Frequently Asked Questions

The following are considered the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Concrete Masonry Check-off Program:

What is a check-off program?

A check-off is an industry-wide, coordinated and continuous program of research, promotion, and education to support specific generic products.

What are the benefits of a check-off program?

Check-off programs generate the funding necessary for an industry to successfully implement develop, and manage programs needed to grow market share in today’s competitive environment. Well-funded, properly planned, and carefully monitored programs help create product awareness, business opportunities, and product sales for all producers. Increased market share and sales create jobs, larger payrolls, and expanded tax bases for local communities.

Does our industry need a check-off program?

Yes. A check-off program is needed to enable our industry to regain market share The check-off program will generate the funding to consistently provide the superior promotional activities required to position our products against competition. The programs, which will be directed to national, regional, and local markets, will help regain market share and new business. They will benefit all producers from the smallest to the largest regardless of geographic location Not only will industry producers benefit from the check-off program, employees, customers, suppliers, and ultimately the local communities will all benefit from the expanded use of our products.

What type of programs could benefit from Check-off funding?

Programs that fall within the broad categories of research, education, and promotion. These programs could relate to energy efficiencies of concrete, masonry walls, safety and security provided during the extreme event, inherent durability and sustainability, or other factors important to positioning concrete masonry as a construction material.

Why is it not possible to successfully run these same programs without a Check-off?

The concrete masonry industry has conducted many successful programs as individual companies and collectively through associations. However, those efforts have not been at the level and consistency needed to challenge the rise of other building systems. As other industries with similar demographics (many small independent producers and a few large national or regional manufacturers) have demonstrated, the Check-off model provides the best opportunity to adequately fund ongoing research, educational, and promotional programs. With the assessment being equally applied to every company and every unit sold, the program is fair and inclusive, drawing broad-based support from those that agree that a sustained bold change in industry promotion is needed to ensure a growing role of concrete masonry as the building material for future communities.

How will we fund a Concrete Masonry Check-off program?

Every producer in the industry will be assessed a certain amount per product unit produced based on a formula designed by industry representatives. These assessments will be collected by producers at the time of invoicing. They will then be transferred on a quarterly basis to fund managed by industry representatives and used to support initiatives intended to advance the industry. All concrete masonry producers will pay the same assessment at the same rate.

What is the proposed amount to be assessed?

One penny per unit, initially.

How will the Check-off program define a unit?

For the purposes of this program, concrete masonry units are defined as follows: Concrete Masonry Unit, any man-made masonry unit having an actual width of 3 inches or greater manufactured from dry-cast concrete using a block machine.

This following list, while not all-inclusive, provides examples of those types of units that are intended to be covered by this program:

  • Gray Concrete Block
  • Architectural Concrete Block
  • Prefaced Concrete Block
  • Concrete Brick (larger than 3 5/8 X 2 X 7 5/8 (bed depth X height X)
  • length) used in masonry applications
  • Concrete Block intended to be post-tensioned
  • Concrete Block intended to be joined by surface
  • bonding mortars and materials
  • Sound Wall and Fence Units

Other products are specifically excluded. Some notable exclusion are: segmental retaining wall units, concrete pavers, and concrete brick used in utility applications.

Are the funds that will be collected through the proposed CMU Check-off assessment considered a tax?

No. The funds that will be collected are generated by an industry-wide assessment voted on by industry members.

The CMU Check-off will happen only if a majority of the producers within the concrete masonry industry vote in favor. Once put in place, monies will be managed by an industry nominated board. The assessment funds will only be used to support research, education, and promotion within the industry.

What is the difference between a tax and a Check-off assessment?

A Check-off assessment is developed by the industry and is a self-assessment of the entities in that specified industry to fund programs that they choose to support their products in a competitive environment. The government does not collect nor hold at any time the Check-off funds. That is the responsibility of the Check-off Board that is composed of industry representatives.

A tax is a levy imposed and collected by a governmental body without the approval of the individuals or companies who must pay it to fund government and its programs.

How much of the collected funds will be used for administrative costs?

Up to 10% of collected revenues on an annual basis.

Who will control the funds collected for the Concrete Masonry Check-off program and how will they determine how these funds will be used?

Industry nominated representatives approved by the government agency will be charged with oversight of our check-off program. These representatives will be responsible for selecting programs for funding. They will also monitor and evaluate the results of all funded programs.

Does the government control funds collected through CMU Check-off Assessments at any point in the process?

No. The producers will submit their assessments to a third party entity accountable to the board.

The board then manages the allocation, determination of the programs to be funded and oversight of their implementation.

How will the industry representatives be selected and how many will be appointed?

The industry will select a slate of nominees from small, medium, and large companies as well as from the industry’s districts and regions. The secretary of the agency overseeing our Check-off program will appoint a total of 21 Voting Board Members from this slate of nominees.

Is it possible to participate in the management of a CMU Check-off even if I am not a member of a state, regional, or national association?

Yes. You will have the opportunity to nominate yourself or others for service on the national board or your regional advisory committee.

You can work with your regional advisory committee to identify programs to be funded for implementation in your region to impact your markets.

Will the Concrete Masonry Check-off process create more government intervention in our business?

No. To enable the concrete masonry industry to assess all producers on a per unit basis and to use this assessment to benefit the industry, the program overall must be congressionally authorized.

The administrative aspect of handling the collected funds is born by a third-party that is contracted by and reimbursed for their services by the industry board that is charged with running the program. The program specifically prohibits the oversight agency from sharing any information within and beyond its own agency for any purpose other than its role of program oversight.

Will the small local producer benefit from a Concrete Masonry Check-off program?

Yes. All producers will benefit from resulting increased awareness and demand for concrete masonry products. Funding is intended to be used to conduct and implement programs at the local and state levels as well as national and regional levels.

Because assessments are based on a per unit basis, small producers pay at the same rate as larger producers resulting in proportionally smaller total contributions. And, the smaller producers often benefit from check-off funded programs that they cannot fund individually. The combined assessment of all producers will empower the industry to fund continuous research, education, and promotional campaigns that will increase market share and the sale of products. This broad base of funding, coupled with the strength of the campaigns and the consistency of the message, will provide a benefit unobtainable through the investment of dollars by a single, local producer or association.

What is the role of the associations in the check-off process?

Associations within the concrete masonry industry have been assisting with evaluating the value of a check-off program for the concrete masonry and are supporting communication efforts to inform producers within their area about the concept.

Once the check-off program is adopted, associations will play a critical role in the success of the check-off program. Associations can recommend needed programs and can contract to implement programs funded by the check-off program. The industry needs increased support in those areas where check-off programs can not: advocacy efforts with legislators, regulators, and codes and standards organizations.

How will the check-off affect regional and state association funding?

The check-off process raises awareness of the need to market and communicate the value of our products. This can result in increased participation and funding at the regional, state, and local level. Additionally, the associations can both recommend and can be selected to manage specific check-off projects.
A Concrete Masonry Check-off program will support the growth of the industry by educating designers, contractors, and installers as well as regulators, students, and owners about how to best take advantage of what concrete masonry has to offer. It will provide for significant and sustained research and development for existing and evolving concrete masonry products and systems, and it will enable the industry to better promote the product's benefits. The check-off program will leverage the combined strength of the entire concrete masonry industry while supplying the necessary funding to support industry initiatives and coordinate promotion at the local, state, regional and national levels.
(C) 2018, The Concrete Masonry Check-off Program Leadership Team