local employment taxes, retirement contributions capped at 2.5 months of the 2019 retirement contribution amount, and health care contributions for owners owning less than 2% of the stock of the S corporation (or family members of such owners). Group health care costs are not eligible for forgiveness for owners or for family members of owners holding at least 2% of the S corporation’s stock.
Self-Employed Schedule C (or Schedule F) Filers: forgiveness is capped at 2.5 months of 2019 net profit as reported on Schedule C, line 31. No forgiveness may be obtained for group health care costs, retirement contributions, or state/local employment taxes.
General Partners: forgiveness is capped at 2.5 months of 2019 net earnings from self-employment (on Schedule K-1, box 14a) multiplied by .9235, and payment of this amount must be made during the CP. No forgiveness may be obtained for group health care costs, retirement contributions, or state/local employment taxes. The partners’ 2019 Schedules K-1 must be submitted along with the partnership’s loan forgiveness application.
If you have any questions regarding the loan forgiveness process, please contact a member of Withum’s SBA Financial Assistance Services Group.
Nonpayroll Cost FAQs
There is no change to the paid or incurred rule as applied to nonpayroll (i.e., overhead) costs.
No change to the definition of a covered mortgage in the CARES Act, but the FAQs state that interest on an unsecured line of credit is not eligible for forgiveness because the loan is not secured by real or personal property.
The renewal of a lease that was in place prior to February 15, 2020, will not affect loan forgiveness for the rental payments on such renewed lease.
Additional color is provided to the previous guidance that “transportation” expenses include gasoline for a borrower’s vehicle. The FAQs provide that “transportation” expenses include transportation utility fees assessed by state and local government.
Headcount and Wage Reduction FAQs
The SBA previously announced a safe harbor with regard to headcount reductions where the employer made an offer of reemployment that was rejected by an employee. The FAQs add that borrowers must demonstrate both an inability to hire similarly-qualified individuals on or before December 31, 2020, and that they informed the relevant state unemployment office of the offer within 30 days of the employee’s rejection of the offer.
With regard to salary/wage reductions, the FAQs reiterate that the borrower should only take into consideration decreases in salaries and wages, and not additional compensation such as bonuses, commissions, etc.
The FAQs provide additional guidance for borrowers, but hopefully Congress acts to further limit the loan forgiveness process either by eliminating the requirement to apply for certain loan sizes or by further streamlining the application process. Unless it does, the SBA plans to open its loan forgiveness application portal in the next few days. To the extent borrowers are left to make reasonable assumptions about the operative rules, we continue to encourage full disclosure as part of the loan forgiveness application process.
MCAA members are committed to supporting their communities. For example, Sloan recently dispatched one of its Mobile Restrooms to assist when a Denver, Colorado-based Catholic Charities chapter lost access to the restroom and handwashing facilities it relied on to serve the area’s homeless population.
The Sloan Mobile Restrooms provided a quick solution to an immediate need. “In the midst of frantic searching for alternative resources, a colleague in Denver alerted us to an opportunity for a mobile restroom unit from Sloan, which we gratefully accepted,” said Joe Domko, Regional Director Larimer County, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Denver. “Sloan’s team was gracious, accommodating, kind, and quickly delivered an immaculate mobile restroom to support our most vulnerable and marginalized citizens. This, to us, is the very definition of charity and solidarity.”
The fully-equipped Mobile Restrooms were developed specifically to support communities affected by natural disasters, emergencies, and catastrophic incidents like the COVID-19 pandemic.
The facilities combine comfortable and customizable hardware with easy-to-maintain design to deliver a hygienic, clean, and welcoming experience. The ADA-compliant facilities are designed for universal accessibility, with each unit split into men’s and women’s areas.
“Portable restrooms often come along with the stigma of being unsanitary and uncomfortable,” said Parthiv Amin, Sloan’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer. “Sloan’s new Mobile Restrooms offer first responders, healthcare facilities, FEMA workers in natural disaster recovery areas, and communities in need with a restroom environment that is clean, comfortable, safe, and hygienic.”
The restrooms are outfitted with Sloan vitreous china floor-mounted pressure-assisted water closets and vitreous china water-free urinals (in the men’s unit only), along with vitreous china drop-in lavatories, Optima® faucets, and Sloan deck-mounted foam soap dispensers. All water closets are powered by Flushmate technology for energy-efficient, single flush performance.
We may have to wait until 2021 for MSCA’s next Education Conference but we can still recognize this year’s amazing heroes that we have among our membership!
MSCA believes that the current state of the world and pandemic have actually brought out the best is so many people. We know many of our members have faced these uncertain times with bravery, compassion and kindness for others in their community, including local hospitals, schools, nursing homes, food banks and struggling families.
Please take the time to nominate one or more individuals in your company that you believe are deserving of this honor. We will celebrate these Extraordinary Everyday Heroes with a special award, extensive recognition and spotlight on MSCA.org.
Alston & Bird have released their August 10 COVID-19 update, including the latest news on emergency funding, administrative and regulatory actions, workplace and home issues, and many other topics, as well as to links to all their past updates.
The UA is offering a free program open to all MSCA/MCAA contractors and UA members on residential plumbing. Learn how to pull back the blinders and navigate the service call through a holistic approach. Identify customer essentials and expectations. Is it a quick fix? Permanent solution? Prevention of future episodes? In this webinar attendees will learn an “all the above” approach on how to educate and provide customer driven solutions.
Additionally, metrics will be offered to measure appropriate delivery of customer service. Tactics for building consumer confidence during and after the service calls will be demonstrated.
Are your company’s COVID-19 temperature and symptom screeners properly trained? To protect your company as much as possible from complaints, lawsuits, local labor issues, etc., it is critically important to:
Establish a consistent process for conducting such screening and excluding symptomatic individuals to promote workplace safety;
Adopt measures to mitigate the risk of claims under laws related to discrimination and medical privacy; and
Be mindful of employee relations considerations.
Temperature and symptom screeners play an important role in accomplishing these objectives, so it’s a good idea to ensure that they are properly trained to take temperatures and screen for symptoms. MCAA’s new training resource, COVID-19 Temperature and Symptom Screener Training, will help you provide the proper training.
MCAA members are constantly innovating and trying new techniques on their projects. Auburn Mechanical is just one example. The MCA of Western Washington member has been building through the COVID-19 pandemic, using a lean approach and specialty systems to meet the Washington State Convention Center Addition Project’s sustainability goals.
Planning and constructing a massive civic project like Seattle’s Washington State Convention Center Addition (WSSC) is no small feat. After nearly 10 years of design and planning and 2 years of preconstruction, the $1.6 billion project is in the middle of construction. Once complete, the new convention center will include a 150,000-square-foot exhibit hall, 100,000-square-foot flex hall, meeting rooms, a ballroom, an outdoor terrace and three levels of garage parking.
The project, a joint venture between Clark Construction Group and Seattle-based contractor Lease Crutcher Lewis, is the largest project in Auburn Mechanical’s 42-year history. It is also one of the most complex.
A Lean Approach
When Auburn Mechanical was selected as the plumbing contractor for the 570,290-square-foot addition in 2016, team members immediately implemented lean principles, including co-locating with the engineering team to support design, constructability review, and to explore opportunities for pre-fabrication. Auburn Mechanical’s detailers contributed to building the project’s massive federated model, which was completely designed in Revit.
With a plumbing contract worth over $40 million, Auburn Mechanical’s team will have installed 36 miles of plumbing, including six miles of underground piping, on the eight-acre site by the time the project is complete.
Focus on Sustainability
The project, which focuses on sustainability and long-term functionality, involves several specialty systems, including a heat traced and insulated stainless-steel Blucher grease waste piping system. Two 24,000-pound grease interceptors were successfully flown, landed, and installed on site. Additionally, stormwater recycling and reclamation systems will be used for the restroom toilets, reducing water consumption.
A Somewhat Unique Methodology
The convention center is being erected using “billboard construction” methodologies, a technique that is somewhat unique to Seattle-area construction. This technique involves building vertical sections simultaneously instead of floor-by-floor and creates greater efficiencies on sites with limited laydown area.
For their part, Auburn Mechanical is executing layout for systems on the slab-on-metal decks with a fast two-day turnaround between each deck. For added efficiency, Auburn Mechanical’s pre-fabrication shop has built almost 500 toilet and urinal carrier banks and prefabbed additional components to support just-in-time deliveries to the congested site.
Essential Status Requires Exhaustive Safety Protocols
Deemed an essential project at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction never stopped as a result of Washington State’s Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. With over 2,000 construction workers on the project, exhaustive safety protocols were put in place, including custom portable handwash stations designed and fabricated by Auburn Mechanical.
Project Completion Schedule
Construction is scheduled to complete in early 2022, nearly doubling the capacity of the current convention center.
In 2020, the construction industry has been forced into dramatic changes in operations and workflow. More people are working remotely and thus, more projects are being handled in a distributed manner. To help MCAA members better understand what processes are gaining wide implementation across the industry and how their companies measure against these benchmarks, MCAA has sponsored the JBKnowledge Construction Technology Report.
The 2019 report, released in December, has an accurate look at where companies began the year. MCAA has worked with JBKnowledge to make sure that the 2020 report will take into account new practices and challenges that contractors face with the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply taking the 2020 survey can force you to ask questions about your own operations and if your company is operating at pace with innovation in the industry.