ALI’s Largest Class Is Off and Running…for YOU!


The ALI Course 16 class has deep-dived into the program curriculum. Professor Scott Taylor discusses “Leading Through Emotional Intelligence.”

ALI Logo - Color

This week marks the start of Week One of MCAA’s Advanced Leadership Institute (ALI) Course 16...which will be its largest class ever with 39 current and future leaders of our industry in attendance. That’s cool, but why is that important to you?  Because this means there will be 39 of your industry’s best and brightest using their final class project to develop “best practices” that advance the state of the art in technology for the mechanical contracting industry.  And they’re going to give this information to you!

This marks the second year in a row that the ALI will use its final project competition as an opportunity to develop best practices in the form of bulletins to be added to MCAA’s renowned Management Methods Manual (available as a free download to all MCAA members).  Three new bulletins were added to the manual courtesy of the “winners” from ALI Course 15’s final project:

1. Employee Reviews

2. Factors to Consider in Establishing, Operating, and Maintaining a Fabrication Shop

3. Robotic Total Station

This past Monday evening, the ALI 16 class went through a lottery process to select their final projects from a list of 11 topics pre-approved by MCAA’s Management Methods Committee.  (All of this year’s topics are technology-themed in concert with MCAA’s Construction Technology Initiative.)  The teams will continue to work on their projects via internet meetings, actual meetings, conference calls…you name it…over the intersession between Weeks One and Two.

Week Two of ALI Course 16 will run November 13-18.  The teams will email their final written presentations to the Management Methods Committee on Wednesday, November 16, with final projects being presented live to their peers, faculty, and guests on Friday the 18th. MCAA’s Management Methods Committee will select the “winner(s)” in early December.  But, the true winners of Course 16’s final project competition will be all MCAA members since all will benefit from the new Management Methods bulletins developed by this key group of movers and shakers.  Wish them luck because their good fortune becomes yours!

The graduation keynote on the 18th will be delivered by MCAA past-President Mark Rogers.

Applications  for ALI Course 17 will be announced here on the MCAA website shortly after the conclusion of Week Two.

For questions or information about MCAA’s Advanced Leadership Institute, contact Dennis Langley (


Are Tablets Replacing Phones on Jobsites?

Six years ago, when I looked at my friend’s brand new first generation iPad, I was skeptical.  I thought that this new tablet was going to be a big version of the iPhone that came out a year or two earlier. At that point, I still hadn’t bought into the usefulness of the iPhone that everyone was so crazy about and I was still plugging my way through a two-year contract on my existing “smart phone” from Verizon. I wasn’t about to pay a few hundred dollars to get out of my cell phone contract just to hop on this new fad.

iPadOriginalWhen he handed it to me to just try out, my skepticism vanished immediately. Unlike the touchscreen on my “smart phone”, it was responsive. I could touch and zoom and interact with a computer in ways that I could never do before. I could see the immediate potential. After getting my first iPad, I realized it could do about 85% of what my computer did in something that was drastically lighter and more portable.  It changed the way I worked.  I ditched the laptop when I traveled and always spent some time on the couch at night checking on work.

I also thought about how contractors could immediately find the benefit. This new device had the potential to extend computers to the jobsite like never before.  It would be able to store project files, drawings, and document conditions. Information from the office could reach the field and empower field supervisors.

It just couldn’t do it yet. In 2010, most field foremen, safety supervisors, and project managers were heavily reliant on cell phones and most didn’t have a smart phone yet. Some were still annoying their coworkers and family with the infamous Nextel chirp. It took some time for the software to catch up with the hardware potential of tablets, but we are far beyond that point now.

Six years later, mobile phones are more or less texting devices while tablets are able to do so much more. In a recently released research study, the research team from JB Knowledge took an extensive look at the software that has is connecting the office to the field.  They evaluated over 20 mobile tools that contractors are already using and put simply, the software that they looked at is doing things that was unimaginable six years ago.

In the companion webinar, the study’s lead researcher, Josh Bone, said, “We are entering a really exciting time here. Getting BIM in more hands and more people, and carrying that communication all the way out to the field is helping to democratize BIM.”

It is also changing the skillset and the mindset of field personnel. For many foremen, getting a tablet is almost considered a perk. It is not anywhere near a “buck and a truck”, but more like a prestige item. This is due to the design and positive perception created around the product. A lot of this has to do with Apple’s marketing and design efforts.  People begin loving their tablets even before they know how to use them.

What most field supervisors don’t realize is that a new tablet should be thought of as the latest tool.  It is a phone and computer all wrapped up in one with more features and potential than any power tool. Tablets hide the conceit of productivity in the glitz and polish of a new toy. When fully enabled, field supervisors can use tablets in ways that they could never use their phones.

Some of the software evaluated in the BIM to Field Research report unlocks the potential of mobile devices in ways that were never thought of six years ago with the first tablet came out. There are programs that can overlay BIM designs in an augmented reality.  Programs can track work in the fab shop.   Apps that can let field foremen reshuffle the fabrication queue. Software that can get the latest designs, revisions, RFI’s, specs, and labor hours to the field and back so that design and communication is two-ways without picking up a phone.

The days of the mobile phone on the jobsite are not over yet, but what is becoming clear is that their importance is diminishing. Today, if contractors had to choose between providing either mobile phones or tablets to their field supervisors, the choice is not as clear-cut as it used to be. One argument is that nobody would bring his or her personal tablet to the job site while everyone would bring their personal phone.  The other main argument is that making the investment in tablets has greater value right now.  With a six-month payback period, some contractors are choosing to deploy tablets while subsidizing personal phones.  They are making that choice because tablets can increase their productivity in ways that mobile phones just can’t.  In a few years, you might stop seeing phones on construction sites at all.  R.I.P. chirp.

Sean McGuire is the Director of Construction Technology at the Mechanical Contractors Association of America.  Follow him on twitter at @mcaageek for regular tech updates.


Related Resources:

Please check out the Research Report and our recorded webinar, free as a benefit of MCAA/MSCA membership.

MCAA Construction Technology Research Series Report on BIM Software

Companion webinar featuring Josh Bone, lead author of the report with JB Knowledge.

MCAA’s Industry Improvement Funds Conference Registration Goes Live

Register now to reserve your spot for the Industry Improvement Funds Conference, November 30 – December 2, 2016.  Held at the beautiful Longboat Key Club in Longboat Key, Florida, the 2016 program will explore a wide array of topics including accounting, diversity, student talent and peer advise on technology and membership tracking.

The conference format will explore the various roles that industry funds can play within an association.  Ideal for local association executives and their industry improvement fund trustees, the 2016 program is packed full of educational offerings where you will get a refresher on the proper use of industry funds, including ideas for beneficial programs which they can subsidize.

Register online here.

Access the conference brochure here.


The Next Qualified Level Arc Flash Safety Training Webinar is October 13, 2016

Make sure your service techs have the up-to-date safety training they need to protect themselves from arc flash and electrical shock hazards while working on equipment pushing 480 volts or less. The session covers all applicable OSHA and NFPA 70E requirements, best practices, and real-world accident information.

The next two webinars are being held on October 13, 2016. Register for this date.

If you can’t make it, no worries. The webinar will also be taught on two more dates this year:

November 17, 2016, 7-9 am or 10 am – 12 noon, EDT  Register for this date.

December 15, 2016, 7-9 am or 10 am – 12 noon, EDT  Register for this date.

Questions? Contact Pete Chaney.

Get Your Copy of the New Tool and Equipment Rental Guide

MCAA has released the 2016-2017 edition of its Tool and Equipment Rental Guide. The guide puts the latest comprehensive cost recovery information for commonly used tools and equipment at your fingertips. The single download includes both a PDF version and an Excel spreadsheet. The guide is free as a member benefit.

The rental rates are based on ownership and operating costs for contractor-owned equipment and are derived from formulas and data developed by the experts at EquipmentWatch and from analytic methods used in the construction industry.

Generally, these methods consider the purchase price, depreciation, maintenance and overhaul costs, indirect equipment costs and average annual use hours.

Profit, project overhead and general company overhead costs such as office facilities and supplies are not included in the rates.

Download your copy here.

UA EVP Rick Terven Testifies at House Hearing on Composite Pension Plans

United Association Executive Vice President Rick Terven testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee on September 22nd on Chairman John Kline’s proposals to modernize multiemployer pensions.

In his testimony, Terven stressed that “If composite plans are not made available, we believe that many existing defined benefit plans will eventually be replaced with defined contribution plans. The opportunity for creative solutions to our retirement income challenges is within our grasp. We strongly encourage Congress to take advantage of it and expand available offerings to enable labor and management to find solutions which best meet their specific needs.”

Read Terven’s testimony.

The Committee press release answering questions on the Chairman’s proposal can be found here. The discussion draft, which was released two weeks ago, contains new multiemployer composite plan designs that were part of the Solutions Not Bailouts proposals held back when the Kline-Miller pension reform law was enacted in 2014. The composite plans were developed by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plan’s Retirement Income Security Review Commission, which included MCAA and the United Association.

Chairman Kline has invited interested parties to provide input into the draft’s features. He has also requested comments and proposals on how to shore up funding for the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC) multiemployer plan insurance fund, which is headed for insolvency within 10 years without major changes to its program and insurance premium funding.

In releasing the discussion draft Chairman Kline stated:

“For years, the committee has worked on a bipartisan basis to improve multiemployer pensions and safeguard the retirement security of workers and retirees. We have already made significant progress, and the draft proposal released today represents the next step in this important effort.

This proposal will provide more retirement choices for workers, more flexibility for employers, and greater protection for taxpayers. It reflects the input of business and labor leaders, as well as retiree advocates who have long recognized the need to strengthen the retirement security. I encourage other concerned individuals to share their views and ideas.

There is still a lot of work to be done, including tackling the fiscal challenges facing the PBGC. Improving the multiemployer pension system is an urgent priority for employers and labor leaders that will benefit America’s workers and taxpayers. I hope my colleagues in the House and Senate will make it an urgent priority as well.”

The composite plans are new plan design options that plan sponsors can choose to adopt or not in plan amendments. The discussion draft envisions adoption of a composite plan by amendment to a traditional multiemployer defined benefit plan that suspends future accruals into the former (legacy) plan (Red Zone plans cannot convert). All future accruals then flow into the new composite plan.

In the new composite plan, annual one-year and 15-year funding projections must maintain 120% funding. Shortfalls must be addressed by added contributions, future accrual cuts, and other benefit adjustments to meet the 120% funding safeguard. The legacy plan also must be funded under current funding rules, and there are minimum funding requirement contributions for all employers that enter the composite plan.  And, because the benefits in the composite plan are not insured by PBGC, no PBGC premiums are paid on those participants. Legacy plan participants still pay the PBGC premiums at whatever new higher level may be imposed.

The UA and MCAA also submitted a joint statement of support to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Chairman Kline’s call for urgent Congressional action is fully warranted, as the composite plan models have been thoroughly vetted in Congress over the past several years.  Action this year will stem the need for consideration by the next Congress, which would take a year or more, and thereby diminish the remedial benefits of the composite plan model for the entire system.  MCAA, the UA and the NCCMP coalition continue to press lawmakers to honor Mr. Kline’s perseverance on this most important issue and to heed his call for timely and effective action this year, even though time is short.

UA and MCAA Discuss Affirmative Action Issues with DoL Compliance Officials

The UA’s Director of Training Chris Haslinger and MCAA General Counsel John McNerney gave a 90- minute presentation to the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) on September 22, 2016. The presentation covered jointly administered training programs, collective bargaining agreement worker dispatch practices, hiring hall operations and MCAA member hiring procedures.

The program was the first ever training program related to OFCCP’s upcoming emphasis on Executive Order 11246, which deals witth compliance and enforcement of affirmative action outreach and non-discrimination requirements for women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities foprime contractors and subcontractors on direct federal and federally assisted mega construction projects.

This MCAA and UA outreach grew out of the organizations’ collaboration and joint comments to DoL on new written affirmative action program requirements and a number of other DoL regulatory initiatives put forth by the outgoing Administration.


New Important Program Elements added to the Collective Bargaining Seminar

New program elements have been added to the MCAA Collective Bargaining Seminar. High level Labor Department regulators will address four important topics of direct relevance to collective bargaining, labor relations and Taft-Hartley training program administration:  new (most likely just released) written affirmative action plan requirements for registered apprenticeship programs; Davis Bacon reporting and compliance issues; new contract requirements relating to accrued paid sick and family leave on direct Federal projects; and, operation of the new legal compliance certifications for prime and subcontrators on direct Federal contracts of $500,000 or more.

Everything you need to know to succeed in your next labor negotiation will be covered at MCAA’s Collective Bargaining Seminar (November 2-4, Washington, D.C.). Labor law experts from the Ice Miller firm in Indianapolis will also be on hand to take you through the essential elements of collective bargaining relationships, rules governing agreements, terms and provisions, management and labor rights, project labor agreements, jurisdictional issues, grievance procedures and much more.

In addition, mediation expert C. Richard Barnes and a panel of local association execs will brief you on successful bargaining strategies and recent bargaining experiences and outcomes. And, experts from the Groom Law Group will discuss developments concerning multiemployer pension reform. Don’t miss this valuable opportunity; register now.

A Look Back at MCAA 2016

Have you forgotten how awesome MCAA’s 2016 convention was? Here’s a reminder. We promise MCAA 2017 will be great too!


Learn How to Deal with “Safety Fines” in Contracts

Subcontractors’ contracts may include provisions that impose fines or penalties for subcontractors’ safety violations. While such provisions may not be legally enforceable under most state laws, they could lead to serious disputes. MCAA’s Management Methods Committee has just released a Management Methods Bulletin that explains how such provisions could impact a subcontractor, how best to avoid them and how the courts have addressed the issue. Enforceability of Contractual Fines/Penalties for Subcontractor Safety Violations is available to MCAA/MSCA members as a benefit. Click here for your downloadable copy.

UA and MCAA Support Chairman Kline’s Composite Plan Proposal

The UA and MCAA have issued a joint statement strongly supporting Chairman John Kline’s proposal to create composite plans to update and strengthen the multiemployer pension plans system. The statement calls for passage of this much needed legislation this year.

Here is the full text of the Statement of Support:

UA/MCAA Joint Statement of Support

For Congressional Action This Year On Composite Pension Plans

The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA) and the Mechanical Contractors’ Association of America (MCAA) applaud the efforts of Chairman Kline of the House Committee on Education and Workforce to find solutions to the challenges facing multiemployer defined benefit pension plans. The discussion draft providing for the creation of multiemployer composite plans will address some of the critical remaining issues needed to reform the multiemployer pension system.

For our industry, a failure to address the growing challenges facing multiemployer defined benefit pension plans today will lead to dire consequences for many of these pension plans’ stakeholders—the millions of workers and retirees who rely on the promise that these plans would provide them a reliable and steady retirement income and the thousands of employers who contribute to and, along with unions like the UA, have sponsored these plans for decades.

For the last several years, the UA and the MCAA have been active participants in efforts by a coalition of unions, employers and pension plans, spearheaded by the National Coordinating Committee for Multiemployer Plans (NCCMP), to address the challenges our multiemployer defined benefit pension plans now face. And it has been our goal to formulate creative and realistic solutions that balance the interests of all of the plans’ stakeholders. We believe the composite plan proposed by Chairman Kline is a critical piece of such a solution for reasons that include the following:

  • Composite plans provide life time retirement income based on pooled longevity similar to defined benefit plans. In contrast, workers who must solely rely on defined contribution retirement vehicles face the real possibility of outliving their retirement savings or losing their savings through poor investment decisions.
  • Composite plans are not intended to replace defined benefit plans but are intended to be an alternative to the 401(k)/defined contribution plans that are increasingly proposed when an employer refuses to participate in a defined benefit plan.
  • The proposal includes provisions to protect and support the continued funding of the legacy defined benefit plans. This serves to protect the current pension benefits earned by retirees.
  • Composite plans do not threaten the future funding of PBGC and by preserving the funding of legacy defined benefit plans by employers that would otherwise leave those plans, the composite plan proposal helps to ensure that those legacy plans will continue as long term premium payers.

The UA and MCAA strongly support the proposal to create composite plans and look forward to working with the Committee, and all stakeholders, to ensure passage of legislation this year.

Download the Joint Statement.

Registration for Popular MSCA Service Managers Training Program Now Open

The 2017 MSCA Service Managers Training Program is now open for registration. Scheduled for March 27 – 30, 2017 in Baltimore, MD, this intensive four-day class will provide service professionals with critical management and leadership skills to enhance their performance, provide added-value to their company and ensure their success.  The program was developed with the service manager’s typical day-to-day problems in mind and will address key topics in financial management, communication, conflict resolution, leadership, coaching and motivation.  Class size is limited and program sells out quickly so register today. To download a brochure and registration form click here.

Time is Running Out to Nominate Your Management Innovation for the E. Robert Kent Award

Nominations for one of MCAA’s most distinguished awards, the E. Robert Kent Award for Management Innovation, are due October 3, 2016.

Named for an industry legend, the award recognizes unique ideas that bring value to our industry and help it advance. And, because the award winner is publicized in MCAA and trade publications, other companies struggling with the same kinds of challenges that your company faced will benefit from your creative solution. This opportunity to make a positive difference in our industry’s culture comes only once a year, so don’t miss it. Commercial products, however, are not eligible for this award. Click here for information and a downloadable form.

Registered Yet for GreatFutures 2016?

If you haven’t signed up for the opportunity to recruit your next professional hire or intern, time is running out.  The registration deadline for GreatFutures 2016, MCAA’s Student Chapter and Mechanical Contractors Student Summit (Denver, CO, October 13-15) is September 22.

The conference draws MCAA student chapter members, top students from colleges and universities across the U.S. and Canada who are majoring in engineering, construction management, architectural engineering and other industry-related disciplines.

This is a great opportunity for contractors to meet up and coming professionals who are anxious to start their careers. The exceptional program features an exhibit of the latest construction industry technologies organized by BuiltWorlds, informative presentations on career and business-oriented topics, the announcement of the 2016-2017 Student Chapter Competition, the annual mini competition with a new twist and a tour of Breckenridge Brewery, a Denver-based craft beer production facility.

There’s no registration fee, just the promise of an opportunity to meet some exceptional young people hoping to start building their career with our industry. Click here to register.


Several New OSHA Recordkeeping Rule Provisions Become Enforceable on November 1

Make sure your company is in compliance with the new OSHA recordkeeping rule changes covering employee involvement and prohibition against discrimination, which become enforceable on November 1st, 2016. To be in compliance you’ll have to:

  • Inform each worker of how to report a work-related injury or illness;
  • Establish a “reasonable procedure” for your workers to report work-related injuries and illnesses promptly and accurately;
  • Provide your workers with information about the company’s “reasonable procedure” for reporting work -related injuries and illnesses;
  • Provide access for your workers and their representatives to the company’s work-related injury and illness records;
  • Ensure that your company’s reporting procedures do not deter or discourage workers from accurately reporting a workplace injury or illness;
  • Inform each worker of his or her right to report work-related injuries and illnesses without retaliation; and
  • Inform each worker that employers are prohibited from discharging, or in any manner discriminating against workers for reporting work-related injuries or illnesses.

Be sure to carefully document all company actions related to compliance with these provisions. If you would like more information on OSHA’s recent recordkeeping rule changes, click here to access MCAA’s Safety Bulletin… OSHA’s Revised Recordkeeping Rule – Improve Tracking of Workplace Injuries and Illnesses. 

Check Out Our Downloadable Membership Directory & Buyer’s Guide

Members now have access to a full-featured digital version of our Membership Directory & Buyer’s Guide. This version enhances the look and feel of our directory with digital-only benefits like these:

  • Network on the go with linked email addresses.
  • Connect with the companies, products and services that interest you using linked web addresses.
  • Get where you’re going…fast…with bookmarks and a linked table of contents.
  • Find advertisers instantly with a linked advertiser index.

MCAA’s Membership Directory & Buyer’s Guide is free as a member benefit. Download your copy here.

Have updates? Please share! Update your profile on our website, or contact Jan Grillo at for assistance.

MSCA Sales Leadership Symposium Now Open for Registration

The popular MSCA Sales Leadership Symposium class is now open for registration.  The program will be held December 1 – 2, 2016 in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. This class is a MUST for anyone who manages sales personnel.  Presented by in-the-field industry experts, the Sales Leadership Symposium will teach leaders how to drive revenue growth and enhance profitability through a structured sales approach as well as enhance sales team productivity and ensure employee retention.  Topics include recruiting, hiring, on-boarding, training, compensating, coaching and more!  For additional information and to download a brochure, click here.